After an ignominious start, TV One's comedy show Best Bits finally hit its stride last year as the second series returned with a new host.

Former Seven Sharp presenter Jesse Mulligan took the helm of the show, steering it towards solid comedy ground, with a line up of fresh-faced comedians armed with quick wits and a propensity for the absurd.

This year, the team returns, along with new faces, including actress Jodie Rimmer, who shares a secret past with Mulligan.

"My only ever acting experience was making out with her, naked, on The Strip," he confesses. "So we'll be digging out that archive footage to welcome her o nto the show."

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Also joining the line up, former Late Night Big Breakfast host Jason Hoyte.

"He's just an extremely funny man. And also quite good to have another grown-up on the panel as well."

Mulligan's the first to admit Best Bits got better as time went on last year and the team became more comfortable pushing each other's boundaries and buttons.

"Any comedy show works best when the comedians are not just taking the piss out of the content but are ripping it out of each other and themselves as well," he says.

"You get a great vibe as the panel get to know each other.

"They didn't hold back taking the mickey out of me after I left Seven Sharp, which was fun for about six weeks whenever that came up."

Mulligan's time on the 7pm show gave him some empathy towards those caught in on-air gaffes, which he admits could easily have happened to him. But not enough to leave them out of Best Bits.

"I'm ruthless in the sense that we will always play the clip. But we always try and approach it from a positive place, which sounds a bit like semantics, but one thing I've learnt as a comedian is that New Zealand audiences do like you taking the piss but they like you to be supportive of the crappiness rather than saying 'oh, this is rubbish'.

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"We are just a little country and some pretty daggy things end up on TV. It's actually much more fun and more sustainable if you go 'hey, look at this. Wasn't this a great moment when X tried to do this.' Rather than 'oh, this is just another example of a reporter who can't get his lines out'."

Besides, Mulligan still has to face many of the TVNZ reporters and presenters when he leaves the studio.

"I have to walk down the corridor and past a lot of these reporters who we feature on the show.

"Partly, for self-preservation, I make sure I'm happy to look them in the eye. But also I think the audience responds better to that. You do feel for someone when they're struggling on TV."

But for those who thought the past few months had passed with no one watching, Mulligan has a warning: They were watching - and recording.

"We have a bank of really good clips from the summer to get us through the first few episodes."

When: Thursday, 9.30pm
Where: TV1
What: Clip art

- TimeOut