In May 2015, Campbell Live left our screens. We ran a rolling tribute page all day, here are the messages from fans, colleagues and other legends from across New Zealand.
Saturday May 30, 12 PM
Grant Findlay, Campbell Live Cameraman 2011-2014 (@GrantFindlay)
One of the most stressful, yet exhilarating experiences of my life to date was the America’s Cup final 2013. I was in San Francisco covering it with JC. We had arrived just days earlier and after news had warned us “no one will talk to you”, John and I shot Dean Barker doing his usual walk off the boat, and up the gangplank and his first words out of his mouth were a casual “Hi John”. It was on – completely unprepared we walked back the 200metres with him and had a chat about what was going on with Team NZ. This is the power of JC. Everyone knows him, and loves him.
After two days of coverage delivering 7-8minutes of telly per night the final was upon us. We all know what happened there, but again we were invited on the chase boat back to base with the team. Heartbroken. This was one of the most surreal experiences. John delivered the only interview that night with Dean Barker onboard his boat. A broken man.
In true TV talk we had “the money shot”. We raced back to base, cut our story and tried to send it back. We were comfortable after the past two nights of successful feeds but this time it was one of the slowest connections we had seen. Half way through, the FTP just dropped and we couldn’t restart it. We exported the story at the lowest possible quality and set it going on multiple devices in different rooms. In the studio Lachie was padding saying the story is coming in as we speak. The America’s Cup final and there was a distinct possibility we may fail to deliver. Those horrible words. We made it with only thirty or so seconds to spare right at the end of the show. They played it out of the suite without looking at it. I was pacing. Feeling sick to the stomach. Wondering why we do the job.
We do it because we love it. And it’s the people that make it great. John Campbell is the best of the best. The best journalist I have ever had the pleasure of sharing the road, or a plane aisle with. It’s a sad day, indeed.
Daniel Trainor, Illustrator and Filmmaker (@Squidantics)
Josh Davis, Spinoff Contributor (@trillyelliot)
John Campbell, like all humans with two ears and a heart, loves Aubrey “Drake” Graham.
So in my mind, there is only one way to bid him farewell:
I was runnin’ through the 7pm timeslot wit my WOES
haemorrhaging money you know how it goes
pray the real live forever man
pray the fakes get exposed
I want that Mazda then I swerve
I want that Mazda just to hurt
I ain’t rockin’ no puff piece, that’s on purpose
a duo with no journalistic integrity want my spot and don’t deserve it
they don’t like how seriously I take my job
I’ve always been me, I guess I know myself
I was runnin’ through the 7pm timeslot wit my WOES
You know how that should go
You know how that should go.
“On the day that good journalism finally drops dead, JC shall rise again.”
Friday 29 May, 6.30 PM
Kanoa Lloyd, 3 News Weather Presenter (@KanoaLloyd)
During my first few weeks in the newsroom, John stopped me suddenly on the stairway one day. After some characteristically Campbell encouragement about my new job, he became suddenly serious. He asked “do you like having your hair like that?” Ordinarily I have very curly hair but a capable member of the makeup team had just wrestled it into submission. I said that I did.
“You are a Maori woman and your hair is part of your very identity”, he frowned. “Oh yeah, so it is” I agreed.
“Can I give you some advice?” he asked. “Well duh of course you can – you’re John Freaking Campbell and I can’t really believe you’re even talking to me,” I thought, nodding. “You must always be yourself in this business. Just be true to who you really are. Because otherwise in twenty years time you’ll find yourself being sent off with nothing but a few packets of salt & vinegar chips & some bottles of cheap Chardonnay. And when that happens, once it’s all over, all you’ll have left is the question: who am I?”.
I stared at him, and my newly coiffed locks felt heavy and strange. “You should say something about your hair if you don’t like it. Do you want me to go and say something for you?” I’m still not sure what he was rushing down the stairs to do at that exact moment. Feed someone, clothe someone, help put a roof over someone else’s head…
I might have said yes, and he might have charged into an office somewhere waving a Tino Rangatiratanga flag, talking about white-washing and the manipulation of women’s appearance in media on my behalf. But I didn’t.
