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The Podcast Hour for Saturday 9 March 2019

Was Melody Rules really 'The Worst Sitcom Ever Made'?! 'Podcast From The Past' uses postcards as springboards into stories. Then 'Sweeping The World' offers a hidden history of brushes and brushing, and 'Over My Dead Body' is a new true crime show, telling the story of a picture perfect relationship that ends in murder.

Was Melody Rules 'The Worst Sitcom Ever Made'?!

Melody Rules screeenshot (You Tube)

Melody Rules screeenshot (You Tube) Photo: You Tube

The homegrown TV comedy 'Melody Rules' came out on TV3 in the 1990s and has been described as one of the worst sitcoms ever made. The critics panned it, calling it cringeworthy, atrocious, awful, and a disaster in reviews, and the whole experience proved so traumatic that some actors fled overseas to escape the embarrassment!

Now 'Melody Rules' gets a post mortem 25 years on with one of the show's original writers. In 'The Worst Sitcom Ever Made', Geoff Houtman tracks down more than 20 of the cast and crew to find out where it all went wrong and how the failure's been affecting them since

The story started off at a comedy writers' workshop in Auckland: a group of 120 budding writers paid to listen to a visiting American expert, and do some writing workshops. Their mission was simple - write the great New Zealand sitcom!  And if that task seemed too easy, the organisers threw in a plot twist: a Survivor-style elimination contest between the writers.

'The Worst Sitcom Ever Made' is presented by Geoff Houtman and produced for RNZ by The Downlow Concept and Glynis Stuart.  

And you can listen to the show on RNZ's Nights after the 9pm news each Wednesday for the next 8 weeks from Wednesday 13th March, at, or wherever you get your podcasts if you search for 'The Worst Sitcom Ever Made'.


'Podcast From The Past': a postcard podcast

Podcast From The Past logo (Supplied)

Podcast From The Past logo (Supplied) Photo: Supplied/Tom Jackson

Are you still sending picture postcards, or getting them in the post? Because before Likes and Retweets and Endorsements the postcard was the cheap and easy way to let someone know that you were thinking of them...that you cared.

Even though postcards have become a bit of an endangered species in the age of emails, texts, WhatsApp, Snapchat and all the other kinds of instant messaging, they're still far from extinct!

Tom Jackson got into them more than 25 years ago, and since then he's built up a massive collection of around 60,000 cards.He's also written a book and started up a popular Twitter account @PastPostcard...Tom tweets a picture of the front of a postcard along with a sentence off the back. The effect can be really funny and sometimes quite jarring with a tacky image clashing with what's been written.

In his show 'Podcast From The Past', he also uses the postcard as a springboard into stories. Two guests bring some of their favourite postcards into the studio, Tom does the same, and they talk about what they mean and why they were sent.

We speak to Tom Jackson about his collection and how he finds his guests, and play some of an episode of Podcast From the Past featuring the poet, playwright and translator Sasha Dugdale and the actor and director Samuel West.


Sweeping The World: A hidden history of brushes and brushing

Long, long ago, in a time before bagless vacuum cleaners and Marie Kondo, sweeping with a brush was the best way we had to tidy up the places we work, rest, and play.

Bradley Nash, a besom maker from Tadley, Hampshire, UK.

Bradley Nash, a besom maker from Tadley, Hampshire, UK. Photo: Supplied/BBC

To this day, some people still derive pleasure from the simple act of using a brush or a broom. And perhaps because sweeping is such an everyday, commonplace activity it has symbolic, even spiritual, importance attached to it in many cultures too.

All around the world the broom is a ubiquitous object used for sweeping homes, places of work and worship. It is so ordinary, so everyday, that a huge range of idioms, traditions and beliefs in the power of sweeping have appeared. Award-winning poet, Imtiaz Dharker presents a reflective evocation in words, sound and music of the broom in many cultures.

In India, the negative energies of the house are swept away early in the morning and in Nigeria, the belief is strong that you do not sweep at night or you will sweep the wealth out of the house. In England, Bradley Nash is a “Broom-squire” whose family have been making traditional besom brooms for at least 300 years. He gathers and stores birch wood during the winter months and crafts the head and the handle in just ten minutes.

In the 15th Century the first image of women flying on brooms came from the French Alps, marking the start of the early modern European witch hunt - the means by which women were persecuted. Professor Jack Zipes talks of the German poet, Goethe’s Der Zauberlehrling or "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice" as the inspiration and source for Walt Disney’s film Fantasia with its dancing brooms.

In Han Dynasty China 2000 years ago, a small, beautifully made broom allows us a glimpse into the daily life of a soldier stationed at a border watchtower looking out over the dusty desert. And a strange broom made of puffin wings from the Faroe Islands reminds us how adaptable we are at making such a necessary object out of the materials we find around us.

Whether it is dust, spirits or the mythic power of the broom to break free and cause havoc, this programme takes a sweeping look at a never-ending story.

All this gets explored by host and poet Imtiaz Dharker in a BBC documentary called 'Sweeping The World' produced by Emma-Louise Williams, a Loftus Media production for the BBC World Service (discovered via The Documentary Podcast from the BBC).

Listen to the full podcast Sweeping the World here

'Over My Dead Body': a picture perfect relationship goes South

Over My Dead Body Logo (Supplied)

Over My Dead Body Logo (Supplied) Photo: Supplied/Wondery

From the outside, it looked like the perfect marriage. Dan was an Ivy League-trained lawyer and academic who seemed to be on the fast track to success when he met Wendi, another bright and accomplished lawyer with aspirations to write a novel.

The couple married, moved to Florida, and had children.

But then things started going wrong: Wendi moved out with the kids while Dan was away at a conference, they got divorced, and things turned nasty. Then one of them ended up dead, murdered at their own home.

'Over My Dead Body' from Wondery puts journalist and writer Matthew Shaer on the trail to find out what really happened after the couple's break-up. We play some of Episode 1 of Over My Dead Body called The Husband.