back benches

TelevisionAugust 4, 2017

10 things I learned from Back Benches this week

back benches

Tara Ward watches Prime TV’s Back Benches amidst an exciting week for both politics and local colouring book production. 

Watching Back Benches was the most educational 45 minutes of television since the time I devoured the infomercial about the ladder that transforms into 370 different positionsBack Benches gave me answers to questions I didn’t know I was asking, like what does free range chicken even mean? Will New Zealand ever be predator free? And who the heck is Richard Prosser?

Wednesday night’s episode was a revelation – because never before has New Zealand politics been so exciting. Back Benches put the lit into politics with its feline confessions, quizzes with rattles and chickens on sticks. Host Charlotte Ryan expertly pulled commentary from people who clearly didn’t want to be on camera, while the audience waved ‘Microchip Gareth Morgan!’ signs around like they had 10 seconds left before the cat curfew kicked in.

The chaotic energy of Back Benches was contagious. “Let’s rock and roll!” yelled the ever enthusiastic Wallace Chapman, while Charlotte grinned in giddy anticipation. Bring on the politicians! Show me the killer cats! This was the most enthused I’ve been in my pyjamas for years. Forget the ladder infomercial, because THIS was television. THIS was better living.

Let’s pour ourselves a long, cool glass of Back Benches learnings and drink until we fall unconscious and our faces slide into a slippery mess of political dribble. Back Benches gets two big ticks, because it was poultry in motion, mother cluckers.


1) The outlook for the election is fine, according to Tamati Coffey

“We leave shit until the last minute,” he said, possibly referring to Kiwis’ approach to voting, possibly revealing Labour’s new election slogan.

2) Wallace Chapman asked Maureen Pugh if she’s bought into ‘Jacindamania’

That’ll be a no, then.

3) This politician colouring book is all your wildest dreams come true

Colour Me Badd, because I am All 4 Love with this genius piece of literature. Forget Joseph and his coat of many colours, now you can have Peter Dunne and his amazing technicolour everything, all day, every day.

4) Forget the killer cats, I think Marama Davidson was drinking a raspberry and lemonade

Someone launch a parliamentary inquiry to find out, because this is the sort of life-affirming shit I base my vote on.

5) Jacinda Ardern gatecrashed the item about free range chicken

Steady on Jacinda, chickens are people too.


6) MPs love cats, mostly, apart from those who don’t

Are you one of the estimated 27%* of the New Zealand public who vote solely on cat-related issues? Then listen up, weirdos, because Back Benches brings amazing news. NZ First MP Richard Prosser’s cats are named Hazel and Juliet, while Labour’s Michael Wood revealed his cat Scarlett cohabitates with a chicken. That’s a YouTube channel made in heaven, and in the immortal words of Wallace Chapman: “WOW!”

*probably not a real statistic, but if those revelations don’t make you fist pump your way to the polling booth on September 23, then nothing will.


7) This bloke just revealed the true meaning of life

“Happy chickens, happy life,” and never a truer word was spoken imo.

8) Breaking news: Richard Prosser claims Winston will live forever

You heard it here first.

9) Bill English has “a good set of financials”

 Is that a euphemism, or just some weird muscle I’ve never heard of? Politics, never change.

10) New Zealand has 1.4 million cats and 70 million possums and you can colour both me and Rodney Hide surprised

Back Benches airs at 9.30pm Wednesdays on Prime.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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