Tea and Vee: Vee Johnson's behind the scenes blog on working for the Paul Henry TV Show

  • 11/03/2016
Verity Johnson (Paul Henry)
Verity Johnson (Paul Henry)

I think it might have been the moment I dribbled on Tem Morrison. I saw failure reflected back in the shiny spit gob on his cheek. That was the moment I realised two things about the week to come. One, it was going to be unexpectedly tough. Two, I was going to make a tit out of myself. 

This was day one of my new job, social media presenter for Paul Henry. I’d spent the weekend steeling myself. You’ve got it,  you’ve got it, you’ve got it….I intoned on the bus in, while the woman beside me shot glances at me like I was about to hail Satan and spit roast a cat. You’ve got it, you’ve got it, you’ve got it….And I did have it. Right up until five minutes into makeup when I heard that Tem Morrison was in the studio. Then I lost it. Tem Morrison, a.k.a. Jango Fett and the love of 12-year-old Verity’s life, was in the studio. All the tweenage memories of Star Wars duvet spreads, chess sets, sticker books, lightsaber battles, dress up parties and R2D2 birthday cakes bubbled up. I jumped up, buoyed up on that giddy confidence that comes from feeling you really know a star because you’ve read every single interview they’ve ever given. I ran into the green room, saw him sitting there, and pounced. 

“HiTemOhMyGodILoveYourWorkSoMuchYourMyTotallyFavouriteActorEverCanYouPlease

TouchMyHandSoICanAbsorbYourAwesomenessByOsmosis.” He was, quite understandably, a little alarmed. But he’s obviously well trained to deal with crazies, so he stood up. And I, thinking he was leaning in, went for the cheek kiss. Except my over enthusiasm for Tem meant that I was salivating a little too much. So I left a thumbnail of spit on his cheek. I looked at it, he looked at me, I looked at him, he looked at me, I looked at it….and then I ran away squeaking something about being on air. 

Smooth, eh?

Making an idiotic first impression seems to be the theme of this first week at work. There was the time when, on day four, during a staff meeting my boss asked whether anyone was going to Pasifika. 

I wasn’t paying attention because my attention was focussed on not face planting into the desk in a tiredness coma. (3am starts do not agree with me.) It was a moment before I realised my boss was talking to me, “Verity, Verity? Are you going?” 

“Where sorry?”

“Pasifika.” 

“Um, no, but my girlfriend is going to Raro next month.” 

My boss looked at me like I’d just asked to pee on the carpet. 

“It’s a festival, Verity. It’s on this weekend?” Oh. Right. The festival. Not like…a continent. 

Or the time when I was late to work.

Normally lateness does not bother me. Socially, I am as punctual as a hungover snail crawling home after a night of wild sex and chocolate biscuits. But I can always justify it to myself by making a point of being punctual for work. 

But on the morning of day three, I woke up to a hammering noise. “Shit!” I leapt out of bed and grabbed the nearest spiky thing, “burglars!” 

Only then did I realise that burglars did not tap on the window to try and wake their victims, nor do they call, “Verity! Verity! It’s Chris from the Liberty shuttles!” I seized the phone and saw it was dead. My stomach shredded itself and dribbled out through my legs. My iPhone had died during the night, the imitation Apple cord had packed up and left me without a phone or an alarm. The only reason I was awake was Chris was shining a light in my window.

Sweet Jesus. How late was I? 4am!?!!!! I was supposed to be pitching stories right now! Oh God! I was going to be fired! This was my third day! TV3 would crash because of me! The apocalypse was nigh!

I have never moved faster. How I managed to get from my bed in Coatesville to the studio in Eden Terraces in 25 minutes I have no idea. I can only attribute it to Chris who must be part man, part Batman. 

I crashed into makeup, did the show, then went upstairs and curled into a ball on the dressing room floor. When I had the guts to emerge, I went downstairs, prepared to be fired. I practiced what I’d tell Mum and Dad, how I’d pay this week’s rent, and how I’d have to explain to everyone that actually I never made it past day three. 

Don’t cry, Verity, I told myself, whatever you do just don’t cry.

My boss looked at me as I got out of the lift. My nose was already stinging as I met her eyes.

“Hey Verity,”

Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, I told myself

“Hey Verity, double alarms next time, eh?” 

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