Special place in our hearts
share of viewers aged 25-54.
Last year, that share was a reasonable but significantly smaller 9.2 per cent. These days, if a show has double-digit market share it’s doing well – the mostwatched documentary of the year, Stan, had 32.5 per cent of viewers tuning in.
Its smaller viewer numbers could be down to a proliferation in television options, and what Mau calls its move from being new and exciting to ‘‘a tradition’’.
‘‘I am a bit shocked it is still going,’’ she admits. ‘‘It’s a tradition, now. A regular yearly gig for people in the performing arts.’’
The survival is something of a miracle, most admit. Even event producer John Searle, who has been with the show since it started, is surprised.
When it launched, its founder, Alan Smythe, declared ‘‘the Christmas concert will be back’’. But Searle didn’t expect to be working on it 25 years later. ‘‘You wouldn’t have thought it would end up like this,’’ he says.
Now, about 1000 people are involved in the concert each year – 200 performers, as well as security, volunteers and stage crew.
Searle is standing with the crew when we talk, awaiting containers which have made it through landslips and rough seas from Christchurch.
The 17 containers are in Auckland, but the rain is delaying stage set-up.
The long-serving producer is optimistic about the weather for tomorrow’s show at the Auckland Domain, but he’s also asking himself, ‘‘Why am I doing this?’’
He’s looking forward to hosting some well-known talents – this year’s headliner is Stan Walker – and also younger, lesser-known dancers and musicians. ‘‘This show has always been a platform for emerging talent,’’ he says.
As a teenager, chart-topping vocalist Hayley Westenra made her screen debut at Christmas in the Park and Searle is passionate about keeping this festival, a talent incubator of sorts, alive.
Although the artists may change, the show is still about Christmas, raising money for the charity Youthline, and bringing together fresh and old talent.
‘‘For better or worse, that appeals to me,’’ Searle says.
As long as people keep showing up, he hopes those three ‘‘core principles’’ of Christmas in the Park – charity, community, and quality talent – will be enough to keep it going.
I think it’s changed a little. Back in the day I think it was all about Christmas. It’s more poppy now. Frankie Stevens, left