1 Feb 2018

Hilary and Jeremy: please don’t make her be his mum

1:48 pm on 1 February 2018

The new Seven Sharp co-hosts have been confirmed - but can they avoid NZ broadcasting's most tired trope?

Hilary Barry and Jeremy Wells

Hilary Barry and Jeremy Wells Photo: screenshot: TVNZ

So the rumours are true: Hilary Barry’s Seven Sharp co-host will be none other than radio Hauraki breakfast show host Jeremy Wells. And with only five days to go till the pair’s debut together, my tiny brain is full of questions as to how exactly this is going to go.

On one hand we have Barry: Perfect angel queen, the human embodiment of a twinkle in one’s eye, as wry and wise as she is mischievous.

On the other we have Wells. Beginning his career on bFM as ‘Newsboy’, Mikey Havoc’s news reading, prank-pulling sidekick, Wells soon rose to notoriety with his show Eating Media Lunch. Delivering actually interesting media critique along with antics like claiming to show the slaughter of Shrek the famous sheep, and a Māori porn spoof ‘Anal Mana’, he quickly established a reputation for being something akin to the thinking-man’s lad. It was a persona that continued on to his time at Hauraki where he frequently parodied his now-predecessor Mike Hosking, in between inciting BSA complaints for pranking cricketer’s mums.  

As duos go we’ve definitely seen stranger, but it remains an extremely left field move from a broadcaster that tends to play it pretty straight.

For those as puzzled as I am, a sneak peak of their dynamic - and of Wells making a wee dig at Hosking - is already available.

Unfortunately, as lovely as I find Barry and as ambivalent I feel towards Wells, these 15 seconds have my brow twitching, with the potential to furrow. Yes, Barry gives a great side eye - but with her infamously naughty sense of humour, she’s the one I want to be stirring things up.

As New Zealand media has proved countless times before, there are few tropes more beloved in this country than the naughty lad and the bemused woman whose job it is to chide him.

Toni Street to Mike Hosking; Amanda Gillies to Mark Richardson and Duncan Garner; Paul Henry and Alison Mau; Paul Henry and Pippa Wetzell; Paul Henry and Ingrid Hipkiss (isn’t it funny how the women come and go but the men stay the same?): Our broadcasting industry is full of men teamed with patient, sensible women who are tasked with the role of keeping rowdy boys in check, delivering the actual, salient information and laughing uncomfortably - that is when they’re not being talked over.

With Barry herself having recently vacated her role as yet another Paul Henry buffer, escaping into the much less bro-ey arms of Breakfast co-host Jame Tame, now would be an ideal time for the powers that be to recognise her for the comedic genius she is.

Of course Wells, for his part, has not yet committed any crime other than being on a radio show that glorifies hypermasculinity, and for all I know could be fine. There is also no doubt that Hils is gonna be bloody amazing, with no alpha-male or man-child co-host yet having dampened her cheeky spirit. But will Seven Sharps new incarnation let it shine the way it should? We can but wait and see.