From the New Zealand TV Weekly. October 9, 1967


Nobody seems to have been prepared to take too hungry a bite at the locally-produced TV workshop plays. It seems there is a sort of critical conspiracy to ensure that NZBC is not deterred from trying further dramatic efforts. However, it could hardly be suggested that the play which opened the series here, Ian Cross's Momma's a Good Girl, was anything but a rather thin reflection of a Comedy Playhouse idea. Nor could it be said that the acting was other than of suburban repertory standard with the usual faults accentuated by the medium. It did show, however, that the production side is not lacking and that once we find a pool of actors who are at home in television and prepared to be a lot more natural, we could expect something fairly worth while . . . . Snooker is not a sport which has been seen to any extent on television and yet it has a very faithful following throughout the country. AKTV2 was wise to take advantage of an exhibition given by the world professional champion, Horace Lindrum, and to edit the footage down to a half-hour programme, demonstrating both conventional billiards and snooker and a selection of the extraordinary trick shots for which Lindrum has a reputation . . . . Wonder why there was a flurry of last-minute speculation on who was going to pick the plum job of NZBC commentator for the All Black tour? It only seemed fair that Bob Irvine, who is a tried and true man on the job, should get this reward. Too bad that he will not be doing the television commentaries but it is a fair bet that the NZBC will ensure that the shocking blooper of the last tour is not repeated. Do you remember it?- a French commentator who was reasonably fluent at English but almost completely lacking in knowledge of the game . . . . Producer Bute Hewes is taking a keen interest in little theatre productions locally. With his jutting beard he needed little attention from the makeup experts for his role in the tear-jerking old melodrama East Lynne. Another familiar TV face in the production was that of Alma Wood..... The penalty of prominence is a constant demand for speaking engagements, as the Town and Around team are discovering. It is a fair bet that they will soon find they will have to be very arbitrary in turning down requests before all their spare time is tied up addressing little club groups . . . . After a visit here to check on the afternoon women's programmes, Supervisor Prudence Gregory revealed that NZBC surveys have indicated women's sessions have quite a considerable male audience.


Ian Johnstone's resignation from the NZBC sent a few shock waves along the corridors of power in the corporation. There is even an outside chance that it may at last produce the realisation that if the corporation is to retain the creative members of its staff, it will have to pay them more and give them better conditions. It is unsatisfactory to the people who have to use their imagination and initiative in making programmes to find sitting above them in plush offices are officials who would hardly know one end of a camera from the other. Of course the trend is for the creators to leave the corporation and then perhaps work for it on contract. The disadvantage of this is that it means the corporation is condemned forever because of its seniority system to maintain an upper strata of administrators who know little about the difficulties in making top quality programmes. . . . . Ian Johnstone's departure as producer of Compass may at least solve one problem that seemed likely to arise with Austin Mitchell's return to Britain. Ian could revert to his old 'front man' role - one which he obviously enjoyed. He will still be in Wellington in his new job, and plans to continue with radio and television work if it offers. . . . . Who will succeed Johnstone in the hottest producer's seat in the NZBC? Maurice Smyth who has done such a grand job with WNTV1's Town and Around must be considered a front-runner. He has shown a flair for documentary reportage. He has energy, skill, and organising ability, and has the balance essential to a producer. Another possibility is Englishman Bute Hewes from Auckland, who with his background with Roving Report seems to have the requisite experience. Others who might be considered include journalists Nigel Bingharn and Lindsay McCallum. . . . . Conceivably, Mike Minehan who has joined the Compass team could be considered, too, but he finds front of camera work more to his nature rather than presiding over control panels. . . . . An event of some consequence to producer Chris Bourn was his marriage to former WNTV1 announcer, Elizabeth Andrews, in Wellington.


Christchurch critics tried, but they couldn't bend backwards far enough to be kind to The Tired Man, first of the Theatre Workshop plays to be screened on CHTV3. I can't say I enjoyed it but must admit to being fascinated, was the best one of them could do. Another reported, more in sorrow than in anger, having been bewildered, baffled and bored. Opinion around the town has been, if anything, even more critical, and it seems that The Tired Man fared much worse than did the other three plays on other channels. Summary of opinions: production, fair but disjointed; acting, mostly too stagey; script, a disaster. Chief producer Brian Bell may have had a point when he said after the first night that we have been too close to our work. . . . . Austin Mitchell and producer Linda McDougall have been putting the finishing touches in Christchurch to their documentary Who is the New Zealander? It is a sequel to last year's TV inquiry into the The New Zealand Woman: Who is She?, but when the pair began to turn their sights on the New Zealand male they realised that when so many of our national attitudes are shaped by men a study of the New Zealander as, such would be more valid than one on the mere male of the species. Among those interviewed for the programme are Dr W. B. Sutch, Dr Erich Geiringer and All Black hooker, Dennis Young. Austin Mitchell's script is bitingly satirical and may upset some true-blue Kiwi's, provided of course it is not watered down by head office . . . . Linda McDougall, one of the more thoughtful and original of NZBC producers, leaves for England shortly- another loss to production ranks that are already thin. As well as The New Zealander documentary, she will leave behind for later screening a TV account of the life of firebrand politician-writer John A. Lee which has been filmed in several parts of the country over recent months . . . . There are hopes that some new production talent will emerge from the NZBC's producers' school soon to be held in Wellington. At CHTV3 reinforcements are urgently needed, as the small existing staff is pretty well occupied with weekly bread-and butter work . . . . Producer Bill Taylor has been asked to do a new children's programme for national screening later this year It's expected to have a space-age theme. Any volunteers for a Kiwi Will Robinson? . . . . Former continuity announcer Mary Dick is worthily filling the place of Helen Holmes as a Town and Around reporter, while the latter recuperates from a motor accident. In no more than a week or two, the new girl was working with all the assurance of a veteran . . . . Bernard Smyth wasn't exactly flattered by the inquiry from a young viewer who wondered whether he was the B. Smyth who played for the All Blacks in 1922. Town and Around's most charming item for some time, however, was quite devoid of people. It concentrated on some minute, brand-new ducklings, swimming bravely on the Avon through Christchurch's September snowstorm.


Producer, Bruce Morrrison literally took to the hills recently when he produced a film documentary on deer culling, a subject which has been in the news lately with the possible expansion of overseas markets for New Zealand venison. The camera crew joined hunters on the lower slopes of a mountain and filmed the action as helicopters drove the deer downhill. . . . . But if deer culling by helicopter is one of the newest industries in the country, steam locomotion is one of the oldest and a frequent news item is the announcement of the closing of one railway branch line or another. Harold Anderson headed a production team which went to Arthurs Pass recently to make a documentary of the last days of the steam locomotive on that line. . . . . Australia seems to hold some strong attraction for DNTV2 staff. The latest personality to cross the Tasman is Tui Uru, who is spending a few weeks, not making an attempt on her Sydney Eisteddfod singing record, but simply visiting friends and enjoying a holiday. . . . .. We've seen Rome with Sophia Loren, Lucille Ball made a TV special in London and Charles Boyer has introduced television viewers to the Louvre Museum in Paris, but the short tour provided on Town and Around recently was as pleasant as any. Kevin Mills led viewers through the grounds of his parents' lovely harbour-side home, Glenfalloch, and gave a short summary of its history. Although the gardens are at present open to the public there is little sign of any tourist invasion. It is to be hoped that the same natural atmosphere prevails when the Otago Peninsula Trust take Glenfalloch over as part of their Peninsula Development Scheme.

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