Pool of lively, humorous and knowledgeable panellists could provide platform

The television programme screened on the heels of the nightly news has made its own place in public life. TVNZ's Holmes programme pioneered a format soon emulated on TV3 with Campbell Live and more or less maintained by Holmes' successor, Close Up.

TVNZ's decision now to call time on Close Up opens the possibility of something different.

A talk show has been raised as one possibility. Panel discussions do not sound like popular television and it would be a brave broadcaster who launched one at primetime.

But they can be done well and provided certain conditions are met, TVNZ ought to try.


The first condition would be that the regular news hour keeps a facility within it for news interviews and the extended inquiries that Close Up has provided, and that the twice-weekly current affairs programmes are kept to their task.

The second condition is that rare talent must be found to sustain a news discussion format of public value. The quality of the host is obviously crucial but so is a pool of panellists who are not only lively, humorous and opinionated but do some homework and have views of value.

Ideally, lucid experts and news-makers would be included, not as targets for cheap shots but as contributors to critical, informative conversation.

Wishful thinking maybe, but change invites hope.