I don’t know if there will be salt & vinegar chips tonight when we say goodbye. There will likely be a dodgy Chardonnay or two. What there definitely will be, is a man who cares passionately about absolutely everything. Who thinks harder about people than they even think about themselves. Who asks questions about little things and makes you ask yourself the big questions like “Who am I? And who do I want to be when I grow up.”
Sarah Hall, 3D Reporter (@SarahHallTV3)
Tonight marks the end of an era at TV3 – an era in which we were the little channel that could – a channel that cared deeply about news and current affairs and giving the all mighty TVNZ a run for their money.
At the heart of that was John Campbell. He is more than a broadcaster – he’s a great interviewer and a great story teller.
John deeply cares about the people he does stories about. A few weeks ago John borrowed my house to do an interview with Julie, the young woman who had fled from Glorivale. I stood at the top of the stairs listening to see if the interview was over and it was safe to move around the house again. As I stood listening I overheard John giving Julie heartfelt advice. He told her what had happened to her was not her fault, that she a wonderful young girl and to never ever blame herself.
I remember standing on those stairs and thinking about how proud I was to be at TV3 with a broadcaster who truly cared about his subjects. They were not just a story to him.
Years ago John did a small story on Nesian Mystik’s new album – the final line was “it is a Christmas present to all New Zealanders wrapped up in brown”. Well John you were a gift to all of us as well. Thank you. And thank you to all of the Campbell Live team.
You have done a truly remarkable job, night in and night out. We, your colleagues at TV3 salute you.
Joanna Hunkin, Head of Entertainment at The New Zealand Herald (@hunkies_news)
I was 22 when I first met John Campbell, as a junior reporter covering the Qantas Film and Television Awards for the Herald. JC had won best current affairs show and was very much out to celebrate. It took hours for the adoring masses to get pissed enough to go away, at which point I jumped in and asked, rather meekly, if he wouldn’t mind giving me a quote for Monday’s paper.
“A quote! A quote! I’d love to. But first, let me ask about you,” he said, brimming with equal parts enthusiasm and liquor. And so, for 10 minutes, we discussed me and my (extremely limited) career. After which, JC declared I was an “inspiration to journalism,” before he was swept back into the booze-soaked crowd.
I never actually got a quote for the paper but I’ve never forgotten the moment. John Campbell (drunkenly) thought I was an inspiration to journalism.
The feeling is mutual.
Tracey Barnett, Columnist and Commentator (@TraceyBarnett)
“F*ck, you’re the Kiwi-American version of Sarah Silverman, aren’t you? Aren’t you?! HILL-ARI-OUS, f*cking wonderful stuff!”
This was my first introduction to John Campbell, his voice blasting out of the telephone receiver so loudly I had to hold it slightly away from my ear, even a hemisphere away. I was standing in a giant gymnasium converted into a mass press room at the 2008 US Democratic National Convention to nominate Barack Obama.
“John Campbell, does your mother know you’ve been drinking this early in the morning?” I accused, by way of introduction, wondering if he was taking the piss out of a gently wry, pretty simple VOX POP piece I had sent into the show the day before. For the next 15 minutes he went on to compliment me so embarrassingly, I was sure he had moved on to hallucinogens.
“F*cking marvellous work!” He crowed. I wasn’t sure whether to punch him out when I got back to Auckland, or yell at him for obviously taking payments from my pensioner mother.
And there it was. There it still is; the beauty of a man who’s enthusiasm doesn’t know satire. His charm most disarming when its directed with the intensity of his kindness fully focused straight at you, so enveloping you can’t possibly hide. What’s even better, as evidenced by the scores of colleagues who are leaving notes here, it is most wonderfully—yes, marvellously—infectious. Yes, even from the most snarky of populous, the sometimes ameba-brained journalism community.
But know this, Good People, the rumours of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. The man still lives! New adventures await. This is not his death, nor time for adoring eulogies just yet. We all live in hope that John Campbell will do something tonight to terminably piss us all off. Maybe for his last show, his hair will actually move. Maybe the man will finish the broadcast this evening, go home exhausted, and sleep soundly as usual in his three-piece suit, only to wake up to face another f*cking marvellous day, yet again—miraculously unwrinkled.
We live in hope that we’ll learn how to hate you, John. Just try us.
