You might recall a TVNZ promo from two years or so ago which featured Mark Sainsbury explaining to an unseen interviewer what his job was as the host of Close Up.

It ran something along the lines that it was his task to ask the hard questions and get the answers.

His moustache bristling, Sainsbury informed us that in an one on one interview situation politicians could not escape his deadly journalistic scrutiny.

Which, in reality, is a little like being interviewed by Krusty the Clown. And I'm probably insulting Krusty.

Even by Sainsbury's own low standards, last nights Close Up must rank as one of TVNZ's more desperate moments.

The world and the country are gripped by the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, bringing with it high levels of unemployment and social deprivation, yet Sainsbury and Close Up have other ideas about what is relevant and important.

Sainsbury clearly spends his times scrutinising the entertainment and celebrity news for 'inspiration'. Indeed few politicians ever appear on Close Up these days to undergo the 'Sainsbury experience' - which I imagine is a little like swimming in custard.

Moustache opened the show with a bit of the old 'wink, wink - say no more'. The silly and meaningless relationship soap opera presently occurring between an Australian cricketer and his girlfriend was deemed so important that Sainsbury needed the views of two people to explain what it all meant. So he hauled in some Australian gossip journalist and former New Zealand cricketer John Morrison.

What do think of it all?' asked Sainsbury of Morrison. Clearly Sainsbury was struggling to come to grips with this complex issue.

Morrison managed to get in an off colour remark about the physical appearance of the woman in question - Laura Bingle - but Sainsbury just shrugged it off. It looks like blatant sexism has just got the green light from Close Up.

Sainsbury then moved on to the next crucial issue of the day - an interview with the guy who fronts the Beaurepaires Tyres television commercials. This is not the first time TVNZ have done a story on Vince Martin and this one went over the same old dross again.

But it was great advertising for Beaurepaires which just might have been the point of this lunacy. Was this advertising masquerading as 'news'? Given that TVNZ plays fast and loose with just about everything else I wouldn't be surprised if TVNZ are now dropping 'paid stories' into Close Up.

Finally we were subjected to a song by a former Australian Idol winner, Guy Sebastian, This was an opportunity for Sainsbury to ask the question that only he could think needs answering - what has happened to New Zealand's idols? All two of them.

Is Mark Sainsbury the new David 'my lips are aealed' Hartnell? Or is he David Hartnell in disguise - that would explain the moustache. Has anyone seem Sainsbury and Hartnell in the same room?

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Close Up is a disgrace and an insult to our intelligence.


  1. That has hit the nail on the head!
    I moved back to NZ in 2006 after 15 years abroad & tuned in to TV One only to have my intelligence insulted, nay!, affronted!!, with the totaly benign, pointless, & frankly, embarassing dribble that is passed of as journalism by the bald guy with the moustache.
    How much longer can the New Zealand public tolerate this dumbing down of our supposedly current affairs news programming?!!


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