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Hero image for Beauty and the Beast Xmas Special 1982

Beauty and the Beast Xmas Special 1982

Television (Full Length) – 1982


From 1976 to 1985, the late Selwyn Toogood presented Beauty and the Beast, a daily problem-solving show featuring four women panellists. The series was mostly produced out of TVNZ's Christchurch studios by John Wansbrough, and screened on weekday afternoons on TV One.     

Shona McFarlane, Catherine Saunders, Johnny Frisbie, and many others, were regulars on the panel that pitched Toogood, in slightly chauvinist mode, against the wise women as they answered letters from viewers. 

At the time of Toogood's death, Saunders told television writer Colin Hogg: "He was a very clever broadcaster: animated, provocative and absolutely on top of everything."

Once on the show, Cath Tizard and Jean McLean clashed furiously over the issue of adoption - the former anti and the latter pro. It was a big barney and Toogood let it go on and then caught it, just before it careered off the road. "His timing was incredible," Saunders recalled. "He could take a show out, right down to the second. He'd be winding it up and we wouldn't even realise."

This Beauty and the Beast Christmas special from 1982 shows off Toogood's consummate broadcasting skill, as he holds together an hour-long show quite different from the programme's usual half-hour panel advice format.

In front of a live studio audience, the various panellists who have featured through the year all take a turn at performing - some sing, some dance, and some do readings of poems, book excerpts and prayers.

One of Toogood's catch-phrases from his other classic Kiwi television show It's in the Bag was "By Hokey" ... and hokey this show certainly is.

Viewed from 2009, sometimes it feels more like a parody than a real TV show. Perhaps as a result of its restrained afternoon time-slot, it also has the look and feel of a show from the 1970s not 1982.

But Toogood's extraordinary broadcasting skill is obvious to see, and the old Beauty and the Beast warmth is there. It's just that the humour has become rather more kitsch and cheesy with the passage of time.

Highlights include P.I. panellist Johnny Frisbie dancing a hula to the strains of 1970s crooner Brent Brodie singing Pearly Shells, joined eventually by Catherine Saunders and Toogood himself. That's in part two. Then in part five we get the delights of Toogood singing a music hall-style version of 'Yes, We Have No Bananas.' It's a tribute to his talent that he almost manages to pull it off!