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This week Standing Room Only talks to the writers behind two contrasting hit serial TV dramas - the Danish political classic Borgen and the quirky American sitcom How I met your mother. Jeppe Gjervig Gram and Chris Marcil are in New Zealand to run a course for screenwriters called "The Episodic Lab".  Otago Museum celebrates its 150th birthday, and wants to hear some of your memories.  Meanwhile, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has taken on a big job - digitizing 400,000 items from the TVNZ Archive.   The Pop Up Globe faces up to the critics over the all-male production of Taming of the Shrew, while film-maker Rebecca Tansley talks about covering the ballet based on The Piano.  The Laugh Track guest is comedian/story-teller Eamonn Marra, and another story-teller - Jane Austen - may have been very much at home in the world of social media.  And book designers Rachel Clark and Emma Jakicevich talk about their craft oin the eve of the PANZ Book Design Awards.   All this plus At The Movies, the 3 O'clock Drama and songs about "television".



12:16  Chris Marcil and the art of serial sitcoms

Chris Marcil

Chris Marcil Photo: supplied

This week, Script to Screen is encouraging writers of television series - particularly episodic drama and comedy. 

TV sitcoms have embraced the serial form lately - like the shaggy dog series How I met your mother.   It was a show that purported to take place one evening, but the series ran for 10 years before it ended.

Executive Producer on that show - and many others, including Frasier and Beavis and Butthead - is Script to Screen guest Chris Marcil.

Chris talks to Lynn Freeman and Simon Morris about How I met your mother, serials in general and the Script To Screen "Episodic Lab" for New Zealand would-be TV scriptwriters.

Chris Marcil is also part of a public event next Tuesday.  It takes place at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Room WA224, Conference Centre, Gate 3, 55 Wellesley St.

12:29 150 years of Otago Museum memories

Otago Museum's had to keep up with so many changes in recent years - including attitudes towards displaying ta moko and appropriation, new technology and public expectations.

Within the 150th Anniversary exhibition will be a space for stories, photographs and other contributions from the community.

Lynn Freeman talks to Lana Bolton-Marston, Front of House Officer at the Museum, about its own history and particularly how it was linked to Dunedin's gold rush era.

If you'd like to contribute to 150 years of memories, email

12:40 Digitizing TVNZ's massive archive

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision inherited the extensive TVNZ archives in 2014.  Since then ikt's come in for criticism over delays when it come to digitising and sharing them. .

But it's a massive task, with more than 400,000 items.  Many of them can only be played on obsolete and hard to source equipment, and much of it needs urgent conservation work.

It will take years and cost millions of dollars to complete the task of digitally preserving the collection so that we can watch them on the Archive's website.

But at least we'll be able to see what's in the collection online from next month, after the Archive carried out an extensive audit of the material.

The TVNZ collection proper - this excludes the National Film Unit material - dates from 1960 and the oldest film from that time is of the All Blacks Tour to South Africa.

Lynn Freeman spoke to Ngā Taonga Chief Executive, Rebecca Elvy and to Group Manager Information Services, Sarah Davy about how they came to take over caring for the TVNZ archives.

1:10 At The Movies

This week Simon Morris reviews Skyscraper, Edie and Adrift.

1:33  Rebecca Tansley's film about the ballet based on The Piano 

It was a bold move - turning the popular film The Piano into a full length production for the Royal New Zealand Ballet company.

Filmmaker Rebecca Tansley documented the project and her documentary The Heart Dances is about to premiere at the New Zealand International Film Festival.  She talks to Lynn Freeman about her experiences covering the creation of the ballet.

Here's a clip featuring Ada and Flora at the table, while this clip is called "We are all dancers".

2:06 The Laugh Track - comedian Eamonn Marra

Eamonn Marra

Eamonn Marra Photo: supplied

There's a fine line between standup comedy and confessional one-man dramas - not least with today's Laugh Track guest, Eamonn Marra. 

Eamonn Marra won Best Newcomer at the New Zealand Comedy Festival in 2014 with a show called Man on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  He followed it with Respite - a show, he says, about what happened after the nervous breakdown, then Dignity - a celebration of not being depressed any more.  And his latest show is called I Will Jones,  a "portrait of the toxic cultures we build around our young people".  He talks to Lynn Freeman about whether all his comedy has a more serious intent.

Eamonn Marra's picks include Chelsea Peretti, Simon Amstell, Rose Matafeo and Guy Montgomery.

2:25 Jeppe Gjervig Gram talks about creating Danish drama Borgen

Jeppe Gjervig Gram

Jeppe Gjervig Gram Photo: supplied

The Killing meets The West Wing is a pretty good desciption of the landmark Danish political TV series Borgen.