Julia Hollingsworth, Spinoff Contributor (@juliaholli)
Claudia Gunn, Songwriter and Campbell Live fan (@delightsurprise)
We’ll be sad to see you gone
Now it seems the votes are in
The people spoke and everybody says
That they’ve killed the best thing
We’ll be waving as the ship leaves town
Don’t ever let it run aground
Cos you’re the captain
Of this boat we’re all in
We’re sorry to report
That sense has been tipped overboard
Funny how it’s all a rort
We’ll be sad to see you gone
Don’t stay away too long
Duncan Greive, Spinoff Editor (@duncangreive)
“Most broadcasters only have a relatively small window in which their momentum and status match up in a way which works for a mass audience. And like most people in most industries, when it’s time to go, you kind of know. And most will grudgingly accept that.
Only, Campbell was a long way from that point. In fact, watching him these past few weeks, he seemed to have the energy of someone who’d just been given the wheel. Facing execution, he and all around him redoubled their efforts to find stories which mattered and present them in a style which resonated. It was beautiful. If, as we were told, the show was truly under review, the unprecedented response would have been enough to give even the most calculating of executives pause.
As we now know, it did not. Campbell Live couldn’t have fought harder or rated higher during this risible “review”, but it wasn’t enough. The decision had clearly already been made – the show’s vigour simply made it more difficult and embarrassing to execute. Now whoever is wheeled in to front the two-host, four-day-a-week replacement will have the air of scabs crossing a journalistic picket line, and should be more heavily compensated as a result.”
Friday 29 May, 4 PM
Bill Manhire, New Zealand Poet Laureate (@pacificraft)
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
That’s W H Auden on W B Yeats, both of whom were among the poets the young John Campbell studied at Victoria. I had the enormous pleasure of keeping John company while he developed his well-known critical vocabulary: marvellous, fantastic, ker-lassic.
If Yeats and Auden were around now, they’d surely be writing poems that mix lament and praise. They’d also want to note that John himself has been such an energetic giver-of-praise. The great poets notice damage, yet somehow sing in celebration. John and Campbell Live have done that, too.
José Barbosa, Producer and Spinoff Contributor (@milkshakebot)
I’ve already said goodbye to Campbell Live, although at the time I didn’t know that was what I was doing. After my wee look at the 10 year anniversary celebrations of Campbell Live went up, its host sent me a series of DMs via Twitter. John thanked me, noting at the same time that I reserved the right (“of course”) to not like some of the stuff the team had done on the show over the years. The gist of the message was that even after all this time the show was still a work in progress, but it meant a lot to the team that someone noticed what they were doing and generally liked it. “You know this business” wrote JC in a “you know what it’s like” kind of way.
A week later we learned the show was under review.
So Campbell Live is no more. Best wishes to John Campbell and the members of the team who will lose their jobs. I hope they all find jobs quickly. At least for John this is what I kind of imagine his post-Campbell Live existence will look like.
Who knows what has really happened in the scuffed halls of MediaWorks, but, as Finlay Macdonald observed, the audience who turned up, apparently in some sort of divinely decreed Ark, weren’t there when the show needed it. Thus there is to be a replacement newsy programme at 7pm.
Having noted that we live in a market place ruled by online platforms, I’ve used the hot new streaming app Periscope to come up with a first look at what we can anticipate for the empty slot under the direction of the MediaWorks board. I call it Getting Pumped. Perhaps it’s only marginally more than what we deserve.
PS: I suddenly remembered that back in 2008 I started an amazingly well attended Facebook group called For God’s Sake Give John Campbell His Tie Back. The tie came back then went away again with winter. At least now JC can wear a tie anywhere he damn pleases.
Simon Day, Fairfax Feature Writer (@simondangerday)
John’s foul mouth and generosity are equally famous.
My favourite encounter with both was when I was writing about the timelessness of “the suit.”
Who better to call than a recently untied and now three pieced John Campbell.
When he answered his cell phone he could barely hear me. The background noise was like a military airplane.
I asked if it was a good time to talk.
“Simon, it’s a fucking terrible time. I’m on a Hercules, in Vanuatu.”
I was suddenly embarrassed to be calling on such a frivolous story, while he covered Cyclone Pam.
