From the New Zealand TV Weekly, August 26, 1968
Before long, the NZBC is going to face the fact that, like it or not, it is a sort of Dr Frankenstein creating little problem monsters. Exposure of people on TV automatically gives them some sort of special status in the eyes of the public. And so advertisers are beginning to hop on the individual bandwagons more and more. Smart entrepreneur, Phil Warren, has capitalised on this with a slick 'teaser' brochure done in tongue- in-cheek style.
Ten - sincere, dedicated people take a further step into decadent soul-selling advertising, says the cover. Inside, advertisers are invited to
unleash the potent powers of these swinging public pace-setters and among the
guys and gals all ready to push product sales skywards are Ray Columbus, Peter Sinclair, Sandy Edmonds, Eliza Keil and most of the other artists from the TV Pop shows. Could get so that you won't know which are the commercials and which the programmes . . . News from Fiji is that Ironside is getting the bird. Actor Perry Mason has imported pheasants and ducks for breeding stocks on his private island of Naitauba . . . . Interesting to look over the familiar faces at the '15 Club' half-year 'do', and think just how many millions of hours of entertainment their combined talents have given to the radio and TV audiences over the years . .. . . The filming of the Come Dancing series has been a Sunday chore because most of the nimble-footers are tied up with work during the week . . . . Mike Devine prudently using the Town Hall for the recording of a quadruple show with live audience for Button On Button Off!. The crush at the Expo Building Centre when a live show was to be recorded scared everyone so much that it was abandoned before the place was littered with crushed kiddiwinks . . . . Entertainers, Bill and Boyd, reported likely to front their own TV show in Sydney . . . . Local entrepreneurs, Phil Warren and Eddie Hegan, both reporting tremendous demand for New Zealand artists across the Tasman.
Viewers here have noticed the absence of Relda Familton, one of the channel's most popular continuity announcers. Relda has gone to Dunedin, but viewers here hope it will not be for long. She has been with WNTV1 in one capacity or another from almost its inception, and her warm personality is ideally suited to the medium. Her quick sense of humour has sometimes got her into trouble with studio chiefs, but never with the bulk of viewers . . . . Another person to go south was newsman, Barry Swift, who went to Christchurch to work in the newsroom, and is now reported to be thinking of moving on to Australia for further experience . . . . Programme planners are reeling under the weight of criticism for the films being shown just now. But if you look at the titles over a period, it is plain that the criticism is largely misdirected. Those that have been seen here (or are due to be screened shortly) include such classics as Picnic (with Kim Novak), The Last Hurrah (with Spencer Tracy), Singing in the Rain (with Gene Kelly), Otto Preminger's Advise and Consent (made as recently as 1964), Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (with Frederic March), John van Druten's Bell Book and Candle . . . . A new series making an impact here is Half-hour Story, which began with Edna O'Brien's razor-sharp,
Which of These Two Ladies is He Married To? Other prominent writers whose stories are dramatised in this series include Alun Owen, Doris Lessing, Philip Levene, William Marchant, and Cecil B. Taylor . . . . The new Television season begins in October in the United States, but preliminary reports reaching Wellington do not suggest that the various new programmes and series being planned now will be outstanding. The NZBC will be watching developments very closely . . . . Mr Gilbert Stringer, Director-general of NZBC, predicted here that colour Television would have to be considered in 1972, when present black and white Television equipment reached a high point of obsolescence. When it completes one channel coverage, NZBC will have spent $22 million on it . . . . Mr Stringer didn't mention the cost of colour TV sets, but if colour telecasts are on the cards for 1972, we had better start saving now. In Britain, colour TV sets cost about £400-£500, and the possibility is that they might be more than $1,000 here . . . . Television cover of the French rugby tour continues to annoy keen rugby fans. The second test betrayed the same faults of previous years' telecasts from Athletic Park, with not enough use of the zoom lens to pick up the 'stoush' in lineouts and rucks. It's about time some more camera positions were established-or is the Rugby Union so hungry for receipts that it will not allow cameras on the other side of the ground? . . . . Paddy O'Donnell is having his ups and downs on Town and Around. One night he spoke of the 'enormity' of a housing block in Hong Kong, and on another occasion when he presided over the confrontation of New Zealand's rugby coach, Fred Allen, and the French team's manager, all he could extract was a flow of platitudes. But even when things are going wrong he manages to keep talking.
On Tuesday, July 16, Channel 3 viewers watched the 400th Town and Around programme. Just a little less than 24 hours later, came the announcement in the TV news that Town and Around frontman, Bernard Smyth, would be leaving the programme at the end of this month to take up the post of Director of Extension Studies for the University of Canterbury. The 400th programme was an hilarious affair scripted by Brian Edwards and David McPhail, being a mixture of traditional English comedy and satire in the David Frost tradition. It drew plaudits throughout the length and breadth of the viewing area, and clearly showed that there is an abundance of talent in the Town and Around team, of which Smyth has been such an important member for so long. Thus the news of his impending departure was all the more saddening when it broke the following evening. He is returning to work in which he has always been deeply interested, for he was a University Extension tutor for more than 13 years before he caught the public eye and won the affection of viewers fronting Town and Around He has had a long association with broadcasting as a book reviewer as well as in Point of view and other programmes. Although his new post will be a demanding one, it is improbable that the NZBC would willingly let him sever all the ties even if he wanted to . . . . Just who will replace Smyth remains to be seen. Probably as good a choice as any would be Brian Edwards, although there are a number of very valid reasons for not pinning him down to what is to all intents and purposes a 'desk job'. . . . . The days of Town and Around might well be numbered, as hinted at here recently. Story has it that when the news is beamed out from Wellington to all channels around about next March, Town and Around will go, and in its place will come a local news-cum-magazine style of programme to supplement the national News.
Oamaru, one of the few districts in the country to have a choice of channels, in that local viewers can obtain transmission from both DNTV2 and CHTV3, may soon be playing a larger part on local screens than the occasional Town and Around item. A survey trip was made to the district recently to look at the possibility of making a few programmes there and it is now thought that this could take place towards the end of this year. Among the items screened from Oamaru will be a church service and possibly a programme each of On Camera and Note for Note, DNTV2's new musical quiz . . . . Producer, Harold Anderson, and a camera team, recently headed back to the Arthurs Pass area to gather further information for the programme, The Last of Steam, which will form part of the forth-coming Landscape series. As the title suggests, this programme looks at the final days of the steam locomotive, particularly in the Arthurs Pass region, although it includes film taken in and around Dunedin . . . . Relda Familton, of WNTV1, who was 'on loan' to DNTV2 recently, was given a chance to prove outstanding adaptability as an announcer when, at very short notice, she made a first-class job of taking over for On Camera hostess, Eileen Cook, who had taken ill . . . . Over-heard two members of the younger set discussing world situations and the probability of World War III in the near future, and couldn't help feeling that the recent spate of old war films on Television was having its effect. One youngster was sure he would have no difficulty convincing the powers-that-be he was unfit for battle. His companion at first considered the army a possibility, but finally decided to enlist as a nurse.
And make those soppy movies, was the swift rejoinder.