Shoving the knife in grates

20:28, Feb 22 2013

One of the things we like to pride ourselves on in New Zealand is giving everyone a fair go.

Our longest-running television programme is even called Fair Go, and it consistently rates highly, even if it's lost a bit of its oomph recently.

So, in the interests of being scrupulously fair to Seven Sharp, I thought we'd give it another look this week. It has been absolutely panned by most media commentators, including this one, but people, mostly from TVNZ, feel we have been too quick to judge. We must give it a fair go. Fair enough.

For the moment let's put aside the loss of about 300,000 other viewers who used to watch TV One in that timeslot.

On Tuesday we gave it another go. The most noticeable difference was there were fewer items. It was getting back to the three-segment approach of Holmes and CloseUp, with a reporter doing one story in each segment.

After the cluttered opening, when all three hosts were trying to say hi, they went to the vexed issue of getting more women on to boards. Heather du Plessis Allan did a nice enough once-over piece as an entree, but the main course came from Ali Mau, who interviewed outspoken property tycoon Sir Bob Jones.


Evidently, by increasing the number of women on boards of publicly listed companies we would increase our GDP by 10 per cent, or a whacking great $20 billion.

Ali started her interview by asking Sir Bob what he thought about that, because "we're smarter and we work harder?"

Predictably Sir Bob fired back: "You're the token woman on the panel are you?"

Ali was having none of it. She does the jokes thank you.

"It's not about me, Bob," she said rather stuffily, and from that point on they were on a collision course.

The best part came when Sir Bob suggested women didn't fare too well in climbing the ranks of business because they didn't stay for a drink or three after work, especially on Fridays.

Ali was quick to pounce on that one.

So was Mrs B, if for different reasons. She pointed out she would be available to stay for drinks after five, especially on Fridays, and on that basis would be more than happy to join several boards.

At the going rate of around $60,000 a board, I figured she only needed to serve on three or four and she could keep me in the style she'd like to become accustomed to. However, the interview got worse, with Ali misquoting Sir Bob and when he pointed it out, she ignored it. She also cut him off at the end mid- sentence and while he may have sounded like a dinosaur in some respects, they must have known what to expect.

The barely suppressed sniggering and grinning by the panellists afterwards said plenty.

There was a piece by Jehan Casinader on whether watching TV increases a child's chances of becoming a criminal and Michael Holland's talents continue to be wasted with another fluff piece, this time on a chap in Taupo who puts up a New Zealand flag every morning at 6.30 at his home. He is so interesting he has another 499 flags.

Ultimately, Seven Sharp continued to grate. It contrasted with a basic philosophy of Paul Holmes, who insisted to his team that no-one invited onto the programme [other than those in the news to be interviewed] should ever regret coming on the show, or feel bad about it. It's hard to see Sir Bob going back again.

It's hard to see us watching again. Too smarmy, sorry. The panellists need to empathise with viewers, not each other. Watching Coronation St just got a whole lot harder. Knowing that Kevin Webster may well be a child molester of the worst possible sort just ruins everything. Actor Michael Le Vell, was charged with 19 child sex offences in Britain and will appear in court again this week.

He was instantly written out of the series, at least temporarily, until the matter is resolved, say Granada TV, so UK viewers will only have another six weeks of him, which is how far production runs ahead of screening over there.

But as for us poor victims of the TVNZ programmers, we've got another two years of having to see him on our screens, and second guessing every little grin or look when he's around children. No wonder Sophie's like she is.

Keep an eye out for the new series of Monroe, starting on Prime tomorrow night at 9.45pm. James Nesbitt is at his brilliant best as the cantankerous Monroe, in the lead role, and it's a timely reminder that he makes a better brain surgeon than a dwarf in The Hobbit.

Taranaki Daily News