By FIONA RAE
Last year, Jaquie Brown and Hugh Sundae did an unusual thing, something that doesn't happen very often in television: they got out while they were still ahead.
The voluntary departure of the two hosts of Space (TV2, 10.30pm) left producer Satellite Pictures hunting for a new pair who could not only hold down a live, one-and-a-half-hour show, but also display that all-important chemistry.
According to both Jo Tuapawa and Phil Bostwick, Space's new frontpersons, the chemistry is there - they clicked when they met for their first audition.
"It's really good, it's really cool," says Tuapawa. "We're friends as well as work colleagues."
Bostwick has been showing her around Auckland (she moved up from Wellington) and helping her to find a flat.
Tuapawa is making the leap into Space from the kids' show WNTV, where she was a music reviewer and director. At 21, she's a four-year television veteran, having got the WNTV job straight from school.
She started at the bottom - "cabling and stuff" - and eventually made it on screen.
She says she's having to be more grown-up to front Space.
"At our first creative meeting it was hard for me to get out of kids' mode into an adult and dry humour - overacting and things like that. This is like all grown-up and sophisticated!"
Bostwick, on the other hand, is not new to Space viewers, who will know him as Work Experience Phil. Having begun as a researcher at Satellite last year, he started making infrequent appearances on screen.
An infamous Lee Scratch Perry interview followed, when Perry pulled out what could politely be described as a Camberwell carrot. Then there were items like the office party skit late last year.
Bostwick is another on-screen personality who has been pulled by Satellite from the bFM talent pool. The list includes Havoc and News, Mo' Show presenters Otis and Mark, M2's Nick and P-Money and, of course, Jaquie and Hugh.
The radio station is obviously fertile ground. Bostwick, who writes and reads news and has done occasional shows, says bFM-ers have a different way of looking at things.
Both Tuapawa and Bostwick are bringing new ideas to Space, and the set has been redesigned with less severe lines - "more South Park," says Bostwick.
New is The Pitch, a weekly skit where reality shows are pitched, and New Zealand Pride, which features any mentions New Zealand gets overseas.
"There's not much that keeps people tuned in from week to week," says Bostwick. "So that's what we're hoping to do with The Pitch and a few other bits and pieces."
The show, which has been heavily music-focused, will have more variety, more pop culture, says Tuapawa.
"We'd like to get stand-up comedians, film-makers, writers on the show - not just interviewing musicians but a whole range of people.
"I think Phil wants to get Witi Ihimaera and I'd like anyone who's been involved in Lord of the Rings."