From the New Zealand TV Weekly. August 18, 1969


Hands up all those who are getting tired of having their viewing of dramatic programmes interrupted by a sudden switch to a commercial, so that it often becomes hard to know for a second or two, anyway that one has left the meat and got on to the fat, so to speak. Surprisingly often, the first commercial in a bracket will have a similarity in style and subject to the film you're watching - and that isn't just with the oil commercial in The Troubleshooters. How about bringing back the slightly old-fashioned optical wipe at the beginning and end of commercial salvoes? At least you'd know that it was time to whiz through to the bathroom or to put the kettle on . . . There are hundreds of worried fatties in Auckland. At least, that's the assumption of programme people when Sonia King's On Camera session sought four candidates for a 14-week slimming and grooming course. Well, the scores of surplus starters can at least try to melt the excess poundage by following the course and the accompanying diet at home . . . .Can't go along with the local critic who uttered a loud expatriate Scottish lament at the unseemly mini-length kilts of the Ceilidh dancers. For my money, that's the redeeming feature of the series . . . . Personality Squares is carrying on, and justifiably so. There has been a changeround in the permanent panel, presumably because NZBC staff were heavily represented. However, it's doubtful whether most folk will be able to tell the difference between staffers and consistent contract performers . . . . The network link for the Moon landing showed up one lack of forethought. If the weather report was to be included in the link, presumably for technical reasons, why wasn't a special national report designed instead of a rather awkward Wellington area presentation with the regional reports tagged in afterwards? However, the link did show the progress towards national newslinks - a vital factor if TV is to exploit its capacity for news topicality.


Station managers from other centres were called to Wellington to confer with Head Office chiefs on arrangement for network programmes that will become a regular feature of NZBC Television within a month or two. The main programme to be affected will, of course, be the news bulletins, but others that may be in line for changes are the local Town and Around sessions and public affairs programmes like Gallery. While viewers on other channels may not miss their local Town and Around shows, if the number of complaints recently from other centres is a true reflection, there is little doubt that within WNTV1's region viewers would react strongly to the loss of one of their most popular series. While Auckland has lost producer Maurice Smyth, the Wellington team under Douglas Drury has been working extremely effectively, though one of its best items in recent weeks-a nice little satire on growing vegetables to music by Tom Finlayson-came from Auckland. It was interesting to note that two of the strongest Town and Around programmes on WNTV1 were directed by Richard Campion. The possibility could be that a national Town and Around session will be mounted, with items coming in from the other channels . . . . Like Bernard Smyth, Conrad Bollinger, the new Column Commentator, has never worked on daily newspapers, but is nevertheless an informed and lively critic of the newspapers. It is good to see the establishment-orientated NZBC willing to employ a man noted for his Leftwing views, even if it is only. to beat their old enemies, the newspapers . . . . Talking of newspapers, the Otago Daily Times must be one of the few newspapers that allows its political correspondent, Keith Eunson, to appear whenever he is asked on NZBC programmes . . . . WNTV1 viewers came to appreciate the Off the Cuff series, if only for its quickly acquired nickname, Off-key. The second to last in the series was quite outstanding for the number of times singers failed to hold the key. Overall summing up: a good try . . . . The Ronnie Barker Playhouse promised much more than it produced-but there were a few genuine laughs to sustain the Barker reputation . . . . An unfortunate row developed over the Rev. A. R. Lowe's As I See It. Mr Lowe said that the NZBC had asked for scripts in advance and had rejected the proposed title of the Bob Lowe Show. It was in fact the Churches Television Commission which didn't like the title, wanted to see the scripts in advance and asked to postpone the series . . . . WNTV1 did an excellent job of filming the Porritt wedding in St Paul's Cathedral . . . . Following the tremendous response to the Perfect Kitchen contest last year, On Camera is to stage a similar contest this year-only the emphasis this year is to be on re-designing a kitchen. Moreover, it is to be run nationally, with winners from the Northern, Central and Southern regions competing in the grand final. The regional winners will get $100, while the national winner stands to carry off a prize of $500. We hope to have more about the contest next week.


The NZBC deserves praise for getting film of the historic moon landing on to Television screens as soon as it did. Although some people complained of the quality of the film, the extraordinary feat of screening pictures of the astronauts on the moon on the same day as the moon exploration was taking place left most viewers deeply impressed. The NZBC arranged network telecasts which went off without a hitch. In case the Canberra jet which brought the film from Australia could not land at Wellington, NZBC technicians were stationed on the repeater on Mt Egmont entrusted with the task of reversing the link-up from WNTV1 to AKTV2 if the plane had been diverted to Auckland. While moon exploration is still a source of wonderment particularly to older people, the Television coverage helped to bring home to them the reality of the feat . . . . While continuing to be impressed with the virtuosity of the acting in The Power Game many viewers think the plots of this .series have become too abstruse and involved. But perhaps if British Cabinet Ministers are, in fact, like Lord Bligh, that explains why Britain is in such an economic mess these days. By comparison, Pride and Prejudice lacked the brilliant acting of The Power Game, but bowled merrily along on the taut scripting of the Jane Austen story . . . . It seems that the NZBC has had some problems with those minute-long programmes that fill in the gaps between scheduled programmes. All channels have been asked to submit interludes to head office for vetting by a viewing committee. Some interludes have been ruled out of order . . . . The NZBC recovered lost ground when Irvine Yardley devoted part of an On Camera session to New Zealand participation at Expo 70. Earlier a preview by the Meat Board of what it plans for the New Zealand pavilion's restaurant had been all but ignored on Television . . . . One of the applicants for radio licences in Auckland and Otago, Associated Network Ltd, is also interested in applying for a warrant for a Television channel. Backed by business leaders like Sir Clifford Plimmer; Sir Robert Kerridge, Sir James Wattie and Mr J. N. Doig, Associated Network is well advanced with its planning,


The final programme in the Catchword series brings to completion a successful first for former Wellingtonian, producer Murray Hutchinson. Lively and entertaining, it had the added attraction of introducing plenty of new faces each week and the early complaints of the questions being too easy and the anagram boards too small for viewers to follow were quickly rectified in the first few weeks . . . . Like Topsy, the Pied Piper we mentioned last week as being prepared for Five Live has just growed to the extent that it will now appear as a complete programme. The original Pied Piper poem was first adapted as a children's musical for production at Dunedin's Globe Theatre by Moira Fleming. It will be produced for DNTV2 by Murray Hutchinson . . The third project which Murray is undertaking at the moment is Matter of Opinion and although recording of the series is not due to start until September 4, preliminary arrangements are well in hand. The series is similar in format to the earlier Any Questions. Viewers are invited to send in topics for discussion by a panel of five personalities, some of whom will be local and others from further afield. Chairman' for the series is Mr Harry Gibson, a local lawyer, Chairman of the Otago Hospital Board and a monthly Guest Critic for TV Weekly. The thirteen half-hour programmes are at present scheduled to begin screening from DNTV2 on September 9, in a late evening time slot, and are to be shown nationally.

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