Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Paul Holmes'

Shit Happens! An Open Letter to John Campbell


Shit happens, John. I’ve been “let go”, sacked from more broadcasting jobs in New Zealand than I care to remember. And, more than once, with absolutely no warning.  To add insult to injury, the sackings generally occurred at a time when the show was enjoying both public acclaim and ratings success.

Top of the Morning (1994-1999)

In December 1999 my producer, Catherine Saunders, and I were summoned to Wellington for a meeting with Radio New Zealand CEO Sharon Crosbie, an old friend of both of us.  “Summoned”  is perhaps the wrong word. Catherine and I had made a habit of going down to Wellington just before Christmas to persuade Sharon that the success of TOTM merited yet another increase in our pay. Sharon would sigh wearily but to date had come to the party.

We were pretty sure of a warm reception. The latest radio survey had just come out. TOTM, whose previous incarnation had a cumulative audience of around 80,000 when I took over the slot in 1995, now had an audience of 340,000. It was the highest rating Saturday morning radio programme in the country, not to mention outrating almost every other programme on National Radio. We had every reason to expect a warm reception from the boss.

We were called in separately to be told the news. I’d been sacked.

To this day I have absolutely no idea why I was sacked as host of TOTM. Poor ratings? Get real! Poor listener response? Ditto! My role as media advisor to Helen Clark, the newly elected Prime Minister? Hardly, TOTM was a politics-free zone with the exception of one personality-style interview – with Jenny Shipley! Which leaves two defamation writs in 5 years, neither of which, in my reasonably informed opinion, should every have been settled.

Certainly not the second, in which Paul Holmes claimed $5,000 for allegedly having been defamed by yours truly on the show

This is what happened. A close friend of Paul had told me Paul had been highly disappointed by the low-key nature of a TV election debate he’d chaired between Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark. Paul had, according to the close friend, “been hoping for a cat fight”. I mentioned this in passing on the show. Paul issued a writ against RNZ for defamation and RNZ caved. I’m not sure which is more unbelievable – for a broadcaster of Pauls’ reputation to be so thin-skinned, or Radio New Zealand so chicken-livered as to settle this preposterous suit.

You know the rest, John. When the news got out, you interviewed me on TV3 News about the sacking. You were very supportive.

Then there was a public outcry. Thousands of people wrote to Radio New Zealand to protest. A couple of “offers they know you can’t accept” were made to me by  RNZ during all of this.

Sound familiar?

Shit happens, John.

But wait, there’s more! Read the rest of this entry »


The Last Post – on the little known connection between Ritalin and ‘terrific’ TV interviewing

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[Update: Susan Wood was admirably restrained in her interviews on Q & A a week after this post appeared.]

In the check-out line at Victoria Park New World this morning I bumped into my regular co-panellist on the media review segment of TV3’s The Nation, Bill Ralston. After comparing notes about why men enjoy supermarket shopping and women generally don’t, Bill asked me if I’d watched Q & A which follows the Sunday edition of The Nation on TV1 and is, I suppose, our competitor. No, I hadn’t watched it, but I’d be looking at it later on MySky. Bill thought I shouldn’t miss it. Susan Wood was ‘terrific’, she’d demolished David Shearer and given much the same treatment to National’s Nikki Kaye.

By coincidence, Bill and I had earlier been talking on The Nation to freelance journalist Karl Du Fresne who’d penned an article entitled ‘RNZ must right its lean to the left.’ Karl’s position was that there was strong evidence of endemic left wing bias by Radio New Zealand interviewers and he cited Kim Hill, Kathryn Ryan and Mary Wilson as examples.

I don’t agree with Karl’s thesis any more than I agreed with those who claimed right-wing bias on the part of the media when Helen Clark was running the country. Journalists have, in my view, an obligation to call to account whichever political party or coalition holds the reins of power, to be, if you like, an informal opposition.

Anyway, when I got home, I watched Susan Wood interviewing David Shearer and Nikki Kaye.

So did I think Susan Wood was ‘terrific’?     Read the rest of this entry »


New Zealanders “outraged” by blithering idiot’s racist stereotyping of Muslims.

This is an OUTRAGE!

This is an OUTRAGE!

