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Experiential: Oh the Ponytail and Paul Henry-themed Places You’ll Go With Freeview Plus

Alex Casey spends an afternoon time travelling with Freeview Plus, catching up on all of the extraordinary TV she’s missed out on from The Real to Who’s Doing the Dishes?.

Time travel is real, in the here and now. You might not be able to travel 20 years into the future and see yourself flying around in an electric car, but you can sure as hell travel back and rewatch the episode of Embarrassing Bodies that made you vomit up your dinner last week. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

This low key form of time travel has been advanced recently by the launch of Freeview Plus. The service kicked off at the start of July, aiming to provide a one stop shop for all ondemand free-to-air TV. Aggregating television and major radio stations, you’ll have everything from Guyon Espiner to Guy Williams and Real Housewives to House Husbands at your disposal.

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As someone who writes about television for a living, I am constantly fretting about all the TV gold I am missing out on, thanks to pesky necessities like “sleeping”. As drunken nights out and University-induced insomnia have proved – some of the most spellbinding TV magic happens in the depths of the night. Shift work has also alerted me to the goods provided smack bang in the middle of the day. I’m talking about the ugly sisters of Dr Phil’s Cinderella – the TV shows full of D-grade British celebrities that claw at the time between ads. I want to watch it. I want to watch ALL of it.

Which is why I’ve seized the opportunity to fill the gaps in my television schedule, and used Freeview Plus for the most inconsequential time travel imaginable. My journey started in the afternoon, when I selected that day’s episode of Paul Henry to ease myself in. That scamp is always up to no good, but the 6am wake up time does not fly in my house so I can never catch him out.

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Disaster alert. Well, not a cataclysmic disaster – just like a ‘I dropped my bus card before tagging off’ disaster. In clicking Paul Henry, Freeview Plus takes you to the 3Now homepage, instead of straight to the show page. It adds a clunky, unnecessary step to the process as you have to search through the show list. With that said, it’s also important to remember that not long ago I was stopping and starting a VHS recorder to manually cut out the ads during Hey Arnold.

With Paul Henry shunning me (and not for the first time), I decide to scooch back through time to watch the iconic TV One show Who’s Doing the Dishes? Seen many a time in many a TV guide, I had always wondered what the premise of the show was, but never found the time to Google it, let alone watch it. Turns out, it’s better than I ever thought. A secret celebrity cooks for some normie guests, and they have to figure out who they are through the MAJESTY of FLAVOURS.

I don’t want to watch the show, I just want to see the celebrity. I zim through the entire show on TVNZ Ondemand (takes you straight to the show, one point over 3Now), for the great reveal. It’s this guy:

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I choose the previous episode, hoping for a cooler celebrity this time. Maybe like a Spice Girl or something. “I think it’s Geri Halliwell,” says a contestant. My dreams could be coming true…

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Nope. I don’t know who this is either. What a crock. But, hold on, what the hell is in that bowl? I rewind, pause and move on in. What kind of celebrity eats two berries in a sad bowl like this??

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Before plunging into the depths of after-midnight programming, I check in with Paul Henry again. Due to my own idiocy, I can’t get our fancy space-age remote to scroll without flicking all the way down to the last channel, Base FM. It’s a bloody rave in here, and I can’t believe I’ve been punk’d by Paul yet again. It’s like he’s possessed the remote. They weren’t lying when they said “Paul Henry everywhere.”

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There’s a show in the programme guide called The Real, which airs weeknights at 2am on TV2. I have never seen The Real, but the name struck me immediately. So conceptual, so groundbreaking – I want to go to there. And boy am I glad I did.

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Further into The Real, and I have never seen such realness. We are talking ponytail styles. Does John Key have Freeview Plus yet?! Has he seen these possibilites?! A hairstylist is here to explain “what takes a pony from ‘blah’ to ‘wow’” in an exquisite segment called “Pony Up”.

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I’ve seen all I need to see. Before I end my Freeview Plus journey, I check in with Paul Henry one last time. Not only does it work perfectly, but Paul has acquired a new sound effect for Spring. What a treat, and what a note to end a beautiful journey on.

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For more information about the excellent Freeview Plus service, and how to get it – head to their website