Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Bain 'joke' spurs anger

Joe Karam is upset by the naming of a dog in the new 'Hounds' series. Photo / NZPA
Joe Karam is upset by the naming of a dog in the new 'Hounds' series. Photo / NZPA

Red-faced television bosses have ordered last-minute changes to a new comedy series following a complaint that a dog in the show had been named after a trio of men accused of the country's most notorious murders.

The six-part TV3 show called Hounds is made by the creators of the station's flagship hit 7 Days and was to prominently feature a greyhound called Lundybainwatson.

The moniker referred to David Bain, convicted then acquitted of murdering his family in Dunedin, sandwiched between the names of double killers Mark Lundy and Scott Watson.

Lundy was jailed for life in 2002 for the murder of his wife and daughter at their home in Palmerston North.

Watson was given life for the 1998 slayings of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope on his boat Blade, although their bodies have never been found.

Bain was acquitted three years ago at a retrial for murdering his parents and three siblings. He spent 13 years behind bars before his release. His long-time advocate, former All Black Joe Karam, didn't see anything funny about the dog's name in Hounds.

He complained to TV3 chiefs this week when promotional material for the series - funded with more than $1.1 million of public money - came to his attention.

On Friday, the station asked Auckland-based production company The Downlow Concept to change the name of the dog before episodes start screening on June 1 at 10pm.

They quickly agreed to do so.

"As soon as I heard about this I called one of the senior management team at TV3 and said I thought it was in extremely poor taste, and he agreed," Karam told the Herald on Sunday.

"It was not simply just a complaint in terms of the guilty association it put on David Bain's name, but I thought the whole idea was in bad taste in general.

"It was wrong to include David between the names of two people who were convicted of extremely bad offences. But it was also offensive to the next of kin and families involved in all three cases to have this brought up as though it is something funny."

The series follows the fortunes of a shiftless lawyer, his half-sister and an alcoholic grey-hound trainer. It stars Toby Sharpe, Susana Tang and Mick Innes.

TV3 spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer confirmed the name of the dog would be changed before the first show aired in just over two weeks' time, but couldn't say how much the fix would cost. Actors would have to be recalled to overdub new lines.

"As a genre, comedy pushes the boundaries, but we are not in the business of offending people," Lorimer said.

"When Joe Karam raised his concerns about the name of the greyhound we discussed the situation with the programme-makers, who are an external production company.

"They had no creative problems with coming up with a new name for the greyhound and this is able to be changed out before the programme's scheduled premiere date."

Karam said that Bain, who now lives in Kumeu, was unaware of the row because he was busy in his job at a marine engineering company in Auckland.

The production company refused to be interviewed but released a statement through TV3's publicity department. "We named the greyhound character (played by Flossie) after New Zealand's three most well-known, potentially wrongly accused men," the statement said.

"We're surprised that Mr Karam was upset, but more than willing to change the name... to avoid further offence as it's perfectly feasible for us to reshoot new lines."

- Herald on Sunday

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