Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Bitchin' Channels: Teabags and Manbags

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John Banks (left) and Prime Minister John Key. Photo / David White
John Banks (left) and Prime Minister John Key. Photo / David White

Not since the film Grizzly Man has a taped recording of something that we will never hear caused such a fuss.

I am of course talking about the media stunt that became the TV event of the week. John Key, John Banks and a cup of tea.

Hardly the ingredients you'd expect to cause excitement of any kind unless the word "strychnine" was attached or it was in a sentence that also contained the phrase "before turning the gun on himself".

An American politician once said "I never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel." Thankfully for us John Key has not followed this advice and the fallout has been great for ratings.

Close Up had the promising tabloid tease that they had a lip-reader lined up to reveal the secrets of the tapes.

That got my attention, although I was like most of us on the night of Rugby World Cup final, hopeful but prepared for disappointment.

It was instructional at least, I never knew that the deaf who lip read only get about 30% of what's being said. It's not an exact science.

I had already guessed, as the lovely lady from the Deaf Society surmised, that it looked like Key said the word "Brash". Actually she didn't quite say that but Sainsbury helped her our out in the style of Deb Webber on Sensing Murder.

The lovely lady from the Deaf Society began with a "Something starting with B?" "BRASH?" suggested Sainsbury. "Yes, Brash!" said the lovely lady from the Deaf Society. Like Sensing Murder it was highly entertaining if not at all revealing.

Another unexpected consequence of the tea-bagging incident was that it made the minor parties leaders debate on TV One something to actually look forward to.

With special guest star Winston Peters as the Joker. Or should I say The Riddler, as he hinted at what might or might not be on the tapes.

Don Brash on the other hand did a passable Montgomery Burns, and once again Peter Dunn's hair was standing in for Donald Trump's hair.

I like Peter Dunn for this reason and this reason alone. When he talks he sounds exactly like Oliver Driver, it's uncanny. Just close your eyes next time he's on, which isn't bad advice in any case.

As a show the minor party leaders debate was way more entertaining than the actual leaders. The ones who actually have any chance of running the show can't really run a show.

There was some actual chemistry and showbiz on display here with Winston, Tariana, Hone, and that guy from the Greens who goes out with Sooky Stackhouse's sister, all in fine form.

Later the same night and TVNZ7's Backbenches was also milking the teabag.

I really like live TV that actually feels live. Thanks to some feral freaks from the Legalise Cannabis Party - who began chanting the sort of thing that feral freaks shout about - it seemed for an exciting nano-second that things might be about to spiral out of control like one of those scenes involving Ukrainian politicians.

The informal panel show that features MPs is filmed at the Backbenches pub opposite the Beehive, so I thought we might be in for a televised bar-fight or even a scuffle.

Sadly neither occurred. If it had been the Legalise Methamphetamine Party we might have had a chance but stoners don't have the legs for a good stoush and gave up quietly with a simple withering look from host Wallace Chapman.

Co-host Damian Christie wasn't as restrained with the youthful ACT candidate on the panel, enquiring whether his moustache was related to Movember or "are you just trying to look creepy?"

You can expect more zingers and engorged members on their election special from 8pm on Saturday Nov 26.

And it wouldn't really be a PR disaster if Seven Days doesn't dine out on it. Needless to say, they had a feast. And all because John Key and John Banks thought the other was the owner of a Manbag.


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