Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Ladies, a plate

Should John Campbell get a co-host? Paul Casserly examines both sides of the argument.
TV presenter and journalist John Campbell. Photo / Greg Bowker
TV presenter and journalist John Campbell. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Herald's Rachel Glucina raised an interesting prospect last week in her column headed "Woman's touch tipped as answer for Campbell".

Given that his ratings are lower than those on 7 Sharp, the theory goes that Campbell should get a lady in to help out about the place.

Also, reading between the lines, the message from an unnamed 'insider' is that JC should stop moaning about the losers in our society and get behind our glorious leader Mr Key, and stop being a bloody communist.

He should probably also abdicate and give his slot to Paul Henry and Janika ter Ellen while he's at it.

In short the piece was making a call that has been reverberating around the blood-splattered hallways of TV stations for decades. Some see it as a call to dumb down, to sell out, or just to give the viewers what they want, and make some more money.

"Don't make shows for the Ponsonby five hundred" they used to say back in the days when cappuccinos came in buckets.

Now that we're on the trim flat whites, in little glasses, the suburb has moved slightly as Glucina's 'insider' related: "Campbell Live is Grey Lynn TV that's used the situation in Christchurch to leverage a national audience."

There may be truth in that sentence, but to bash a show for giving a shit seems a rum concept for even the bitterest insider to run with. As for blaming Christchurch? Christ-church!*

However, if you were purely interested in ratings, then the 'insider' is probably on the money, although to really secure those eyeballs, replacing the news with The Block could also be seen as a good move. And if they were to bring back public executions, you could top and tail that with the weather and make an absolute killing (an insider tells me this is a stupid analogy).

I'm no expert but the obvious reason for the distance in ratings between 7 Sharp and Campbell Live isn't just about those selfish Cantabrian moaners or even the lack of a blonde sidekick. It's about the neighbours.

Hosking and Street live next door to One News, a ratings behemoth. Campbell Live lives next to 3 News, which is not enjoying huge figures. Perhaps a Big Love Mormon-style polygamist set up could also give Hillary and Mike a leg up? They could have two co-hosts each, with big breasts and killer abs, and the entire cast of 7 Days could host the weather? (An insider tells me that this has been talked about in the TV3 lunchroom, at least via body language.)

Seven Sharp presenters: Mike Hosking, Toni Street and Jesse Mulligan.

But what of marrying John off with a Toni or a Janika? Glucina is sold on the idea, reckoning that "The rapport between Paul Henry and Janika ter Ellen on TV3's late news is a proven success". Certainly Janika seems to be enjoying laughing at Henry and vice versa. But the inappropriate uncle and smitten niece act wouldn't fly for Campbell, nor would the Henry and Kay Gregory shtick that Hosking and Street do so well on 7 Sharp.

Also, while Janika and Paul do work well together, it's an unequal set up, not unlike the old magician & assistant thing. "Look I pulled a fat lady out of my hat." "Oh you are awful, but I like you" etc. Hosking and Street are way closer to being on par, but age, experience and no doubt pay packets, are still some way apart.

Janika ter Ellen and Paul Henry from The Paul Henry Show.

"Cry me a river, that's just the way of the world", you might say. "And what about all the ladies running the show in current affairs?" True that. Let's not forget the sisters who are doing very well for themselves on TV right now. You may have noticed that Hillary Barry even wears the pants on 3 News. "This isn't Mad Men you know, this is 2014" my internal monologue just said. I agree. Witness Mihingarangi Forbes on Native Affairs, Susan Wood and Rachel Smalley on Q&A and Lisa Owen on The Nation. They are strong women and they are doing the heavy lifting. But they aren't playing sidekicks, and I suspect that is what's being floated here.

If anyone is actually seriously talking about a lady to bring a plate packed with tasty ratings for John, then let's make it a fair fight. Let's make it a Belinda Todd or a Carol Hirschfield, a Pam Corkery or a Kim Hill. If anyone is really talking about bringing in another leggy assistant for a middle-aged magician, they need to start shopping for some way better tricks.


An insider tells me that Rialto is free this month for all you Sky Subscribers who don't already pay for it. Look out for the brilliant Rectify (season two), which starts on Tuesday night at 8.30pm.

Also there's the 48hr Film Recap on Wednesday night at 8pm, followed by a new science-lab thriller starring Antonia Prebble and a shed load of kiwis playing Americans. It's called The Cure, and it's on at 8.30pm. The Thursday doco (8.30pm) is Ping Pong

"A charming and even inspirational doc that follows eight medal-winning veterans of the sport on their way to and through the 15th annual World over-80s Table Tennis Championship" says the Toronto Star.

*"Christ-church" is used as a swear word by older people. Like saying "fudge" or "shivers".

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Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

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