If we are to believe the papers, the radio and television news, New Zealanders live in a perpetual state of outrage. The nation’s blood pressure is never less than 180 over 110, so outraged are we by the egregious sinning of our fellow man and woman, at home and abroad. Our outrage can be singular or plural. An individual may be outraged by a neighbour’s cat walking across his lawn and want to damn the breed. In response an entire community of cat-lovers, numbering millions,  may declare themselves outraged at such a perfidious suggestion. Occasionally the entire nation is said to be outraged, most commonly by something said or done by an Australian. An under-arm ball comes to mind.

The connection between the seriousness of an action and the public outrage it occasions is tenuous at best. Where outrage is concerned, actions need no longer speak louder than words. Indeed, as sources of outrage, words seem to have surpassed actions altogether.   Read the rest of this entry »


 Paul Holmes


Paul Holmes


1950 – 2013



Paul Holmes – Starry Starry Knight

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My congratulations to everyone named in today’s New Year Honours, but in particular to Paul Holmes. His knighthood is richly deserved.

I first got to know Paul in the early 1970s. I think he was a radio announcer in Christchurch at the time or he may have come to Wellington to work on 2ZB. I was then the Labour candidate for Miramar. I was also ‘the star’ of The Brian Edwards Travelling Road Show, a stage review dreamed up by Roger Hall and consisting of comedy sketches and music. We toured the country to ever-diminishing audiences.

The ‘we’ were Roger, Fay and Grant Tilly, Michael Noonan, Ross Jolly, singer Jenny Parkinson, Yours Truly and a new name and face to me – Paul Holmes.

Paul was a delight on and off stage. He was kind, warm and funny. His ‘flea race’, in which the radio commentator has a lot of money on one flea and systematically eliminates the others by squashing them with his thumb, was a highlight of the show. There were many such highlights.   Read the rest of this entry »


Sometime interviewer opines on Duncan Garner and other TV interrogators

Duncan Garner and I haven’t always been on the best of terms. We had a very public spat a couple of years ago about whether or not Garner was running a personal campaign to discredit Chris Carter. It included my asking whether TV3 ‘should be considering whether their Political Editor is fit to hold the job’ and stating unequivocally elsewhere that, ‘Duncan Garner can’t interview.’

I’m somewhat embarrassed today by those earlier comments. My embarrassment has in part been occasioned by getting to know Garner better over the last year or so, when we have both been appearing on TV3’s The Nation. Not only did he seem to hold no malice against me for my earlier disparaging comments, he was positively welcoming of his new colleague.

More importantly, I was drawn to the conclusion that, far from being unable to interview, Garner had become the best political interviewer in New Zealand by a country mile. I’ve found no reason to change that view.     Read the rest of this entry »


An addendum to “Oh dear, Paul, were you drunk when you penned this racist diatribe?”


In this morning’s Herald Paul Holmes offered a reply to the criticism of his column on Waitangi Day. It read:

‘Not that I’ve felt too much respite this week. But if you dish it out, I’ve always said, then you’ve got to be able to take it. But, my gosh. How dare I suggest there is anything negative about the way we commemorate Waitangi Day or suggest that the annual agitation there is putting many people off caring two hoots about it. From the reaction of some you’d think I’d called for the annihilation of a people.

‘But let me tell you this. While the objections to what I said have been strident, so has the support for what I wrote been immense. I’ve never had such reaction to a column nor had so much unsought support or affirmation. And I would suggest that what I wrote is what most people think but don’t dare say.’

There’s a degree of revisionism in the sentence: ‘How dare I suggest there is anything negative about the way we commemorate Waitangi Day or suggest that the annual agitation there is putting many people off caring two hoots about it.’ This implies some esoteric quibble with ‘the way we commemorate Waitangi Day.’ But the original was rather more strident:

‘Waitangi Day produced its usual hatred, rudeness, and violence against a clearly elected Prime Minister from a group of hateful, hate-fuelled weirdos who seem to exist in a perfect world of benefit provision. This enables them to blissfully continue to believe that New Zealand is the centre of the world, no one has to have a job and the Treaty is all that matters…

‘Well, it’s a bullshit day, Waitangi. It’s a day of lies. It is loony Maori fringe self-denial day. It’s a day when everything is addressed, except the real stuff. Never mind the child stats, never mind the national truancy stats, never mind the hopeless failure of Maori to educate their children and stop them bashing their babies. No, it’s all the Pakeha’s fault. It’s all about hating whitey. Believe me, that’s what it looked like the other day…

‘No, if Maori want Waitangi Day for themselves, let them have it. Let them go and raid a bit more kai moana than they need for the big, and feed themselves silly, speak of the injustices heaped upon them by the greedy Pakeha and work out new ways of bamboozling the Pakeha to come up with a few more millions.’  Read the rest of this entry »


Oh dear, Paul, were you drunk when you penned this racist diatribe?


