Dai Henwood has been confirmed as the host of Lego Masters NZ. Image composite: Tina Tiller
Dai Henwood has been confirmed as the host of Lego Masters NZ. Image composite: Tina Tiller

TelevisionNovember 18, 2021

What’s coming to TVNZ in 2022: Drama, comedy and a Lego tower of power

Dai Henwood has been confirmed as the host of Lego Masters NZ. Image composite: Tina Tiller
Dai Henwood has been confirmed as the host of Lego Masters NZ. Image composite: Tina Tiller

TVNZ’s 2022 content lineup has landed, and it includes some very big names.

Do you want big? TVNZ is going big. “Drama lovers will get their fix,” says TVNZ’s press release. “New Zealanders love seeing their stories on screen,” it continues. The opening line? “Local looms large once again.”

Have shots been fired? You can’t look at Te Reo Tātaki (TVNZ)’s 2022 content lineup, released via a glitzy and massively impressive online presentation today, without comparing it to Discovery’s efforts last week.

Discovery, with its first announcement of what it intends to do with Three, confirmed two new channels that sound like Pixar characters, Gusto and Rush, along with a slate that included plenty of new reality shows and local lifestyle content – including a Nadia Lim win.

But it didn’t mention scripted drama or comedy. Not even once. After the recent cancellation of Head High, it felt like a sign.

TVNZ is making up for that. It opened today’s presentation with all of the drama. Some very big names stand out in its impressive slate of 2022 content. It has commissioned a new show shot in Otago with Rebecca Gibney called Under the Vines. It announced the film Whina about Dame Whina Cooper, starring Rena Owen, which sounds incredible. Jayden Daniels is fronting supernatural anthology Beyond the Veil. It confirmed new seasons of One Lane Bridge and Ahikāroa.

Scripted comedy gets a solid look in too. Wellington Paranormal is back for season four. Kura is coming back for season three. Oscar Kightley’s Duckrockers is a Sione’s Wedding prequel.

Today’s upfronts were full of big announcements and huge gets, including Grand Designs NZ and The Brokenwood Mysteries moving to its platforms, and another season of the year’s top-rating reality show, Celebrity Treasure Island.

But that’s not all. TVNZ seems to be busy cherry-picking talent. Shavaughn Ruakere will host a new, mystery tropical island dating show, Clint Roberts is fronting a new TikTok-style talent quest called 60 Seconds, and a very popular face from Three, Dai Henwood, is taking over Lego Masters NZ.

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Matt Chisholm and Bree Tomasel from Celebrity Treasure Island. Image: TVNZ

“Today’s announcement demonstrates TVNZ’s ongoing commitment to local content and enhancing our digital services to grow audience reach and inspire the conversations of Aotearoa in the year ahead,” outgoing chief executive Kevin Kenrick told viewers.

Lets dig into the details…

Something’s up with Dai

Dai Henwood has been on Three since, well, forever. He’s an original member of the 7 Days team. He hosts Dancing With the Stars NZ. And he helmed Family Feud. He’s part of Three’s wallpaper. Is that relationship finally over? Possibly. Henwood was today announced as Lego Masters NZ host, a highly anticipated (at least by my kids) reality show adaptation of the UK original. If you haven’t seen it, go watch the Aussie version immediately. It’s delightful. The Aotearoa version is filming now, and Henwood will ace this role. “Get ready to get your brick on,” he told viewers today. But, unless the rules have relaxed and exclusivity is no longer prized, surely he has to depart all his Three roles for this? Doesn’t he? Or are TV media organisations just chill now? Seems doubtful.

You want drama? How about comedy?

