Paul Henry - review

by Diana Wichtel / 19 April, 2016
Paul Henry has a show in his name because he is a born broadcaster in a land without many.
Paul Henry on air. Photo/Getty Images
Paul Henry on air. Photo/Getty Images

"'Paul Henry scolded for comments about Hilary Barry’s breasts.’ Do people read this shite?” wondered Paul Henry. It was a typically meta moment: Paul Henry reading an idiotic headline generated by something idiotic Paul Henry said on a show called Paul Henry.

Can it really have been a year? Time flies when you’re having fun. Well, Henry’s having fun. The remarks in question happened when Barry’s shirt needed adjusting, the sort of moustache-on-a-lady occasion that Henry is incapable of letting pass unremarked upon. Henry told her, Barry reported, “I can see breast” (which is oddly similar to what he said to Pamela Anderson in an interview once).

There were complaints. “You gave the impression that you’d seen them,” Barry pointed out. “Which you haven’t.” She wasn’t bothered. “This isn’t a boardroom. It’s a dinner party,” she said. More like a chimpanzees’ tea party, but never mind. “I gave him a slap down. It’s all fun.”

Incapable of recognising when he’s being let off the hook, Henry’s mouth motored implacably on, bypassing his brain: “One of the puppies ­threatened to come out to play … It’s like a ­balcony collapse,” he said.

“Mine are reinforced, I’ll have you know,” said Hilary, narrowly averting a visit from OSH.

Do people watch this shite? The show reportedly saw in its first anniversary with a good week in the ratings. You can see why. At a time when many ordinary people feel increasingly powerless and ignored, Henry’s attention-seeking antics can seem like some sort of bravery. In some ways he’s the Donald Trump of New Zealand broadcasting. Times are tough. Send in the clowns.

Henry’s still around because he’s a born broadcaster in a land without many. On the show’s birthday, he reminded us of one of his more career-limiting moments: “My breakfast television career in Australia.” He didn’t mention the moments – not funny, just unpleasant – that saw him leave TVNZ’s Breakfast. He’s possibly grown up a little. Or not. See his contrived-looking dropping of “clusterf---”, a fine word but not for breakfast.

And he can do a tough interview. See his Tarantino-esque encounter with Fonterra finance chief Lukas Paravicini. Some suppliers say they’ve had their payment times extended from 30 to 90 days. “There is no such thing as 90 days!” cried Paravicini as Henry read out emails from suppliers saying there is. More heat than light, but Henry won that round.

Alleged deficiencies in the food offered to patients at Dunedin Hospital was played for laughs. “I could do the taste test. Quite frankly, don’t trust a skinny cook,” cackled Paula Bennett. “I don’t think he likes me. Does he like me, Paula?” fretted Henry, of Health Minister Jonathan Coleman. “No. You’re awful, Paul. To him.” Sadly, we learnt nothing about the food except that it looked like toxic waste.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Henry seems to be for upping the quota for refugees. “And if we have the funds to improve the lives of foreign nationals, we must have the money to fund world-class drugs for melanoma sufferers.”

And Barry is a better match for him than many – poor Kay Gregory. Though she’s in danger, like someone bitten on The Walking Dead, of becoming too much like Henry. See the clip of a parrot landing on a bird-phobic Australian reporter. “Take it off! It’s not funny!” screamed the reporter. “It’s a little bit funny, you silly bint,” commented Barry. “Bint’s a bit harsh,” said Henry. Was this weird role reversal a triumph of feminism or a worry? I really don’t know.

As for Henry, maybe he’s mellowed too much. Never mind Trump. With his mindless “Have a brilliant day in paradise!” signs-offs and his purple suit, he’s in danger of becoming a version of Mike Hosking. Who knew Hosking was contagious? It’s like the current affairs presenter zombie apocalypse out there. We should be afraid.

PAUL HENRY, TV3, weekdays, simulcast on Radio Live, 6am.

Follow the Listener on Twitter or Facebook.


Why you should avoid 'eating for two' during pregnancy
98747 2018-11-18 00:00:00Z Health

Why you should avoid 'eating for two' during pregn…

by Ruth Nichol

Doubling down on food during pregnancy is out, unless it’s diet quality we’re talking about.

Read more
The long, slow goodbye to Angela Merkel
99173 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z World

The long, slow goodbye to Angela Merkel

by Cathrin Schaer

German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to leave the job in 2021, but that’s not soon enough for some.

Read more
Silent witness: The forgotten NZ movie star
97576 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Movies

Silent witness: The forgotten NZ movie star

by Paul Little

One of the earliest and possibly least known NZ movie stars is Eve Balfour, a silent-movie actress, born in Christchurch in 1890.

Read more
How the Christchurch earthquakes inspired British writer AN Wilson’s new novel
99087 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Books

How the Christchurch earthquakes inspired British …

by Sally Blundell

AN Wilson has put aside biographies for a novel inspired by quake-devastated Christchurch – where he expects the book will get a tough reception.

Read more
Victory over the All Blacks this weekend would add to Ireland's epic history
99193 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Sport

Victory over the All Blacks this weekend would add…

by Paul Thomas

Kiwi Joe Schmidt has a chance of adding to Irish rugby’s storied history in the upcoming game against the All Blacks.

Read more
A big science investment - but where’s the transparency?
99199 2018-11-17 00:00:00Z Tech

A big science investment - but where’s the transpa…

by Peter Griffin

An extra $420m is being pumped into the National Science Challenges - but the reasoning behind the increased investment won't be released.

Read more
NZ music legend Gray Bartlett has a new album – and a wild past
99182 2018-11-16 13:32:58Z Music

NZ music legend Gray Bartlett has a new album – an…

by Donna Chisholm

We revisit this profile on award-winning guitarist Gray Bartlett, who's just released a new album, Platinum!

Read more
Vint Cerf: The father of the Internet reflects on what his creation has become
99178 2018-11-16 13:13:08Z Tech

Vint Cerf: The father of the Internet reflects on …

by Peter Griffin

"We were just a bunch of engineers trying to make it work. It didn't even occur to us that anybody would want to wreck it," says Vint Cerf.

Read more