On Breakfast, there’s a gaping hole where there should be commentary on the issues of the day

by Diana Wichtel / 01 February, 2017

Jack Tame and Hillary Barry. Photo/TVNZ 1

Nothing says the holidays are over like Hilary ­yelling at you at 6.00am.

Until TV3’s The AM Show arrives, TVNZ 1’s Breakfast team have the slot to themselves, if only they can figure out what to do with it. The first morning featured camp mother of the nation Hilary Barry, co-host Jack Tame, newsreader Daniel Faitaua and new weather guy Matty McLean in a grinning row. The punishing theme: the weather has been bad. “Can you believe it? Snow in January? Really?”

This is the show to put our crap weather in perspective with something off the internet about cold elephants having to wear leg warmers in India, and tobogganing on dunes in the Sahara. “How mad is that!”

No madder than what passes for news here. I’ve always liked Matty, who once brought a playful, elephants-in-leg-warmers vibe to the business of reporting from the regions. His first morning in front of the weather screen had its highs, lows and a couple of unexpected squalls. “Sorry, first-morning jitters,” he admitted, to sounds-off of unkind mirth from his colleagues.

Tame helped ease him into the new role by ­mercilessly teasing him at every opportunity. After old weather guy Sam left, “we needed to go to plan B”, said Jack. “I’ve spent my career being plan B,” sighed Matty. When Tame started ­mimicking the English accent his colleague had allegedly acquired during nine months in London, it was too much. “The thing about Jack is he never lets the truth get in the way of a good story,” said Matty through gritted teeth. He seemed to go a little red, but that might just have been our colour settings. No one teased Faitaua when he reported a bus crash ­carrying passengers from “Hungaria”.

The star was the dangerously perky Brodie Kane: “Sport! Let’s crack into it!” She decided what a morning news show needs is a rugby shoelace-tying contest with Sevens stars DJ Forbes and Scott Curry. She certainly puts an original spin on the ritualised tedium of sports-speak. “You know how a dog is 10 in human years, but 110 years in dog years. How old are you in Sevens years?” she demanded of Forbes. “Not 110 dog years,” he replied.

All mindless fun. The problem is the gaping hole where there should be commentary on the issues of the day. “Chaos erupted on the streets of America!” cried Hilary, of the women’s marches. Well, no, it didn’t. US correspondent Rebecca Wright beamed in to report on “just the really kind and calm nature of the marches”.

As for the Monday chat with the Prime Minister, next time just read a press release. One of Breakfast’s news headlines was Israel’s intention to build more settlement houses in East Jerusalem. Given this country’s role in the UN resolution demanding an end to settlement building in occupied territories, you might have thought it would come up. Bill English did talk about Ratana, extolling, pointedly, the event’s “respectfulness and hospitality, warmth and often humour”; an open invitation, surely, to raise his decision to skip Waitangi.

Also in the news was Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway’s deployment of the ­terrifyingly Orwellian term “alternative facts” to describe press secretary Sean Spicer’s fanciful claims about the size of the ­inauguration crowd. Alternative facts: here was a concept ­brist­ling with zeitgeist for the presenters and Breakfast Club commentators to get their teeth into. It wasn’t raised, unless I missed it when I nodded off. Back to a man on the internet who looked like Leonardo DiCaprio. “Give the people what they want,” said Tame at one point. That would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.

Breakfast, TVNZ 1, weekdays, 6.00am.

This article was first published in the February 4, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener. Follow the Listener on Twitter, Facebook and sign up to the weekly newsletter.

Latest

White Noise: Who is shaping Auckland's future?
101439 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Auckland Issues

White Noise: Who is shaping Auckland's future?

by Kate Newton

Some Aucklanders have more say in their city's future than others.

Read more
Stephen Fry revisits the world of the Ancient Greeks in Heroes
101242 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Books

Stephen Fry revisits the world of the Ancient Gree…

by Lauren Buckeridge

In his delightful way, Stephen Fry dips back into the ancient world with more stories of tests, quests and feats of old.

Read more
Comedian Jo Brand on the benefits of not giving a toss
100970 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Profiles

Comedian Jo Brand on the benefits of not giving a…

by Diana Wichtel

Jo Brand’s deadpan style is deceptive, as some blokes have discovered to their very public cost.

Read more
Green Book: A racially themed road-trip drama that stays within the white lines
101345 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Movies

Green Book: A racially themed road-trip drama that…

by James Robins

Green Book joins a long tradition of civil-rights era movies that barely scratch the surface.

Read more
How I caught Marie Kondo's tidying up bug
101329 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Television

How I caught Marie Kondo's tidying up bug

by Diana Wichtel

Four episodes into Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, something snapped.

Read more
The vital importance of full sleep cycles
100962 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Health

The vital importance of full sleep cycles

by Mark Broatch

It’s a myth that older adults need less sleep, says University of California professor of neuroscience and psychology Matthew Walker.

Read more
Searching Great Barrier Island for the meaning of life
101413 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Searching Great Barrier Island for the meaning of…

by Joanna Wane

Joanna Wane goes to Great Barrier Island in search of the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Read more
Australian classic Storm Boy gets a modern remake
101340 2019-01-19 00:00:00Z Movies

Australian classic Storm Boy gets a modern remake

by James Robins

The biggest beak in Oz screen history returns in a remake of a 1970s favourite.

Read more