Nine chief Gyngell kept a detail of the Packer story out of Howzat
Nine’s boss David Gyngell asked the creators of Kerry Packer drama Howzat to leave an element of the story out of the show, producer John Edwards has revealed.
Edwards, one of Australia’s most successful television producers, was behind Paper Giants for the ABC and Howzat, which both focused on the life of Packer, who owned the Nine Network and ACP Magazines. He revealed Gyngell’s request – which he said was a fair one – in a video interview with Encore.
Edwards said the stipulation came in a conversation between himself, Gyngell and writer Chris Lee. It was out of respect to Packer’s widow Ros. Packer was rumoured to have had a more colourful personal life than has been portrayed in Paper Giants and Howzat.
Discussing how Nine commissioned Howzat, the story of Packer’s creation of World Series Cricket, after the ABC dithered, Edwards told Encore: “Nine jumped in and said ‘nah, this is our story’ so we ended up going with Nine.
“David Gyngell believed it was his show. He was the one who really believed in it. He got Chris and I in very early on and said ‘there’s one thing I don’t want you to do’. And that’s a private matter and that was perfectly simple. He said ‘Ros is my godmother and I just want one thing excluded’.
“He went out of his way to help. ‘Be truthful, stick it out there, I’m not going to censor you except in one area’ and that was fine and it was not relevant. It was a fine kind of constraint from our point of view.
“They were nervous but they sat on their hands and they were very brave because obviously there were close family connections and historical connections at that network.”
When the show aired, it delivered big ratings for Nine, pulling in audiences of more than 2m viewers. Southern Star is now working on Power Games, which will tell the story of Rupert Murdoch’s arrival on the Australian media scene.