TV3 could woo back much-loved Nightline host

By Alice Neville

Left to right: Joanna Paul, Samantha Hayes, Leanne Malcolm, and Carolyn Robinson. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Left to right: Joanna Paul, Samantha Hayes, Leanne Malcolm, and Carolyn Robinson. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

As Nightline marked 20 years on our screens this week, TV3 bosses hinted that popular former host Belinda Todd could return to Kiwi television.

The irreverent redhead, who now lives in Los Angeles, appeared on the show's 20th birthday special on Friday via a video link.

"Looking at Belinda Todd on that link from LA, I couldn't help but think wouldn't it be fantastic to have her back hosting some sort of programme in New Zealand," says TV3 news boss Mark Jennings.

"I think we've lost a huge talent with her. She looked fantastic and was as razor sharp as she always was."

And Todd, speaking to the Herald on Sunday from LA, says she would love to return to New Zealand television.

"No one's ever asked me. Oh look, absolutely. Television is terrific fun."

After leaving Nightline, Todd, now 47, starred in the ill-fated early nineties sitcom Melody Rules - which has achieved a certain cult status for being so cringe-makingly bad - and then dropped off the radar.

She moved to Los Angeles six years ago, where she lives with her huntaway dog Pluto and writes and produces TV pilots and films.

"I think in a strange way she could be New Zealand's Rove or Chelsea Lately or something like that," Jennings says of Todd.

"She's got that wonderful self-deprecating wit and that's what New Zealanders like."

Jennings discussed bringing back Todd with MediaWorks group managing director Sussan Turner at the Nightline birthday party at Auckland's Longroom bar on Friday night.

The party attracted a who's who of Nightline's history, including Joanna Paul, Leanne Malcolm, Bill Ralston, Janet Wilson, Carolyn Robinson and Samantha Hayes, who was glued to the side of former Sunrise host Oliver Driver for much of the night.

Critics say Nightline, which attracts slightly fewer viewers than TVOne's Tonight, has lost the quirky irreverence which was its signature.

Top 5 Outrageous Belinda Todd moments
* 69 positions in 60 seconds - Belinda fronts an explicit clip of a couple trying a range of sexual positions that caused a storm of controversy.
* Belinda shares a passionate kiss with a rooster puppet named Russell.
* While laughing hysterically, Belinda falls backwards in her chair and her skirt flies up, leaving very little to the audience's imagination.
* Belinda sees "B. Todd" has been picked for the Kiwis league team, so presumes it's her and turns up for - and participates in - training.
* As TV3 goes into receivership, Belinda uses the young channel's financial woes as comedy fodder, attempting to sell the channel's furniture.

- Herald on Sunday

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