While Discovery went all-in on its reality TV offerings, TVNZ led its presentation with a lineup heavy on scripted Aotearoa drama and comedy. That sound you hear is local production companies breathing a sigh of relief. What’s coming? Heaps. Everyone loves The Brokenwood Mysteries, so a new season of that seems like a no-brainer, and One Lane Bridge is on the up with a third season confirmed. Wellington Paranormal will return for season four, which seems like such a given it’s barely worth mentioning. But it’s the more diverse offerings I’m interested in: Whina sees the long overdue return of Rena Owen to our screens as Dame Whina Cooper, and Kura, the Papakura-set comedy show with a grassroots fan base, gets a third season. Kid Sister, meanwhile, is all-new, and tells the story of a young Kiwi Jewish woman.

Sione’s Wedding is making a comeback

Love this. With Duckrockers, Oscar Kightley is making an eight-episode TV prequel to his 2006 hit movie and the 2012 sequel. All of the yesses. No notes. This is great. Can’t wait.

Some old faves aren’t going anywhere

Another season of lockdown hit Celebrity Treasure Island is in production. Yes, Give Us a Clue is back. So is Have You Been Paying Attention? and Ru Paul’s Drag Race Down Under. Patriot Brains is returning, meaning we’ll probably get another nationwide tour from Bill Bailey at some point. Stan & The Walkers, Eat Well For Less, Origins and Our Big Blue Backyard will also get new seasons. Sorry, all you Clarke Gayford haters, but his renovation show Moving Houses is confirmed for another season too.


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TVNZ loves reality TV too

Discovery isn’t the only channel banking on a reality TV-heavy future. Among the new reality-based shows coming to TVNZ next year are an unnamed tropical island dating show hosted by Shavaughn Ruakerecooking shows Snackmasters NZ and Cooks on Fire, as well as First Responders, which will showcase Aotearoa’s emergency personnel heroes. In 60 Seconds, wannabe stars have a minute to impress in a new TikTok-style talent show hosted by Clint Roberts. The Social Media Virgin sees an Instagram noob attempt to get a million followers. And Carlos’ Reno Rescue is yet another home renovation show.

Is it heartbreak for The Bachelor?

No Bachelor? No Bachelorette? Both were big deals in TVNZ’s lineup this year, and they weren’t mentioned today. Neither was Popstars NZ, or The Apprentice NZ, or Taskmaster NZ. Another season of Creamerie wasn’t confirmed either, but that could be tied to NZ On Air’s December funding round.

Rena Owen is playing Dame Whina Cooper

Rena owen
Rena Owen is playing Dame Whina Cooper in Whina. Image: NZ Film

Look at this photo. Look at that face. It’s remarkable. How has this not happened already? With Rena Owen playing Dame Whina Cooper, Whina is going to be extraordinary. You can just tell.

TVNZ OnDemand is getting a makeover

One million viewers a week use TVNZ’s OnDemand platform, boasted Kenrick. Will users finally get an ad-free option as Kenrick has already promised? “TVNZ’s future is undoubtedly digital,” he says. “We are investing significantly in the design and development of a future state-of-the-art IP platform.” Sounds promising! But it’s not the confirmation of an ad-free service we all so desperately need.

New home, new host for Grand Designs NZ

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Tom Webster is the new host of Grand Designs NZ. Image: TVNZ

Chris Moller’s out and Tom Webster is in. The UK-born, Devonport-based architect is taking over hosting duties from Moller, who, let’s be honest, looked a bit over it in the show’s last season. Grand Designs NZ is the OG of home renovation shows, or, as wannabe Matthew Ridge might like to put it, the “MacDaddy”. Webster has big shoes to fill, let’s see if he can, ahem, nail it.

Big wheelings and dealings

A new partnership with ViacomCBS will see a host of American stalwarts coming to our screens. Ghosts, with Kiwi Rose McIver, is part of the deal. So is The Drew Barrymore Show, CSI: Vegas, NCIS: Hawai’i, and FBI: International. Never watched any of them, but lots of people do. Sounds like a good move.

Finally…

Shortland Street turns 30 next year. Thirty! Hopefully they won’t need to be pashing perspex when the anniversary roles around.

Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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