I imagined him three piece suited, shouting in the phone over the roar of the giant plane.
“But give me a call when I get back. I’d love to help,” he said.
Kate Newton, Reporter (@katenewtonnz)
My most-treasured piece of journalism feedback is when John Campbell told me (in some student journalism judging comments) I did “thoroughly nice work on Buttman”; Buttman being some creepy dude who was hiding in 200-level maths lectures at Otago Uni and feeling up girls’ bums with his be-socked feet.
Nobody misses Buttman, but I will definitely miss John.
Sara Jane Cairney, Former TVNZ Publicist (@SJCairney)
In 2003 I’d worked in programming at TV3 for a few months and didn’t know John at all, though I would have been in a room with him a couple of times. He was the news anchor at the time, CLive hadn’t been launched yet. We’d definitely never been introduced. One morning I was waiting for the bus in the rain when a car pulled over and JC yelled “hello love get in, it’s pissing down!” I was stoked, and a bit star struck. I got in and he said “sorry about the vomit smell love! Bloody kids!” and then we chatted on the 5 min drive to Flower St.
Obviously, he’s a very nice man. But what stood out wasn’t that he stopped when he saw a colleague. It’s more that visibility was really bad (heavy rain, heavy traffic, and several other people in the bus shelter with me) – so that means he was in fact really actively looking at bus stops on the way to work JUST IN CASE there were people he could give a lift to. Seriously, who does that?
Tony Reid, Former Colleague (@tonyreidnz)
I had the privilege of working on Campbell Live. It was one of the greatest rides of my working life. Always will be. There are too many stories to tell, but I still remember the day that Pip Keane told me and Arthur Rasmussen to go and find Mark Hotchin, in Hawaii. So we did, and almost got arrested in the process.
Problem was, we couldn’t get our footage out. No problem, go to LA and send it from there, said Pip. And on your way home can you stop off in Sydney and interview Usher! Without the unfaltering drive of John and Pip (and Carol before that), and everyone who ever worked on the show, Campbell Live would not have made it to 10 years. They care. Always have. Always will. And it doesn’t stop here.
Claire Adamson, Spinoff Contributor (@claireysan)
Maybe it’s for the best that Mediaworks is into cross-promotion, because literally the only replacement I will watch will be Catbell Live, starring Meowser from The Bachelor NZ.
Josh Drummond, Spinoff Contributor (@joshua_drummond)
John Campbell is half of the reason I’m half a journalist. I would say that he’s the reason I’m a journalist, but I do a range of things – including writing for a website about watching TV shows – that I’m not sure count as journalism. But for all the actual journalism I’ve done, he’s the inspiration. It went like this, as Wikipedia has it: “In 1996 Nicky Hager entered [Waihopai] at night with John Campbell and a TV3 film crew, and managed to film the operations room through a window.”
In 1996 I was 13-ish, and was just getting mildly interested in news. (The traditional heterosexual teenage dude pursuits like girls and stupidity would follow slightly later.) News, to me, was the dull newspaper editorials I copied word-for-word in detention at school and serious, well-dressed people reading autocues at 6 PM. John Campbell blew the fucking doors off. He and Nicky Hager went under the wire at an ultra-secure government spy-base facility, and they snuck in with a camera and stuck it in the window.
(They filmed some lever arch files. That was it.)
But it was the act of disobedience, the superlative “fuck you” to authority, that got me. It was something I’d never seen before. Someone important was up to something weird at Waihopai and they didn’t want anyone to know what it was so John Campbell took it upon himself to find out. I didn’t actually know that journalism could be that. It’s always stayed with me, that moment, and to me it’s an absolutely stonking great example of what journalists can do and what journalism can be.
Everyone is going to talk about Campbell Live and team’s triumphs, and so they should (big drives against child poverty, seemingly eliminating a horrible employment arrangement, Ali Ikram taking over primetime for a solid half-hour just to talk to Morrissey). But we shouldn’t gloss over the fact that like all nightly current affairs television, it had its moments of surreal, unscripted badness.
Case in point: yer L. Davids and A. Iannuccis spend decades trying to create awkward social comedy on par with JC and Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne’s April 2014 anthro expedition to Naenae to end the scourge of legal highs (their visit kicks off from 5:17 in the vid).
