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12:15  Pencil it in! 

The pencil may be a humble object, but it's created countless masterpieces in the hands of artists and writers since the 16th century.    The discovery of a large graphite deposit in the English town of Borrowdale in 1564 got the pencil ball rolling.   Though the graphite was originally wrapped in string before the invention of the wood-cased pencil...

All right, it sounds as dry as dust, but it turns out this is just the tip of the hugely entertaining pencil story!

It's a labour of love by British academic and stand up comedian Brian Mackenwells.  Lynn Freeman first heard him enthuse about pencils in a BBC podcast ironically entitled The Boring Talks.

Lynn chatted with Brian on Zoom, first asking if there was a pencil that he yearned to add to his extensive collection:

Brian refers to the Erasables Podcast Pencil Community as well as Pepa Stationary (they also carry a very good book about pencils that he recommends highly!) and of course Mrs Blackwells Village Bookshop: 

12:37  Poetry Live! 40 years on

Aotearoa's longest running live poetry event, Auckland's Poetry Live! is celebrating 40 eventful, often rowdy and always entertaining years, with a publication launched today called This Twilight Menagerie.

Poets - both old-school and boundary-busting and experimental - still rock up to the microphone on Tuesday nights.  And the roll call over those four decades has included luminaries like Alistair Campbell, John Pule and Maurice Shadbolt, not to mention past and present Poet Laureates C.K. Stead, Ian Wedde and David Eggleton. 

Poetry Live! was founded by the late David Mitchell and its first home - the first of many, as it happens - was the Globe Tavern on Wakefield Street.

Lynn Freeman speaks with performance poet Genevieve McLean - who's also David Mitchell's daughter - and to the anthology's co-editor Sam Clements who explains the event's nomadic history.

This Twilight Menagerie A Whakanui of 40 years of Poetry Live! is co-edited by Sam Clements, and can be ordered at  


1:10 At The Movies

This week Simon Morris reviews the action romp Gunpowder Milkshake, the French comedy-thriller The Godmother, and Edgar Wright's tribute to cult band Sparks, The Sparks Brothers.


1:31  Theatre costume designer Elizabeth Whiting

So much rides on the shoulders of costume designers.  Actors have to look the part, dancers have to be able to move freely, the outfits have to look authentic for the period - and all the time they're taking a hammering every night!

Elizabeth Whiting has been one of this country's most experienced stage costume designers for the stage since 1984.  And her commitment to her craft has been recognised as one of the inaugural Out of the Limelight Theatre Award winners.

Elizabeth designs for everyone - the Royal Ballet, NZ Opera, Auckland Theatre companies, as well as Black Grace and the World of Wearable Art spectacular.  Lynn Freeman talks with her - first about costumes specifically designed for the theatre.

1:46  Mikee Carpinter - artist manager and film colourist

Mikee Carpinter has an intriguing CV.  He's both a colourist working in film and television, with a second career as a manager of artists like singer-songwriter Georgia Lines:

Accountant, taxi driver, friend and confidante - Mikee says it's all part of an artist-manager's job.   And as a long-time musician, he's already experienced the ups and downs of this fiercely competitive industry.

In his other more technical role as a colourist, Mikee Carpinter works on films, TV shows and rock videos like Benee's global sensation "Supalonely" to make sure the finished product looks a million dollars.

Lynn Freeman first asked Mikee what exactly a colourist's job involves.   You can see the end result in the stunning video of Benee's "Supalonely"...


2:06 The Laugh Track - Peter Hayden

Peter Hayden

Peter Hayden Photo: supplied

Peter Hayden's voice has been his fortune - particularly when connected with his major love, natural history.   For many years, Peter was our own David Attenborough, the voice of of our great natural history documentaries like Wild South.  

But he's also a very fine stage actor, and he's about to star in a new Roger Hall play called Winding Up with Ginette McDonald.  But in fact the character has appeared before on British TV.  The series was called Conjugal Rites...

What happened to Barry and Genevieve 30 years on?  Peter Hayden's today's Laugh Track guest.  His picks include Blackadder Goes Forth, The Goon Show, John Clarke and Bryan Dawe, and Aisling Bea.


2:25  The rise of the Bay Of Plenty film scene

The film industry is worth around three billion dollars annually to New Zealand, and the Bay of Plenty wants a bigger piece of the action. 

