‘A few months after my first meeting with Ustinov in Phnom Penh, he talked to David Marr about possible interview subjects in Australia and New Zealand for a documentary series he was about to start work on. Called ‘Following the Equator with Sir Peter Ustinov’, it would retrace Mark Twain’s epic journey one hundred years before. His producers were hunting out oddball topics with a bit of a twist. Marr said, there’s Fiona Kidman in New Zealand, you know. Yes, Ustinov who had a prodigious memory did know, but what was oddball about her?
Well, Marr explained, once when he was in New Zealand, over dinner and a wine or several, I’d told him about some of New Zealand’s high profile murder cases which were truly blood curdling, and still gave him bad dreams.
A young man with a soft Indian lilt in his voice rang from London and introduced himself as associate producer on the project. He asked me if I would talk about murder with Sir Peter (always Sir Peter). I said I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know all that much about murder, just what I’d read in the papers. It is just that it is a small country, I explained, and one couldn’t help having opinions on guilt or innocence. We were, perhaps, a nation of armchair jurists. The young man said it sounded gruesome and wonderful, it would work. In the end, he was irresistible. I said yes.’