One Friday last December I accompanied several of my Media7 friends to Waiheke Island. We were not media lunching (although I'd managed to squeeze in one of those earlier): we were there to attend a recording of It's In the Bag.
The what, you say? Yes, It's In the Bag. The recording in the hall of Waiheke High School was part of Maori Television's fourth series of the iconic New Zealand quiz show. And it was quite marvellous: warm, funny proper-people television that unselfconsciously embraced its bilingual kaupapa. Pio Terei and Stacey Morrison made great, spontaneous hosts and it felt like the sort of TV no one makes any more.
Our two productions have stayed in touch and this this week -- ahead of the recording of the grand final in Whangarei -- Media7 will be hosting producer Libby Hakaria and director Tainui Stephens to talk about the show and about their own paths as Maori broadcasters.
It was Libby who had the idea of bringing back the show -- whose rights turned out to belong to the Toogood family, rather than TVNZ. She contacted family spokesman Kit Toogood and was swiftly rebuffed: they felt the show had been mocked in the past. But after she sent a one-page prop through, they changed their minds. The show was on.
And one happy little gem of knowledge emerged: Selwyn Toogood, the famous host of It's In the Bag on radio and TV, had always been proud of his whakapapa in Ngai Tahu (I guess the freckles were a giveaway).
The money and the contents of the kete have increased in value with the latest series (for the first series prizes included fresh kina and paua), but that's not the point. The point, really, is that this is a show that goes to communities that television doesn't go to any more -- Te Kao, Kohukohu, Waitara and Wellsford -- and that makes itself about those communities.
The series begins screening at 6.30pm, Sunday April 8 on Maori Television (the full screening schedule is here). Me, I'm greatly looking forward to joining the crew in Whangarei on this Saturday. Not just for the recording, but for that beachside lunch they're promising ...
If you'd like to join us for Wednesday's Media7 recording (sorry, no kai moana), we'll need you to come to the Victoria Street entrance of TVNZ between 5.15 and 5.40pm. As ever, try and drop me an email to say you're coming.