Brian Edwards Media

R.I.P. Fair Go


images3I am in mourning for Fair Go, the programme producer Peter Morritt and I devised 33 years ago.

Fair Go was designed to be, and has remained for those 33 years, a court of last resort for ordinary Kiwis, ripped off by conmen, crooks and shysters.

Its format was simple: three stories each week in which the Fair Go team brought to book dishonest traders, heartless corporations, shoddy tradespeople and assorted other rip-off merchants. Plus the occasional light hearted look at your rights as a consumer.

It was in essence a ‘goodies and baddies’ show. The viewer’s satisfaction was in seeing the baddies get their comeuppance and the wronged get justice.

And the programme got results, often to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, for those who came to it for help.

To do all this, Fair Go needed no flashy sets, no gorgeous presenters. In many ways Kevin Milne,  its host for around 20 years, exemplified the programme he presented – honest, unpretentious, down-to-earth, a real Kiwi institution.

All of this changed last night as Fair Go was transformed into little more than a glossier version of Target – trivial, insubstantial, more interested in effect than in doing its job on behalf of those not given a fair go. As Herald television critic, Linda Herrick, quite rightly concluded, ‘a lemon of a programme’.

It may not be too late for Fair Go to return to its brief, to abandon the bells and whistles, the gimmicks and devices, the fake cliff-hangers that it believes will hold its audience, but which will in reality alienate that audience. The popular saying applies: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Fair Go wasn’t broke. It has not been out of the top five programmes in living memory. If it is to stay there, it must get back to its job of looking after its customers, the thousands of ordinary Kiwis who have not had  a fair go.




  1. Fair points, Brian. I was particularly exercised by the “stolen” dog non-story. Has it come to this? Are NZers so happy with their lives that the best that Fair Go can come up with is an adopted dog and a chubby fellow-flier?

  2. I am so glad you wrote this. I watched in disbelief, that was when I could tear my eyes away from those floating bubbles in the background. I kept wondering what BE would be thinking about this abortion; now I know.

    Lemon is too kind. It was Kiwitrash at its worst aimed at the lowest common denominator. What the purpose of Alison Mau was I have no idea; she was as much a distraction as the floating bubbles.

    Those responsible should hang their heads in shame.

    Has Kevin Milne no professional pride or is he just in it for the money? How could he front such rubbish? That’s one more TVNZ programme I have turned my back on.

  3. The programme needs to be live, and (it goes without saying) it needs a top notch floor manager.

  4. I found “Fair Go” last night irritating to watch, not being a avid viewer of it previously at least I knew you between each advertings segment, there would be a ; problem, the parties would be interviewd, and there would be some kind of resolution.
    Last night there was a problem, another segment entirely unrelated, then perhaps back to the orginal issue at hand, hack back and forwards a bit with some meaningless drivel inbetween ..I soon banished myself downstairs to do something more productive like turning on the xbox.

  5. Absolutely agree .Even someone like me who is not as Media savy as Dr Edwards noticed the slicker camera shots.The reporter riding down the escalator seemed incongrous with the programme I knew and liked.It seems only a step away from a Julie Christie production.

  6. I couldn’t agree with you and Linda Herrick more. The programme has had a disgraceful gaudy makeover. I liked the other ordinary presenters and can only assume they were deemed to lack market appeal by the gods of state broadcasting.

    Why did this ridiculous makeover come about? BE are you able to ask TVNZ to explain this? I would be very interested in its reply, as would your other readers I’m sure.

    • Why did this ridiculous makeover come about? BE are you able to ask TVNZ to explain this? I would be very interested in its reply, as would your other readers I’m sure.

      I don’t doubt they’ll be aware of my comments and of yours and others who have responded on the site. I’ll happily publish any response Fair Go or TVNZ wishes to make.