Gird your loins, mourners – Campbell and Dunne are often both very bad here, looking around Naenae’s Hillary Court and holding their noses. “This is extraordinarily depressing.” remarks Campbell, looking around. “I don’t like this shopping centre at all, to be honest.” Dunne agrees.
“The whole time we were there, people yelled out.” Well, you’re a famous dude from TV with a cameraman, but yeah it’s probably the drugs that would make someone cha-hoo and wave.
Dunne is the real hero, though. His body language is, even by the standards of non-pros appearing on television, out of this world (check out his stance at 6:24). The long conversation between him and JC delves into the one time he blazed up 30 years ago on the real stuff, and suddenly gets into some dark psychoanalysis about how fiercely competitive he is with his eldest son.
All the while, you can see the cogs turning – we’ve seen the pollies do U-turns and backdowns after a Campbell Live item, but not during it. At one dude, a guy popping past to buy synthetic cannabis butts in – “not only are you an incompetent and discredited politician, but you’re talking a load of shit.”
“That’s the problem.” Dunne stammers. “That sort of attitude typifies the problem here.” Days later, Dunne, reeling Mr Burns-style from this encounter from an actual person, would announce that he would remove synthetics from sale within three weeks. It was another Campbell Live triumph, though the fact we don’t cite this one as much probably reflects that it was mega-uncomfortable viewing getting here.
This isn’t to martyr or massacre my favourite NZ broadcaster ever. You just gotta have some perspective, especially when MediaWorks’ replacement inevitably makes its early misfires. TV with remarkable peaks still has its weird valleys.
Alex Casey, Spinoff Staff Writer (@alexkc)
“There was some other amazing coverage in the episode, from South Auckland to Syria. Hungry kids to orphaned children under constant threat of ISIS. Not to belittle those matters at all, but weirdly enough it was Roy in Western Park that perfectly articulated everything that Campbell Live stands for. We’re not strangers anymore. We are active members of a society who have the ability to be informed and the responsibility to help each other, whether it be through our Ponsonby patronage, a high five or feeding the kids. Campbell Live reminds us of that, every weekday at 7pm.”
Friday 29 May, 12 PM
David Farrier, Host of TV3’s Newsworthy (@davidfarrier)
I started at TV3 about the same time I started my journalism degree at AUT. I was employed as an autocue operator. One of the people I turned the autocue knob for was for John and Carol, as they did the 6pm news.
I was smitten, I was amazed, I felt lucky.
I saw John go and do wonderful series like A Queen’s Tour, and onto a show called Campbell Live. This isn’t about me – and everyone is saying similar things, but I want to restate it: Some people think John being happy and enthusiastic and caring is some kind of act.
It’s not an act! Right from day dot he knew what papers I was doing at university, and what exam I’d had last week. He was there for advice, which advanced to advice on all aspects of my life. The thing I will miss the most about all of this is that I will no longer have an office to wander into, shut the door, and pour my heart out. And have so, so many laughs, too.
Selfishly, that is what I will miss.
Jesse Mulligan, Comedian, Writer and Once Campbell Live Rival (@JesseMulligan)
I hope John Campbell won’t only be remembered as a sort of worthy campaigner crusading for the poor, because he was also brilliant at that 7pm standard – taking a politician apart for our enlightenment and entertainment.
For years I held onto a videotape I’d made of the time John brutalised then Prime Minister Jenny Shipley in an interview widely credited as the moment that brought her down. It was event television: John determined to get an answer out of her – “give me a name. I’m just asking for one name” – and Shipley doing a bad job of staying calm under pressure “it’s undignified for you to be putting questions to me in this manner, John”.
I watched it over and over. Then I took the tape to the beach house for the summer and when guests would drop in I’d wait about two minutes before asking “did you see John Campbell with Jenny Shipley? No? Don’t worry, we can watch it now.”
I was hosting the drive show on More FM Wellington and in an early sputtering attempt at cross-platform synergy MediaWorks arranged for us to interview him once a week. He was the most famous person I’d ever interviewed – more famous than True Bliss, more famous than Bardot, more famous than the Spiced Girls, a tribute band from the Gold Coast who’d recently come through on a publicity tour.
