Hat-chet job: fears Banjo documentary will make Orange councillors look like 'hicks'

COUNCILLOR Reg Kidd has warned his fellow councillors against turning a one-hour TV show about Orange “into a joke” and being portrayed as “hicks” when they open the council chamber to an ABC TV crew later this month.

Orange’s connection to Banjo Paterson will be exposed to Australia, and perhaps the world, when a documentary following the restoration of the cottage thought to be his birthplace and his 150th birthday celebrations airs on ABC TV.

But Cr Kidd fears Orange could become well known for the wrong reasons, as the debate raging over a hat-shaped pergola proposed as a tribute to the poet threatens to hijack attention away from the Emmaville cottage restoration and February’s Paterson festival.

Councillors at last Tuesday’s meeting agreed to give the documentary’s production crew the OK to film their December 17 council meeting .

“We don’t want to turn it into a shemozzle where we look like hicks,” Cr Kidd told his fellow councillors.

Cr Kidd was the key driver behind the council’s commission of a life-sized bronze sculpture of the poet sitting on a bench - expected to cost $90,000.

He said the hat pergola should not detract from the significance of Paterson’s birthday.

“We’ve got people running around saying, ‘what a bloody stupid idea’,” he said.

HATS OFF FOR BANJO

THE CAP DOESN'T FIT FOR BANJO HAT

SCRATCHING OUR HEADS OVER BANJO'S HAT PERGOLA

ABC producer Max Mackinnon said the makers of the TV show couldn’t resist the interest surrounding the hat pergola versus bronze sculpture debate, but it would remain a “side thing” with the one-hour episode focusing on the community-driven cottage restoration and mystery surrounding Paterson’s birthplace.

“It obviously makes for good TV when people take a strong opinion, but it’s not the main focus,” he said.

“It’s good to see the community pulling together to overcome the tensions along the way.”

Cr Kidd and the man behind the pergola idea, Cr Chris Gryllis, have been interviewed for the ABC TV show.

Cr Kidd said there was no animosity between he and Cr Gryllis but the community were against the pergola and the council had gone through due process when deciding on the bronze sculpture.

The filming of the council meeting will be the TV crew’s second-last visit to Orange before the documentary is wrapped up in February when the inaugural Banjo Paterson Festival marks the poet’s 150th birthday.

Mr Mackinnon said the producers of the series had researched Paterson’s origins but were happy to keep his exact birthplace a mystery.

“We don’t feel it’s our job to answer that question,” he said.

“Our job is to document the process, we’re not looking for a definite answer either way, but personally I take the view that he was born [in Emmaville cottage].”

The TV series will screen in 2015 after the filming of six other building restorations around the country is finished.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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