Joanna Hunkin is the Head of Entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Spellbound: Why Toni Street is missing from Seven Sharp

Toni Street will be hosting the upcoming series Spellbound.
Toni Street will be hosting the upcoming series Spellbound.

Toni Street will be missing from Seven Sharp next week as she takes on a new project, hosting the upcoming series Spellbound.

Set to screen on TV One in October, the series will follow the fortunes of 36 young students as they compete in the annual New Zealand Spelling Bee for a chance at the national title and $5000 prize money.

Though Street's already got a jam-packed schedule hosting Seven Sharp and her Saturday morning radio show on The Hits, the popular presenter was happy to take on the role, which celebrates learning.

"I just think it's such a cool thing for students to be recognised for being really smart. If you look at stories about kids that age in the media, so many of them are about sport or perhaps something they've done artistically, but to actually celebrate a child who is good at English and can spell really, I think is cool."

Street is confident viewers will become hooked on the show, which she describes as "a really sassy format".

"It's cut-throat."

Street considered herself a pretty good speller - until she saw what the young students were up against.

"I could spell well, or I thought so, until I saw some of the words from last year and I thought 'holy heck, I don't think I could spell any of those'. I think that's going to shock people."

But don't expect co-host Mike Hosking to challenge her to a spell-off, Street says her offsider is a notoriously terrible speller.

Don't expect co-host Mike Hosking to challenge Toni Street to a spell-off as he is a notoriously terrible speller.
Don't expect co-host Mike Hosking to challenge Toni Street to a spell-off as he is a notoriously terrible speller.

"He is the world's worst speller ... I go through and correct his spelling on a nightly basis on the Seven Sharp autocue."

Spelling bees have been captivating audiences since the 2002 documentary Spellbound took viewers behind the scenes of America's national competition.

Since then, several TV series have turned their cameras on aspiring spelling champions, including The Great Australian Spelling Bee.

No doubt TVNZ will be hoping Spellbound fares better than its Aussie counterpart, which has struggled with low ratings, forcing Channel 10 to ditch the programme from its Sunday line-up.

- TimeOut

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