John was so famous but he was so nice, everyone will tell you that (I later read Diana Wichtel’s profile of him in which she theorised that the gushing niceness might actually be a clever way of controlling the conversation, and I think she had something there) – but what I’ll miss more than his niceness is what I saw in that Shipley interview; what I’d describe as his supreme fucked offness.
It worked, not just because it was fun to watch but because a lot of New Zealanders watching TV were generally fucked off too. And now that John is gone, they’ll have one thing more to be fucked off about.
Steve Braunias, Author and Columnist (@SteveBraunias)
“The final of Campbell Live on Friday night marks the end of an era which encompasses the entire history of New Zealand since the coming of Captain Cook.
The show, and its genial host, has been with us since that marvelous day when Cook and several of his party first set foot on New Zealand soil on October 8, 1769. Campbell came ashore as the Endeavour’s broadcaster, and immediately set about establishing lines of communication with the native peoples.
His friendly manner and boyish looks were well-received by the tangata whenua, and he was voted best current affairs host of the year in 1770. And so began his fabulous career as the helmsman ofCampbell Live, which was then a stage show.
He toured his news theatre to the gold fields of Otago and the West Coast, and the whaling stations in Banks Peninsula and the Cook Strait. It was Campbell who dubbed Kororakea “the hellhole of the Pacific”. The adverse publicity forced townspeople to change its name to Russell.”
Aaron Yap, Spinoff Contributor (@teddywong)
I am a terrible human being and have never actually watched Campbell Live, at least not in its entirety, but I will always fondly remember Campbell’s enthusiastic response to a music video I made for Wilberforces some years ago.
His unbridled love for music, and the way it leaks through his professional persona is one-of-a-kind; when will we ever see another a current affairs presenter who will gush on air over Sharon Van Etten?
Joseph Harper, Comedian and Spinoff Contributor (website)
I’m sure a lot of these bleeding heart liberals are sad as shit that old Cambo is getting the old heave-ho. That’s fine. But I want to let you know that he’s not 100% the hero recent spinoff dot com articles have made him out to be.
In 2003 John Campbell had a new show called Home Truths where he interviewed New Zealanders who had “made it”. In one episode he interviewed Bic Runga.
Bic Runga grew up in Christchurch and went to Cashmere High School (Te iringa o Kahukura), the same school I went to. So for the show, Cambo’s camera crew came down and filmed our stage band doing a gig in the school hall. I was part of that band. I was fourteen and played bass and had long dreadlocks (Zed went to Cashmere, too). I think we played ‘In the Mood’.
The prospect of being on tv was bloody exciting and the majority of Cashmere High’s music department tuned in.
That night we saw Cambo doing his thing, getting into the banter with Bic and having a fun and informative time. Then came the bit where they showed our jazz band. It was great. They panned across the trombones and trumpets and various saxophones. They got to the rhythm section where I was popping away like Jaco Pastorius.
John Campbell asked, “Do you think maybe, the next Bic Runga might be in here somewhere?”
“Maybe.” Bic replied.
Suddenly the camera settled on me and began zooming in. It was super buzzy. They were singling me out as the country’s next great singer-songwriter for some reason! It was awesome!
Then John Campell said, “Perhaps, it could be this little girl?”
Owned. Bic tried to save me. “Is that a girl?” she asked.
“Yes.” Said John Campbell. “Definitely.”
The next day I got given a lot of shit by my peers. So much so that it prompted me to comb out my dreadlocks and get a haircut.
Thanks a lot John Campbell.
Luke Harries, Spinoff Reader and Twitter Guy (@vanhudge)
In the first year of my AUT communications degree, in 1998, John Campbell came to speak to us about the dangers of PR influence. He gave us a lecture about how the first Iraq war was brought about by a PR company the Kuwait government hired in the USA. They used the ambassador’s daughter as a “witness” to say that the Iraqis were throwing babies out of incubators in Kuwati hospitals.
We got to ask questions. I asked how he felt about reading the news every night, knowing that sort of machination was taking place. He said “Well, if I wasn’t such a hypocrite, I might do something about it”. And then he gave shout-outs to the students who worked his teleprompter at night, including Nigel from the Down Low Concept, making them seem much cooler than they really were.
