There's a war on, you know. Scones could be flung, or missiles of madeira cake. The battle of the baking between support staff Waverley and Maggie on Shortland Street threatens to leave no empty plate or peckish senior staff member in its wake.

Wave has got the big promotion to Dr Warner's PA but her temp replacement, Maggie, is keeping her on her toes. Poor old Dr Love — sorry, I just can't think of him any other way — looks set to die under a competing barrage of home-made treats and smoked-salmon sandwiches.

There's another war on, apparently, but you probably wouldn't know it if you're part of the advertisers' favourite audience. People aged 18 to 49, it seems, aren't keen to tune in to what's happening in Iraq.

A quick glance at last week's ratings shows no news programme made it into this group's top 10 shows.


So what if the event which is likely to shape the international order for a good long time to come is unfolding before our eyes? Or a super-resistant strain of pneumonia could be on our doorstep?

We 18-49ers, it seems, are more intrigued by nurse Judy's romance with her own embedded journalist, the terribly patient and sensitive Max. (Perhaps the scriptwriters should rethink his character and bring it more into line with the true nature of the profession.)

No one shows more loyalty to our local sudser than us. It's a perennial favourite in our charts, often in our top three.

Other earth-shattering events: Delphi turned sweet 16 and was kissed by the much older Dominic. Will the physiotherapist turn out to be a cradle snatcher or has he got bigger fish to fry in the form of the Warner family?

Baby Harry has glue ear, Toni and Matt have made up and are larking about again and the Warner closet, as ever, is rattling with enough skeletons for the entire clinic staff to take one home and brush up on their anatomy skills.

But let us not forget the soap's uncanny ability to run storylines parallel to present social hot topics. There is serious stuff included in the mix, even if the euthanasia blackmail plot perhaps isn't really going to stimulate much by way of thoughtful debate on the issue.

Never mind, when we 18-49ers aren't lapping up the trials and tribulations of the romances of the medical staff on Shortland Street, there's always Monica and her broken crockery on the top-rating Friends.

Meanwhile, the general New Zealand audience, with its consistent loyalty to One News, appears to be paying more attention to world events, which may be why they're also wallowing in that showcase for the natural beauty and low-key characters of Our New Zealand.

This series captures real New Zealanders' relationship to the land, from a Wairoa grandfather teaching his grandsons bushcraft in the Ureweras to the silently poised Ohakune huntress Jane Davies stalking her stag.

It also revels in the natural beauty of even unlikely landscapes — a flat, exposed lagoon in Southland becomes a natural treasure when seen through the eyes of a family who have fished there for generations.

What better escapism could there be for a world going to hell in a US tank or Baath Party torture chamber than this simply presented, glowing tribute to small corners of our own faraway slice of heaven?