Sports coverage on the NZBC in Christchurch.
NZBC PRESENTS: Behind the Grandstand
Previously published in TV Weekly, May 23, 1966
Sport, let's face it, is pretty much standard fare, as far as conversation is concerned in this neck of the woods. And sport on TV comes in for it's share of praise and brickbats.
So there was even more than usual in the way of talk when CHTV3'S Grandstand man Cosmo Davies (also more than incidentally. Canterbury's district sports officer) received marching orders to head for Auckland just before the end of 1965.
Davies had admirers and critics aplenty. This was probably because he was definitely a personality. Most people took time off to watch Grandstand on Monday nights-either to praise or sneer.
Be that as it may, Grandstand was built into a well-rounded programme by Davies, even if the Rugby fans felt archery, skiing and other pursuits (the fringe “religions") got too much footage.
Whether they liked Davies or not. most people wondered what would become of Grandstand once he relinquished the seat. behind the desk.
The man who stepped into his shoes was his erstwhile assistant Dick Allard who had spent most, of his time on the sound side, only storming into the breach when Davies was on leave or some other way committed.
The question a lot of folk were asking was would Allard still take a back seat and concentrate on sound and let his assistant Keith McEwen, transferred from Invercargill and with no TV experience, handle the Monday night deal.
They did not have long to wait. Grandstand is now virtually a two-man show handled in fairly equal shares by Allard and McEwen. Presentation has changed somewhat, but the fare is just as varied and although there are still some weak points, most people would agree that the new team is settling in well, aided and abetted, no doubt, by Stanley Hosgood as sports producer.
As a matter of fact, there is every reason why Grandstand should be a good programme. Allard and McEwen know their sport.
Thirty-nine-year-old Allard, married with two youngsters, had his important schooling at Cheviot District High School and Christchurch Boys’ High School.
Apart from picking up his University Entrance in 1943, he acquired a fairly good all-round sporting knowledge through participation (he says,without pronounced success) in cricket, Rugby, tennis, rifle shooting, swimming and lifesaving.
After school came a stint with the Municipal Electricity Department in Christchurch and in 1947 Allard became a registered electrician.
Shortly afterwards he joined. the Army and in July the same year he sailed for Japan, a member of J-Force. It was there that he had his first acquaintance with what was to eventually become his bread and butter.
He was seconded to the NZ. Broadcasting Unit at Yuda, just outside Yamaguchi, and at Station A.K.A.A. first met up with such well-known radio people as Gary Chapman, Bob Irvine, Lyn Martin and Doug Smith.
Allard was able to round off his sporting education in Japan, playing billiards, table tennis, indoor basket- ball, boxing, tennis, cricket, Rugby and indulging in a bit of swimming, to say nothing of that other pastime, when funds permitted, pontoon.
On his return home, Allard spent a bit of time with the M.E.D. before going into business on his own account as an electrical contractor in his old home town Cheviot. In 1960 he came oil second best in an argument with a couple of live wires and the following year he joined the NZBC as a sports officer.
The job, he says, suits him down to the ground, despite the odd hours. For relaxation he plays golf-often with his wife Nancy, who is also very keen-and when he has a chance he indulges in a spot of cricket of the Sunday afternoon variety.
On the latter pastime he likes to quote Neville Lodge-There’s nothing the matter New Zealand cricket the way we play it.
Allard's right-hand man on "Grand- stand " is cheery Keith McEwen who brought a good. practical all-round sporting background from Invercargill to CHTV3 at the end of last year.
A good sporting all-rounder. CHTV3's Grandstand man Dick Allard will give most things a go. Last year, for example. he prepared silhouettes of TV and radio personalities to decorate the model studio at the Industries Fair. One subject was Mary Dick, well known to CHTV viewers.
McEwen is in his early thirties, married with two children. Educated at Horowhenua College, he was a member of the 1st XV and 1st XI and also the athletic team. While still at college. he represented Horowhenua at cricket at senior level and was also a 3rd grade Rugby rep. He graduated to senior cricket and Rugby at Palmerston North and in 1953-54 played senior cricket in Wellington being a Brabin Cup trialist.
After two years in Europe, where his main interest was sport again, McEwen came home, was transferred to Invercargill and began contract sports commentating in 1962, finally joining the NZBC in 1964. He regards the highlight of his career in sound as his share in the Southland-Springbok commentary last winter.
McEwen enjoys all aspects of TV and sound broadcasting, in particular commentary work. But he is also very keen on documentary work and some people may remember the special programme he compiled and produced, which was, broadcast from a number of stations on the NZBC network last year on Anzac Day. It was titled Goalposts in the Sand, and covered four years of Rugby with the 2nd N.Z.E.F. in Egypt.
With backgrounds such as these, it is not so very surprising that Allard and McEwen are the “front man” in a well-rounded weekly sporting programme, for that is the best way of describing Grandstand.
As far as presentation is concerned, Allard has fixed ideas for himself and McEwen.
Our job is very much like that of the best man at the wedding. We are on hand to see that the show goes off smoothly so that all the attention is focused on the bride and groom,he says.
And, when you look at it, there is nothing much wrong, with the idea.