  7. 7

    Wrodyl Eggwhyte

    The Herald’s critic is too kind. The studio’s faded lemon-toned setting looked insipid, almost clinically bleak. The programme’s content was a
    hotchpotch of inconsequential issues lacking weight. And the way the individual grievances were being addressed, were segmented to the point of being muddled and disjointed. If this technique of drip-feeding, is meant to
    heighten the tension before the outcome — it failed. The producers’ efforts to enliven Fair Go by weaving in their strands of pizzazz, has resulted in pfft.

    Honestly, if last night’s reinvention is a taste of what’s more to come, then better start composing that requiem.

  8. We were laughing ourselves silly especially over the air nz story. Then we turned it off as couldnt believe the drivel and the new look presenters. This use to be great dinner time viewing with great discussion around the table. Its lost its simplicity and balls. We wont be tuning in again.

  9. What a load of old crap it is. But in fairness that’s in keeping with the lowest common denominator approach that seems to be so popular.
    And they wonder why downloading of overseas content is so popular.

    If I was an advertiser I’d be cancelling any advertising around that slot immediately.

  10. Those annoying bubbles! A storyline started then interrupted! (I have casually watched Coastwatch and the Custom Officer thing but lost interest because of the annoying jump to another story then later…. Its a bit like saying we have no real story here but by hopping around like ADHD, we hope you won’t notice!)
    I guess they will soon apply it to the main TV News by dripping it in bits to excite me! Huh? Not bluddy likely!

  11. I will join the chorus of disappointed viewers from last night. The dog story was simply ridiculous “in breaking news: lady pays price of not registering dog”. More to the point, isn’t it mad that people have pay $70 EVERY YEAR to register their dogs. surely once would be enough. The fact that they didnt name the other family, who did nothing wrong, was the right thing to do, but begged the question: “why are we even doing this story?”

  12. I may not be THAT old (44) but my parents were religious viewers of Fair Go.
    I have faithfully followed the programme since I left home and have always found it to be incisive yet entertaining…
    Both qualities that were lacking in Wednesday’s programme.
    Moment of the night was the fabulous presenter interviewing AirNZ.
    Interesting they have a facebook, yet most staff links go to Wikipedia who haven’t got any info.
    This smacks of last minute marketing which is trying desperately to appeal to the “NOW” generation who will probably be out nightclubbing (or getting ready for their 11:00pm departure) rather than their tried and true current demographic.
    Whoever programmed this debacle needs a reality enima!

  13. Dear oh dear what a disappointing show. I agree Fairgo wasn’t broken, why try to fix it. The whole format is tacky. I don’t know why they need Ali Mau, it looks like she is sitting at the News Desk, with bubbles flying around. PATHETIC. Won’t be watching this Target type stuff again.

  14. All complaints and correspondence to

    The suits and suitettes have been trying to do this for years. Reminds me of the conversation a grizzled Country Calendar producer had with a young blonde Auckland programmer, where it was pointed out that CC was too rural in its outlook, and was there anyway they could make it more Auckland focussed?

  15. Betcha there will be no change in the revised format, next week. TVNZ will argue that the update needs time to be bedded in. And the naysayer howlers are just yesterday’s folk, who are always going to be resistant to changes, no matter what we do.

  16. Yep kloppotz, your probably right. TVNZ are very good at ignoring the viewer. Just like that dreadful Good Morning show. If you complain about how bad it is, you get the Web Mistress telling you some rediculous story. She shouldn’t be answering viewers questions, she is just the web caretaker. Fairgo is just ONE BIG LEMON, as are a number of TVNZ programs.

  17. Oh they are simply Overcooling it”

    Unfortunately it seems broadcasting has forgotten, that we are actually geniune New Zealanders. We do exist & see very well, Something to be proud of!

    Fortunately, we have the luxury of living in a naturally welcoming country!

    We see well, & expect to be shown the ‘failings happening’ in our gifted country.

    Im sure most New Zealanders dont want overflashy influence pushed onto our daily lives.

    Its not to late to set a standard worthy of the hard work & dedication Kiwis have put in over the years.

    Please! lets not fall onto the shallow bandwagon of materialism & psycological manipulation.

    I love my Tele “Bring me Back” to reality.

    Give us a Fair Go!