Before he became a politician, Lockwood Smith was king of the quiz show. After dabbling in TV while completing a PhD in Australia, he went on to host teen quiz shows W3 and It’s Academic. Smith squeezed the later show inbetween a marketing job at the NZ Diary Board. An MP for 29 years, four of them as Speaker of the House, Smith spent a decade as a minister. In 2013 he became NZ High Commissioner in London.
Ray Columbus always used to say he recommended me for W3 because I was one of the only people he'd ever seen who could smile broadly and talk at the same time … I was probably asked to do further series of both W3 and It's Academic because I could get through up to eight shows a day without screwing things up. Lockwood Smith in the Sunday Star-Times, 30 May 2010
This documentary looks at the new right ideology that transformed public education in the 80s and 90s and the schism it caused with teachers. Interviews with parents, teachers and unionists are cut together with archive footage of treasury officials and politicians advocating that schools be run as businesses. There are vexed board of trustees' meetings, an infamous deal between Avondale College and Pepsi, and teachers take their opposition from the classroom to the streets. The film is the third in Alister Barry's series critical of neo-liberal reform in NZ.
It's Academic was an 80s general knowledge quiz show for high school students. Like its intermediate school sibling The W Three Show (aka W3), It's Academic was hosted by Lockwood Smith. With his Cheshire cat's grin the future Speaker of the House pulls questions from the numbered pockets, as teams from Onslow, Wellington and Newlands colleges — seated in the distinctive triangular pod set — compete in the Wellington regional final. At stake are brainiac bragging rights, school pride ... and digital watches, Britannica encyclopedias and handheld calculators.
It's Academic was an 80s general knowledge quiz show for high school students. Like its intermediate school sibling The W Three Show, It's Academic was hosted by Lockwood Smith. With his Cheshire cat's grin the future Speaker of the House pulled questions from the numbered pockets as students vied for brainiac supremacy and digital watches, encyclopedia sets and calculators. When Smith was elected to Parliament in 1984 he was replaced as presenter by John Hayden. The US format is the Guinness Book of Records-verified longest-running quiz show in TV history.
The pressure is on as contestants from Kirkwood, St Bernard’s and Remuera intermediate schools compete in the 1980 final of this children’s quiz show. Future MP, minister and Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith asks the questions, assisted by Relda Familton (a National Radio overnight host until her death in 1995). The finalists, competing for a state of the art colour TV, are quizzed on subjects including geometry, the years 6 BC to 30 AD, Shakespeare quotations, deserts, anatomy, historic England and, appropriately for the quizmaster, cabinet ministers.
The W Three Show (aka 'W3') was a quiz show for intermediate school children that took its name from the first letter of the questions asked: What, Which, Who, Where or When. Lockwood Smith (future Speaker of the House) was the first quizmaster – he was completing his doctorate in Adelaide at the time and was flown over to do the show. NZ’s grand old man of quiz shows, Selwyn Toogood, and Peter Hawes took over from Smith from the fourth series, while original scorer Annie Whittle dropped out after the first and was replaced by radio broadcaster Relda Familton.