HAZEL, HORACE, AND TTT
Queen Hazel Ward-Redman is dead… Long live the Queen!!! And yes, yes, the curtain is closing on our nation’s Golden Age generation. 2014 will be the year we say we saw them off… More than 19,000 of the 20,000 VIP Elders we had from that generation have joined the Ancestors… But this rumination on Hazel’s passing is to flag something else:
It is remarkable just how much those pioneers of our TV media got right- with so little resources- in the 1970s. If we as a people had simply continued doing their original programming with generational succession this country would be a much better nation in every possible way- financially, socially, artistically…
Literally hundreds of T&T’s best local and international talents got their starts and honed their skill in the incubators of Hazel’s shows- ‘Twelve and Under’ and ‘Teen Talent’. ‘Rikki Tikki’ with Uncle Ian Ali and Aunty Germaine ensured we had an indigenous children’s programming that introduced us to storytelling, puppetry, music, and painting. Hundreds more would get career boosts from Holly’s ‘Scouting for Talent’ which travelled the nation- and his championing of roots culture. ‘Best Village’ and ‘Mastana Bahar’ brought ethnic community folk and classical talent to the mainstream and rewarded it. Who could forget the power of the early Malick and Morne Diablo in those days? Sylvia Hunte brought indigenous cuisine in her inimitable ‘Tanty’ style with ‘At Home’. Allyson Hennessy and ‘Community Dateline’ ensured that talented anyones doing anything had media access to tell the nation about it- free of charge…
And over it all hovered the genius of Horace James who pioneered local TV drama. He did this firstly by creating ‘Play of the Month’ which simply filmed the best theatrical productions being put on by community and national theatre groups nationwide, and brought it to TV monthly. Simple. Brilliant. This ensured that the work of 2 generations of the nation’s playwrights best work were seen by the nation. Horace also pushed and pioneered real hardcore TV dramas like ‘No Boundaries’ whilst he facilitated everyone else with series like ‘Calabash Alley’, ‘Turn of the Tide’, ‘Sugar Cane Arrows’, the riotous ‘Dial 999’, after school specials, game shows, and much more… The latter were created by all kinds of creators who were able to get resources to pilot memorable TV content.
We, in fact, had a perfect directory of TV Network programming. We had the foundation and template for perfect television stations and for national programming…
It is amazing that now with all the media hardware and software that we have at our disposal which has reduced the cost and ease of production enormously THAT NOT ONE TV STATION HAS COME CLOSE TO EVEN HALF EQUALLING THIS OUTPUT!!! Or partnering with production houses to do so.
So there has been no successor to Hazel and her critically important incubator for the nation’s talented children pursuing work IN ALL GENRES. No successor to Horace James and his vision, work ethic, and commitment to Local dramatic productions… Since their time was aborted, 2 generations have grown up in the vacuum of Local Content that our media landscape has become. With 38 radio stations and 10+ TV stations our Local Content is still at between 5- 10% annually and the development content of that % in terms of the richness of what I just described from our pioneers is sadly lacking. The nation is that much poorer for it.
On Monday 10th- Tuesday 11th November the T&T Local Content Chamber will be hosting a Summit on Local Content at the Couva/Pt Lisas Chamber headquarters on Camden Road, Couva. Registration for artists will be $200. This is a historic first conference on Local Content and the first time that the business class- including all the Chambers, the Manufacturer’s Association, the JCC, etc are publicly supporting the call for Local Content- for artists/broadcasting and themselves.
I urge all those who are Content Creators, who are the beneficiaries of the Legacy of Hazel and her peerage to come down and make your presence felt. Let us make this Summit the platform to push on to get Local Content Broadcast Quotas a reality by April 2015. In the name of the Elders and Ancestors who paved the way. So that the work of Hazel and Horace will not have been in vain.