Why Duncan Garner is the wrong person for 7pm

I’ve been chuckling away at all the rumours that Duncan Garner is to take the role of host on a new current affairs program at 7pm on TV3. Chuckling because it would be the worst possible thing TV3 could do for 7pm.

Let me explain. The entire premise behind getting rid of Campbell Live was that it wasn’t rating well. The mere suggestion that Duncan Garner might resemble what they’re looking for for 7pm shows that either the rumours are grotesquely wrong or those making the decisions at Mediaworks have a very, very, very short memory.

In 2013, Duncan began hosting TV3’s new mid week current affairs program 3rd Degree. Screening at 8:30pm on a Wednesday night, the show drew an average audience per episode of 197,770 viewers per night. This figure was boosted by the David Bain story they ran in the middle of the year that drew an audience nearly twice every other episode.

In 2014, audience levels fell 14% to 177,045 viewers per episode with a number of them barely scraping into six digits.


The ratings for 3rd Degree were so bad that TV3 opted for dramatic changes including renaming the show to 3D, managed to secure NZ On Air funding and moved the new show to a revamped Sunday night lineup to screen after a shortened 3 News. So far, the half hour series has only managed to draw an average audience of 190,650 viewers per episode and after only five weeks, has had a low of 159,960 and a high of only 212,060 on debut.

The lowest Campbell Live ever rated was 116,040 viewers and that was with the excuse that the Cricket World Cup was on. 3rd Degree’s only excuse for its lowest average audience of 103,680 was that it was in December.

The problem with Duncan Garner is that unlike John Campbell, he’s neither polarising or inspiring. He’s not necessarily bad, he’s just average. Let’s put it another way, he’s not the kind of presenter that people would miss if he disappeared. And that’s half of the reason why having him as host of 3D/3rd Degree hasn’t worked. If anyone thinks that Duncan Garner can perform better at 7pm than John Campbell, then they’re clearly in need of some help.

Even if Mediaworks can bring across Heather du Plessis Allan as a co-host, is anyone seriously thinking that the combination of her and Garner is going to be any better than Garner and Samantha Hayes? If that’s the genius solution to TV3’s woes at 7pm then things are even worse than I thought.

Heather might very well be a good choice but unless her co-host is also up to scratch and relatable by the audience they’re trying to reach, they may as well revert to re runs of Road Cops.

Any hosting combination at 7pm that includes Garner will not work and the sooner Mediaworks stop entertaining that idea, the better.

Mediaworks needs fresh ideas and fresh blood. Rehashing the same old, tired people in the vain hope of seeing positive growth appears to a lesson they’re refusing to learn.

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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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  • 4by3

    Here, here! The guy is just not ‘likeable’ enough as a TV host. As harsh as I know that sounds…

    I believe very ew kiwis want to sit down at 7pm to Garner’s bully-buy, smarmy, chuckle-at-my-own-political-in-jokes style. Past ratings would support this.

    For what it’s worth, I think Heather DPA is a good call. But her co-hosf can NOT be another of TV3’s (self) over-rated frontline journo staff. Heather brings news-sense, the co-host needs to bring relatability and humanity.

  • benpaul12

    Totally agree. I can’t stand the guy.

  • John McCready

    Garner would be a poor choice in my view; dull and uninspiring with low public appeal. Don’t believe TV3 would make such a bad mistake as that.

  • Hamish Bell

    Also need to point out: you’re using ratings of the 5+ age group (correct me if I’m wrong) but their target market is much narrower than that. I would suggest that a Duncan Garner & Heather du Plessis Allan mix would mark a real difference to 7 Sharp and suggest that TV 3 aren’t softening up their 7pm slot at all – which would be a good sign that TV 3’s not really abandoning tough current affairs.

  • K

    HDPA a good choice, Garner is a Campbell clone. Boring

  • dusty_slacks

    I think they should put mike king on at that time if they’re wanting to make an infotainment show. He doesn’t have to be a shock jock to be appreciated like mike foreskin, and has enough social concience to balance the funny with the serious. Coupled with rose matafeo and cameos by John Campbell.

  • H.Lua

    surely tv3 wouldnt be dumb enough to have 2 very dominant hosts on a show together let alone 4 nights a week with duncan and heather being the frontrunners.
    atleast heather is likeable ducan is dramatic and is already the wrong sort of person for primetime as its being shown week after week with his 3D and 3 degrees show or whatever its called that he does not have an appeal with audiences

  • K

    And apparently HDPA has turned down TV3 , TV1 offered more money

    So wonder who they will try & get now….

    • Tania

      Where did you hear that, K? (That 1 offered more money)? Strange that Glucina isn’t across this story (I know she’s resigned from the Herald, but still I thought she’d have this covered …).
      Interesting that Bill Ralston advised her against taking the role – I’m with him … it’s only a matter of time before this new show bombs and they go back to the drawing board. Heather also applied for the newsreader role on Prime that Charlotte Bellis eventually got – look out that turned out. Had she stayed with TVNZ, I could have seen her become Political Editor in a few years’ time, which would complement her husband’s role perfectly.

  • Shannon Ryan

    I want Marcus Lush. A bold opinionated personality who is also entertaining, and has done TV in the past. I really hope he would not refuse on the basis that Mediaworks replaced his breakfast show with Paul Henry. Perhaps they can film the show in advance so that he can still do his upcoming nightly talk show on Newstalk ZB. It would be interesting to see two of their employees (him & Mike Hosking) going head to head at 7pm too.

    • Tania

      LOL … I hardly ever agree with you, Shannon but you’re right on the money this time with your first and second paragraph. Marcus is too good for soon-to-be-night time talk host.

  • K

    I reckon Willie Jackson & Ali Mau would be good..

    • Tania

      I normally agree with you on just about everything, K but not this time 🙁
      Ali isn’t as good as she once was and Willie is annoying.

  • Drew
  • EyeSpy

    Garners show will end up like his DRIVE show on RadioLive,,SSDD,, It will just be repetitive and bias.
    John’s show covered many subjects and always kept the viewers interested in its time allotted slot.

  • Jay

    Duncan is okay on the radio but it annoys me how he says “of course” in every single voice break. Of course.

    • Tania

      Agree – GREAT on the radio – one of the best, and a lovely calm style, but not on TV. He’s boring.

  • Jay