He was bloody marvelous then, he’s bloody marvelous now, and this is just a bloody tragedy.
Renee Church, Student and Spinoff Contributor (@Reneethe60s)
As the dawn rises, New Zealand embarks on the last day of John Campbell, live. The only way I could fully come to terms with my feelings, was through a series of haikus and some fan art. I love you JC.
You must own a lot of suits
And a lot of ties.
Campbell wants answers
Vox poppin’ into the streets
Avenge John Campbell
You deserve a well-earned break
And your show back. Bye!
At this tough time, I am offering some sweet fan art to the viewers as a fitting memorial:
Thanks John Campbell.
Friday 29 May, 9 AM
Patrick Gower, TV3 Political Editor (@patrickgowernz)
John Campbell’s first-ever boss “Mo” has finally spoken out after 35 years about the broadcaster’s humble beginnings as a shelf-stacker in a Wellington dairy.
Mo Bhika employed a 15-year-old Campbell at the Kelburn Dairy back in 1979/80. Campbell worked for just $1 an hour. Mo said Campbell was “a bloody hard worker, just like he is today”
Asked if “JC” had any weaknesses as a shelf-stacker, Mo said “none whatsoever”, but recalled how he would show up hung-over on weekends “but work through and not miss a beat”.
Mo, who like Campbell is a bit of a Wellington legend, now owns the dairy under the Ministry of Social Development building… And jokingly offered Campbell his old job back “same pay”.
Mo said he was gutted to hear Campbell was going off air but said he “would do well, like he always has”.
@patrickgowernz I remember Mo well. My first after-school job. And Sunday mornings. Bloody kind man. Cooked great eggs for staff breakfast.
— John Campbell (@JohnJCampbell) May 28, 2015
Calum Henderson, Spinoff Contributor (@Warney)
I have celeb-spotted John Campbell on three separate occasions.
The first time was the night before the 2006 Big Day Out. Only weeks after moving to Auckland, I found myself at an intimate club gig by one of the hottest bands in the world – Franz Ferdinand. I was living the dream. This was the kind of exclusive big city life I had dreamed for myself, and the prestige-level shot through the roof when I spied television broadcaster John Campbell in the crowd.
“There’s John Campbell,” I said. Everyone looked – It was definitely him. Later, emboldened by white wine and tightly-wound Scottish guitar pop, my friend approached him and confessed that she, too, was a fan of Orange Juice, the band he so famously loves. Graciously, gladly, genuinely, he replied: “Marvellous.”
The second time I celeb-spotted John Campbell was last year. Walking up Mount Eden Road shortly after 7:30 on a Friday night, a handsome, immaculately-suited figure emerged from the shadows of the car park next to Satya. Before I had time to register who it was, the figure said, cheerfully: “Hello”. There was nobody else around.
John Campbell had spoken to me. But why? Had he recognised me from Twitter? No. Although he does follow me, my profile picture is a cat playing baseball. What a preposterous, vain thing to imagine. Was he delirious off of the adrenaline of wrapping another episode of Campbell Live? Or is he simply the type of person who would say hello to a stranger on a dark street? I suspect I will never truly know why John Campbell spoke to me that night.
The third and final time I experienced the rush of celeb-spotting John Campbell was in February. In the week leading up to my girlfriend’s brother’s wedding, I had my haircut at Eden Barbers. Afterwards, in a familiar ritual of self-reward, I treated myself to a craft beer at Galbraith’s Alehouse across the street. As I savoured my artisanally-brewed IPA and watched an unimportant Cricket World Cup match on the big screen, a stream of loud, confident adults entered the bar. Amongst them was Patrick Gower. These were his people. They ordered their lunches and claimed a large table.
Minutes later I sensed a gentler presence enter the pub. I glanced up and saw him. John Campbell looked concerned, preoccupied. I assumed he was to be joining Gower and co, but he and his acquaintance instead sat in the quiet area by the toilets. Nobody sits in that area unless it’s really busy, or something is wrong. This lunch time, the pub was not busy.
