It's our longest running soap, but don't accuse Shortland St of getting stale. The TV show, that has been a veritable stomping ground for practically everyone in New Zealand's acting fraternity, is introducing three new faces into the mix to breathe new life, new storylines and a new marketable sex appeal to ensure the drama stays number one. TVNZ head honcho Rick Ellis, who's facing $25 million-dollars-worth-of-worries, won't be complaining about that.
Xavier Horan, who plays Tai Scott, the delinquent brother of James Scott (played by Kiel McNaughton), is raising eyebrows amongst the female viewers for his bad boy role. Who doesn't like a bad boy? But Horan's acting pedigree is far from offending.
Horan was nominated for best supporting actor in both the film and television categories at the New Zealand Screen awards in 2006 for his role in the award-winning Toa Fraser movie No. 2, and for his work on the television show The Market. Last year, he starred in another Toa film, Dean Spanley, which is currently screening in cinemas and stars Sam Neill, Bryan Brown and Peter O'Toole.
Bringing up the talent for the ladies will be Virginie Le Brun, who is probably more familiar to music television viewers for her six-year reign as a presenter on Juice TV - not that she isn't an accomplished thespian, apparently.
I'm told Virginie, or "Virg" to her co-workers, has studied drama and acted in productions since she was 14.
She's set to appear on our screens as the over-achieving Dr Gabrielle Jacobs, the brilliant new Head of Surgery who suffers from Asperger's syndrome.
But it's Ido Drent who I predict will draw the biggest perving audience. The 22-year-old South African-born actor and male model is set to have female viewers - young and old - and probably some of the gay boys, positively drooling. He will play rebellious teen Daniel Potts, the son of Sarah Potts (played by Amanda Billing).
Ido (pronounced E-do) has a real star appeal. We snapped him with radio morning man Nick D at the 42Below One Dream Rush party last week.
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He oozes fun-loving character with a wicked sense of humour and good looks to boot. He's a young Jeremy Wells but without the too-cool-for-school demeanor.
Above image: From left to right, Xavier Horan, Virginie Le Brun and Ido Drent. Photos / supplied