A newspaper journalist by training, Karen Sims began her TV career on South Pacific Television’s News at Ten. In the early 80s she moved into presenting, with current affairs shows Eyewitness and Foreign Correspondent. She co-presented the nightly Eyewitness News alongside David Beatson, but continued to work as a journalist — and expected to be judged on her field stories and studio interviews, rather than as a celebrity.
[Karen] Sims has the sort of style that always signified authority, objectivity, integrity in the world of television news and current affairs. Diana Wichtel in The Listener, 5 August 1989
This 'alternative' version of New Zealand history was made by the team behind Eating Media Lunch. Channelling Kenneth Cumberland —presenter of heavyweight 80s series Landmarks— Jeremy Wells plumbs the TV archives to poke fun at New Zealand, and its people. Some excruciating hilarity is mined from artifacts of visitation to southern shores, from Bill Clinton to the Beatles. Muhammad Ali's fast food tastes down under are examined; the Dalai Lama finds bad karma in Christchurch; Charles and Diana visit in 1981; and mirth is mined from all things ovine.
Rosemary (Annie Whittle) is a photographer, mother and middle-distance runner. A project photographing the rare yellow-eyed penguin sends her to a remote Otago cottage. Despite menacing happenings, she refuses to be intimidated. Then events escalate, sending her running for help in the race of her life. Bird-watching, stranger danger and feminist film theory line up for a time trial in Melanie Read's first movie, for which 20 of the 29-strong production crew were women. Marathon champ Allison Roe — who trained Whittle off-screen — makes a brief cameo.
The nightly Eyewitness News debuted in 1982 having evolved out of TV2’s twice weekly current affairs show of the same name. Screening at 9.30pm, it moved to TV One before being axed in 1990 in favour of a later One News bulletin. Two of the key moments in the political turmoil of 1984 played out in front of its cameras — PM Robert Muldoon’s calling of the snap election and his devaluation interview which sparked an economic and constitutional crisis. Reporter Rod Vaughan also received his infamous bloody nose from Bob Jones while on an Eyewitness story.
The King of the Ring came to Aotearoa in February 1979. Eyewitness reporter Karen Sims tags along with the reigning heavyweight champ as he jogs, woos the crowds, spars with school kids, and flirts with her. Muhammad Ali was 37 and in the twilight of a storied career (he sports a Dad bod — “his twins”). He announced his first retirement just a few months later. Ali's cornerman Drew Bundini Brown provides an insider perspective, while Sims reflects on Ali’s contradictions and charisma: “when the crowds are there or the cameras are rolling Ali pushes out energy like a jet stream”.
In 1978 Eyewitness evolved out of TV2’s After Ten as a twice weekly current affairs show broadcast on Tuesday and Thursday nights. With Philip Sherry as studio anchor, it set out to investigate a single issue from a number of perspectives in each episode. Other foundation staff members included journalists Karen Sims, David Beatson, Dairne Shanahan, Rhys Jones and Neil Roberts. By 1981 it was presented by Karen Sims and had become NZ television’s longest running current affairs show — but it morphed into the nightly Eyewitness News the following year.