From the New Zealand TV Weekly. October 23, 1967
It seems that the local drama productions have made their point and they can now be regarded as the forerunners of things to come, notably a thriller serial to be filmed around Auckland and possibly even a sort of local Power Game series. Hope that their ideas don't get too grandiose - the present set has shown that there is a lot still to be learned in acting ... Closed circuit telly is getting a wider use. Latest to get interested is the Auckland trotting fraternity, with four monitors to cover the track, tote and so forth. Maybe even I could tell what was winning with this assistance. Usually, it's just a confused clutter of horses to me. . . . . Delighted to see that backroom girl Joyce Cronin has been given due recognition in a local newspaper column. Joyce has been a Girl Friday since telly started locally and must have soothed the jangling nerves of hundreds of novice performers over the years. Thanks to her make-up assistance, a lot of people have looked better on the screen than they do in real life. Including me! . . . . . Unusual objects sold in a charity auction: The paintings from Slipknot's
Art gallery. Not surprising seeing that producers Kevan Moore and Bute Hewes were in charge of the Halloween Happening. . . . . Can't understand the enthusiasm for bringing interview subjects so fully into the screen that they get scalped and sometimes even lose their noses when in profile. Does peering into the pores of luckless citizens in front of the cameras really make us understand their viewpoints any better? . . . . . Aucklander D. A. Hannay involved in a Sydney company planning a TV drama series to be filmed here and around the south-west Pacific. Until more details come along, the whole project seems pretty nebulous - maybe even just a plug for an acting unknown, Barry Spicer, tagged to be star of the series. . . . .
The Director-General of the NZBC, Mr Gilbert Stringer, sits in a very exposed position, and gets caught in a regular crossfire of criticism not only from viewers but from the men on top, the members of the corporation board, and, even higher, members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers. Much of the criticism is easily refutable, and Mr Stringer accepts that as the working boss of a major State-owned corporation he must answer for the other. Most of those who know the pressures which are exerted on the Director-General agree that Mr Stringer has done a splendid job in preserving the independence of the corporation. Yet there has been a disturbing tendency lately, particularly by a prominent TV critic who used to work on the NZBC, to display a peevish and carping note in criticism of the Director-General. This critic suggested, for example, that the d-g had been upset when drama producer Brian Bell had been sighted sockless in one of the Actors Workshop. - So what? Another critic suggested that the d-g had ruled out satire on television programmes locally made. - Again, so what? Viewers have just seen locally-made plays, which after intensive work reveal that we still have a considerable way to go before our television drama reaches top standards. How much more likely then would incipient efforts at the much trickier aspects of satire fall short? Surely this kind of criticism displays only a capacity to
knock. The corporation and especially the Director-General, deserves credit for the very considerable achievements of the past five or six years. If we disagree occasionally now and then with Mr Stringer, that does not detract, from our admiration for him. . . . . . . . Overseas funds are short just now, but the corporation should be a little more adventurous in bringing the overseas world into our living room. Compass team has not been abroad this year, and corporation commentators who used to criticise newspapers for not having full-time correspondents in places like Washington perhaps need reminding that the NZBC has yet to appoint full-time correspondents in overseas capitals. This year the corporation did not send newsman David Inglis with the Prime Minister to Australia as they did last year. . . . . . . It is reported here that the corporation is planning a current affairs programme, like its nightly radio Checkpoint, for once-a-week screening. Checkpoint which has only two or three people working on it maintains a very high standard. The TV programme, if it comes off, may be called Gallery. It will have a much larger staff than Checkpoint.
A sign of the times? The volume of local productions from CHTV3 in the months ahead could depend upon the success or failure of aspiring producers at the next Wellington course, which should be upcoming shortly if it has not been held already, according to one local NZBC executive. . . . . . All the same the local men are forging ahead with some new programmes. . . . . More than in the air is a series on landscape gardening. Peter Muxlow is already working on a pilot programme. This could have considerable potential. . . . . . . On the same subject: Channel 3 toying with the idea of establishing its own garden and basing a year-round programme showing how it grows. . . . . Bill Taylor, who is a very handy man to have around any studio, working up a new programme for youngsters. Plot centres on a lad from Outer Space fitting in with Earthlings. In other words, our world through his eyes. Could be good educational as well as entertainment twist there. In any event, this will be a 13-part series for national release. . . . .
We are the magazine of television. Our terms of reference are as wide as human activity. We see our function as primarily reflecting matters of human interest in relation to the people in the area. Because we are a magazine programme, it gives our reporters an opportunity to develop their personalities - to become known to the people who see them. This type of programme, an adjunct to the hard news service, will go on as long as television goes on. The quote is from Bernard Smyth, who talked about his job as Town and Around front man at a Christchurch Lion's Club luncheon recently. . . . . Another Smythism at same luncheon:
My opinion is that we have one of the best television services in the world. With only one channel we can select the best overseas programmes for the public. . . . . . Could be Smyth's right. Still, the fact remains, the NZBC tends to step just a bit too daintily between the daisies, apparently being in abject fear of offending anyone, but anyone, as
Christchurch Star Sports TV critic, Dermont Lawrence, rightly informed his many readers recently in the course of handing out his Mealy-Mouth Award of the Week to the unknown creator of CHTV3's announcement regarding the showing of
Lysistrata. To quote Lawrence:
The play, we were primly informed, was about some Greek women who adopt an unusual attitude towards their husbands' unless they call off the war with Sparta. Those who have read or viewed this classic Aristophanes comedy will get the point, so there's no really good reason to quote more. But, undeniably, this sort of thing must make thinking people wonder if Bernard Smyth is really right. A spade is a spade and there are considerably grounds for believing that if the Government and, what some people are prone to claim,
its hireling, the NZBC, were to inform people of the fact, the country would not be in nearly so big a mess as it is today.
The week of outside telecasts which took a DNTV2 team on a visit to Invercargill and the Alexandra Blossom Festival, proved to be a complete success for all concerned. Before the venture, Town and Around introduced viewers to some of the problems likely to be encountered, and the methods used to overcome them, but nothing happened to cause any interference to a worthwhile venture. It was obvious, too, that the announcers, Eileen Cook and George Speed, who were on hand at the Blossom Festival enjoyed the proceedings every bit as much as the thousands of visitors. One of the highlights of the afternoon's programme was the introduction, by Waric Slyfield, of recorded excerpts from the musical comedy, Hell Bent For Dunstan. Although the stage production did not lend itself particularly well to TV, the musical itself was most enjoyable. . . . . Kevin Mills has been providing some interesting - and often amusing - interviews on Town and Around, but viewers can expect him back on continuity just as soon as he has completed his six-month stay with the T & A team, unless, of course, he decides to
fly north for a change. . . . . . One of Dunedin's busiest TV personalities is Alison Holst, hostess of the nationally popular Here's How series. In addition to demonstrations at many local women's meetings, she recently flew to Wellington where she spoke at a Home Science Alumni. Shortly before that, Mrs Holst went to Christchurch, where she gave demonstrations at the New Zealand Industries Fair. During the two weeks she was there, she gave four demonstrations a day, and still found time to have a holiday with her two small children.