Laughing gas all round

by Bill Ralston / 10 November, 2012
TV3 needs a dose of what its rival dishes up for <em>Breakfast.</em>
Movember Disasters


Life is odd. Particularly on television. There are many things on the box that have begun to puzzle me of late. For example, after many years of contentedly watching television news bulletins, I’ve suddenly noticed something weird about the 3 News political team in Parliament‘s press gallery. It gradually dawned on me that Duncan Garner and his Batman and Robin-type sidekick, Patrick Gower, had adopted a Jonny Wilkinson delivery style when talking to camera. They both stand much like the former England fly half before he took a kick at goal. Hands clenched in front, torso bent forward at the waist, bottom thrust back at an alarmingly pert angle, staring fixedly ahead presumably envisioning the ball slotting between the posts. At any moment I expect them suddenly to take several quick paces in a small arc and boot the cameraman in the goolies.

Although I would be the last to advocate that kind of behaviour against hard-working film crew, I find myself nightly willing Garner and Gower to do it. It seems to be having some effect. Lately I’ve noticed both men have begun swaying slightly forward on the balls of their feet as if they might launch themselves forward. I believe it is only a matter of time now until they do so. Curiously their gallery colleague, the angelic Tova O’Brien, has spurned the Wilkinson stance, but she does clasp her hands in front of her like a pixie chorister and I always expect her to burst into the Hallelujah chorus before she throws back to the studio. I hasten to add that these sorts of oddities are not restricted to TV3.

I’ve come to believe that Jim Hickey thinks I’m suffering memory loss or some sort of dementia as he keeps telling me the same thing over and over. At the start of the TV1 bulletin he tells me about the weather, halfway through he pops up to tell me about it again and then, just as the bulletin ends, he’s back once more to yak on about the weather. Enough already – I know it’s raining. You’ve told me that before – besides I can hear it on the roof. Incidentally, Hickey’s stance on camera is more like a bantamweight boxer, he leans forward on one leg, sways to the side and backwards before lurching forward again in a feint, duck, weave type of fashion. Perhaps he can see, in the corner of the studio, Paddy Gower about to run at him for that kick in the groin.

The Breakfast show has its own foibles. I’ve come to believe everyone on the programme is on nitrous oxide. Apart from Rawdon Christie. The rest of them are always laughing hysterically at each other; at times even Peter Williams raises a crusty grin. In the lovely Petra Bagust’s case, the smiles are probably the joy of knowing that soon she won’t have to get up at 3.30am any more. Nadine Chalmers-Ross, the money-watcher, beams ear to ear as she laments the state of the dollar while Tamati Coffey and Sam Wallace alternate at outdoor locations to chortle about the weather, which I already know about because Hickey repeatedly told me the night before. Christie seems to have missed out on the medication as he sits on the couch wearing the dyspeptic expression of a man who has finally come to the conclusion that his dog nearby has just farted.

Away from the happy clappy fun park that is TV1 in the morning, on TV3’s Firstline Rachel Smalley inhabits a much more dour world where wars happen, natural disasters strike and people run for president in America. She is accordingly serious, except when Sam Ackerman the sports reader cracks a sporting bon mot. Then she will raise an eyebrow. Just one. I think Firstline needs some of the gas Breakfast has been hogging. It could share it with Garner and Gower, which might spare the cameraman bodily harm.
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