Paul Holmes on New Zealand

Paul Holmes is an award-winning Herald columnist

Paul Holmes: Too many cooks spoil prime time television

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MasterChef NZ 2011 winner Nadia  Lim (left) and Jax Hamilton, two of  the many desperate hopefuls on our  television screens. Photo / David Alexander
MasterChef NZ 2011 winner Nadia Lim (left) and Jax Hamilton, two of the many desperate hopefuls on our television screens. Photo / David Alexander

Swapping Coronation Street with MasterChef adds yet another food show to the mix, and ruins many a routine.

TVNZ is daring to fool with Coronation Street again. I well remember the seismic protestations which rocked the company in the middle of the last decade when the programme director of the time, big Mike Lattin, an Australian, tried to reduce the ration that New Zealanders got each week.

Lattin was quite stunned by the opprobrium heaped upon him from around the country.

Now, we're told, the company wants to play Coro at 5.30pm. Well, this doesn't seem the right thing. It seems to be a major disruption to the lives of New Zealanders.

I mean, the routine is, you make your tea, you watch the news while you're eating it, you put the dishes in the dishwasher and wipe the bench while Close Up's on - (just winding you up, Markie) then you breathe out, put your feet up and watch Coro.

And in the Coro time slot they will place Australian MasterChef.

Well, may I join the chorus of correspondents to this organ and so many of the talkback callers in asking who needs more prominence for cooking shows? They're everywhere. Turn on your telly and there's some poor desperate hopeful willing a souffle not to collapse, or someone in paroxysms of agony because one of the fat-fingered resident chefs finds a quail leg too tough or too raw or sadly let down terribly by the sauce.

(You can see that I've watched far too much of the programme. I admit it).

The trouble with the Coro crowd is they're not so much an audience but a following, and a cult following at that.

I'm sure it's a good show and it's stayed relevant and they deal with really modern issues. There was a girl I interviewed some years back whose character was about to go down for murder. Tracey Barlow, I think. Was that her?

To be honest, I haven't watched the show since the night in England, and it was a huge night, when Hilda Ogden left the show.

They gave her a nice long close-up at the end and the country was in tears. After that I never watched. Don't know why.

I'm sure that up in the programme department at TVNZ they are feeling under some siege. For some reason Coro has become a kind of core service New Zealanders expect the company to deliver on time and on the right days of the week. One day it'll end, everything ends, and we'll all be out of our misery.

My book tour promoting Daughters of Erebus has ended. This week, I spoke in Napier, Dunedin, Oamaru and finished off on Thursday evening at the end of a heavenly clear day surrounded by the mountains in Wanaka.

In Napier an older woman stood up and told me she was the sister of the Erebus DC10's First Officer Greg Cassin. He was only 37 when he died, leaving a wife and three children. She expressed deep gratitude that I had written the book. She was Carmel, a nun. I was very moved by this.

Then in Dunedin at the end of my talk, two older women approached me. They were sisters of a flight crew member not often spoken off, the spare First Officer, Graham "Brick" Lucas. They too thanked me for writing the book.

These were very special moments. So many loved ones left behind. The Lucas sisters told me they had never blamed the pilot, and never borne him any rancour whatsoever.

Then to Oamaru. Oamaru may be the country's best secret.

The buildings are old and grand, solid and stately. They are beautiful, built of the softly yellow Oamaru stone. We don't think about Oamaru enough, it seems to me. I think increasingly it is attracting a smart crowd.

The town sits in a bay and as we approached from the south you could see the sea in the distance throwing spray skywards. It is also, so the sign announcing Oamaru at the edge of town tells us, the birthplace of Richie McCaw. Right at the moment, you can't beat that.

And may I say again, once and for all and emphatically - no, that is not me on Twitter. It is some tiresome and vulgar individual pretending to be me. I wouldn't know how to twitter to save my life.

- NZ Herald

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