TV pick of the week: Anzac Day programming
Other than news coverage of Anzac ceremonies, it seems the main networks have surrendered significant marking of our most popular national day to Maori Television.
As it has in past years, the channel is devoting its entire day's broadcast to commemoration starting at 5.45am at the Auckland War Memorial Dawn Service and running through to past midnight with live coverage which includes the ceremony at Gallipoli and an exclusive glimpse into the Special Air Service's (NZSAS) service in Auckland.
Maori TV's focus for the day will be on D Company in the 28th Maori Battalion, which covers Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Wairarapa, Taranaki and the South Island with hosting duties across the locations split between Carol Hirschfeld, Julian Wilcox, Annabelle Lee-Harris and Sarah Bradley.
Matai Smith will present from Te Aute College in Hawkes Bay, where 250 former pupils served in the 28th Maori Battalion during World War II, including Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery and gallantry.
But it is another medalled member of D Company who is the focus of the evening's main documentary, Charlie Shelford Rebel Hero (8.30pm).
Director Tainui Stephens tells the story of Te Kaha-born Shelford, a winner of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, with the doco arguing that but for his poor regard for military discipline his actions justified the greater award, the Victoria Cross, and that he was one of a group of Kiwi soldiers recommended for the VC who were knocked back by the British high command.
Shelford's DCM was awarded for his actions in the second Libyan campaign in Gazala where he single-handedly took a German machine gun position, being seriously wounded in doing so.
The programme also examines Shelford's colourful life in the service in which he frequently was reprimanded as a thief, black marketeer and a drunk. After the war, he became a community-spirited man active in the Catholic Church and Maori Wardens. He died after being hit by a car in 1984.
Shelford's nephew, Paekakariki poet and actor Apirana Taylor, portrays the veteran as an old man with the documentary flashing back from his life as kaumatua in 1978. Stephens says he wanted to tell a war story about an individual rather than a collective.
"Shelford was just one of the many citizen soldiers of every war who have had to fight in order to survive their peace."
On Anzac Day the channel debuts drama series Atamira (12.10pm), which brings Maori plays to TV. The first is Strange Resting Places by Paolo Rotondo and Rob Mokaraka, about a young Maori soldier and an Italian deserter in World War II. The rest of the series will screen on Sundays at 8.30pm.
On the History Channel a new doco, Gallipoli From Above: The Untold Story of the Gallipoli Landing (7.30pm), claims it "reveals a truth about the Anzac Landing far more significant than the myths about poor planning, wrong beaches and British generals sending the Anzacs to certain death". Based on Hugh Dolan's book 36 Days, Gallipoli From Above, this promised revelation has something to do with how Australian officers planned to avoid significant casualties on Z Beach. Yes, apparently getting there was a triumph of planning and innovation. Given what happened soon after, that's good to hear.
Where: Maori TV
What: Docos, plays and live coverage for the commemoration
Biopic pick: Hawking
In January 1963, 21-year-old Stephen Hawking listened in silence as a doctor explained that Stephen would be dead in two years from motor neurone disease. This biopic, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Hawking, is a record of the next two extraordinary years, culminating in his great scientific breakthrough. His discovery changed the way we think about ourselves and our universe. But this biopic is less about the physics, and more a tender, charming, sometimes difficult portrait of his love, ambition, pride and sacrifice. The prospect of death nearly destroyed Hawking, but instead transformed him and instigated his greatest work as one of the foremost scientific minds of our time.
Check out a clip for TV film Hawking here:
When: 8.35pm, Wednesday
What: The transformation of Stephen Hawking
Documentary pick: Inside Outward Bound
Kiwis have been climbing rock faces, throwing themselves into freezing lakes, paddling kayaks and crewing boats on Outward Bound courses for over 50 years. This documentary marks the milestone. The story of Outward Bound is brought to the screen with archival footage, and emotional interviews from well-known Kiwis whose lives were changed by their experience (former All Black Gary Whetton, adventurer Mark Inglis, actor Sara Wiseman and Kelly Swanson-Roe), plus it follows young people on the course today. Shot at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds, it looks at how the courses have changed over 50,000 young Kiwis, pushing them and helping to harness their potential.
When: 7.30pm, Thursday
What: Celebrating 50 years of Outward Bound challenges
Drama pick: Call the Midwife
Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, this new BBC series is an often touching, intimate, funny portrayal of the lives of nurses and midwives in East London in the 1950s. The drama follows 22-year-old graduate nurse Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) as she arrives in the colourful, impoverished East End, a far cry from her privileged upbringing, to join midwives based at a convent led by medically trained nuns, as they try to provide care to the many pregnant women, babies and families. Featuring an all-star cast, including Vanessa Redgrave and comedian Miranda Hart, the series captures a community on the edge of huge social change, as seen through Jenny's eyes.
When: 9.30pm, Sunday
Where: TV One
What: The life of a midwife in 1950s East End London
Crime pick: The Killing
Forbrydelsen (The Crime) - left us hanging with Seattle mayoralty candidate Darren Richmond fingered as the chief suspect in the murder of Rosie Larsen, only for lead detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) to find that doctored evidence may have put him in the frame.
Now, as season two of the 13-parter starts with a double episode, we find out if Richmond survived the assassination attempt as police led him away, who may be behind the conspiracy to pin the murder of the teenage girl on him and if Linden - and her long-suffering teenage son, Jack - can cope with the reopening of the case.
When: 8.30pm, Wednesday
What: Post-series two. The first season of the chilling whodunnit, a US redo of the Danish drama