I worked in morning television for three years. It was intense but the people I worked with were really smart, creative and cool, and I had a lot of fun times. These are the key things I learned from working in morning television:
The art of being calm around famous people
On my first day of work, I was introduced to the show’s presenters and really had to rein myself in. I wanted to spazz out and go “OMG! You are that guy on the TV!!!!” But I’d never have got any work done if I’d been like that all the time. After a few weeks, proper famous people would come on the show and I’d barely remember that they were famous. But it helps when the celeb is just sitting on a couch, flicking through a Women’s Day, nibbling on a Shrewsbury.
However, I was not immune from having proper fangirl moments:
1. Savage and Alphrisk
I loved the Deceptikonz’s first album and much of the work from the Dawn Raid family in the early 2000s, so I was super excited to meet Savage and Alphrisk. They were both really nice and friendly. Alphrisk was just being professionally staunch.
2. Dr Alan Bollard
Yep, I’m a total fangirl of the governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. I took along David Hay’s “New Zealand Reserve Bank Annual”, written by a fictional Alan Bollard. The real one cheerfully signed it and posed for a photo.
3. Nik from NZ Idol
I didn’t get a photo with Nik, but I was so excited to meet him. He was the runner-up of the second series of NZ Idol, but he was always my fave, right from the auditions. I think he was just on the show to promote some gigs he was doing. He still managed to be ultra cool and amazing and fully reduced me to a squeeing fangirl.
And then there were inanimate objects:
1. The Ranfurly Shield
I don’t even know how rugby works, but one day the Ranfurly Shield showed up and I ended up posing with it. I wasn’t smiling in a “Woohoo! Wellington have the Log o’ Wood!” way, but more like “This is insane and it’s so heavy I can’t hold it much longer.”
A few times New Zealand children’s television icon Thingee would appear on the show. For some staff of a certain age, who’d grown up watching “The Son of a Gunn Show”, this was the first time in their life that they’d considered that Thingee wasn’t actually an alien and was just a puppet. As they realised this, they’d all get the same look in their eyes, as part of their childhood died.
Other important lessons:
1. Too much cake is a bad thing
Via the show’s cooking segments, I had the opportunity to sample a lot of fancy cooking from New Zealand’s top chefs. And all that lovely baking, well, it left me with a jaded palate. Since then, home baking never quite measures up. While I always appreciate the effort the baker has made, it can never live up to the stuff the patisserie chefs made. I’ve pretty much given up on civilian baking now.
2. People are snobs about morning television
I was at a Girl Geek Dinner event, sat at a table with a random selection of women in tech. As I introduced myself and my job, my tablemates reacted with comments like, “I’ve never seen it” or “Oh, I don’t watch television.” As if somehow a show that broadcast during the day, aimed at stay-at-home mums and retirees was a failure for not being on the radar of IT professional and academics.
3. The shadow of Paul Henry is long and dark
Paul Henry did not work on the show I worked on, but a lot of people thought he did. “What’s Paul Henry like?” they’d breathlessly ask. It was always a let-down when I said he’d only been on the show a couple of times and that I’d never met him.
4. That thing about never working with children is true
I thought the adage “Never work with children and animals” was because of their unpredictability. But there’s a different issue with children – they clam up. Most kids get overwhelmed with all the stuff going on in a TV studio and can’t manage to say anything other than a shy yes or no.
5. Being able to put things together is a useful skill
I assembled a Thomas the Tank Engine train set, with a drive-by Fat Controller activation; I clicked together a Lightsaber kit; I set up an eco baby cot and changing table twice, even though I’d forgotten everything by the second year; I changed the hinge side on the fridge; and I screwed together a flatpack cupboard. None of this was in my job description. I just did it because it was fun.
6. The art of applying false eyelashes
The boss was away so the stylist organised a demonstration of how to apply false eyelashes using the $2 shop kits. The trick – apply regular eye makeup first, cut the lashes in half and wait till the glue is tacky before sticking the half-lash to the outer half of your eyelashes. It’s great – fab lashes without looking like a drag queen.
7. And then there was this
Stand around with a cup of coffee, they said. You’ll be on the telly, they said. It will be fun, they said. It will only be for a couple of minutes, they said. But some comedians got up to hilarious comedy antics in the background and so it ended up in the paper: