This morning’s edition of The AM Show was the final one for co-hosts Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson. Tara Ward watched the pair bow out with typical grace and grumpiness.
It took seven minutes for Mark Richardson to crack a smile on his last episode of The AM Show, and it was the mention of a nudist club that made the magic happen. Along with his newsreader co-host Amanda Gillies, Mark departed Three’s breakfast show this morning, and after five years of early starts, the pair went out in style.
The mood was light, the giveaways were flowing, and Amanda had Christmas cards for her colleagues. Mark loved that his card had the three wise men on it because he obviously has the wisdom of three men, but fellow host Ryan Bridge wouldn’t read his card on air in case Amanda’s message was too personal. “Mine’s full of swear words,” Mark said, and they all laughed, maybe because it was true.
The farewell tributes began with a look back on the pair’s most memorable moments. Amanda reflected on reporting the Christchurch shootings in 2019 (“it changed me as a person”) and of publicly sharing her regret at not having children. As for Mark, there was the time in 2017 when Jacinda Ardern pointed her finger at him after he argued it was reasonable to ask women in a job interview if they were pregnant. “She had a lot to learn at that point in time,” Mark said, ever deep in retrospect.
Then they showed the 2019 moment when Mark accidentally outed Ryan, a rewatch that brought Ryan to tears. “I’d let you down through not thinking,” Mark said of his throwaway comment, but always the optimist, reckoned Ryan had grown “in leaps and bounds” as a broadcaster since. Ryan mentioned the positive feedback he’d had from the public afterwards. “You’ve got a much better trimmed beard too,” Amanda said, so you know, it’s all good now.
Tears don’t stop The AM Show from tackling the big issues, and by 7am, “turkey or ham for Christmas dinner?” had the nation divided. We crossed live to the Chatham Islands, enjoyed a political panel with Simon Bridges and David Parker, and interviewed two thirds of Sol3 Mio. Ardern sent in a perplexing gift of three coffee mugs that featured a self portrait of her shocked face. “Is she saying we’re mugs?” Mark asked. They discussed it among themselves; the answer appeared to be yes.
The show sped through the regular news and weather bulletins, but the farewells were never far away. A viewer thanked the show for making her laugh again after the death of her husband, something she thought she’d never do again. The message brought Amanda to tears, and was a timely reminder that however dour Mark is and however hectic the show can be, breakfast TV is a vital companion to many. Seeing these faces every morning means a lot to viewers, and this was a chance for them to say their goodbyes too.
As the show slid quietly into its last half hour, Mark and Amanda delivered their final news and sport bulletins. There were tears even before entertainment editor Kate Rodger crossed live to tell Mark and Amanda that “you are my Everest and I feel like I have summited you”. At 8.53am, Amanda cried her way through her farewell poem, and I cried too, while Mark just winged it. He reckoned The AM Show had “lit a fire under his backside” for news and current affairs, and after two years in his new radio job, he’ll stand in the general election.
We were already upset, and now we were out of time and Mark wasn’t taking any questions. Who knows if he was serious, but as The AM Show credits rolled for the last time in 2021, the team celebrated the end of an era with more tears and hugs. Mark and Amanda had given viewers five years of news stories, questionable takes and dirty jokes, but they saved the best gift until last: an absolute pearler of a Mark Richardson grin. Tools down, teeth out, and thanks for the memories.