When Jeremy Wells was first rumoured to be in the running to take over Mike Hosking's chair - and presumably wardrobe full of comical suit jackets - on Seven Sharp I thought there was no way in hell it would ever happen.

This was because I'd first seen the rumour on our celebrity news site SPY last year. For a LOL, they'd written an article suggesting Wells should be considered for the job based solely on his Like Mike parodies.

Funnily enough, we soon started hearing murmurings that TVNZ was seriously considering him. I still can't work out if this means TVNZ didn't get the joke or that it did.

Nevertheless, I continued believing Wells would not get the job even when news broke this week that Wells would be getting the job. I wanted to believe he would, but there was just no way ...


Not only because of his edgy antics on Hauraki's Breakfast show with fellow rock n' roll provocateur Matt Heath, which Wells will continue to host, but also because I kept thinking of his infamous interview with Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin. It was for his satirical news show Eating Media Lunch, a programme that consisted almost entirely of infamous moments.

It was way back in 2003 but it remains one of the most fearless questions ever to open an interview with.

As an unsuspecting Astin sat down to chat about his role as Samwise Gamgee in the first of Peter Jackson's LotR films, Wells' deadpan voiceover braced the viewer for what was to come.

"It was time to ask the question that a leading broadcaster had dared me to ask the night before," he said flatly. "He said I was too chicken. But he was wrong."

Lazing in his chair wearing a scruffy, striped shirt and carefully tussled hair that threatened to break into a mullet at any moment, he stretched his arm out towards Astin and in his famously dry monotone said, "New Zealand pussy. Discuss."

Shocking, offensive, funny. EML's bread and butter in other words.

So yeah... after that I couldn't really see him getting the gig. I mean, we're talking about stuffy old Seven Sharp here, with its safety-first blend of current affairs, fluff news and Hosking pontificating over whatever "lefty"-led outrage had caught his attention.

But the times they are a-changin' and Hosking walked and Labour won and now we have dear Aunty Hilary and, I dunno what to call him, naughty cousin Jez I s'pose, taking over TVNZ's prized slot, their ratings juggernaut, their most prized possession.


So full credit to TVNZ, this isn't just a good move. It's a brilliant one.

For the first time in forever people under 60 are talking about Seven Sharp and not rolling their eyes. There's a curiosity and excitement to see the result of this crazed experiment.

How's it gonna work? What's gonna happen? Will he ask Jacinda what she thinks of New Zealand peen? How will Bill fare under Wells' ruthlessly deadpan stare? How will Winnie's belittling tactics fare against a resolutely nonplussed yet super-sharp interrogator? Will Hilz Baz ever have a straight face again?

Dunno, but I'm looking forward to finding out. Bloody hell. I don't think I've ever looked forward to watching Seven Sharp before. And I'm not the only one.

In a thoroughly unscientific and informal poll, I spoke to a gaggle of millennials who don't watch Seven Sharp - or much terrestrial television at all - to ask what they thought and if they'd be tuning in.

Robert, 25, said, "One-hundred per cent will be watching because of him! Can't wait to see that good-looking bastard p*** off a load of baby boomers by sucking the life out the news!".

Spite's as good a reason as any to tune in, I suppose, but Robert was also on to something when he mentioned Wells' good looks.

Samantha, 23, will be watching "cos he's hot". Likewise Azura, 20, will tune in "because he gives me butterflies" and Hayley, 27, says: "He looks lovely". Storme is also on board because "if Jesus had a face it would be close to Jeremy Wells'". Yes.

Miles, 24, will be watching, saying, "Seven Sharp needs an edge and Jeremy will bring it," as will John, 25, who said: "Yep, [just] to see how this plays out."

Thomas was more circumspect. He questioned: "Will he be free to be himself? [If they] have to change him then he'll be lame."

Fair call Tom, but I don't see that happening. TVNZ know what it has signed up for. I didn't talk to any oldies to see what the fiercely brand-loyal 65-plus demographic thought, but I guess we'll find out when the first ratings land.

But my informal and immediate takeaway is that people around my age are buzzed and my quickfire polling shows 15 out of 18 of the prized millennial demographic are planning to watch Seven Sharp when it returns on Monday night. Though whether the notoriously fickle bracket flocks back on Tuesday remains to be seen.

It may not have been the most scientific, or accurate, research but it's a good gut indicator that TVNZ's bold and risky gamble may well lead it to very happy days indeed.