TV and other things

Someone asked me the role played by television in cultivating my interest in classical music that culminated in my Phd on Mahler. Might seem a ludicrous question to ask now seeing as free to air TV is wall to wall survivor this, survivor that nowadays but it wasn?t always that way. I replied that I most grateful that my formative years were spent in the golden age of television in the seventies when it is still modelled on the BBC and had a mantra of public service attached to it. It was obviously seen as a medium for the betterment of the entire population and struck a balance between entertainment, sport, culture and so on. In New Zealand there was only one station to watch (literally, TV one). Some big wig deciding what the country should and shouldn?t see might seem horrendously paternalistic these days but it had it uses. TV was in every sense educational. It was through television that I first saw opera (Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier?the famous Karajan/Schwarzkopf production), Bach's Chaconne for solo violin (that was an epiphany?that much music coming out of one instrument). The BBC were so enthusiastic they poured record sums into a serialisation of War and Peace. It was breathtaking. And by what miracle did someone make the decision that Monty Python was fit for television broadcast to the masses or something as seditious as the Prisoner?
    Public service. A quaint notion. As a brief aside, good on Maori television?s initiative to broadcast the rugby world cup. In doing so they threatened to take the public service high ground, which was a direct affront to TVNZ's public service credentials of course. The government had to respond essentially to save face. Hilarious! But the parallel universe is worth considering, that if Maori TV hadn't taken the initiative it did, would the rights have quietly moved into the hands of pay per view Sky and the Rugby channel?
     What else did TV do for my growing up. I was educated into the history of last century and beyond by the World at War and many others. Looking back the Eisenstein films they showed were of course little more than propaganda, but they masterpieces all the same, and succeeded in stirring my interest in modern Russian history. And of course I have fond memories of the Ascent of Man, (no possibility of war memorial shame for our generation with things like this on prime time, free-to-air TV on the only channel there was). I?m eternally grateful to someone?s paternalistic attitude that I should see this.

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