Calum Henderson writes about (mainly terrible) television.

Calum Henderson: Polar bears and politics - is this why Breakfast's time is up?

Breakfast is a weird mix of light hearted trivia and hard-hitting news. Calum Henderson believes it desperately needs a makeover.
The current Breakfast team on TV One. Hosts Nadine Chalmers-Ross and Rawdon Christie are set to be replaced by Jack Tame and Hilary Barry for a new-look show in 2017.
The current Breakfast team on TV One. Hosts Nadine Chalmers-Ross and Rawdon Christie are set to be replaced by Jack Tame and Hilary Barry for a new-look show in 2017.

It was 6.21am on a Monday morning and Breakfast co-hosts Rawdon Christie and Nadine Chalmers-Ross were watching footage of a distressed polar bear kept as an attraction in a Chinese shopping center.

"He looks like the saddest bear in the world," Nadine gasps.

"It's interesting," Rawdon muses, taking a slightly different tack. "You actually see what the real colour of a polar bear is there... it's sort of pink."

"Are they not white?" asks Nadine.

"They're black," Rawdon responds authoritatively, "therefore it looks pink when it's lying down with the white fur on top."

"They're white ..."

"They're black with white fur."

After a while the debate fizzles out and they throw to the ads. We never reach a consensus on the colour of the polar bear.

This is the beginning of the end of the Rawdon and Nadine era of Breakfast. The pair were reportedly informed by TVNZ's news boss last Friday that their time hosting the show was up, with the arrival of the inimitable Hilary Barry at the network on the horizon.

Read more: Jack Tame and Hilary Barry due to host Breakfast 2017

There was some surprise on Monday that they had turned up to work at all.

But if any resentment simmered deep inside the spurned presenters on Monday morning, it didn't show. It was a Breakfast like any other - a wobbling plate of current affairs, viral videos, politics and lifestyle tips, with a side of at times bewildering banter.

The show is best when it embraces this chaos, and few do this better than weather presenter Sam Wallace. He provides a nice counterbalance to the show's metronomic newsreaders Peter Williams and Melissa Stokes, whose bulletins arrive on the dot every half hour.

On Tuesday morning we crossed from the news to Sam for the weather only to find him engrossed in his phone: "Check out these rain rates," he enthused, and proceeded to read out a bunch of rain rates.

The most intriguing personality at the Breakfast table, however, is Rawdon. Even after all this time - four years on the show, with four different co-hosts - there remains something deeply unknowable about the man they all call 'Rawdy'.

Rawdon Christie, the TV One Breakfast host believed to be departing at the end of the year. Photo/Jason Dorday
Rawdon Christie, the TV One Breakfast host believed to be departing at the end of the year. Photo/Jason Dorday

There's an artfulness about the way he can take a bizarrely contrarian or conspiratorial stance on seemingly any topic. On Monday morning he dismissed the cat that got onto the pitch during the NRL game on Sunday as "CGI - it's all made up". This prickliness is especially apparent than when confronted with something he doesn't fully understand. Pokémon GO sent him into a tailspin.

"Do you realise the power that everyone playing this game is giving to Nintendo," he asked on Tuesday, after a live cross from reporter Lisette Reymer at a Pokéstop in the Auckland Domain. "Every single Pokémon GO player in New Zealand right now could be directed to..." he paused ominously. "One warehouse."

This theory was later upgraded to include the possibility the game was the work of "aliens guiding us to the end of civilisation." It was the kind of thing David Icke might say, and it was given more airtime on Wednesday's show.

"The alien abduction thing... I can't move beyond it," he told the violently anti-Pokémon Brodie Kane, who wasn't there the previous day and had no idea what he was talking about. "It tells you where to go," he explained. "It's guiding everyone to a point. I think we're all going to end up in a warehouse somewhere."

This Pokémon segment came just after an interview with Phil Goff, and right before an interview with the band Broods.

Read more: A complete history of TVNZ Breakfast hosts

Somehow Breakfast has become TV One's foremost light entertainment show, but it's also the network's main pit stop for politicians to talk housing policy. Rawdon is across all of it.

Asking him and Nadine to present a show which is both Good Morning and Morning Report seems like a hospital pass. Losing ratings ground to its punchier rival Paul Henry suggests Breakfast is due for an overhaul, and as TVNZ's luck would have it they have landed a golden goose in the form of Hilary Barry.

But for now it remains the Rawdon and Nadine era of Breakfast. A weird era, an era out of time in more ways than one.

- NZ Herald

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