From the New Zealand TV Weekly. July 15, 1968
The 'pussy-footing policies' of TV's heirarchy were condemned in an Auckland talk by University political studies lecturer, Dr Ruth Butterworth.
The NZBC feels that people don't like being uncomfortable and that Television is a comfortable thing, she said. She blamed the attitude on the fact that the NZBC was not adminis- tered and controlled by people with a background of radio or Television production. Instead, it had
organisers at the helm-people from the civil service with a Government departmental attitude to events. Dr Butterworth maintained:
There is no overt political censorship in New Zealand, she claimed,
but there is a lot of covert censorship. . . . . A pilot programme for a satirical series featured Town and Around's former Colin Hill in a Sydney viewing and he is hoping that it will be approved. Reports from Sydney say he is doing well fronting a show for the small fry . . . . Ballet expert and producer Bryan Ashbridge was, of course, responsible for the TV adaptation of the Ray Powell ballet, One in Five, now doing the rounds . . . . Sonia King started something with her bright notion of confronting Professor L. G. Geering, and his critic, the Rev R. J. Nicholson, and it showed that religious discussion can become intelligent TV fare provided you have the right people. It only made sense to bring Dr Geering back to be the inquisitor when the Rev Nicholson's book was published . . . . Gardening is usually treated at the leisurely pace which the subject suggests, but not by Reg Chibnall. He tucks enough into a short session to keep the average home gardener busy for a fortnight . . . . Can't say that Lindsay Broberg's endeavours to link up Town and Around segments always work out. All too often, it makes for very strained (or very corny) nattering . . . . With new angles in exporting meaning so much to the national economy, isn't it about time TV started a periodic magazine programme spotlighting some of the unusual and pride-making success stories in this line? It would be a stimulus to less imaginative manufacturers.
A new face on Wellington's Town and Around goes with advoice well known to radio audiences. Paddy O'Donnell replaces Keith Aberdeen, now with Compass, and the change is Town and Around's gain. Under producer Eddie Harris, the programme tends to be a little more uneven than under Maurice Smyth, but occasionally Eddie brings off a real tour de force, as with the night he took as his theme the need for New Zealanders to watch their waistlines if we are not to become a nation of softies. Joe Musaphia, perhaps our only home-grown comedian on Television, capped the programme with a superb little vignette . . . . NZBC's controller of news, Mr E. Parkinson, is reported to have been unhappy with several recent editions of Louis Johnson's Column Comment. After one programme that contained elementary errors, there was a prolonged inquest and a search started for someone to replace Johnson. But the problem is that there are few around, ready, willing and able to do it . . Another public affairs programme in trouble is Gallery, which has also been the subject of anxious inquests on several recent occasions . . . . Mrs Roz Monahan has taken over research for Town and Around, replacing Bobby Bell, who is now with the Compass team . . . . Irvine Lindsay is now well into her second year with On Camera, and she has sustained the quality of the programme remarkably well. Irvine, who for long enough worked on her own, now has an assistant, Jan Fraser. She plans a slight change of emphasis with more in-depth interviews. Interest in the programme is keen, as reflected in the lively controversy that is aroused when Irvine seeks to bring 'sensitive' topics on screen. The programme on The Pill is still talked about in Wellington circles. Let's hope Irvine is not put off by the small-town mentality of the criticism following such programmes . . . . Only point of interest in the Compass programme on New Zealand drama was Ian Cross' pungent statement about NZBC's own drama. It left some glum faces around NZBC corridors. The fact is that drama of the local variety is struggling to get off the ground, and departure of producer Brian Bell for Australia, after the frustrations he has encountered, is hardly surprising. Chief producer Roy Melford has had drama added to his multifarious duties.
Banned by the BBC, for whom it was made, The War Game was screened in a Christchurch cinema and caused quite a furore because it was open to children 13 to 16 if accompanied by a parent or teacher. General audience reaction was one of shock, with most people agreeing it was magnificent cinema, but quite unsuitable for younger children. Town and Around gave it the full treatment with Brian Edwards interviewing some of those who attended the first session and then Edwards and frontman Bernard Smyth, who attended the session, gave their own views. Smyth, interviewed by a Christchurch Star reporter, said:
As a piece of cinema, it is magnificent in that it comes the closest to reality it is possible to get. But I can see no point in exposing young children to this horror. . . . There's a growing feeling among some viewers that Town and Around is running down and things are not quite the same now that Bute Hewes has replaced Des Monaghan in the producer's chair. Certainly recent offerings have lacked the crispness and punch that were ingredients during the Monaghan regime. As hinted at recently in this column, Helen Holmes is back in the team, but she and other members, with the notable exception of Brian Edwards, just don't seem to be 'with it' any more. According to an informant who professes to have his finger on the TV pulse, there's more than a remote chance that Town and Around. will disappear from the screens next year. Well, it's had a pretty good trot anyway . . . . Seemingly NZBC-TV has set itself up as an arbiter in matters of morality and good taste with rather more stringent standards than BBC-TV. Why otherwise five blatant cuts in The Frost Report on love? According to the NZBC's chief programme executive, Mr T. F. A. Shankland, the cuts were made because some sections of the programme did not conform to the corporation's good taste policy. Yet folk who saw this programme uncensored in England say the portions regarded as unpalatable for New Zealand consumption were inoffensive. If the NZBC is anything, it is certainly not consistent, as viewers who follow David Frost and Alf Garnett and family must surely realise . . . . Obviously those two doctors, Finlay and Cameron, are missing the services of A. J. Cronin and so are Christchurch's Sunday night viewers. This is one casebook that should have been closed, for the new series, lacking the Cronin touch, has done nothing to brighten up the night's viewing, the entertainment level of which remains consistently dull.. . . . .Don't expect a TV spectacular from Channel 3 to celebrate the studio's opening night. It will probably be launched with a piano recital-artist so far unnamed-according to one reliable report. Idea is to start off with something fairly straightforward to enable folks to find their feet in new and more commodious working conditions.
No prizes are offered for coming up with the solution to this, but it would be interesting to know . why DNTV2, which is the smallest of the four channels, and which has the least facilities and staff members, can produce the most programmes outside of those specifically requested by Head Office, Wellington. Fresh plans for series to pour forth, although, many of these do not reach our screens, either because they are turned down by Head Office, or time and money are not as readily available as the ideas themselves. DNTV2 employs only six full-time producers, headed by Brian Ault. Of these, three are employed full-time on regular series and the others are kept amazingly busy continuing production of approved series, preparing pilot films and plans for programmes they hope to bring to the screens. At the other end of the country, AKTV2 turns out a considerable amount of locally produced programmes, although these are more often than not based on ideas from abroad and in general could hardly be labelled 'enterprising'. Wellington, the capital, maintains a conservative approach in the programmes it provides, although, occasionally Compass provides some thought-provoking material before being promptly put back in its place. Finally, CHTV3. Well frankly, Christchurch, we're still looking forward to hearing from you.