From the New Zealand TV Weekly. December 11, 1967
A new form of one-upmanship for overseas travellers is to have seen more sensational episodes from internationally-screened TV series long before they arrive locally. Continuity announcer, Margaret Moore, back on the job after a working holiday in England, has a quadruple strike in this respect. She saw the end of The Fugitive, for which we will have to wait many months; the screen marriage of Coronation Street's Elsie Tanner; and two milestones in Peyton Place-the arrival of Constance's baby and the disappearance of Alison. . . . . . A former New Zealander has won a place on the team representing BOAC in the BCB-TV World Service programme, Quiz International! He is Mr Graeme Griffith who left New Zealand about six years ago and now works at the airline's London terminal. . . . . Who wouldn't want to swap bank accounts with author Erle Stanley Gardner? After making a fortune out of various series of crime novels, he multiplied the revenue from his writing umpteen times when he sold the rights to Perry Mason as a TV character. The 78-year-old American author was through Auckland recently and he recalled that his fictional attorney had enjoyed a record run of ten years on TV. Although the Mason series ended in America recently, the author's contract for re-runs could be almost as profitable as the original deal. A team of some twenty writers was responsible for the Perry Mason scripts but Gardner always took a close practical interest in them. . . . . Rather than have a repetition of the incident in which it was alleged controversial material had been edited out of a Town and Around item, the suggestion that the programme should run later in the evening and deal with items in a more hard-hitting fashion is to be recommended. Town and Around never seems to have found its original form and some of the segments in recent weeks have been thinner than Fred's final wisecrack.
Most of the familiar local programmes, Country Calender, Looking at New Zealand, and On Camera, end their annual run in the current week (beginning Dec. 11). The programme makers will rest up over the holiday period and most should be back early in February. Irvine Lindsay who has been one of the
discoveries of 1967 will start the 1968 series of On Camera on February 13. Meantime we wish Irvine, Fred Barnes, Canon Fraser and all their associates some relaxing holidays, and trust they will return refreshed and re-invigorated. . . . . An outstanding television event (and a foretaste of things to come), was the first dual control transmission of the Town and Around programmes from Wellington and Christchurch. It started with an introduction by Peter Read, who built up impressively to the appearance of his fellow compere, Bernard Smyth, in the Christchurch studio, and while the screen showed the split image of Peter in Wellington and Bernard in Christchurch, the two held a brisk conversation and later brought off a successful sight gag. It was interesting to contrast the style of the two programmes, with items from each Town and Around team. The comparison left Wellington viewers complacent about the skill of the local team. . . . . Obviously these dual control programmes pose considerable technical difficulties in New Zealand's mountainous topography, but they pave the way for national telecasts, instant news bulletins, and live panel discussions with speakers in the various centres. . . . . . To those intrigued by the locale of The Mask of Janus, which, incidentally, has built up a regular and enthusiastic following, the programme's outdoor sequences were shot in Malta. . . . . That entertaining fellow, Graham Kerr, was back in Wellington briefly in November, and completed the final programme of a new series for the NZBC on November 14. It was a hectic week for chief producer, Roy Melford, and the camera team, but they were recompensed by the delightful aromas from the Kerr stove as they worked. No date has been set for the new series but they are likely to be held until about April. It will be an interesting exercise for the programme planners to work out what slot should be fused for the Kerr programmes. New Zealand viewers have grown more sophisticated than when his first series were shown at peak viewing times; but, then again, TV's top chef projects such a wide appeal that the, NZBC will not want to waste him on a small afternoon audience. . . . . NZBC has bought another couple of comedy series - Blandings Castle and All Gas and Gaiters from Britain, and with the brilliant Till Death Do Us Part and the Australian My Name's McGooley -What's Yours? in stock and yet to make their debut, it looks as if the NZBC has a laugh or two up its corporative sleeve. Probably they will be held until early 1968. Blandings Castle is inspired by the success of the World of Wooster, and is adapted from P. G. Wodehouse stories by John Chapman, creator of Hugh and I.
Town and Around front man, Bernard Smyth, told about 200 folk, who attended Christchurch's annual literary luncheon recently, that he had given up reading New Zealand TV Weekly after a mention in this column that best TV performance of the week had been that of a mallard duck. Well, Bernard, you must admit-that Channel 3's interludes have been improving. . . . Incidental literary luncheon information: At least three guests, obviously well dined and wined, did not hear Smyth tell the gathering that there were few truly professional full-time writers in New Zealand. The reason: They were taking a post-prandial nap. . . . . The Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association's annual show provided a fair amount of material in the course of Christchurch's racing and town-meet-country week, but it was Brian Edwards who really pointed the finger at the show in a manner that must have evoked a fair amount of sympathy from those parents, who each year, have to dig deeper and deeper in the pocket to give the kids a day out in Side Show Alley. His point: It costs a small fortune these days to give the kids a bit of fun. A show official and showman agreed with Edwards. But there were no guarantees that things will be better next year. . . . . If local newspaper, correspondents are all right, it would appear that Channel 3 is showing nothing at the moment that is not brutal, crude, sex-packed or silly. Actually, the controversy boils down to U.S. v British programmes. Seems both countries, according to sympathies, are equally culpable. . . . . The local swarm Australia-wards continues. Local news bureau chief, John Cockerill, due to leave any day now, with wife and family, was beaten to it by Naylor Hillary and wife Gail Naylor, one of the political scientists at Canterbury University who looked as though he might fill Austin Mitchell's shoes, has taken up a university appointment in Canberra. Gail, of course, was one of the local radio and TV newshens.
Talking of Christmas, a familiar face will be missing during the broadcasting appeal for flowers for the public hospitals which is to take place on the Friday before Christmas day. Noel Robson, who has been on hand for five of the last seven appeals is taking his annual leave over Christmas this year. Last year the event took place on Noel's 50th birthday (December 24) and he was presented with a handsome gold watch by members of the broadcasting staff. . . . . On Camera hostess, Eileen Cook, put her training as a beauty consultant to good use recently when she acted as one of the three judges of the Miss Port Chalmers Contest. Choosing a winner from the line-up of 16 attractive girls was no easy task-even for an expert! . . . . . Latest to visit head office in Wellington was George Speed who attended a conference for Announcers-in-Charge from throughout the country. He reports that there are no big changes in store, but it proved helpful to meet other chief announcers and discuss ideas and problems. . . . . Quite a surprising young man is DNTV2's Kevin Mills. In addition to a host of interests which include music, tramping, skiing, drama and interior decorating, he's a first-class cook. This came to light when he prepared a menu for the cooking page of a local newspaper. Kevin trained at the Cordon Bleu School of Cooking in London for two years and he also spent two years cooking professionally when he returned to New Zealand. His main interests centre around exotic and medieval dishes, and he enjoys experimenting with his own ideas when time allows.