Good things really do come to those who wait.
Earlier this year, The Spinoff campaigned for justice for Seven Sharp, the only TVNZ show without a fancy studio. Since Omicron hit our shores, Seven Sharp presenters Hilary Barry and Jeremy Wells have battled through terrible conditions, forced to broadcast every weeknight from a dark corner of a TVNZ newsroom filled with lonely sneakers and overflowing handbags.
Last night, justice was finally served. The Seven Sharp Two were released from their grotty studio prison into a utopia of soft lighting and wipeable surfaces as the show surprised viewers with a sparkling new set. The empty Sistema containers in the background had vanished, the paper screensavers that sometimes fell down during the live broadcast were gone. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and Seven Sharp was feeling good.
It doesn’t matter why Seven Sharp launched their new set in November, a mere four weeks before the show finishes for the year. How can you ask questions at a time like this? As the nation’s clocks hit seven sharp, fake dappled light fell through the fake window and it seemed like the wooden seagull on the new shelf would burst into song at any moment, like a choir of angels receiving a long-awaited vision of clarity and contemplation.
Hallelujah, Seven Sharp. Bow down beneath the plastic fiddle leaf fig and rejoice.
At the centre of this vision, as full of texture and earthy tones as their new couch, sat Hilary and Jeremy. At first, they pretended nothing was different. Simon Dallow crossed over from 1News and Hilary and Jeremy launched into their first item like it was just another day on Seven Sharp, as if that Friends feature wall was nothing more than a bad cheese dream. Then Jeremy and Hilary finished talking about rising food prices, and they could wait no longer. Seven Sharp has had a glow up, and they wanted to tell us all about it.
“I like what you’ve done with the place,” Hilary told Jeremy, as they sat on the New Zealand-made couch and surveyed their new surroundings. It was a bit of a DIY project, Jeremy told us, but the shelves aren’t straight, please don’t put a spirit level on them. Don’t worry, the only spirit I could feel last night was the Ghost of Good Morning Past, because this set would have been all of Mary Lambie’s mid-90s dreams come true. Can you imagine reading out a fax on that sleek settee? What a time to be alive.
Around Jeremy and Hilary was a whole new world. Beneath their feet, a mat. Beside them, shelves. Those shelves were filled with trinkets, possibly clues left over from Celebrity Treasure Island, and a trophy that no doubt said “Winner: Snazziest Set 2022”. A ladder lay against the wall, and although we couldn’t see what was at the top, I like to think that’s where all the retiring TVNZ presenters go after their farewell drinks. Pretty sure that Richard Long’s moustache is up there somewhere.
Nothing says “news” better than a ladder to nowhere, but Seven Sharp’s crowning glory was the scenic New Zealand vista on the wall, an uplifting image of blue skies and native bush. Now the sun will always shine on Seven Sharp, even when the economy’s going to shit or when Hilary gets her shoulders out. I hoped an interview with economist Brad Olsen would include him asking how TVNZ could afford herringbone floors during a cost of living crisis, but sadly, they ran out of time. Maybe Brad was too busy staring at the ladder to even think about it.
Then came the interview of the evening, a Zoom chat with music legend Lord Roderick Stewart. We last saw The Rodinator on our screens for Rock the Dock and now he was back, on this night of nights, to vouch for the couch. Rod was promoting his upcoming New Zealand tour, but he couldn’t compare to the star power of Seven Sharp’s new set. The rhythm might be in his heart, but poor Rod didn’t even have a ladder behind him. All he had were toy cars and a lot of polished mahogany. Sucks to be him.
The night ended with Hilary putting the plastic wrap back on the sofa, because she knows beauty is fleeting and that this set must be protected at all costs. “It’s a bit slippery with the plastic on,” Hilary warned as she slid off the couch of dreams. It was less Seven Sharp, more Seven Silky, but who needs friction when you have new curtains? The jewel in TVNZ’s current affairs crown finally has the set they deserve, seagull and all. Those were our people today, New Zealand. That’s your new couch, tonight.
Seven Sharp screens on TVNZ 1 every weeknight at 7pm and streams on TVNZ+.