Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Keith Holyoake'

“Tricky versus Shifty” – Coming to your TV soon!

Cunliffe and Key

The phrase ‘presidential-style election campaign’ is bandied about a lot these days. Its intended meaning is that voters are as much or perhaps more influenced by the personality and media image of party leaders as by their parties’ policies.

This was clearly not, or at least less the case in the pre-television era when party leaders  were generally seen in the flesh only at public meetings or very occasionally on cinema newsreels. Parliament was first broadcast in New Zealand on the 25th of March 1936 but offered neither the intimacy nor the capacity for exposure of the television close-up. Radio without pictures is sound without sight. It can be hugely informative but the listener is deprived of a large chunk of helpful non-verbal information.

Keith Holyoake was the first New Zealand Prime Minister of the television age. In 1971 in my book The Public Eye  I wrote of his on-screen performances:

‘The studio Holyoake was everything that an interviewee should not be – evasive, pompous, patronising, overbearing, long-winded, repetitious, pretentious, boring.’

The trouble in part was that no-one had dared to tell him just how awful he was. That changed in 1970 when the recently knighted Prime Minister accepted an invitation to be interviewed by me on his life and times on the popular current affairs programme Gallery. Much against the wishes of his press secretary Arthur Manning, Gallery producer Des Monaghan and I sat Sir Keith down and told him the unvarnished truth about how he came across on the box. Though he still sounded as though he had a marble in his mouth, the outcome was a frank and in places quite moving interview. Unbeknownst to me, my career as a media trainer had begun. Read the rest of this entry »

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