From the New Zealand TV Weekly. September 22, 1969
At last the wraps are off the first home-grown serial, The Alpha Plan and on what we are to see for six Sunday nights will largely depend the future of local drama filming. The most interesting piece of information would be just how much this major effort cost by the time all the bills were totted up. But it's most unlikely that the big chiefs will ever let the accounts have their say . . . . The thin ranks of producers got a boost from the arrival of Harold Anderson, formerly with the Dunedin channel. His main chore meantime will be to produce Sonia King's afternoon On Camera programmes - and, I presume, the little commercial trailers for the programmes which have become quite a feature. Starting as a cameraman and later working as a presentation officer, Harold did a producers course a couple of years ago, and then was involved with Dunedin's Town and Around and the haggis-flavoured Ceilioh series . . . . The New Zealand Herald is off again with one of its periodic popularity polls on programmes. In due course the computer will tell us what we like - whether we all like it or not. Well, it always makes a good discussion point . . . . Could be a TV future for Laurie Morrison, Howard's big brother, who has made an unexpected return to the entertainment field with a night-spot contract. Same big voice as Howard's . . . . In town briefly has been a young man who has gone far since he was an NZBC handyman. Bruce Clark, formerly of Christchurch, got a taste for film-making with the NZBC, then moved to Channel 10 in Sydney. He got sacked from there
because I didn't like their methods and moved on to London, where he was involved in quite a large film project. This led on to the highly rated UCLA Film School, where a couple of projects brought him to the attention of Roger Corman, the man who has made millions from B-grade, low budget, action films. He was given an assignment to write and direct a motor-cycle film and the result was Naked Angels, a big hit in the action field and the stepping-off place for Bruce to carve a real career as one of Hollywood's youngest producers - And he's still very much a New Zealander with a great yen to make a film here one day.
The expensively mounted film of the Royal Family at home has been set down for screening from all channels on Sunday, October 12.The two-hour production is going into a peak-our slot; so republicans would be advised to have a night off from the Telly . . . Television critics were all a twitter over the way the six-part series As I See It by the Vicar of Fendalton, the Rev. Bob Lowe, got chopped into a single 15-minute programme. Those who have seen it at a private preview regard it as one of the funniest programmes produced in this country-and there are so few funny programmes made here that it is a tragedy if it has in fact been banned completely. Viewers, however, should be clear that the programme was not chopped by the NZBC but by the Churches' own television commission. Mr Lowe was reported as saying that the ban was due to the traditional tirnidity of the NZBC hierarchy and the
disproportionate influence wielded in our society by the lunatic puritan fringe of the Protestant church. The NZBC he described as
about the most laughable institution since Laurel and Hardy It is not our job to defend the NZBC, but surely a touch of Christian humility from the reverend gentleman would have won him greater public svmpathy . . . . The NZBC had a difficult path to tread in preparing for the screening of The Alpha Plan, the first locally produced thriller series. Too much publicity could have built up expectations far beyond the point justified by reality, while limited publicity only created curiosity about NZBC motives. The NZBC is heavily dependent on viewer reaction in a pioneer effort of this kind to evaluate the programme itself. And to get a clear appreciation of viewer reaction, pre-publicity sometimes distorts the spontaneity of it . . . . The national news link is expected to be in operation early in October. It is expected that the network will also be used for live Telecasts of the opening election addresses by the party leaders. The NZBC has offered the leaders a 30-minute Telecast of part of each's opening speech, with the leaders choosing the segment they want Telecast. Election Television will also include about a dozen five-minute spots by each of the main parties, and in addition debates between party spokesmen on specific subjects, with an independent chairman for each . Though few programmes could match The Power Game for dramatic content, the characters were so strongly etched that in the end they became almost caricatures. .
The NZBC's Christchurch district news editor, Graham Coddington, has resigned to join the West Australian, a Perth newspaper. So he returns to newspaper work after four years with the NZBC. Coddington, commenting on the corporation, was quoted as saying that if he had any criticism it would be that the NZBC did not thump its chest enough.
It has adopted the.most sophisticated communications system there is, but it does not communicate itself. Although his job tended to keep him in the background, Coddington was by no means unknown to Channel 3 viewers, and handled a number of good hard news stories on screen from time to time. His successor is Mr G. W. Harte, from the NZBC in Wellington. Geoff Harte, a former Kemsley Empire Journalists' Scholar, was with the The Timaru Herald and then Dunedin's Evening Star, before joining the corporation . . . . Addington is generally regarded as being the home of the popular light harness sport and the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club, which has its headquarters there, is also regarded as the leading club in the business, publicity-conscious and really go-ahead. So it was really no surprise when the announcement was made that CHTV2 would come up with the country's first live telecast of trotting events at the final day of the club's Grand National meeting. Sports officers Dick Allard, Keith McEwan and Ron Findlay were in charge of planning, with the
O.B. unit under the control of supervising technician for outdoor broadcasts, G. W. Greenwood. The top trotting men are, it would appear, rather more venturesome than the N.Z. Rugby Union. But, by nature, they are probably more prepared to take a gamble. If the club's record is anything to go by, this is one more gamble that should pay off . . . . Channel 3's evening viewers were given a taste of afternoon fare in Town and Around recently when an entire session was devoted to a rescreening of the Hohepa homes documentary which was originally prepared for On Camera by producer Peter Muxlow. Julie Cunningham's interviewing technique was first class and this story, about work being undertaken in Christchurch to help children with learning disabilities lead fuller lives, was told not only with sympathy and understanding but also with intelligence and perception. One of the complaints of local viewers is that there are not enough local offerings. That may be so, but Muirlow and his team certainly showed that given the chance they can deliver the goods. It's a pity that more of On Camera does not become exposed to the larger evening audiences. Town and Around producer, Kim Gabara, did a community service in giving over one of his evening spots to this rescreening.
Tuesday seems to have become the night for screening New Zealand-produced programmes and some very good efforts there are, too. The most recent to take the air are Matter of Opinion, produced at DNTV2 by Murray Hutchinson, and In View of Circumstances, from Wellington. Matter of Opinion went away to a good start with the panel becoming quite heated over a variety of topics. Chairman, Harry Gibson, also impressed by apparently giving his panel freedom for discussion, but at the same time maintaining strict control and avoiding any long-winded side-tracking . . . Knowing how difficult it can be to make Kiwis laugh at themselves, we had some initial doubts about the reception In View of Circumstances would receive. Our doubts were dispelled within minutes, however, as production, acting and comedy all proved to be of a high standard and there is a touch of
mad genius about the programme which puts it well ahead of many overseas efforts . . . TV's favoured sporting centre of late has been Dunedin's Caledonian Ground, Hard on the heels of a direct Telecast of the Otago-Canterbury Maoris Rugby League match came the video-taping of the inter-island match, highlight of the 1969 New Zealand women's indoor basketball championships. The League match was played on a Saturday afternoon, the basketball-played in the gymnasium building-was video-taped the following Friday night and was screened from DNTV2 the next afternoon.