TelevisionJanuary 20, 2018

Mr Telly is the funniest, angriest letters section in New Zealand


Sam Brooks defies the ancient wisdom ‘never read the comments’ and goes deep into nine weeks of the TV Guide’s Mr Telly letters.

Since the beginning of time, there have always been internet comments, whether they were some dude ring-a-dinging a bell in a town square, Martin Luther hammering a bunch of complaints to the front door of a church or the more traditional letters to the editor.

But even as methods of complaining have evolved, some of the older ones stay around. I bring you: Mr Telly.

Mr Telly is the letters to the editor section of the TV Guide. I have clear memories of reading these letters with glee when I went to my grandmother’s house – there would be letters demanding new seasons of shows that had been long cancelled, asking why people didn’t dress properly to read the news and the ever-important screeds about TVNZ moving Coro again.

For some reason, Mr Telly exists in the year of our lord 2018. So you don’t have to, I’ve rounded up the common elements from the Mr Telly section for your perusal. Some of them warm the cockles of your heart, but mostly, it just reminds you that people everywhere have garbage and strange opinions; the internet just made it easier to express them.

Without further ado, Mr Telly.

Letter Writers with Strangely Chosen Names

This is a selection of the fine people who choose to write into Mr Telly, but are too afraid to use their real names.

You’ve got your usual descriptive names like Disgusted, Disgusted Two!, Annoyed, The Guys, I Know Best and so on. Then there’s the stranger ones like Wild West Meat Eater and Lesser-Spotted One-Eyed Gabbling Winker, a series of words which can’t possibly mean anything strung together like that.

And then there’s the person who is just a Fan of Dan, who I understand is a weatherman of some sort – and honestly who can blame them.

The Dan, the man, the legend.

Angry About The Way Men Dress

In the nine weeks of Mr Tellys I scoured, I was delighted to see that there were no letters complaining about the appearance of women. Possibly because they got dinged for publishing letters of this kind in the past – or possibly because they’ve filled up their lifetime quota of these letters and have had to move onto men, like this little gem here:

“Isn’t it about time Neill Rea of Prime’s The Brokenwood Mysteries had a shave, shower and a decent shirt to wear?”

This is actually a pretty sick burn, though:

“Can TVNZ not afford to pay Mike Hosking enough money so that he stops wearing his young son’s clothes and starts to dress in his age group?”

Angry About The Weatherman

The people who get angry about the weatherman are also the people who tend to rely on their news about the weather from the terrestrial box sitting opposite their couch or sitting device.

“I wish someone would tell Dan the Man (our weatherman) to please, please slow down while reading the weather forecast. A viewer could think he was being chased by a train.”

“Dan is a very personable presenter and I’ve no doubt an able meteorologist, but all his own work? I don’t think so.”

The Dan, the man, the legend, the star of Mr Telly

Angry About The Internet

If you had to write to the TV Guide instead of raging on the internet, you’d probably be pretty angry at the internet as well.

“I am sure TVNZ will say that OnDemand can be viewed through a computer (for those who have one) but I for one am not going to watch a programme on my iPad mini when I have a perfectly good widescreen TV sitting in the corner of my lounge.”

Move over Ernest Hemingway, we’ve got the six saddest words in the English sentence: “10KM from the centre of Masterton.”

“We are a mere 10KM from the centre of Masterton but frequently am unable to load sites such as Facebook and Stuff because of out-of-date copper wiring servicing our road. And no, it’s not a dead-end gravel road either. In the evenings when more people are home to go online we get constant messages such as ‘problem loading page’ or ‘server not found’.”

Angry About The Inevitable Passage of Time

Again, as is to be expected, with people who write letters to the editor rather than just ill-thought out, emotionally-charged invectives on their social media of choice, there are some letters which are from older people who have forgotten things or just want things to be the way they were.

“I am a senior citizen with a sense of humour and I cannot understand why the comedians of today – male and female – have to resort to the ‘f…’ and ‘s…’ words to try to get a laugh. … I recall with a smile such wonderful characters as Ronnie Barker in Open All Hours, Porridge and with Ronnie Corbett in The Two Ronnies.”

There’s also literally just a letter where someone asks the names of the guest actors in an episode of The Brokenwood Mysteries

The Brokenwood Mysteries: a Mr Telly favourite

Angry About TVNZ Not Buying A Show Called Red Rock

According to the internet – which I have because I am further than 10KM from Masterton – Red Rock is an Irish crime drama based in the fictional seaside town of Red Rock. I had not heard of it before now, and I will never hear about it after this. But if you’re a Mr Telly writer, then you absolutely have heard of it and you’re FURIOUS that TVNZ made the business decision to stop buying a show that wasn’t rating particularly well.

“I was amazed to read that the reason the brilliant Irish police drama Red Rock was taken off was because it didn’t perform. What planet are these programmers on?”

“I cannot believe TVNZ’s response to the letters from people, like me, who are totally disappointed with Red Rock being stopped.”

“What numpties make the programming decisions at TVNZ?”

“TVNZ, I would have to totally disagree with your comment that Red Rock didn’t perform well. Where do you get these ratings from?”

And finally this heartrending piece written by a woman who is surely just Shirley Maclaine in Terms of Endearment.

“Where is my programme? Is it coming back? Were we warned and I missed it? I am gutted, TVNZ, and no pathetic platitudes, please. I want real, meaningful words.”

(Apropos of nothing, two of the letter writers are called Lyn, a third is called Lynne. Maybe this is Lynne’s personal letter campaign to get Red Rock, a television show that definitely exists, re-instated.)

Angry About People Being Angry At Naked Attraction

The true galaxy brain is not being angry at television, but being angry at people who are angry at television. These two letters have some shocking Shyamalanian twists, let me tell you.

“I would like to congratulate both TVNZ and the British makers of this show. All of nature runs around naked and exposed – but we humans hide away our beautiful naked bodies like they are something to be ashamed of … If TVNZ decided to produce its own show like this, I would love to host it – (In a sensible and educational way, but with my clothes on).”

“Some people have written that the Naked Attraction programme on TVNZ2 is filth. Well, for us, we don’t find the human body anything but beautiful – created in God’s image.”

Naked Attraction: another Mr Telly fave

Angry About Te Reo Māori 

Because it wouldn’t be a comment section without the racists. I can only imagine that the macrons were added by Mr Telly himself, because you know these guys weren’t using them.

“Why does a supposedly ordinary programme about people moving house have to be full of Te Reo Māori? Is it because Tamati is presenting it? If so, why isn’t shown on Māori Television? There is a definite place for te reo in our society, but why does it have to be shoved in our face on a non-Māori channel?”

“When a commentary on is on primetime TV then please do it in English and have the subtitles in Sign and Māori. That way everyone wins.”

“Why is this programme not on the Māori channel? Isn’t that what it is for? I have now tuned out as I am sick to death of TVNZ going overboard with Māori these days.”

Just… I Don’t Know

I wish only nice things for this strange man, who may or may not be popular Donald Sutherland son Kiefer Sutherland.

“As a self-confessed dirty old man’, it was at least a month before I realised the gyrating dancers on those (NZ Post) ads were to do with posting letters. If I have a moan about ads, it’s actually the fire department ones of men floating near the ceiling on beanbags – they really make me cringe. Why would grown men belittle themselves by participating in such rubbish? In the meantime, can someone explain what the man says when he comes home to find his wife in bed with a giant red lolly (on the M&Ms ad)? No one in our family can understand what he says. – K Sutherland (Queenstown)

This content, like all our television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service

The Spinoff’s television section is brought to you by Panasonic.

Find out more about how you can bring Panasonic brilliance to your home.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox