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Laura Daniel’s life in TV (Photo: TVNZ / Design: Archi Banal)
Laura Daniel’s life in TV (Photo: TVNZ / Design: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureOctober 21, 2023

‘We could have just gone to a hotel’: Laura Daniel’s review of Celebrity Treasure Island

Laura Daniel’s life in TV (Photo: TVNZ / Design: Archi Banal)
Laura Daniel’s life in TV (Photo: TVNZ / Design: Archi Banal)

Funny Girl and Celebrity Treasure Island castaway Laura Daniel shares her most memorable TV moments. 

Comedian, actor, writer, performer and presenter Laura Daniel is one of New Zealand’s brightest television talents. The award-winning comedian first appeared on our screens in comedy series Jono and Ben, before going on to co-create the all-female skit series Funny Girls. She’s a regular feature on TV comedy panel shows like 7 Days, Patriot Brains and Guy Montgomery’s Guy Mont Spelling Bee, and is one of the privileged few to take home Jeremy Wells’ golden noggin as the winner of Taskmaster NZ

But who could forget Laura’s astonishing lockdown politician cakes on Seven Sharp, or her hypnotic turn as Ruru Chick on Masked Singer NZ, or the time she cha-cha-cha-ed her way to runner up on Dancing with the Stars NZ? From voicing  animated shows like The Vloggingtons and Barefoot Bandits, to popping up on TV dramas My Life is Murder and The Brokenwood Mysteries, to being one half of musical comedy duo Two Hearts (alongside husband Joseph Moore), it’s clear Laura Daniel is a woman of many, many talents. 

Most recently, Laura’s been fighting it out on the shores of Celebrity Treasure Island: Te Waiponamu, an experience she describes as “full on”.

“You spend all your time with these people and you make these deep connections, and you care about it so much,” she explains over Zoom. “I went in being like ‘Laura, don’t wear your heart on your sleeve’, and then boom, day one, crying.”

As CTI enters its final week with Laura still in the running to win $100,000 for charity, she shared some of her most favourite TV moments with us, including an early alien crush and why The Nanny is such an enduring fashion icon. 

Laura Daniel (far left) and her CTI team mates (Photo: TVNZ)

My earliest TV memory is… Mr Blobby. I had no idea about Noel’s House Party and I didn’t know what he was, I was just very aware of this big blobby thing that showed up on the television before the live Lotto draw. 

My early TV crush was… Max from Roswell. I watched all of Roswell and I couldn’t tell you a single storyline, but he was the alien that put his hand on Liz’s stomach to save her. Pretty hot. 

My most favourite TV project that I’ve ever been involved with is… Funny Girls. We made it with no money, but creating a sketch show from scratch with my friends is an experience I’ll never forget.

The TV ad I can’t stop thinking about is… The Lion Red blood brothers ad. These three guys walk into a bar and these hot girls say “you boys gonna sing for us?” [Laura proceeds to rap the entire song, word for word]. I had to Google the ad a few years ago, because I kept thinking about it. 

My TV guilty pleasure is… I’ve watched all of The Vampire Diaries. I love romcoms and romance and that’s an OG love triangle situation. And yes, I’ve watched the spinoff series, the originals, all of it.

My most memorable TV moment is… My first junket interview for Jono and Ben. I felt a lot of pressure because they sent me to South Korea to interview Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton, and I hadn’t done anything like that before. My producer said, “you have to come back with a comedy segment. For it to be on our show, it needs to be funny.” It went really well and I just remember being genuinely proud of myself. I remember Rose [Matafeo] watched it back and was like, “you got balls of steel, girl”.

My favourite TV character of all time is… Lesley Knope from Parks and Rec. That was always my favourite type of comedy –  heartwarming, uplifting, 26 episodes a season. That era was really formative for a lot of my group that came through, with shows like Parks and Rec, Community, The Office, 30 Rock. I don’t think that’s going to happen again because of the way we make TV now.

The most stylish person on TV is… Fran Drescher as The Nanny. Style icon. In every single episode, she’s always got a look on and it’s always awesome.

What I wish people knew about being on Celebrity Treasure Island is… It’s like going on a school camp or Outward Bound. You’re like, “wow, I never regret doing that, that was awesome,”  but also, “I wish people didn’t have to watch me go through that on television.” I also wish people knew that we stay in those beds. Everyone’s like, “don’t you go to a hotel at the end of the night?” No, we stay there, and to be honest, I don’t know why. We could have just gone to a hotel. 

The TV moment that haunts me to this day is… Willie Moon and Natalia Kills. I miss that era of television, when we would put a lot of money into the big live shows, and you could text in and your tweets would come up. It’s hard to watch, but it’s one of those defining moments of New Zealand television. 

The show that defined my lockdown was… Seven Sharp, because I was making it the whole time. I started there at the beginning of 2020, thinking I was only going to be on a six month contract. I was making television from my home, and it was stressful because there was a lot of pressure to make lighthearted segments to cheer up the nation at the end of a heavy news cycle

The show I wish I’d been involved with is… My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. When it first came out, I was like, “this is exactly the type of show I’ve been wanting to make.” I love the concept and the heart and I thought Rachel Bloom was really good, and I’d love to be able to make something in that realm one day.

The TV show I’ll never watch, no matter how many people tell me to is… Emily in Paris. Everyone’s like, “Laura, you’ll love it,” and I get offended because Paul Williams even said “I can’t believe you haven’t watched it”.  So now I’m just refusing to watch it. I saw a clip and I was like “this is terrible! What are you on about?” 

My controversial TV opinion is… Every TV show should make a musical episode, no matter what genre. It’s kind of crazy Shortland Street hasn’t done it. That’s so outrageous! Why not?

The last thing I watched on TV was… Gen V. It’s a spinoff from The Boys, which is an excellent series. I thought Gen V wouldn’t be as good, but it’s pretty much exactly the same.

Celebrity Treasure Island: Te Waipounamu is on TVNZ2 at 7.30pm every Monday to Wednesday, and streams on TVNZ+. For weekly recaps, get amongst The Real Pod Extra on Substack.

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