From the New Zealand TV Weekly. June 19, 1967
Nice to see the Town and Around team settling down to their old form now that Bryan Easte has taken the reins again. The balance between veteran Barbara Magner and newcomer (to Town and Around) Rae Pritchard seems to be nicely maintained. Rae feels a lot more worried about hometown TV than she did when fronting This Week in Britain-TV work becomes a very personalised thing when you're meeting your audience every day. . . . . Use of Festival features as the basis for many Town and Around cuts was justifiable, but enough was enough by the time the three weeks ended. . . . . Bute Hewes busy on the spadework for his three of the Landscape documentary series. . . . . Colin Hill got a big build-up in a local paper interview. By the time all his attributes and activities had been listed, it made such ancestral Hills as the Bishop of Bermuda seem pretty dull and unenterprising fellows. . . . . First play from the TV Workshop locally was written by radio man Warren Dibble. Second homegrown drama for local taping is by another writer who has had a lot to do with radio, Peter Bland. By the look of things, the NZBC is determined to make a success of this entry into TV drama. If it does work, there should be some scope for sales abroad. . . . . Val Lamond, who has had quite a lot of experience in Australian TV and stage fields, is the latest recruit to We Three Show, which has had a bumpy path since it started. . . . . The Light Opera Club has had a flash of genius in co-opting Merv Smith to be the Dame in its Christmas pantomime. This should be right up Merv's alley and provide plenty of opportunity for his gift for ad-libbing. Merv has had plenty of stage experience, but panto will be something new for him and quite a challenge. . . . . Noticed erstwhile Aucklander Barry Linehan in a Diary of a Young Man episode. Wonder somebody hasn't revived that amusing
Trip on the Limited comedy number which John Reed wrote for him. . . . . Showing of movie Batman has prompted a lot of small fry to ask why this super-hero was turned down for local telly.
Some indignation among local fans of WNTV1's Town and Around about comments in a TV Weekly editorial (May 22) asserting that the show had plunged in popularity. In fact, Wellington's version of this show has probably never been more popular than under the guidance of present producer, Maurice Smythe. Feeling here is that the editorial must have been referring to Town and Around shows in other cities-certainly not in the capital. Last NZBC audience research rating placed Town and Around just behind Danger Man at the head of the list for Wellington region. . . . . Some recent Town and Around sessions have been quite outstanding, and the show generally maintains a high all-round standard. This is evident from the stacks of mail, including suggestions for future programmes, that keep production secretary Joy Rogers busy. . . . . Graham Billing who has worked for some months on contract to T and A finished May 19, and has joined a local Sunday paper. Relda Familton has completed her three months' stint and has returned to the district announcing staff. Nat Offord who has been with the announcing staff has come into the team for interviewing work. Mike Minehan has rejoined the team, as a replacement tor Graham Billing, probably for three or four months. He was earlier on the producers' course and has done some documentaries. Erin Sinclair, already a familiar face, will stay on the team and the other regular member is Diane Pickett, who is likely to stay until the end of the year. And of course the indispensable Peter Read is still the front man. . . . . Town and Around has also changed its theme tune: Maurice Smythe likes to suit it to the particular occasion and atmosphere. . . . . NZBC, whose offices are scattered all over Wellington, is beginning to centralise. Another building alongside that which accommodates Head Office TV is being converted to house Channel One staff. The two buildings, in Victoria street, will be known as Television House. . . . . . Alexander MacLeod, newly appointed associate editor of New Zealand Listener, had to withstand a vigorous challenge, by way of appeal against his appointment, from editor of the NZBC news service, Mr R. E. Coury. The appeal board, headed by Mr S. T. Barnett, confirmed Mr MacLeod in his £2,600-plus job. . . . . Mr MacLeod will act as editor while Mr M. H. Holcroft goes abroad later this year for a couple of months. Mr Holcroft, whose term as editor was extended, will retire finally in July next year. . . . . Looking again at the latest programme ratings for the period ending April 29, and to make a point that must surely be disturbing the NZBC, we note that in the Wellington area NZBC Reports makes fourth spot, along with The Avengers, just below Danger Man, Town and Around and The Power Game. But it does not make the top ten in other centres at all. Interesting, too, that The Power Game makes third spot in the capital - perhaps there is something familiar about it in Wellington.
Presumably more by accident than design CHTV3's Thursday night offerings were not calculated to keep folks viewing. But in recent weeks there has been a definite popularity boost with the return of Z Cars and the way-out American action series T.H.E. Cat. Nice thing about Z Cars- it more or less resumed where it left off. T.H.E. Cat, flashed at Christchurch viewers first arrived on the scene without any trumpets fanfaring, which probably helped make it better than it actually is. At least, there being no build-up, there was no one expecting too much . . . A few months ago most folk were complaining too much of the local fare was from the United States. Now, taken by and large, the best programmes, as well as some of the poorer ones, are from the United Kingdom. Be interesting to see if the switch makes viewers happy . . . . Some local sportswriters and sportsmen beginning to wonder whether Grandstand remains
must viewing. Most heard complaint is too much film clip and not enough local ingredients in the recipe . . . . Let's face it, we're still not getting much, South Island material in that Sunday night programme for farmers . . . . . Use of TV for educational broadcasts would not justify the high cost involved, Regional Education Superintendent, S. S. P. Hamilton, told the Canterbury Education Board recently in answer to its inquiry about progress. Board chairman, A. S. Murray, said that was obviously not the last word, as the Education Department was continuing its investigations. Seems like another instance of
the matter being under consideration. . .. . . Christchurch's recent snowfall did not interfere with transmission, but it did keep some technicians out of their own beds when the road to Sugarloaf was blocked . . . . Recent visitor from the West Coast, and a very active member in one of those TV socielflies, said that other members of his race were not really happy about NZBC plans to beam in Wellington fare. Appears that the Coasters feel that their ties to the Canterbury Plains are rather closer, and already there are plans in hand to ensure that CHTV3 is still on tap when the day dawns. Incidentally, some informant says Channel 3 comes through just as well, if not better, in Murchison than it does in St Albans. But the Coasters have spent a lot of their own money and used a lot of ingenuity to get the service. This, they believe, they will recover when the NZBC takes over.
In spite of the feeling that the northern studios are attracting all the talent from the south, DNTV2 is still able to show them how when it comes to producing a national programme. (me of the favourites among the younger set, Kaleidoscope, will be with us again on July 6. The last series, with its genial host, Waric Slyfield (also doing this series), won thousands of young fans throughout the country. Producer for the new series is Bruce Morrison . . . . A familiar face in a new setting-Alison Holst began her new series of Here's How in a shiny new kitchen. The programme is produced for the NZBC by Ian Richards of DNTV2 . . . . An assignment which was certainly out-of-the-ordinary was undertaken by photographer, Ken Lloyd, and sound technician, Mike Salmond, of DNTV2. They were taken to Campbell Island on board the United States Navy picket ship, USS Thomas J. Glary, and spent six days recording various aspects of life on the island before being returned to civilisation by the USS Mills. Results of the visit to the island will be seen shortly in Looking at New Zealand, which follows NZBC Reports on Sunday nights . . . . The big mystery of the moment at DNTV2 is what's happening on Town and Around? Producer, Rod Cornelius has been on the look-out for free-lance reporters for the programme but has declined any further information about his plans for the time being.