New Zealand television reboots of UK reality and comedy shows
It's not all bad, but it's not all good (Image : Tina Tiller)

From Taskmaster to Wife Swap – the best and worst of UK to NZ TV remakes

Stewart Sowman-Lund and Tara Ward take a walk down memory lane to look at some of the best (and worst) UK to New Zealand television remakes.

The good

Grand Designs 

There can only be one Kevin McCloud, but we’ve proved there can be two excellent versions of Grand Designs. Hosted by our own amiable architect Chris Moller, Grand Designs NZ proves that Britain isn’t the only place that overly ambitious people will pour ridiculous amounts of money into the concrete pad of their wildest dreams, and turn it into good telly. / Tara Ward   

The Krypton Factor 

It was a primetime celebration of nerdiness, and it made every Saturday night sing. / TW

Dancing with the Stars 

Based on the UK’s long-running hit Strictly Come Dancing, DWTS has been an off-and-on-again regular on our screens over the past couple of decades. The recent reboot(s), hosted by host of everything Dominic Bowden and then Dai Henwood, never quite captured the heights of the original five series. In the early 2000s, it was all about Jason Gunn, Candy Lane, and a series of absolutely horrific moments that have never been (and will never be) erased from my mind. Paul Holmes’ terrible Thriller routine! Rodney Hide dropping his partner on her head! I will never recover. I loved every second. / Stewart Sowman-Lund

The Great Kiwi Bake Off

Great British Bake Off is the nicest show on television, and Great Kiwi Bake Off is just as lush and moist as its baking ancestor. Mix together a bunch of lovely New Zealanders, some astonishing creativity and a few hundred pastry swans, and you get a heartwarming gem that celebrates the best of Kiwi cuisine. Lamington balls, anyone? Delicious. / TW

Taskmaster 

I’ve recently expressed my love for Taskmaster NZ, in a glowing review where I said it’s basically the best New Zealand reboot of a UK classic in recent years. I stand by that: it’s funny, silly, and endlessly entertaining. But that comes with a warning. Based on the trajectory of other Kiwi game show hosts, Jeremy Wells could be headed for a sudden career change into shock-jock radio (read the “OK” section to find out why). He’s already taken Hosking’s job on TV – watch out, Newstalk ZB. / SSL

Madeleine Sami and Paul Williams in Taskmaster NZ (Photo: TVNZ)

Top Town 

If there’s one TV series that deserves to be reborn in 2021, it’s Top Town. Based on UK show It’s a Knockout, Top Town travelled around heartland New Zealand during the 70s and 80s, bringing small towns together to compete in a series of wonderfully ridiculous physical challenges. Glorious chaos, from a time before health and safety ruled supreme.  / TW

First Dates

It’s the reality dating show that matches up single strangers and puts them through a televised first date, and what could be awkward about that? The success of the charming First Dates UK carried over to First Dates NZ, because everyone deserves a shot at true love, even the two single guinea pigs from the weird and wonderful NZ spinoff series. Holly and Luke, you deserve a follow-up special. / TW

The OK:

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Before Mike Hosking was asking the tough questions of those on the political left, he was asking the tough questions of ordinary people on our first (and only) series of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I don’t remember much about this series, but I remember that nobody won very much and it got cancelled quite quickly. 

Hosking also had very bad hair and wore a suit that made him look a bit like the Penguin from Batman. Good? You tell me. / SSL

The Weakest Link

Louise Wallace is now known as probably the second least racist housewife from the Real Housewives of Auckland. But to an earlier generation, Wallace was a hard-hitting journalist and host of the homegrown version of The Weakest Link. She’s certainly no Anne Robinson, but she had the stilted intonation and scary hair down. This show certainly isn’t the weakest link on the list, but it didn’t bank much goodwill either. / SSL

Mastermind 

It seems to be a rite of passage for now problematic TV personalities to have had a stint hosting a game show, with pals Hosking, Wallace and Paul Henry on this list as well. Mastermind will probably be remembered as the last thing Peter Williams did before moving to talk radio and losing his title as grandfather of the nation. Like the UK version, Mastermind pits boring people against the clock as they answer boring questions about their chosen boring subject. Unlike the UK version, the people weren’t that good and the subjects were, somehow, even more boring. Go figure! / SSL

Gogglebox 

While Gogglebox UK strides into its 16th season, the New Zealand version lasted a solitary season in 2018. Gogglebox is less a show about television and more about the people who watch it, and although the New Zealand franchise lacked the spark and staying power of the British original, it still reflected a diverse and funny nation back at us, even if it was only for a few precious weeks. / TW

X Factor 

We can’t mention X Factor NZ without mentioning Willy Moon, Natalia Kills and Joe Irvine’s suit, and we can’t mention any of that without humming the chorus of Jackie Thomas’s number one hit It’s Worth It. The juiciest piece of fruit from Simon Cowell’s reality TV loins landed here in 2013, lasting two seasons, 58 episodes and one batch of Lorde’s cupcakes. It gave us the Dominic Bowden Long Pause and Kills and Moon’s dramatic exit from the country, and the rest, as they say in the television reality music competition industry, is history. / TW

MasterChef 

Nadia Lim! Chelsea Winter! Karena and Kasey! MasterChef New Zealand definitely succeeded in producing some top talent. Regardless, the show didn’t quite have all the ingredients to make it into the “good” section. I can’t really explain why it didn’t, but I’m the one writing this arbitrary list, so fight me. / SSL

The bad:

Come Dine with Me 

The UK original is a juggernaut of daytime television.  I’ll watch it hungover with a large cup of coffee any day. It’s relentlessly entertaining, outrageously stupid, and filled with sad and insipid meals. The New Zealand version, dramatically voice-overed by Guy Williams, certainly had the last part. But while the original bakes up entertainment, our home-cooked version needed at least another 20 in the oven (and probably on fan bake). Perhaps most devastatingly, it REPLACED CAMPBELL LIVE! You will never be forgiven, TV3 gods.  / SSL

Ready Steady Cook

In a time long before Uber Eats, two professional chefs and two contestants created a gourmet meal from a mystery bag of ingredients. Green pepper or red tomato? You decide. / TW

Would I Lie to You? 

Add Paul Henry to the list of problematic broadcasters who spent some time frolicking about making a light-hearted panel show. Is making a game show rehab for cancelled shock jocks?

Not only was Would I Lie to You New Zealand very boring, it had the added struggle of trying to compete with the geniuses of David Mitchell, Rob Brydon and Lee Mack. An impossible challenge, yes, and one that we only really attempted half-heartedly. / SSL

Changing Rooms 

So bad it should be in the good section, Changing Rooms was the hit home renovation show of the 1990s. Neighbours had 48 hours to decorate each other’s houses, and if you hated pink, you were definitely getting a pink bedroom. Our version featured designers like Sally Ridge and Donald Grant Sunderland, and the results were incredible. Rooms were ruined, friendships were at risk, and Friday nights would never be the same again. / TW

10 Years Younger

Let’s turn back the clock to a time before this show was ever made, both in the UK and New Zealand. / TW

How Clean Is Your House

Stop asking me such personal questions. / TW

Wife Swap

No. / TW




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