Twelve Questions: Jeremy Wells

Jeremy Wells has been on New Zealand TV screens since 1997, first as Mikey Havoc's sidekick Newsboy and later fronting his own series Eating Media Lunch and The Unauthorised History of New Zealand. The cricket-mad father of two is part of the Alternative Commentary team, part-owns Auckland bar Bedford Soda and Liquor and co-hosts the Radio Hauraki breakfast show.

Jeremy Wells says he thought he'd be more fun as a father, but 'I don't want my kids to be brats". Photo / Dean Purcell
Jeremy Wells says he thought he'd be more fun as a father, but 'I don't want my kids to be brats". Photo / Dean Purcell

1. Are you different to the Newsboy we knew in 1999 and, if so, how?
Not really. But I was pretty young then. I felt young too. Felt young and stupid and I was always quite embarrassed of the fact that I was on TV, talking about stuff that was going on. I thought "I'm never going to think this in 10 years". I was thinking "these are definitely the thoughts of a 19- or 20-year-old". You have to come to terms with it or you could be in therapy for the rest of your life. I was absolutely terrified at the time. I haven't watched it. I've never watched any of that stuff. I don't know where it is for a start. I'd prefer if they dumped it and binned it. I know that it's bad TV. Of course it's bad. It's not good.

2.You didn't look terrified: you've always seemed like the most confident person. Is that not the case?
I was far more self-analytical at that age than I am now. As you get older you find your place a little bit more.

You work out that it's okay to be you and that you're an okay person. That didn't really happen for me until my early 30s. Maybe not until I had children, when I realised I had a sense of purpose. Before that I didn't feel like I had goals or a sense of purpose. Mind you no one did in the 90s. Goals, ambition. That's all a new thing. It was really uncool then to have ambition.

Watch the first episode of Havoc on NZ on Screen.

3.People loved the TV you made with Mikey Havoc. Do you really think it was bad?
There were probably some good moments. Mike Havoc was particularly funny at that time. He was a man on top of his game especially when it came to making stuff up off the top of his head. But I was certainly aware of my limitations. I don't miss TV. I'm still making it. We're working on a documentary about student radio for Prime TV.

4. And now you and Havoc are both at Hauraki: do you bump into each other in the halls?
What most people forget is that Mike and I spent time together nude in an all-male sweat lodge in the Riverhead forest. Once you have that bond of shared experience, you have a lifelong connection that you carry forever.

5. But wasn't there a rift between you?
I don't remember there being a rift. He was keen to take the show to TV3 and I really wasn't keen on that. I got asked to do another show with someone I'd wanted to work with. I can't speak for him but I never had a problem with him. We hung out in the same circles and still have the same friends and stuff so yeah, I see him.

6. Describe your childhood: Lucky. Cricket, bike-riding, Wattie's tomato soup on Saturday afternoons. I grew up in Remuera. Dad is a merchant banker. Yeah, looking back on it, it was privileged but at the time it was just a normal childhood. I went to boarding school (Wanganui Collegiate) at 15 and I loved it. It's you and your friends and there's teachers - they are kind of the enemy. Boarding school is probably a lot different now. We had fags and all kinds of stuff though they stopped the fags when I was there. It was really just an older person looking after a younger person but it was this terrible name. The third former was the fag and the older one was the fag-master. Fag-Master! The fag has to clean the fag-master's boots. I think the parents stopped it.

7. Are you a good father?
I don't know. I try hard. I think I'm nice. I thought I'd be more fun than I am and I'm probably a bit stricter than I thought I would be. But I don't want my kids to be brats. I want them to be nice, and polite. Well - as polite as a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old can be.

Jeremy Wells says the Hauraki breakfast show he co-hosts aims for hard-hitting, topical current affairs and analysis. Photo / Dean Purcell
Jeremy Wells says the Hauraki breakfast show he co-hosts aims for hard-hitting, topical current affairs and analysis. Photo / Dean Purcell

8. What do you take most seriously in (your non-cricketing) life?
Toilet etiquette. Urinal etiquette. Always making sure that you aim for the sides so you don't spray around the bowl, clean up after yourself, that sort of stuff. No, I haven't had a bowel motion at work. I like to do these things like a cat and hide it away.

9.Did fronting the Meridian campaign seem like a lot of money for little work?
Who said it was a lot of money? I do it for free.

10. What kind of breakfast radio show do you want to make?
I don't know really. What shows did I listen to before? I like Mike Hosking and Morning Report. I like the Edge - that's a clever team with a good dynamic - I like Marcus Lush. I guess (at Hauraki) we're aiming for hard-hitting, topical current affairs and analysis. Today we talked about what people are googling about different towns. In Wanganui the main question is "what happened to Wanganui's KFC?" And it hasn't even closed. But it is a very good KFC.

11. Your voice agency describes you as having a smart and regal voice: is that the result of all those private schools?
Ha! I wouldn't describe myself as having a smart and regal voice. If I were being honest, I'd describe myself as having a slow-talking, slightly drunken range with an inability to hard-sell.

12. When did you last cry?
Last night. I cried about someone on the news who'd lost their child doing something. That got me going. Basically I'll cry at anything. Give me a birth and I'll cry like a blubbering wreck.

- NZ Herald

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