With Seven Sharp having just confirmed its new hosts, we're taking a look back at the history of TVNZ's coveted 7pm slot.

TVNZ has announced Hilary Barry and Jeremy Wells will replace Toni Street and Mike Hosking, who stepped down from the show after four years as hosts.

Read more: Jeremy Wells confirmed as Seven Sharp host

But this is just the latest in a long line of presenter and programme changes for the prime time slot.

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The One News switcharoo

Richard Long and Judy Bailey read the news together for 16 years before Long was dumped by TVNZ in 2003.
Richard Long and Judy Bailey read the news together for 16 years before Long was dumped by TVNZ in 2003.

Back in the 70s and 80s, the news did a lot of shuffling around before becoming the 1 News we know today.

Rather than one national bulletin, viewers used to tune into a variety of regional news bulletins - including The South Tonight and The Mainland Touch in the South Island, and Today Tonight in Wellington. In the North Island, viewers north of Turangi watched Top Half, presented by the popular duo John Hawkesby and Judy Bailey.

In 1982, the news was brought forward to 6.30pm and extended to hour-long bulletins, before our first nation-wide bulletin was born six years later.

In 1988, viewers were introduced to One Network News, hosted by Judy Bailey and Richard Long. The nightly bulletin moved to the 6pm slot, before it was halved to a 30-minute bulletin in 1989, to make way for the new Holmes programme, which screened at 6.30pm.

Holmes

Holmes, New Zealand's OG nightly current affairs programme kicked off in 1989.

In 1995, 1 News was once again extended to an hour-long format, moving Holmes to 7pm.

Holmes became the reigning king of 7pm for a massive 15 years, until controversy hit...

Holmes re-homed

Paul Holmes on the set of his new Prime TV show, after he quit TVNZ.
Paul Holmes on the set of his new Prime TV show, after he quit TVNZ.

In 2004, Holmes jumped ship to Prime TV following reports of a contract spat with TVNZ, in which they were hesitant to give him a contract for more than one year and were looking to slash his salary.

This was after they reportedly cut $150,000-plus from his pay in 2001, dropping his weekly pay packet from between $14,807 and $15,000 to between $11,846 and $12,000.

At the time, Holmes was believed to have quit TVNZ for a million-dollar salary at Prime TV.

There was even more controversy when it transpired Prime TV had also poached another senior member of the Holmes team; executive producer Pip Keane, who moved to continue working with Holmes. Despite these moves, the Prime series failed to convert Holmes' fans to the new network and the show was cancelled after just six months.

Close Up takes over

Susan Wood became the inaugural host of Close Up in 2004, before Mark Sainsbury took over in 2006.
Susan Wood became the inaugural host of Close Up in 2004, before Mark Sainsbury took over in 2006.

Close Up was brought in as Holmes' replacement in 2004, featuring Susan Wood.

Then in 2005, TV3 weighed in with Campbell Live, fronted by the now Kiwi-favourite, John Campbell and Close Up was given a facelift to give it a competitive edge.

2005 was also a tumultuous year for Wood, who became locked in a pay dispute with TVNZ after it tried to cut her $450,000 annual salary by $100,000 without her consent.

Wood took the network to the Employment Relations Authority, which ruled in her favour. But the fight led to her taking leave from TVNZ, as per her doctor's advice.

The following year, Wood resigned from the role after a cancer scare, saying: "These things come along and make you re-evaluate the position where you are and what matters in your life.

"Most TV presenters' careers end up in a sticky mess and I didn't really want mine to end in a sticky mess, I wanted it to end on my terms. I thought "you want to go, it's time to do something else, the health thing has come up, let them get a clean start to the new year".

That move saw Mark Sainsbury take over as host where he stayed until the show's demise in 2012.

Enter Seven Sharp...

TVNZ's first Seven Sharp team: Greg Boyed, Ali Mau, and Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Supplied
TVNZ's first Seven Sharp team: Greg Boyed, Ali Mau, and Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Supplied

After TVNZ announced the end of Close Up, Seven Sharp was brought in in 2013 as its hip, young, shiny, new replacement.

The problem, it seemed, was that Close Up's format was too similar to that of the main competition, Campbell Live. In contrast, Seven Sharp offered a lighter, funnier approach to current affairs, which had commentators speculating it was an attempt to draw in younger viewers and maybe even steal numbers from Shortland Street over on TV2.

There was a lot of speculation over who would host the new series, with Paul Henry reportedly being offered the gig, but TVNZ faced "internal opposition" in its newsroom over his appointment.

In the end, the show's February debut was fronted by Ali Mau, Greg Boyed and Jesse Mulligan and incorporated a greater use of social media and humour.

It didn't work. Ratings dropped by 55,000 viewers in the first week, while TV3's Campbell Live gained some 69,000 viewers at the same time.

Many lamented the new format, with one NZ Herald letter to the editor railing against its "flippant gossip mag format" and "treating us like dizzy children".

...and Seven slightly-Sharp-er

Mike Hosking and Toni Street from Seven Sharp. Photo / Supplied
Mike Hosking and Toni Street from Seven Sharp. Photo / Supplied

Seven Sharp

struggled to find an audience, until Toni Street and Mike Hosking joined Jesse Mulligan on the desk at the start of 2014. Mulligan left part way through the year and TVNZ announced it would not hire a replacement, leaving Street and Hosking to take over the show.

Ratings soon picked up, climbing from 357,300 to 385,600 viewers in the first four weeks of 2014 and eventually, Seven Sharp's percentage of audience surpassed Campbell Live and even beat Shortland Street for the first time ever.

Media commentators chalked it up to Hosking's experience and outspoken nature, as well as his and Street's team dynamic, which "brought an intimacy" to the show.

But last year, Hosking and Street announced their decision to leave the show on the second-to-last episode of the year with Hosking casually adding to the end of the show: "We're off, we're done, we're finishing. Tomorrow night it is over".

He went on to say that the pair had been challenged to fix Seven Sharp after its troubled start, and added: "What better thing can you possibly do than call it a day and go out on a high?"

Now TVNZ has tasked Hilary Barry and Jeremy Wells with building on their predecessors' success but only time will tell if they will become another television dream team.