From the New Zealand TV Weekly. May 15, 1967
Suggestions that the switch of producer Bute Hewes from the Town and Around berth is a result of the distinct slump in the show's popularity since he arrived from England to fill the berth are strongly denied by NZBC brass. Just a case of being able to utilise his documentary experience better in some of the This Is Your Country sequences, plus a planned fortnightly look at local affairs, they say. It will be interesting to see how Town and Around changes with the return of Bryan Easte from the limbo of Sportsroom. Not an easy job to return a show to the format and feeling you originally developed. . . . . . Sonia King is a busy girl, preparing for the heavy demands certain to be made as the new TV afternoon women's programme hostess. While blithely admitting that she doesn't know a thing about TV, Sonia has given solid proof of her ability to build up a punchy programme in her afternoon radio Person to Person stints. Sonia started in Invercargill, moved to Hamilton, then took over the Auckland position which had been held by Marina for some 20 years. . . . . The Greenfinger Gang are not being ignored. Gardening Quarter is coming back again with Jim Macpherson as the pundit of the compost heap. . . . . The kiddiwinks discussion programme Speak Up had a wobbly start, with David Prosser stepping in at short notice to front the show. He has handled over to Errol Baker, who had a somewhat similar chore with last year's Of Shoes and Ships and other Things. . . . . Distinct feeling locally that this year's Avengers has not the pull of the previous series. . . . . If all plans eventuate, the Gulf is liable to be full of pirate ships before long. Possibly two more are reported on the way. However, Radio Hauraki is well established. Interesting to note that an independent advertising firm's survey gave the pirates a far greater audience than the survey carried out by the NZBC.
Looking at New Zealand, the pictorial magazine programme, which has been growing steadily in popularity on all channels, is being expanded to a fifteen-minute programme from May 14, and the prospect is for even greater scope in the future. Producer Conon Fraser, who has done an outstanding job with it, has been given some more staff to cope with the extra work. A public affairs officer Miss Beverley Wakem has become production officer for the programme. About sixty per cent of the programme is shot by "stringer" cameramen who suggest ideas from time to time to Mr Fraser. He says there has been a noticeable improvement in the standard of film coming in as the stringers have mastered the style of shooting for a documentary, as distinct from a news programme. To produce Looking at New Zealand, the team works to a tight weekly schedule, with editing on Monday and Tuesday, scripting on Wednesday and Thursday, and recording on Friday-some times they finish with only a few minutes to spare . . . . . By televising the opening of Parliament on all channels, the NZBC has at last taken the bit between its teeth. Network screening of major events on a regular basis will be the next step, though it is not yet clear when this will start. Critics may say "not he- fore time." One wonders it lack of success in getting permission to operate the second channel has pushed the network idea into the forefront a bit ahead of the corporation's own original schedule . . . . . Welcome news for fans of Agent 86. NZBC has brought another series of Get Smart . . . . . Newspaper editors have been taking a fair pounding from Column Comment's Ian Cross. Apparently there is more in store for them . . . . . Graham Billing's Town and Around piece on dereliets in the Salvation Army shelter was a genuine piece of social documentary. lt provided an interesting contrast to the same week with Relda Familton's interviews with young people at a church-run coffee bar. Look for more of this kind of material from producer Maurice Smyth . . . . . The old team of producer Linda McDougall and commentator Austin Mitchell worked together very successfully in the Compass documentary on the Fendalton and Petone by-elections.
Danger figure of New Zealand TV ownership was reached last October and, taking into account British experience, it will take about five years for audiences to right themselves and start going out to more functions instead of watching TV, according to Robert Field-Dodgson, conductor of the Royal Christchurch Musical Society, who made the comment at the society's annual meeting recently. . . . . . All the same, it would appear that hours extended into the afternoons are not luring too many housewives into dropping their normal post-prandial activities. Snap survey among half-a-dozen avid evening viewing home-makers showed that in the first two weeks of afternoon programmes only one had switched on before 5 p.m. and then only out of sheer curiosity on about four or live occasions. A local newspaper that went into it more thoroughly reached the conclusion that the introduction of afternoon viewing has not greatly affected the domestic habits of Christchurch housewives. . . . . Seems tlhe political parties have still to get around to setting homework on the TV technique as far as candidates are concerned. CHTV3's pre-Fendalton by-election panel programme, in which the three candidates faced the camera in front of two questioners, certainly could not have helped viewers in doubt make up their minds on which way they should vote. . . . . Former Christchurch actor Jon Elsom had a spot in The Avengers episode, "The See-Through Man" as assistant to the mad scientist and, as his mother, Mrs W. S. Elsom forecast, came to a sticky end. Seems that Jon, who went to Britain on an acting scholarship in 1959 and has since done a lot of TV and stage work, usually finishes up with a villain's part. In real life he certainly doesn't look like one.
The Audience Research Department attached to DNTV2 has been on reconnaissance to see if afternoon television has enticed listeners away from radio. With afternoon television only a few weeks old it seems that the loyalty of housewives is split between radio and TV, fifty-fifty. Further investigations into programme preferences reveal that men, in Dunedin anyway, are the more avid viewers probably because their wives try to combine viewing with a few household chores. But while the audience research people may be happy to reveal names of the most popular shows it would be interesting to know which are the real stinkeroos. Probably embarrass the NZBC to admit that they had bought a programme dud. Still, on the whole the standard of programmes is high and the corporation could possibly win a large sympathy vote if they admitted that trying to buy programmes to please everyone is, of course, really impossible and it is therefore no wonder that, on occasion, they do make a mistake. . . Ian Richards, sports producer wound up his sporting activities with a marathon coverage of the Freyberg Roisebowl golf tournament, the largest sports event yet tackled by the Dunedin staff. Ian has now gone over to produce afternoon talks and interviews for On Camera and Harold Anderson takes his place as sports producer. . . . Old friends who still mourn his loss to North Island channels found cold comfort in spotting Dougal Stevenson in a news clip on the Wairakei power installation.