Irony of Howard’s portrait
IT seems ironic that the man responsible for producing one of the most revealing television portraits of John Howard left the national broadcaster because of him.
Ges D’Souza (below), producer of The Howard Years, was working for the ABC in Brisbane more than a decade ago when the funding axe fell.
‘‘The Howard Government had just taken office and there were cuts to the ABC’s budget,’’ recalls D’Souza, who was one of the founding members of the awardwinning Australian Story.
‘‘There were a lot of cutbacks and redundancies and I got offered a job down in Sydney with Channel 7 for what was sort of double what I was getting paid at the ABC and so we moved down to Sydney.’’
But life on the commercial side of the fence was no picnic either for D’Souza, part of Seven’s illfated, Jana Wendt-hosted current affairs program Witness.
‘‘I think some of the work we did there stands the test of anything, but it is a very competitive world, TV current affairs,’’ he says.
After Witness folded, D’Souza found his way back to the ABC and this year began what he calls a once-in-a-generation project.
The Howard Years, a four-part interview series chronicling the former prime minister’s almost 12 years in power, concludes on Monday.
D’Souza and his team spent nine months poring over archive material and interviewing not only Howard, but members of his cabinet, key political advisers and even outgoing US president George Bush and former British PM Tony Blair.
While D’Souza says the series could have been made without Howard, the program is much richer for his presence.
‘‘For instance, in episode four, he speaks for the first time about his reasons for not (standing down from the leadership),’’ he says.
‘‘Another example is he just happened to be in Washington for September 11. Hearing him talk about his experience, you get an understanding of how that affected decisions that then came, for instance, with the Iraq war.’’