How many of you thought Jeremy Wells would last approximately six months on Seven Sharp before being given his marching orders?
When the Radio Hauraki broadcaster and former Eating Media Lunch host was announced as Hilary Barry's co-presenter on TVNZ's flagship infotainment show last year, I figured it was only a matter of time before he forgot where he was and made one of his signature droll, incredibly funny — but wildly inappropriate — comments live on air.
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That hasn't really proven the case so far, but Wells and Barry certainly racked up their fair share of complaints right out of the gate. Figures released to the Herald on Sunday last year showed TVNZ received 118 good taste and decency complaints about Seven Sharp during the pair's first seven months on the show, compared to 37 for previous hosts Toni Street and Mike Hosking.
Yet, here we are, just weeks away from Wells and Barry completing their second year on the job and they've never looked more secure on that grey studio couch of theirs.
Oh, they're still ruffling feathers, don't worry about that. Just last week the presenters tipped some viewers over the edge with a skit they filmed for the return of the Goodnight Kiwi. Taking turns reading children's books aloud, each presenter was shown tucked up in bed. It later transpired they were *gasp* in bed together, with Wells joking (presumably) about being in the nude.
It crossed the line for some. A viewer named Beryl wrote on the show's Facebook page: "This was meant to be about children's bedtime stories! Why the completely inappropriate end – or even any two adults in bed listening to the story! ... This is prime family viewing. ENOUGH."
No doubt she then went to borrow some smelling salts from fellow viewer Barbara, who famously complained about Barry's "news cleavage" earlier this year.
Well, I've got something to say to the pearl-clutching Beryls and Barbaras of the world: Get used to it. Because Hilary Barry and Jeremy Wells are a co-hosting dream team that's delivered a viewership surge this year.
Clearly comfortable in each other's company, the hosts' interactions are natural — and frequently very funny. I've lost count of the number of times they've tried to hold back hoots of laughter on air and I live for the withering look Barry gives Wells when he makes some cheeky remark.
They're also game for a bit of fun. Their audition for Les Miserables a few weeks ago was amazing as they attempted to pop out of a grate in the stage floor to sing their two lines. (Side note: Hilary Barry is a fantastic Madame Thénardier should she ever be looking for a new gig.)
Last week, they also enthusiastically tested some of the top toys for Christmas. In among the twerking llamas and soggy doggies, it was Hilary's expression and faltering comment when she clocked the size and shape of a large Pictionary pen — and what it reminded her of — that was pure comedy.
And it's not just me who thinks these two are helping turn Seven Sharp into appointment viewing.
Average audience ratings from August to October have shown 486,000 Kiwis are tuning in to the show each night — which is an 18 per cent increase on viewership over the same period last year.
It might all yet come crashing down, of course, what with Wells still infamous for skating close to the line and Barry not afraid to tell viewers what she's really thinking. But sometimes I think that's half the appeal, watching two people who don't care one jot about getting a few noses out of joint.
They'll certainly be riling each other up in the coming weeks as they once again disagree over Christmas decorations on set. Their battle over the issue last year was a festive treat, as Barry's increasingly elaborate decorations took over Wells' bare half of the news desk. An evil glint in Barry's eye last week as they discussed Christmas suggests we might be in for more of the same this year.
Fingers crossed we are. And fingers crossed for all those fans of Seven Sharp — myself included — that they feel like doing it all again come 2020.