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.

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