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Welcome to the future, let John Campbell and Nigel Latta be your guides

Nigel Latta and John Campbell are going to lead New Zealand into a brave new future in TVNZ’s multi-night extravaganza What Next? Tara Ward does the questionnaire that will decide our fate. 

If you like to spend your evenings staring into the abyss and worrying about what the future holds, then TVNZ 1’s new show will make you do cartwheels of nervous joy around your living room. Hold onto your pants, because What Next? is about to reveal a mysterious world that both excites and terrifies. Welcome, New Zealand, to The Future.

In a “national conversation like never before”, What Next? aims to create a “collective vision” about what New Zealand might look like in 20 years. Leading us into the deep, dark void of 2037 are hosts Nigel Latta and John Campbell. Together they’re the Thelma and Louise of the documentary and/or factual world, and the most curious conscious coupling to bless our screens since Jase took Thingee on a Big Adventure.

Nigel and John want our input on the future. They’re blimmin well begging for it — your input, my input, that joker across the road who cuts his lawn with nail scissors’ input. Frankly, that worries me. I can’t remember to put the recycling out on the right day, how can I be expected to decide the future of an entire nation?

“Change is barrelling down on us,” Nigel Latta warns, as I run screaming to the pantry to eat my fears and shelter from this imminent shitstorm of progress and development. (FYI my first suggestion is that all household pantries are fitted with motion sensor lights by 2037, you’re welcome.)

But I can handle change if it comes in the form of John Campbell. He’s driving this party train all the way to 2037, and looks stoked to be back on our screens: face shining like a new penny, chest puffed out with pride. He’s bloody marvellous, and if JC loves the future as much as the future loves him then I’m willing to stand up and be counted (ie come out of the pantry).

So with 2037 weighing on my mind like a concrete bunker filled with hypothetical situations, I visited the What Next? page to unload some truth bombs, aka answer four simple questions. Your future is in my hands, and we should all be very afraid.

Question 1: Would you trust a robot with your life?

Hold the phone, John, I wasn’t expecting an existential crisis this early into our futuristic journey. Silly me, I thought What Next? would be a lighthearted lark about a world where people fly cars and watch TV on their phones. What? People already do that? Holy moses, the future really is now.

Question One made my mind spin more than that time I watched a dog drive a car. What type of robot are we talking about? Is it your friendly domestic robot like Metal Mickey, or a more sinister Stepford Wife? Even better, is it one of those amazing vacuum cleaners that automatically cleans the house every night while you’re asleep?

Honestly, if the robot in question can fold the washing and wipe the condensation off the windows every morning, then take me to your leader because I’m ready to sign my life away.

Answer: Kill me now, as long as the robot cleans the mess up afterwards.

Question 2: Would you eat bugs instead of beef if it helped the environment?

I’m not sure John’s asking the right questions because I just discovered we’re facing a future without Jaffas and Buzz Bars. That’s the sort of shit we need to worry about, because I can’t contemplate saving the planet without laying my weary head on a delicate chocolate-coated pillow of marshmallow and caramel.

Still, I just handed my destiny over to Bender from Futurama, so what’s a lifetime eating deep fried wetas? It’ll be an eternal Fear Factor challenge, with John Campbell gleefully spinning the bug roulette wheel while I fight with my robot over who gets the last boiled dung beetle.

Answer: It all tastes like chicken, right?

Question 3: Will your job exist in 20 years?

Who cares, because the future is amazing. Old mate Robot will be doing all our domestic chores, we’ll be busy climbing glaciers while our pockets burst with wormy treats, and I’ll finally have a fancy mobile phone to enjoy the many, many jewels in Nigel Latta’s television crown.

Question 4: Would you choose to live to 130 if you could?

Will you be there, JC? I can’t do it without you.


What Next? begins on Sunday night at 8.30pm on TVNZ 1

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