From the New Zealand TV Weekly. August 21, 1967
Incredible that such a prolific and well-known writer as Dame Ngaio Marsh has had so little material used on television. Still, it means that the contribution she is making to the NZBC-TV Workshop series is all the more important and a good bet for subsequent sale overseas. Rehearsals are under way for the play, which has an Auckland "art world" setting. Naturally, it's a whodunit. Dame Ngaio featured in one of last year's profiles, and we saw one of her plays in the BBC's Detective series. . . . . The absence of Keith Bracey for "a restoration of his tissues" gave the Town and Around programme a new twist as first Barbara Magner and then Tom Finlayson took the compere's chair and both admitted being really nervous about the job, just as though they were new to telly. "Keith can have it" was their joint verdict. However, Barbara can probably claim some sort of record as the first girl to front such a show locally. . . . . Come Dancing sagged to a standstill in a somewhat sour atmosphere. If there is a repetition of such a series, let's hope the producer remembers to keep the camera more on the dancers and spend less time in multiple showings of the running results, or in trying to give it commentary excitement as though it were a sports event. And Bill Leathwick and Glynis McNicol could relax a bit—they didn't HAVE to look so bright-eyed and gleaming-toothed fascinated by their mutual comments or the swirling tulle. . . . . The Sunday repeat of the Shirley Maddocks series on Tall Trees and the Gold was more popular and worthwhile than most second playings. . . . . What a welter of Malcolm Muggeridge programmes we have been having of late. He's a tremendous personality, but the programme people could spread him thinner. . . . . The reshufifling of programmes has given a much better balance to most evenings and certainly a more entertaining Saturday night service. But I still query whether the same series should run at the same times on the same nights week after week. Would you ever bother going to cinemas if they worked the same way? . . . . What a wonderful set of stories from the broadcasting world must be available in the accumulated anecdotage of the 15 Club members!
WNTV1's Town and Around goes from strength to strength. Producer Maurice Smyth achieves a balance and composition of items that holds the viewer's attention every night. This is a remarkable performance because with a daily TV programme it is not easy to sustain interest from week to week. The team is now perhaps the strongest overall, talent wise, since the inception of the programme. Last year Town and Around began to flag a bit after running several months. It seems unlikely to repeat that mistake this year. As interviewers, Mike Minehan, John Shrapnel, Philip Sherry and Diane Pickett each have particular abilities and it is a tribute to the producer that they are allotted to the tasks that suit them best. In the week under review Mike Minehan added a classic footnote to the decimal currency changeover with his sequence smashing out of date cash registers. It may have been derivative in inspiration but it was very well done. . . . . Town and Around is so good in its documentary pieces that it bears comparison with the prestigious Compass; indeed on occasions it shows up weaknesses in Compass, if only because it does not bite off more than it can chew. Producer Ian Johnstone has proved himself-so it is no criticism of him to say that Compass sometimes makes its points too didactically. . . . . The NZBC has shown that it can make documentaries of a consistently high standard. Question now is: where does it go from here? . . . . C'mon! and Take Ten have revealed maturing talent in the popular entertain- ment field. Viewers will get the chance to sec what New Zealand-made dramatic shows look like, with the first of the TV Workshop series due for screening in the not too distant future. Head of the drama productions, Brian Bell, has persuaded Ngaio Marsh to write a thriller, and next year there could be a series of major plays plus a “cloak and dagger” serial. There should be plenty of work for the 170 actors and actresses who have got a taste of TV drama through the TV Workshop. . . . . First viewing of T.H.E. Cat hardly inspired viewers. NZBC may buy The Green Hornet, regarded as more suitable for local consumption than Batman on which it is modelled. . . . . A new series of Alfred Hitchcock dramas begins this week, and if we are occasionally critical of some programmes it must be said that generally viewing has been of a high standard over the past month or two. It's noticeable that the NZBC has refined the technigue of programme scheduling, and considering the limitations of a single channel manages to satisfy most tastes.
CHRISTGHURCH One of the stars in CHTV3's excellent documentary on the racing industry in New Zealand, Coming into Line, had to be destroyed after being badly injured in an accident at Riccarton recently. It was Vindicate, the 2-year-old shown being broken in by owner-trainer Jack Shaw in the film. The horse collided with a truck, after breaking out of one of the sand rolls, as he headed back across the road for his stable. Coincidentally, the previous evening Coming Into Line had been repeated on CHTV3 in answer to popular demand. . . . . Christchurch actor, Fred Betts, is the latest addition to the Canterbury Theatre Company. Well known for his stage and radio performances in Christchurch, he appeared in Pacific Films' The Adventures of the Seaspray, a favourite with viewers young and old and also played a leading role in CHTV3's Montage series. After working extensively in amateur and professional theatre in England during and after World War II, he came to New Zealand where he has taken part in more than 100 radio plays apart from his TV work. . . . . Dean Martin's large Christchurch following delighted to find that his latest series is every bit as good as the first-an exception that proves the rule—so, Saturday is once again a stay~at-home night for many families. . . . . One thing about the so-called gentle sex-they usually get their way. NZBC has taken the hint and shifted On Camera forward an hour Tuesdays and Thursdays so Christchurch Mums can see Julie Cunningham's show without being disturbed by the kids coming home from school. Many can't think why the programme was not scheduled to open at 2.30 p.m. in the first place. . . . . David Pumphrey's Sixty Seconds Please may not be a world-beater, but some local viewers feel it justifies a more popular viewing time than late Sunday afternoon. Originators of this panel show hoped it would go "national" but evidently the NZBC is not going along with that idea in the meantime anyway. . . . . Friday nights films in "The Leading Lady Season" series may be a bit dated but all the same they do highlight the point that most of Hollywood's crop of current goddesses are poor imitations of the real thing. . . . . Could it be that Town and Around's not-too-complimentary snippet on women drivers caused one well-known Christchurch feature writer to leap to the defence of her sex on a recent Saturday night?
Don McCutcheon, host of the People and Places series, is a busy man about the studio these days. He has been compering the 4ZB Breakfast Session, and while he is soon expected to return to his place at the television news desk, he will still be busy with radio. He and his wife, Millie, are taking part in a special series which focuses on Father's Day. Incidentally, a recent People and Places programme proved of particular interest, not only to viewers, but to Don himself. It featured the activities of the local jazz club and jazz, of a general nature, is one of Don's main interests. . . . . A charming new-comer to the staff of DNTV2, is continuity announcer, Veronica Edmondson. Twenty-two-year-old Veronica was born in Hampshire, England, and came to New Zealand with her parents and two sisters, when she was five. She attended several New Zealand schools before her family settled in Te Aroha. Veronica spent two years at the Hamilton Teachers' College and another year in Christchurch where she trained as a speech therapist. After teaching for a year in Gisborne, she sailed for England where she studied at the London School of Dramatic Art, between trips to the Continent and Ireland. Veronica returned to New Zealand last December and joined the NZBC in May. With surfing and Continental foods as her principal interests, it's small wonder that Veronica also lists temperatures below 30 degrees and dieting as her major dislikes. Other hobbies are acting, dancing and horse-riding. . . . . A series of documentaries which viewers can look forward to is being made by Mr Bob Lepresle, a former Hollywood producer, now on contract to NZBC. The series, entitled This Is Your Country, comprises twelve programmes all focusing on New Zealand. Dunedin producers have been chosen to do two of the series. Harold Anderson is doing a segment, "Small Town Friday", which looks at the Friday activities of a New Zealand country town, and Bruce Morrison will be producing a programme about aspects of New Zealand's deer industry.