A Girl to Watch Music By was a six-part series, with each episode showcasing a popular female singer or singing act. Among those featured were recent chart-topper Allison Durbin, perennial Pat McMinn, Yolande Gibson, Eliza Keil from the Keil Isles, and The Chicks. Hosted by Ray Columbus — by 1969, already well on the way to becoming a television veteran — the series also featured a fondly remembered sketch where Columbus played puppet to a much taller Max Cryer. The show's title was likely a variation on 60s instrumental hit 'Music to Watch Girls By'.
Sixties teen sensation Allison Durbin featured on an episode of this early music show, shortly after her version of 'I Have Loved Me a Man' topped the Kiwi charts. Durbin sings ballad 'Looking Through a Tear', before swapping the dress, probably reluctantly, for a polka-dot pantaloon ensemble. As she sings the hip-swinging 'Eso Besso' (That Kiss), a small group of pseudo-Mexicans attempt to show a sombrero can make a viable dance prop. Durbin relocated to Melbourne around the time this was shot, where she would be triple crowned 'Queen of Pop'.
Although made to showcase female singers, late 60s series A Girl to Watch Music By is possibly best remembered for the moment Ray Columbus became a puppet. In this episode host Columbus played ventriloquist's dummy, sitting on Max Cryer's knee. Wrote Cryer later in his book Town Cryer: "it looked very funny and we knew it and set to work on the choreography immediately." The song is called 'Where Would You Be Without Me'. The ventriloquist idea, which would be repeated again on rare "special occasions", was the brainchild of broadcaster Cherry Raymond.
NZ Broadcasting Corporation