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2 hours + 3 locations + 4 presenters = What Now!!

1 programme + 2 hours + 3 locations + 4 presenters = What Now!!

The name's the same, Carolyn's back, it's still live, interactive, energetic and fun, and there's a whole lot more!

It's been four months since the final episodes of What Now were recorded in 2003 at Wellington's Avalon studios and now the long running children's TV programme is being re-launched on Sunday 7 March from what's being called the "Mothership", in Christchurch.

Last year, Whitebait-TV was awarded the contract to produce a re-formatted What Now, and Whitebait producer Janine Morrell says they are thrilled to be working on New Zealand's longest running children's programme.

"What Now is an icon in popular children's television. It's a brand, bigger than any of us and will last longer too. Now it's our turn to put our energy, vision and creativity into the production," she says.

That vision includes exciting projects using 'cutting edge' technology, adding new, key elements to the show's format. Janine Morrell explains.

"As well as coming out of Christchurch, we will have a team in Auckland based at our 'beach house' in Takapuna. It's the Takapuna Beach Club by day and a cool What Now 'Beach House' on Sunday mornings. Then there's the amazing 'Spyrider', a vehicle fitted with state-of-the-art satellite equipment which travels the country, visiting small towns and communities with a What Now presenter (Vicki Lin) and her team," she says.

"It means we can be in Christchurch, Auckland and a small town all in the one show. We have new satellite technology so we can pretty much go anywhere and send pictures back," says Janine.

56% of five to fourteen year olds don't live in the four main centres, (Akl, Wtn, ChCh, Dn) and the 'Spyrider' will enable What Now to include these children. Every week, the "Spyrider" will be at some special place or event. From the Weetbix kids triathalon in Nelson to the fabulous Glaciers in Mt Cook. From the Balloon Festival in Masterton to the Sand dunes of Opononi - What Now will be there!

177,501 (31%) five to fourteen year olds live in Auckland and TVNZ hasn't, until now, had a live morning children's show hosted in Auckland.

Tamati Coffey is one of three new What Now presenters. The 24 year old hails from Lower Hutt and will be based in Auckland, something he is looking forward to.

"I had been aiming for an office in the Beehive, but I guess that will have to wait now. I love the energetic diversity in Auckland, it's a really cool combination of so many different cultures and that's something What Now is aiming to reflect within this new format," he says.

Whitebait-TV producer, Jason Gunn, says New Zealand's range of cultures was a key consideration when putting the new format together and essential in the overall format of the programme.

"19% of the target audience (5-14 year olds) are Maori, and 12% are Samoan, Cook Islander, Tongan, Indian or Chinese. It was essential we reflect that in a fun, energetic, modern and relaxed way," he says.

Vicki Lin is another new What Now presenter. She describes herself as Taiwanese with a 'dash of Japanese'. Vicki will be out with the 'Spyrider' as the roving presenter.

"Being able to go to so many different, smaller places around the country will be fantastic. Meeting people who, 'til now, may not have had the opportunity to be directly involved, on camera," she says. "The 'Spyrider' uses the latest satellite technology equipment which is very now - guess that's putting the now back in What Now."

The other two presenters stay in Christchurch, running the "Mothership" from TVNZ's studio 4 in Gloucester Street. Carolyn Taylor has been with What Now for five years and joining Carolyn is the fourth presenter, Vinyl Richie. From Christchurch, he is the eldest of the presenting team at 28 years of age, and a talented ITF South Island champion (International Turntable Federation). Like Tamati, since accepting the What Now role and getting caught up in the incredible energy of the production, he knows the skies the limit.

"I wanted to be the first DJ in space! Maybe the 'Spyrider' can come with me and we can be the first children's programme to beam from the moon," says Richie.

"I am really looking forward to getting back on air. I'm excited about all the changes and I think the audience will love it," says Carolyn.

The best of the old and lots of the new - Whitebait's, Jason Gunn says they did not want to change the show completely.

"We needed to move it forward and we have some fantastic technology to do that. Having said that, we wanted to include some of the good old stuff as well. We are presenting the best of the old, and showcasing the best of the new."

The HOUSE OF PAIN is new. It's a place of courage and endurance where stunts are cunningly planned. VIRTUAL ALLEY is a spectacular gaming and Internet zone for kids, with the latest equipment and technology. The WHAT NOW café, where guest chefs take us around the world in 40 weeks, cooking dishes from different countries, while generally profiling the food that they eat, the country, and the people.

Janine Morrell says, "What Now opens doors, we want to take people somewhere they've never been, show them something they've never seen and tell them something new."


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