Home' The Wellingtonian : December 15th 2011 Contents 14 THE WELLINGTONIAN, DECEMBER 15, 2011
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Memories of our first
During the 1950s, the
husband and wife explorers
had become popular on
British television, pioneering
the filming of animals in their
Out west: Richard
Coogan starred as
Marshall Matt Wayne
in The Californians.
The programme was
based on the wild San
Francisco gold rush
days of the 1850s.
Exploring Africa: Michaela and Armand Denis took viewers On Safari.
By CHRISTOPHER MOORE
Fifty years ago Wellingtonians
sang along at a party, rode out
west to the gold rush, joined a
safari to capture wild giraffe, and met
the world s greatest liar while they
celebrated their first Christmas night
Less than six months after
television came to Wellington, in July
1961, most homes did not yet have a
set and the invitation to watch the
black and white programmes on
Monday, December 25, was definitely
one for keeping up social appearances.
What may have been the highlight
was Queen Elizabeth II delivering her
Christmas message, with its theme of
fighting prejudice by example.
With television programmes not yet
networked, Wellington s Channel One
was the first to screen the queen s
speech that night.
There are two constants in half a
century of Christmas viewing: the
night-time news bulletin and little
peak-hour content of New Zealand
The Queen did not record a
televised message in 1969 because she
decided the investiture of Prince
Charles as Prince of Wales and the
Royal Family documentary had given
her enough TV exposure for the year.
The tradition of watching her
message on Christmas night resumed
in 1970 and has continued
uninterrupted ever since.
Wellington s original Christmas
transmission began at 6.30pm, when
Armand and Michaela Denis took
viewers On Safari, in an episode
called Capturing Giraffe .
During the 1950s, the husband and
wife explorers had become popular on
British television, pioneering the
filming of animals in their natural
Episode one of the American sitcom
Fibber McGee and Molly followed the
weather and news.
Molly s familiar cry of Tain t funny,
McGee! was how American audiences
had perceived the misadventures of
the world s greatest liar and his
always truthful wife.
The famous radio show failed to
click when transferred to television,
and had lasted for only 13 episodes
between 1959 and 1960.
Another series premiere was
Probation Officer, one of Britain s top-
rating programmes between 1960 and
The drama focused on the problems
facing probation officers working
within the courts. John Paul, David
Davies and Honor Blackman starred.
Party Time, a half-hour musical
variety show, was the first
programme of the night featuring
The popular Wellington saxophonist
Tony Noorts introduced the show and
It was out west after the music with
Richard Coogan as Marshall Matt
Wayne in The Californians, a series
set in San Francisco during the gold
rush of the 1850s.
The episode screened was The
Duel , in which vigilantes set out to
prove that a survivor of several duels
was really a calculating killer.
American audiences had seen the
programme in February 1958.
Looking back on our first Christmas
with television, there now seems little
to remember the programmes for,
other than being among the com-
paratively small audience watching.
of our city
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