As Celebrity Treasure Island washes ashore again, new castaway Matt Gibb looks back on a career filled with thrills and spills… but never the TV2 bus.
There are few people who can say they built their careers on the back of a 3D animated penguin, but Matt Gibb is one of them. First appearing on our screens on the iconic Saturday kids show Squirt in 2000, he later became the host of after-school show Studio 2 Live. He then popped up on TVNZ U’s beloved U Live, before moving into presenting roles on Good Morning, Breakfast and Seven Sharp.He’s also worked as a senior producer for ABC in Australia, and most recently hosted real estate series Country House Hunters: New Zealand.
Now, Gibb is diving into uncharted televisual waters as he competes on the upcoming season of reality TV juggernaut Celebrity Treasure Island: Te Waiponamu, without a 3D animated penguin in sight. It promises to be the “weirdest season yet” and, even with all his behind-the-scenes TV knowledge, Gibb admits he was surprised by how intense he found the castaway experience. “Once you’re there, once you’re experiencing the camaraderie and the family of it, it feels like the most important thing you’ve ever done,” he told The Spinoff over the phone.
Ahead of CTI’s premiere this Monday, Gibb shared some of his favourite television memories, including his jealousy of the TV2 promo bus, his love for a TV alien’s sister, and why New Zealand should bring back the game show.
My earliest TV memory is… When I was really little, my Nana was a huge cricket fan. That’s where I think my love of cricket spawned. I remember desperately trying to act sick so that I could go round to Nana’s for a sick day and get to watch test cricket all day long with her.
The show I rushed home to watch was… The Son of a Gunn Show. We went to a live taping of it at Science Alive, which was probably a formative experience for me. I was a fan of Jason Gunn’s voices and characters and silliness, but then seeing him in real life, being just as funny as he was on TV, was amazing.
My earliest television crush was… There was a show called Alf, and Alf’s sister was Lynn Tanner. I remember all of a sudden feeling differently about why I liked watching Alf. I didn’t know it was a crush at the time, but I knew that I really wanted to watch Alf and I really enjoyed it when Lynn Tanner was around.
The TV moment that haunts me to this day is… I was on Breakfast doing a live cross segment for a sponsor. I was on an ice skating rink and I lost my balance, slipped over and landed on my back, but in my head, I was thinking “Oh, that’s actually kind of good” – mess-ups are quite good on live telly, right? I finished and did all the sponsored messages but then I inexplicably thanked the sponsor’s direct competitor. My producer was standing there absolutely ashen-faced. That was not ideal.
The TV ad I can’t stop thinking about is… I was always jealous of the TV2 bus promos. When I first started on TV2, these promos were massive. It was all about Erika Takacs, Dom Bowden and Suzanne Paul. Even Spike the Penguin featured heavily. So I assumed that now I’d made it onto TV2, maybe I’d make it onto one of these big family promos. Never happened. A devastating moment.
My TV guilty pleasure is… I love the US Office. If I can’t choose a show to watch, I’ll always go back to the US Office. Any episode, at any point, I’ve watched every season of it multiple times. It’s like porridge, warm and comforting.
My favourite TV character is… Matt Berry as Laszlo the Vampire in What we Do in the Shadows. His voice transcends all reality. Anything that comes out of his mouth in that role as Lazlo is ridiculous.
The most stylish person on television is… I was on the Christmas Kiwi Bake Off episode last year, and Jordan Rondel, Peter Gordon, Pax and Hayley looked incredible. All four of them were just absolute fire. I was definitely regretting my choice of a blue chambray shirt.
The TV show that defined my lockdown is… Celebrity Treasure Island. When I came back to New Zealand in 2021, we were living briefly in Christchurch, and CTI came on. It felt like there was a shared experience again, just like the old days of TV, and it was just so beautifully New Zealand. It was bigger than CTI somehow, that season.
The TV project I wish I had been involved in is… Nathan for You is one of my favourite shows of all time. Anything Nathan Fielder does is so far and above what I’d ever be capable of doing, but to have a glimpse into how it works and be able to be involved in a show like that would be outrageously cool. He’s got one of those brains that sees the world in a different light and draws entertainment out of situations that shouldn’t work, but he makes it work. It’s genius.
My most watched television show of all time is… Shortland Street. I won the 3rd Form speech competition in 1993 with a speech about Shortland Street, and I would have continued watching it religiously up until the early 2000s. A solid eight years of watching it every night would add up to a quite a lot of episodes.
My controversial TV opinion is… New Zealand made a massive mistake in losing the game show format. As a nation, we suffered when we got rid of Wheel of Fortune, Sale of the Century, Face the Music, all of those game shows, with real New Zealanders on centre stage every night. The game show era needs to come back, otherwise New Zealand will never rise to the heights that we should have risen to.
The last thing I watched on television was… Dave. Lil Dicky is a comedy rapper from the States who makes a semi-biographical show called Dave. The most recent season had an incredible cameo from Brad Pitt. It’s just some of the best TV I’ve watched in years and no one seems to be talking about it.
Celebrity Treasure Island begins on TVNZ 2 on Monday 18 September at 7.30pm and streams on TVNZ+.