What Now is a long-running New Zealand children's television program that premiered in 1981. It is filmed before a live studio audience at Whitebait Productions in Christchurch.
The show airs every Sunday at 8am on TV2 and has segments such as Game Zone Arena, Super Circuit and Target Ya Teacher. It has no adverts, due to the Broadcasting Act 1989 which states that no advertising can be shown on New Zealand television between 6am and noon on Sundays.
What Now? was created by Rex Simpson before he left to head up his own production company, Kids TV. It originally screened on Saturday mornings on TV ONE between 7:30 and 10 am. Hosted by Steve Parr, he introduced segments covering morning keep-fit exercises, sketches involving recurring characters such as complaining old man Clive Grumble, simple recipes by Alison Holst, trivia from Frank Flash, law and safety with Constable Keith and Sniff, interspersed with regular cartoons. The theme song was Get Out of Your Lazy Bed, by Matt Bianco.
When Steve Parr left the show after a couple of years, the format changed to live broadcast. The hosts increased in number, usually to three, beginning with Danny Watson (from Spot On) and Michelle Bracey added, and Frank Flash (Alasdair Kincaid) given a more central comedic manic role. When Michelle left the show, she was succeeded by Michele A'Court. Comedy sketches, interactive phone calls and competitions with the viewing audience, plus magazine-style segments going out and about, all became a more central part of the format.
The style remained this way for many years, as hosts evolved and were replaced, until today where the format now involves live audiences of crowds of children, but still is closely faithful with the core concept established early on.
In 1989 the show moved to TV2 and then in 1996 to Sunday mornings. An after school version of What Now What Now PM also ran on TV 2 during the week between 1997 and 2002.
The weekdays version of What Now? became its own separate show known as WNTV. First hosted by Carolyn Taylor and a face in a computer screen played by Mikey Carpinter. Later the show changed dramatically but kept the same WNTV name. It became a drama showing behind the scenes of a children's afternoon magazine show. This was hosted by Antonia Prebble and Tom Herne, and featured several other characters. Anna Allbury and Jo Tuapawa featured as reporters.
The What Now show was moved to TVNZ's Avalon studios in Lower Hutt in 1999 until TVNZ shut down its Children's Department at the end of 2003. What Now the show was then brought back to Christchurch in 2004 to be produced by an independent company Whitebait Productions, headed by Janine Morrell-Gunn and Jason Gunn. What Now? has been funded by NZ On Air since NZOA's inception in 1989; prior to that it was funded by TVNZ.
In 2004 the afternoon show WNTV was cancelled and replaced with the current children's afternoon TV show Studio 2 produced by Ian Taylor (Taylormade Media Ltd).
Various programme partnerships over the years have seen What Now? promoting ‘healthy eating healthy action', water safety and old-fashioned letter writing amongst many other things. What Now? has a long-standing association with the Weetbix Kiwi Kids Tryathlon, and with Sport and Recreation New Zealand whose ‘Push Play' message encourages children to be physically active.
Early What Now? presenters were also credited as writers. They were people like Michelle A'Court, Danny Watson, Al Kincaid, Michelle Bracey, Simon Barnett and Catherine McPherson, some of whom have gone on to roles as directors and writers. A more recent presenter who made a significant behind-the-scenes contribution was Anthony Samuels, who also trained as a director.
Off-screen personnel who have shaped What Now? over the years are many. They include camera operator and director Alan Henderson (also secretly rumoured to be the brains behind Jason Gunn's sidekick Thingee), Directors Keith Tyler-Smith, Bill de Friez, Peter Verstappen, Mike Rehu, Brian Wickstead, Mark Owers, Mike Ritchie, Jason Gunn and Richard Hansen. Producers include Richard Driver, Mike Rehu, Tony Palmer, Anne Williams, Reuben Davidson, and Janine Morrell-Gunn. Emma Gribble got her start opening the mail for the fan club and 10 years later became producer of the show.
Regular segments: past and current
What Now has hosted a number of Talent segments; "The Nowies', "Kids Got Talent" and "The One" They search for kids aged 5–14 around New Zealand to show off their talent. The most recent talent segment is "The One". There are 6 sections for each talent segment.
Prizes range from having a chance to record music to cash prizes.
Cartoons and other tv shows
Throughout the early years of What Now many cartoons and other short television shows were broadcast during What Now almost always without showing the opening or closing credits and occasionally out of order leading to lack of story continuity.
Throughout the years What Now? has maintained the use of gunge and slime. Children, celebrities, parents and sometimes the presenters are often the subject of embarrassment in various gunge games. Examples include Fill Ya Pants, Foam a Friend, Flushed Away, Gunge on the Run, Gunge on the Road, Weekly Gunge Games, The Gunge Machine, Tank of Terror, Super Circuit, Brain Freeze, and general gunging.