Joanna Hunkin: Check out your seat no.

By Joanna Hunkin

How I ended up there, I'm not quite sure. But somehow, as I took my seat at Saturday night's film and television awards, I found myself in the thick of celebritydom. Well, New Zealand celebritydom. Celebrity-ville, perhaps?

To my left was the TV3 crew - John, Carol and the rest of their intrepid reporters. In front of me, the cast of Shortland Street giggled and fussed in all their finery. To my right, comedian-cum-man-of-the-land Te Radar took his seat.

No doubt about it, I was in the depths of gracious loser land. You see, people might claim the night begins on an even footing - everyone in with an equal chance - but in truth, the lines were drawn long before anyone set foot in the glorious Civic Theatre. And they hold a direct correlation between where you are seated and the distance to the stage.

Host Oliver Driver told the crowd to take a minute to enjoy the moment when everyone was still a potential winner. But really that moment passed well before everyone received the envelopes containing their tickets and fateful seat numbers.

Shortland Street may have been up for five awards, but as they settled into Row J, there was little doubt they would be heading home empty-handed.

Indeed, two young starlets were so certain they wouldn't be required to stumble on stage later in the evening, they spent most of the ceremony swigging straight liquor from a hip flask.

As the cast and crew of Outrageous Fortune claimed their seats up front, mere spitting distance from the stage, it was clear they were heading for a clean sweep.

Likewise, as TV One claimed multiple victories in the news and current affairs categories, it seemed little coincidence Sainsbury and co were sat a good four rows ahead of their TV3 compatriots.

But while those on the floor may have deduced who the night's winners would be, it seemed nobody had informed Mr Driver ahead of schedule - leading to an awkward (but highly amusing) episode, involving the controversial Sensing Murder.

It began with Driver making a sly joke about the awards, which he was hosting in the flesh, but were presented by Dominic Bowden and Petra Bagust to television viewers at home (yeah, I still don't understand that one either.)

The televised awards, he jested, were just like Sensing Murder. Not real.

Unfortunately, he was not to know that less than 20 minutes later, Sensing Murder producer David Baldock would be storming the stage to claim Best Format/Reality Series, openly berating media and commentators who have criticised the show in the past.

As Driver shuffled awkwardly, he couldn't resist the obvious joke: "Well, he should have seen that coming."

Actually, what Baldock should have seen coming was his arch nemesis - and the loudest critic of the reality series - Jeremy Wells, who got the last laugh as he accepted the gong for Best Comedy Programme, for his series Eating Media Lunch. (Which once parodied the reality series in an episode called "Sensing Bullshit".)

It certainly added some drama to the otherwise predictable night. And detracted from all those gracious loser faces.

- NZ Herald

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