Alex Casey watches the Anne Batley-Burton spinoff show the country has been waiting for.
In a year where Gilda Kirkpatrick is entering Dancing With the Stars NZ and Julia Sloane is somehow making a TV show about sex, it is only fitting that Anne Batley-Burton now has a show entirely devoted to… herself. Keeping Up With Champagne Lady is her brand new lifestyle and panel show, debuting on Tuesday night on the deeply underground channel Face TV. It’s the perfect, surreal fit, one that makes total sense as soon as Anne emerges in front of a green screen background in a glittering ball gown. She is hi-fi, the show is lo-fi, in the space between lies the magic.
The show opens in the studio on the hosts and an unnamed guest in ornate chairs. Champagne Jacquart, her signature drop that she also imports and sells in New Zealand, is plastered on banners in the background and a bottle rests in an ice bucket in the foreground. Jevan Goulter is introduced as the co-host of the series whom Anne will be “keeping in line” for the next 10 whooper episodes. They drink their first glass of wine while teasing the episode to come: test driving an Aston Martin, dining out at a luxury hunting lodge, and trying on antique jewellery. None of this seems unusual in a typical day in the life of The Champagne Lady.
The most interesting part of the show is not the extravagant segments themselves, but the throwaway lines that provide baffling insights into the life of the dame of champagne. On starting her importing business, she explained “I had to do something to feed the habit.” Is that fine? Or a cry for help? On her relationship with Graeme at the antique store, she reflected that they used to “have so much fun going to the polo in stretch limousines.” Used to? What happened between Anne and Graeme? I really hope we find out over the next few episodes.
To counteract the excesses of the day, Anne checks in with her natural guru Rachelle, who is also from Parnell. Within several seconds, something shocking is there on the screen. CONSTIPATION. Clear as day. You wouldn’t get this edgy content on Bravo! Rachelle is there to promote her liver detox drops that help you to stay trim and get rid of all the toxins in your body. Seems like a pretty good deal, but Jevan’s got questions. “Is that good for bad breath?” he asks. It’s not. But it’s good for mucus membranes and gut health and a lot of other gnarly sounding problems. Fittingly, it’s also great for champagne hangovers…
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The big drawcard of the first episode is the fiery panel discussion, this week about the plight of cats and the current pest debate. Craig Dunn from Paw Justice appears out of nowhere to discuss the issue, one that is clearly close to Anne’s heart. Their conversation is impassioned enough, the problem being that they were basically in agreement with each other about everything. It would have been nice to see some diverse opinions, and when I say that I mean I would have downed a whole bottle of constipation oil to see her and Gareth Morgan in the same room, nutting it out over a dainty flute of Jacquart.
Keeping Up With the Champagne Lady satisfies any desire to peek into a lifestyle where you could comfortably describe yourself as someone who has “always been a Porsche girl,” but maintains an odd charm in its no-frills Powerpoint aesthetic and extremely roomy sound quality. It has the same lingering pace as Late Night Big Breakfast except it’s not a comedy and the same advertorial content as The Cafe except it’s not a morning show. Whatever the hell Keeping Up With the Champagne Lady is, I couldn’t look away.
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