Forgotten Silver and its audience
Forgotten Silver was a famous (or infamous, depending on your interpretation) mock-documentary hoax which screened on primetime New Zealand television. It was the text which first sparked our interest in mock-documentary - the Screen and Media Studies Department at the University of Waikato, where we both worked at the time, received a number of excited calls asking if the programme was real, and requesting more information on the discovery of 'Colin McKenzie'.
The day after the programme aired, the directors Peter Jackson and Costa Botes were required to go on national television to explain themselves (just as Orson Welles was forced to apologise to his American audience after an all-too-convincing performance in the 1938 radio broadcast of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds - a dramatic production constructured as a breaking news bulletin).
The documents included below are intended to provide something of an introduction to the controversy which this mock-documentary created within New Zealand by its initial broadcast. These materials should be of interest to the casual fan, but also to media studies students looking to explore the varieties of ways in which audiences interpret mock-documentary.
The following are extracts from a number of letters published by New Zealand newspapers and magazines. They suggest some of the complexity of audience interpretations of the programme (and by extension of the mock-documentary form in general).