Photo: Waitangi National Trust

It’s a truism of column writing for the tabloid press that, if you want to attract a decent-sized readership, you can’t afford to be too rational or too even-handed. Writing in a considered way or seeing both sides of an issue is likely to lose you not only your audience but the job as well. What your editor wants is stuff that will stir readers up and have them reaching for their pens or laptops – outrage!

Given that brief, it’s difficult for the tabloid columnist to go too far. Michael Laws, who appears to view himself as the only pure-bred in a society of ferals, might seem to be an exception, but in fact represents the finest qualities of the breed.

One might have thought that Paul Holmes was a different kettle of fish. He is after all hugely intelligent, extraordinarily well-read, a talented writer in my estimation, and an award-winning columnist.

His column in last Saturday’s Weekend Herald, headed Waitangi Day a complete waste, reveals none of that. It is an appalling piece of offensive, unintelligent, uninformed racist claptrap that makes his 2003 ‘cheeky darkie’ reference to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan seem innocuous.   Read the rest of this entry »


Is it Time for Paul Holmes and Dennis Conner to Kiss and Make Up?

An intriguing little item appears in this morning’s Herald. It’s about a question Radio Live’s Martin Devlin put to Dennis Conner in a phone interview at the weekend: Was there a chance that, when he attends an America’s Cup Legends charity dinner in Auckland this month, he might ‘make complete peace with Paul Holmes’.

Holmes was due to front the event, but was dropped after Conner, though not demanding that he be replaced, had expressed discomfort with the arrangement.

Conner’s reply to Devlin’s question was: ‘I don’t really remember that. Never say never to anything but certainly not high on my agenda.’

 And then, without pause: ‘Thank you, have a nice day and thanks for the call.’ And he was gone. A walkout of a sort and a minor re-run of the end of the original Holmes interview.

Devlin commented: ‘Hmm. He doesn’t remember, eh? Remembers enough though to insist that the bloke isn’t going to be the MC.’

Not according to David Higgins, one of the organisers of  the event,  who told the Herald that  Conner had not specifically said he didn’t want Holmes as MC:

“I gathered that probably wasn’t the right way to go… I like Paul. I have a lot of time for him but I spoke to Dennis on the phone and he actually came across as sharp.’

Holmes was quoted in the Herald on Sunday as having said it was ‘pathetic’ a person could hold on to something for 21 years.

Devlin is probably right that it’s barely credible that Conner can’t remember his interview with Holmes, given his response to Higgins. I suspect the truth is that he would find a public appearance with Holmes uncomfortable and that he doesn’t want to revisit or discuss an unpleasant episode in New Zealand 21 years ago when he’s returning to speak at a function to raise funds for Asthma New Zealand. He was an asthma sufferer himself as a child and it’s a cause close to his heart.

It might have been better if he’d just said so. But Conner is clearly someone who, both in a physical and a metaphorical sense, ‘walks away from’ disagreeable situations. I have some sympathy for him, I’m a bit like that myself.    Read the rest of this entry »


They Shoot Designers, Don’t They?

I spend most of Q+A with my eyes closed.  It’s not that the people are exceptionally ugly, or pull hideous faces, or have annoying tics. It’s just that the moving lines on the background drive me nuts.  I can’t concentrate on what anyone is saying; my eyes are riveted on those hypnotic orange stripes. Read the rest of this entry »


At Last A Current Affairs Show!

The past two weeks have seen the welcome return of Agenda, now renamed Q & A and fronted by Paul Holmes. Holmes is a considerable improvement on previous host Rawdon Christie, who was fine on Dragons’ Den, but completely out of his depth as a political interviewer. But Paul will have to remember that Q & A is not Holmes and not an appropriate vehicle for his personal opinions. His role on our only significant political programme should be as a facilitator – a role in which he is unsurpassed – and not as a contributor to the debate. Read the rest of this entry »