While local spending on drama projects has already gone from about half a million to four million in the last 3 years, locals believe it has a lot more potential.  It just has to spread the word to the right people here and overseas.

The local screen media development agency is called Film Bay of Plenty.  Lynn Freeman talks to two of the organisations new Film Office Executives.   Jade Kent represents Eastern Bay and Taupō, while Tracy Hampton's patch is Western Bay and Tauranga.

2:40 Elizabeth Smither's short story collection The Piano Girls

Elizabeth Smither

Elizabeth Smither Photo: Jane Dove Juneau

No caption

Photo: supplied

A strong musical theme plays through Elizabeth Smither's new short story collection, The Piano Girls.

In the title story,three sisters hold a recital each year in memory of their late mother, though it has also become a competition between them.

Other stories in the collection include an agonising breakup, efforts to capture an elusive cat called Min, and a woman who procrastinates by baking - another of Elizabeth's passions as it happens.

She's no procrastinator though, with 18 poetry collections and half a dozen short story collections to her name. 

Lynn Freeman talks with Elizabeth Smither about unexpected themes linking these stories.

Piano Girls by Elizabeth Smither is published by Quentin Wilson.



2:49 Treasures of Stitch - the Wairarapa Embroiderers' Guild

40 years of painstakingly embroidered tablecloths, doll outfits and even portraits that look like paintings are on show in Wairarapa to celebrate the local guild's anniversary.

Marjorie McGregor set up Stitch - the Wairarapa Embroiderers' Guild - and in its heyday there were around a hundred members.

While the numbers are down, enthusiasm remains high among the members for embroidery in its numerous forms - from tapestry and cross stitch to stump work. 

Masteron's Aratoi Museum is hosting an exhibition drawn from the Guild's work.

Lynn Freeman spoke to the Guild's immediate past President, Jenny Cox, and to the current President Jenny Russell who explains the exhibition's title: More Precious than Rubies, Treasures from 40 years of Stitch:

The exhibition is on now at Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History in  Masterton. 


3:06 Drama at 3 - Nooks and Grannies by Michael Metzger

Our Classic Drama today is an historic performance piece that brought together some of the great radio actors of a past era.

Nooks and Grannies stars Dorothy McKegg, Davina Whitehouse and Alice Fraser as they portray three long-term bridge partners who've lost their fourth.  Now they have to give up or find a new person to join their weekly game at the card table.


Music played in this show

Artist: Sparks
Song: Propaganda
Composer: Mael
Album: Profile: The Ultimate Collection
Label: Rhino
Played at: 12.12

Artist: Sparks
Song: This town ain't big enough for the both of us
Composer:  Mael
Album: Profile: The Ultimate Collection
Label: Rhino
Played at: 12.34

Artist: Sparks
Song: Number One song in heaven
Composer:  Mael-Mael
Album: Profile: The Ultimate Collection
Label:  Rhino
Played at: 12.58

Artist: Sparks
Song: Achoo
Composer:  Mael
Album: Profile: The Ultimate Collection
Label: Rhino
Played at: 1.07

Artist: Sparks
Song: Never turn your back on Mother Earth
Composer: Mael
Album: Profile: The Ultimate Collection
Label: Rhino
Played at: 1.44

Artist:  Georgia Lines
Song: Wannabe
Composer: Lines
Album: Kiwi Hit Disc 179
Label: NZ On Air
Played at: 1.47

Artist: Sparks
Song: When do I get to sing My Way
Composer: Mael
Album: Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins
Label: BMG
Played at: 1.58

Artist: Sparks
Song: Do Re Mi
Composer: Rodgers-Hammerstein
Album: A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing
Label: Edsell
Played at: 2.05

Artist: Sparks
Song: Talent is an asset
Composer: Mael
Album: Profile: The Ultimate Collection
Label: Rhino
Played at: 2.46

Artist: Sparks
Song: Amateur Hour
Composer: Mael
Album: Profile: The Ultimate Collection
Label: Rhino
Played at: 2.58

Artist: Sparks
Song: Beat the clock
Composer: Mael
Album: Profile: The Ultimate Collection
Label:  Rhino
Played at: 3.05

Artist: Sparks
Song: Equator
Composer: Mael
Album: Kimono My House
Label: Universal
Played at: 3.58