Producers say TV3 is yet to tell them Almighty Johnsons has been canned.

Production company South Pacific Pictures was surprised to learn on radio this week that their television drama The Almighty Johnsons has been dumped by TV3.

They say the network is yet to officially inform them. TV3 disputes this.

Kelly Martin, chief executive of SPP and former programme director at TV3, told The Diary she was surprised to learn during a radio interview on Sunday that The Almighty Johnsons has been cancelled.

"We pretty much thought it wouldn't be coming back, but it hasn't been said officially by TV3. It was surprising that TV3 waited so long to confirm it - and to say it on the radio."


TV3 programming boss Mark Caulton pulled the plug on a fourth series of the Norse gods and shared the news in an interview with Radio New Zealand on Sunday in which he said, "certainly The Almighty Johnsons and The Blue Rose we won't be going forward with".

In response to this news, SPP head writer and Almighty Johnsons co-creator James Griffin told the station: "To be totally honest, today, is the first time I've heard anyone definitely say it's not coming back."

In a statement, Caulton told The Diary: "TV3 officially informed South Pacific Pictures some weeks back that it would not be commissioning a fourth series of The Almighty Johnsons ... It comes as a surprise to us that there is any confusion around this within South Pacific Pictures."

A TV3 rep told The Diary a head's-up email was sent on Friday from TV3's publicity department to an SPP publicist saying Caulton announced the cancellation news in the radio interview, pre-recorded that day.

The decision to scrap The Almighty Johnsons follows the demise of Nothing Trivial (TV One), The Blue Rose (TV3) and Go Girls (TV2).

Harry, the six-part detective drama with $3.5 million in funding from NZ on Air's Platinum Fund, may return to TV3 for a second round. "We're engaging with the producers about the possibility of a second series," Caulton said. Christchurch earthquake drama Hope and Wire is set for TV3.

The TV networks insist, while drama is not such a dominant genre in today's networking schedule, they are committed to local drama production. But talk is cheap and only high-rating shows are being heard.

Television drama has experienced a drop in popularity across all channels, and as a trend worldwide. Shows have to prove themselves in the first episode in ratings to ensure survival.

International entertainment format shows, such as X Factor NZ, NZ's Got Talent and The Block NZ, now dominate our TV landscape, but what chance does our unique Kiwi voice have in competing against Simon Fuller and Simon Cowell?

Television broadcast ratings began to drop this year and the networks say this is a reflection of the change in audience viewing habits. But that fragmentation is the future, and how programmers respond will indicate how the industry survives.

So far, entertainment formats have won the day. They provide quick-fix mass appeal and marketing dollars, but they leave the television network with a shallow representation of society's voices.

How and why we are watching television differently needs to be addressed for a long-term solution. It affects how production companies endure, how networks make money and how funding can be attained. TV3 prides itself on risk-taking, but its dominating reality formats show a distinctly risk-averse outlook.

The Almighty Johnsons is officially over/cancelled! - No Season 4. So we will never know what that red...


The Almighty Johnsons have been cancelled! That show was finally getting really good and now they cancel it. I'm so hurt right now.


So The Almighty Johnsons has been officially cancelled. I'm not ok about this.


Far-flung fan plays host

Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin has long subscribed to the lyrics of Don McGlashan.

He named one of his Rebus novels, The Falls, after a song on The Mutton Birds' 1999 album Rain, Steam and Speed. So, when McGlashan came to Edinburgh at the weekend, Rankin came courting.

"Reward to myself tomorrow night: Don 'Mutton Birds' McGlashan in concert at Edinburgh's Bongo Club," the best-selling author tweeted. He failed to add Dave Dobbyn would be joining McGlashan on the ticket.

The former Mutton Birds frontman has quite the fan in Rankin, who plugged both his Edinburgh gigs on Twitter. The two men have become friends.

Rankin played tour guide, escorting the Kiwi to a popular local drinking establishment made famous in his novels. "Showed my friend Don McGlashan around Edinburgh today. Well, okay, I took him to the Oxford Bar." Maybe there's a new song in it.

'Quaint' New Zealand

Just three months after giving birth to her son, Kahekili, actress Evangeline Lilly moved to New Zealand for a year with boyfriend Norman Kali to play elf warrior Tauriel in Peter Jackson's second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug.

But the Canadian native, who now calls Hawaii home, says New Zealand's values are old-fashioned.

In an interview with a British weekend newspaper the 34-year-old said New Zealand "felt like America in the 1950s" because "it's quaint and sweet and safe and friendly. Children are much less jaded, family values are still strong.

"It felt like coming home because New Zealand and Canada are both children of the Commonwealth. There were lots of British actors ... When I'm on an American film set, for the most part everybody is drinking coffee. On The Hobbit everybody was drinking tea."