This time still haunts me. I should have sensed it was a portent of what was to come. Could I have done something to help? Probably not. I am merely a man in a mogul’s world. Will I ever celeb-spot John Campbell again? I like to believe that if I live the right way I will be rewarded with further sightings, like beacons of reassurance on my life’s journey.
Natasha Hoyland, Comedian and Spinoff Contributor (@NatashaHoyland)
I turned my inner sadness into art and therefore title this one ‘Campbell Bye’
Jono Hutchison, Producer of TV3’s Newsworthy (@jonohutchison)
I don’t have many photos with John Campbell, and this makes me sad. In fact, I just went back through my Facebook archive and found a grand total of two.
One is from Carol Hirschfeld’s farewell party, and John is making a rare appearance in the DJ booth – something I and other colleagues had begged him to do for a long time after finding out about his past alter-ego at a student radio station. He always said no, but for that special occasion he relented. I don’t think he’d want me to share it.
But the other photo is my favourite. It’s this one, taken outside the Auckland High Court by my friend and colleague, cameraman Harley Peters:
According to Harley’s Facebook post, from where I pinched the photo, it was taken in April 2013. I don’t remember the court case we were there for, but I do remember the moment: I was setting up for a live cross and John jumped in to hold the reflector disc, which brightens the camera shot when the light isn’t ideal.
I’ve worked with John Campbell for around 10 years now. I started my career at TV3 in the news library and soon moved into operating the AutoCue as well – a wonderful job which places nervous university students in charge of scrolling the words read by presenters.
My first day learning to operate the AutoCue was the second day of Campbell Live’s existence. I had been waiting with anticipation for the call-up to join the ranks. After the first episode went to air – with a blockbuster lead story, I should add – it was apparent an extra AutoCuer was required, and I was drafted.
John Campbell, as any AutoCuer will tell you, is the best and worst presenter to work with. The best because he has an incomparable brain, which he uses to remember your name from the first time you’re introduced, and to recall and discuss obscure facts about your life. The worst because he’s a renegade when presenting. He frequently varies his pace; he goes off script, only to return to it in a different location; and sometimes he even starts commentating what he’s reading, while he’s reading it. All of this makes it very difficult to keep up – especially when you lose concentration and actually start listening to what he’s saying because he’s so damn interesting, engaging and passionate.
Many years have passed since I used to sit in the studio, turning the dial and moving the words for JC. I’ve jumped around various jobs, including working as a reporter for 3News. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a journalist; I made that decision after being around people like John who genuinely believe that news is a powerful and essential vocation.
I’ve spent all of my 20s at TV3, and throughout those formative years John Campbell has been a mentor, a confidant, and, I like to think, a friend. But unlike most of the other wonderful friends I’ve made at TV3, John and I have almost no photos together.
I think part of the reason for this is that even though he’s a talented and confident broadcaster, and one of the country’s most famous faces, he’s not addicted to attention. He’s comfortable quietly supporting others. He loves to listen to what part-time university students think about the world. He’s happy to reflect the light onto someone else.
That’s why I love this photo. Not only because it’s rare, but because it shows a candid moment of the John Campbell I know and love.
I don’t know what I’ll do without him in the office. His sunny face and constant encouragement have got me through countless tough spots. I will miss him collaring me in the stairwell to quote poetry and inquire about my love life. I’ll miss him telling me off for saying “like” too often, or scowling at me when I’ve forgotten to shave. But if I’ve learned anything from his example, I hope it’s this: that helping other people is the most valuable job in the world – and anyone can do it.
I’ll miss working with you, JC. But next time we hang out, I’m going to make you take selfies with me.
In another world where Shortland Street hadn’t been on weeknights at 7pm, it’s possible that I might have watched an episode of Campbell Live, and it probably would have been bloody amazing.
Although I’ve never actually seen an episode, I did see him in person. Only a few days after I moved to Auckland earlier this year I saw John Campbell in a bar. We did not meet eyes unfortunately but I did get some stunning selfies with him and without his permission.
Also the waitress told me he ordered a chorizo pizza, so that is quite a scandal (Campbell Scandal) if I do say so myself.
This content, like all television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.
Subscribe to Rec Room a weekly newsletter delivering The Spinoff’s latest videos, podcasts and other recommendations straight to your inbox.