Sunday, April 3, 2016

VALE ROSS JENNINGS

I have just been informed of the death of Ross Jennings. Ross and I grew up together in Hawera and, along with Ross Pople, the celebrated cellist and founder/owner of the London Festival Orchestra, we formed an unholy trio sometimes referred to as R1, R2 & R3.

RJ's first love was live theater.   At age 15 he literally walked out of School and hitched himself a ride down to Wellington to join a Wellington theatre company and a few years later found himself in the UK where he secured a role in the long running TV series 'Please Sir'.   From that point on his career took off and he became a sought after TV producer with the BBC and later with the ABC (in Oz) and as head of drama with TVNZ.   Later still he founded his own TV production company 'Just the Ticket'.  

One of his projects was producing the whole 24 hours of programming on ANZAC Day for Maori TV and one day I received a phone call from him out of the blue seeking some advice on matters military.    That encounter led to my involvement with Ross in producing two major TV documentaries ... 'A Bridge Over' (the life and times of John Masters) and the Victor 3 Patrol documentary (where we bought together the surviving members of that action to tell their story).   The success of those two documentaries was due entirely to his professionalism and ability to tell the story in a way that captured the imagination.   In the filming of the John Masters documentary his hiring of Judy Bailey to do the one-on-one interviews was inspired.    The New Zealand Vietnam veteran community owes Ross a debt of gratitude for the telling of those two stories ... a debt that will never be repaid.

Ross was a Falstaffian character who enjoyed good food and wine.   In Christchurch while shooting the John Masters story we stayed in a very up market Edwardian establishment close to Hagley Park that featured a decanter of Madeira wine on a night table outside our rooms.    That was Ross to a T.

Ross has made his final curtain call.   He lived life to the full.   Gone but not forgotten.   To Carmel and the family.  Thank you for sharing Ross with us.

p.s.  For Ross.   And now finally you can make peace with GATT for dumping all those school books outside his office and doing a runner.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The true story of the shambles that was that patrol ( it wasn't a patrol) cannot be told until someone dies a natural death....no answer necessary.

Lord Egbut

Anonymous said...

Revisionist history became acceptable three decades ago.
During secondary school Gallipoli was touted as some sort of great victory.
But today true history is derived from as many participants and observers as possible.

Do tell more on the patrol that wasn't.