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Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

Pop CultureJanuary 22, 2024

When do Seven Sharp, Shortland Street and whatever comes after The Project return?

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

Your handy guide to what 7pm will look like on terrestrial television in 2024. 

Despite what the calendar might be telling you, it’s not really 2024 until Hilary and Jeremy are back to banter on the couch, or until Chris Warner has returned to pace the halls of Shortland Street. Seven o’clock on New Zealand television has always been a fascinating barometer of where we are at as a nation, so here’s a quick rundown of when our stalwart 7pm shows are coming back, and any other big changes you can expect to see this year. 

Crowd Goes Wild – returns 22 January, Sky Open

Sky’s “sportainment” stalwart (it turns 18 this year!) is the first 7pm show out of the blocks for 2024, returning to Sky Open (the artist formerly known as Prime) from tonight. As has been the case for the last couple of years, Crowd Goes Wild will air on Monday and Thursday nights only in 2024.

Seven Sharp – returns 29 January, TVNZ1

If you’re missing your nightly fix of daring exposed shoulders and steely deadpan stares, Hilary Barry and Jeremy Wells will be back on the couch on January 29. An ad currently running on TVNZ suggests we may be in store for even stronger seven o’clock shenanigans than that time Tara Ward roasted the Seven Sharp set, only to find a framed photograph of herself sitting in the background of Seven Sharp the very next night. 

In said promo, Barry walks into the studio with gloves and a bucket of cleaning products to find Wells already sitting in her spot on the cling-filmed couch, dressed to the nines in a crisp suit and a fetching pair of Helen Mirren stripper heels. The Christmas tree is still up, and it is unclear whether or not he has been stuck in that studio since they said farewell on December 15, 2023 (although the tan suggests otherwise).

“Why don’t you try my side?” offers Wells, patting the plastic suggestively. “There’s nothing wrong with it.” Nothing wrong, except for a grotty old chicken bone that Barry finds wedged down the side of the couch. “To be fair,” says a guilty looking Wells. “That could be Daniel Faitaua’s.” Could this be the start of a chicken-based turf war between Breakfast and Seven Sharp in 2024? Someone get the popcorn – or perhaps the popcorn chicken.  

Shortland Street – returns 5 February, TVNZ2

In perhaps the biggest twist of all, last year’s Christmas cliffhanger saw Chris Warner throw a party on a boat and the episode somehow didn’t end with the entire cast gurgling ‘Anchor Me’ while sinking into the middle of the deep blue Hauraki Gulf. Nevertheless, there was still oodles of drama, including a former child-abuser taken hostage in a basement, a stabbing, a sex scene with a priest, a break-up, a relapse and a few lives hanging in the balance. 

Of all the dramatic storylines to resolve, we’re most excited about Harry Warner potentially crossing over to the dark side. With the finale leaving us with allegations of false medical qualifications and a very debatable decision by Hazza during life-saving surgery, all signs suggest that the fifth iteration of the character might indeed be the most villainous yet. Our thoughts and prayers to both Doctor Love and James Mustapic for the challenging year ahead. 

Untitled Three 7pm Show – TBC

Not long after The Project NZ came to an end last year, Warner Bros Discovery announced that they would be launching a brand-new, live, news and current affairs 7pm show in 2024, hosted by former AM presenter Ryan Bridge. “I can’t wait to show New Zealand what we have planned,” said Bridge at the time. “Expect lively debate, context around the day’s big stories and both local and international guests.”  

There’s no air date yet, but the release promises that “a vital news offering tackling the day’s biggest stories and advancing the news agenda.” Sarah Bristow, senior director news at Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, said “the show will tackle the big conversations – conversations that connect us – and conversations you won’t want to miss,” and that their 7pm offering will be “gutsy, courageous and won’t shy away from the hard topics.”

Unlike Seven Sharp, it remains to be seen whether those hard topics will also include chicken bones left in couch crevices. Regardless, we’ll be there to watch it all. 

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