Fair Go? Edwards puts himself in the gun

By Amelia Wade

Media commentator Brian Edwards says his criticism of Fair Go includes the time when he was on the current affairs programme. Photo / APN
Media commentator Brian Edwards says his criticism of Fair Go includes the time when he was on the current affairs programme. Photo / APN

Fair Go founder Brian Edwards says his attack on the current affairs show was aimed at the programme as a whole - including the time he was on it - not just the recent episodes.

But another former Fair Go presenter said she was confused by his comments, as the show's format hadn't changed since Dr Edwards created it.

On Tuesday, he wrote a scathing attack of the TV One consumer affairs programme he started with producer Peter Morritt 35 years ago.

"This is a programme out of control," his post said.

"Maybe it was always out of control. Maybe it's time to recognise that and call a halt. Yes, some ratbags will get away with murder, but some fundamentally decent people will not be vilified and their reputations destroyed. Maybe that's a fair trade."

Yesterday, Mr Morritt said the show had changed because it was being produced by younger people.

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said of Dr Edwards' comments: "Brian is perfectly entitled to his opinion and we have nothing further to add to that."

Dr Edwards yesterday told the Herald that he wanted to make it clear that his criticisms were about the premise of the show itself and not a critique of recent episodes.

"I'm talking about the whole history of Fair Go - I'm not criticising the current Fair Go in particular, this is a critique of the entire programme, including the time I was on it."

Dr Edwards said he didn't know how the show worked today, beyond what he had been told, but said essentially it was similar to the programme he presented 35 years ago.

"I don't think it's changed massively over the years. It's a bit flashier now than it was, but aside from that I think it's very much the same ... It involves criticism of myself, if you think about it."

Mr Morritt last night said he thought Fair Go had "gone off the boil" since he and Dr Edwards started the programme in 1977.

"It's obviously younger people doing it, and that's fair enough, but they think that it needed a bit more glam and to be faster moving, not so much time spent on doing a little bit more investigative stuff, shall we say."

Kerre Woodham, who presented the show from 1986 to 1990, said she didn't think Dr Edwards' comments were fair because he knew that many of the stories took weeks to put together.

The show's basic format was a long-running investigation which took weeks to complete taking up a third of the timeslot, a medium story taking up another third and some "fluffy" stories to fill up the half hour, she said.

"The ongoing investigation would culminate in one third of the programme, or sometimes it was slightly longer, depending on the merits. And they were more complicated and they did involve many hours of work on it."

Ms Woodham said it was harder for those working on Fair Go now than it was when she was involved with it because there was more competition.

Campbell Live, Close Up and Target all featured stories of individuals attempting to take on a government department, which was the premise of Fair Go.

"There's a lot more competition for stories these days, whereas before Fair Go was the only show in town."

Kevin Milne, who presented Fair Go for more than 10 years, told the Herald on Wednesday that he was disappointed by Dr Edwards' comments.

"I think Fair Go, for all its shortcomings, has been a fantastic programme," he said.

"To say that the programme over all those years, some way or another did not do its job, I think is very, very sad."

Kerre Woodham did not agree with Milne's expression of disappointment because Dr Edwards was "bound to feel protective of the show".

- NZ Herald

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