Who'd have thought a drama about coalition politicians and politics could be so fascinating?  Even the creative team never imagined it would catch on internationally and stretch to three series.

Jeppe Gjervig Gram was a writer on all three seasons of Borgen for DR the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, and is currently wrapping up the third and final season of the series Follow The Money about corporate crime.

Jeppe is coming to New Zealand to talk about his craft as a guest of Script to Screen.

He says unlike many Danish people who criticized American television 20 years ago, he was heavily influenced by dramas like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and the aforementioned The West Wing.

Jeppe is one of the guests of Script to Screen's "Episodic Lab" project for would-be TV writers.   He's also part of a public event next Tuesday afternoon, to be held at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Room WA224, Conference Centre, Gate 3, 55 Wellesley St.

2:38  Jane Austen - political satirist?

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Photo: supplied

Jocelyn Harris

Jocelyn Harris Photo: supplied

You can't help thinking Jane Austen would have enjoyed being a satirical novelist and even blogger if she were around today, poking fun at celebrities, in her inimitable style.

University of Otago Professor Emerita Jocelyn Harris, has just published her third book about the 18th century writer and her influences.

In Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen, Jocelyn takes issue with the writer's first biographer and nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh who declared that 'the politics of the day occupied very little' of his Aunt's attention.

Jocelyn tells Lynn Freeman that it remains controversial to argue that Jane Austen was both a celebrity watcher and someone with a keen interest in politics.

Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen by Jocelyn Harris is published by Lewisburg Bucknell University Press.


2:48  Judging this year's book covers.\

They're colleagues and now they're friendly rivals as the two finalists for the 2018 PANZ Book Design Awards Young Designers category.

Rachel Clark and Emma Jakicevich both work for Penguin Random House, and being with such a large publisher offers them the chance to design a wide variety of fiction and non fiction books.

Emma's back catalogue includes Behind Bars - Real-life stories from inside New Zealand's prisons by Anna Leask, Eileen Meerriman's novel Pieces of You and  Black Barn: portrait of a place by Gregory O'Brien and Jenny Bornholdt with photography by Brian Culy.

Rachel meanwhile has worked on Elisabeth Easther's anthology Bird Words, Hideaways by Hilary Ngan Kee with photography by Sam Stuchbury, and The Art of Simple by Eleanor Ozich.

Lynn Freeman asked Emma and Rachel if they always work on the cover as well as designing what's inside.   :

The winner of the Allen & Unwin Young Designer of the Year 2018 will be announced on Thursday .

3:06 Drama at 3 - Show Down adapted by Elspeth Sandys from a novel by Margaret Escott

Part one of the adaptation of the original 1936 novel, charting a Waikato dairy farmer's love affair with an upper-class Englishwoman visiting New Zealand.  It stars Tim Spite and Emily Retgien.


Music played in this show

Artist: Stan Freberg
Song: Tele-vee-shun
Composer: Freberg
Album: The Capitol collectors series
Label: Capitol
Played at: 12.12

Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Song: 57 channels and nothing on
Composer: Springsteen
Album: Human Touch
Label: Columbia
Played at: 12.26

Artist: A-Ha
Song: The sun always shines on TV
Composer: Waktaar
Album: Hunting high and low
Label: Warner
Played at:  12.58

Artist: Gil Scott-Heron
Song: The revolution will not be televisied
Composer: Scott-Heron
Album: The revolution will not be televised
Label: Bluebird
Played at:  1.08

Artist: TV Girl
Song: Pantyhose
Composer: Petering
Album: French Exit
Label: TVgirl
Played at:  1.46

Artist: Arcade Fire
Song: (Antichrist Television Blues)
Composer: Arcade Fire
Album: Neon Bible
Label: Spunk
Played at:  1.58

Artist: Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Song: Kill your television
Composer: Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Album: God fodder
Label: Columbia
Played at:  2.04

Artist: Windy City Strugglers
Song:  TV Blues
Composer: Lake-Baysting
Album: Snow on the Desert Road
Label: Redrocks
Played at: 2.36

Artist: 4 Bitchin' Babes
Song: TV talk
Composer: Fingerett
Album: Fax it!  Charge it!  Don't ask me what's for dinner!
Label: Shanachie
Played at: 2.58

Artist: Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
Song: Television the drug of a nation
Composer: Franti
Album: Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury
Label: Island
Played at:  3.04

Artist: Television
Song: Glory
Composer: Lloyd-Verlaine
Album: Adventure
Label: Elektra
Played at: 3.58

Artist: Daft Punk
Song: Television rules the nation
Composer: Bangalter-Homem-Christo
Album: Human after all
Label: Virgin
Played at:  (Trailer)