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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 11. 22 July 1970

The 625 Line

The 625 Line

Picture of David Smith

Stringalong with Gilbert

The fast-fading Director-General Gilbert Stringer has finally opened up on that taboo subject which has haunted the NZBC throughout his term of office. Why no satire on TV? Gilbert's answer "Good question—ask me another". Apparently he would be delighted to see some coming along (possibly because he is retiring from a position of would-be target) but is quite sure that there is nobody in New Zealand capable of writing satire. Thus he recognises the demand but falls back on the good old NZ standby that there isn't any of it in the country at the moment sorry.

Bitter personal experience however has proved to my satisfaction that the NZBC is pathologically afraid of satire. Any corporation which regards such milk and water puerility as In View of the Circumstances as potentially subversive cannot be any friend of the satirist. Certainly the Corporation does nothing to encourage satire although it could be said I suppose that almost every local programme is essentially a satire—of itself. The most notable anti-satire ploy is to take a pointed script and lose it in the bureaucracy wherein it is submitted to scrutiny by every possible nonentity so that for example a particular Cabinet Minister referred to becomes just "a cabinet minister" and eventually a back bencher. Then by the time the 'all clear' is given the political point has been lost in the mists of antiquity.

If the Universities of New Zealand alone are incapable of providing the Broadcasting media with as many satirists as are required I would be most surprised. Perhaps Mr Stringer thinks that a satirist is an Indian musician.

Gallery have once again kicked the lid off the sewer with an epoch-making expose of 'gangs' in Auckland. It will be interesting to see the effects on the Police whose scourged backs are once again firmly planted against the wall as indeed are those of the inadequate social services. This programme displays immediacy through unlaundered scripts and filmed material (some very mature editing at last). The acid test is now for the team to keep up the attack relentlessly and hopefully without any doctoring of their findings.

Happy marriage of resources and skills gives a very smooth finished product for Journey to the Unknown. Apart from a tendency towards the predictable this series is recommended. American stars and British supporting actors in Old-World surroundings combine well even if there are tinges of 'Peytonplacism' (in the form of William Self). It certainly has the most chilling opening of any TV show and manages to do it all without recourse to violence or even actors. The technique is simply to insinuate menace from normally happy surroundings (the fairground) and reinforce it with musical build-up followed by sudden hiatus. Hollywood's loss has increasingly become TV's gain.

Personal: Town and Around: please come home, all is forgiven.