The Listener's very first Paul Holmes interviewby David McGill
The year was 1973 when the Listener first met Paul Holmes - an energetic young broadcaster with a haircut as unbridled as his ambition.
Paul Holmes looks like the kind of guy who's good to have at parties. A genial fellow, he is big and friendly, with befreckled face and hair unknown to the hairdresser and he's full of chatter. That's probably why the 23-year-old unknown was chosen to follow Paddy O'Donnell and Lindsay Yeo running the all-night commercial radio show, The Real Thing Show with Paul Holmes from Christmas Eve for 20 non-stop nights from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
He doesn't know how he landed the job; luck, perhaps, being in the right place at the right time. He was contract announcing when They asked him. He finds it all very weird. There he was, all set to take off last July with his brother for the compulsory Kiwi global trek - meet a few characters, see what happens, no return ticket, know what I mean? But he had a motorbike accident. Fractured his neck. Friends didn't know if he would live. Five weeks in hospital. Due to leave New Zealand in October however, he was asked to do a television series in Wellington. He did that and then he was asked to do this.
"I've only been an announcer 18 months," he says in the tones of casual amazement with which he has greeted all recent events. "I'm hardly even known in Christchurch, where I was on 3ZM. They must have heard the tapes I did there. Perhaps They feel They are taking a risk."
The tapes must have helped. There he was, a fledgling announcer, doing a weekly comedy spot, out seeking the Abominable Snowman on Mount Cook and getting sunk by the Rangitira in Lyttleton harbour - doing all his own sound effects. He reckons that humour is the X ingredient needed to be a successful announcer.
His enthusiasm has to be another. "As long as I can remember," he bubbles, "I've played deejays with the records. When I was a kid I used to get up on the table and pretend to be the auctioneer my father took his market garden produce to. Racing commentators have always appealed. I was a horrible little showoff, always dressing-up. I've always been excited by radio studios, all those lights and dials and records, the tension and drama of sitting in front of a little piece of metal talking and raving on and never wanting to stop. I imagine these six hours non-stop are going to be a ball."
A good keen young man, he definitely does not lack confidence. He sees the show being a bright, breezy party, cheering up those alone and adding zest to all-night parties. He will chat on the phone to listeners, to celebrities overseas, perhaps Coronation Street characters or stars like Nyree Dawn Porter, and to sportsmen. He will be on the phone to where things are happening, commenting on news and sports and talking to people who have come out with something controversial. And there will be lots of party music. He wants the show to be "contained irresponsibility", to be irreverent.
Holmes has favoured the irreverent in his own life, while he was growing up in Hastings and when he was not getting a degree at Victoria University of Wellington. He likes the company of jokers and wits, such as Roger Hall, who has written two of his television comedies, and John Clarke, who was in the film The Adventures of Barry McKenzie.
When he was in hospital he got to know a young fellow of 18 who had both legs badly smashed. What impressed Holmes was that this guy was still laughing. "I think the most important thing," says Paul, "is to be able to laugh... from the bottom of your tongue."
It looks as if They have picked just the guy for an all-night party.
More on Paul Holmes
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