7 Days: Jeremy Corbett on the cult comedy's past, present and potentially naked end

Jeremy Corbett says the hit New Zealand comedy show 7 Days just "felt right" from its pilot episode back in 2009.

The irreverent show, which returns on Three and ThreeNow for its sixteenth season on Thursday night, has consistently tickled the funny bone of audiences in Aotearoa and has seen hundreds of episodes and comedians mock the week's news.

But from its debut in August 2009, the one constant of the show has been Corbett himself, who has been in charge of proceedings from the start.

"It's incredible. I've said it before that I always thought it would be good and it would go for a few years, but 16 years later... well, that's just incredible."

The show is not resting on its laurels, returning with no sign of birthday cake and concentrating on its simple mission to make New Zealand laugh at the news and the absurdities of life.

But when Newshub asked the comedy host what he was doing for his own "sweet 16th birthday", he claimed his memory is "bad".

"Oh my God. I hesitate to say that I was swimming a lot because that's a running joke with everyone that I work with on The Project and on 7 Days. But that's what consumed a lot of my time when I was 16. 

"I was in Palmerston North and at Palmy Boys [School]. I think that I bought my own guitar when I was 16, a Fender Mustang that I then sold to Lindsay Gregg; the late Lindsay Gregg. His brother is Alan Gregg of the Mutton Birds fame. I always regret selling my guitar. I chose to go the nerdy path with no fans instead of the rock and roll path, which is seems to be way, way more fun," he said.

While the show has become ingrained in Kiwi households, Corbett shared with Newshub that he never believed they could consistently get away with it.

"One of the things I remember was we did the Bruce Mason Theatre (in Auckland) - I'm not sure what episode it was - maybe around the 300th. It was a live show, and I got wheeled out on a trolley, all tied up like Silence of the Lambs' Hannibal Lecter. 

Jeremy Corbett has reflected on the show he always wanted to make - 7 Days.
Jeremy Corbett has reflected on the show he always wanted to make - 7 Days. Photo credit: Warner Bros Discovery

"I got wheeled out by Paul Ego and Dai Henwood and it was one of those moments where I just went 'Holy hell, Kiwis love the show'; there was just such a crack of excitement and welcome from that audience. We were all going, 'Holy shit, this is cool'."

Corbett believed the show, which was modelled initially on UK news panel shows like the phenomenally successful 'Have I Got News For You', had captured lightning in a bottle from the get-go.

"The UK has a handful of these shows and they all work. We thought 'Yeah, why can't we at least have one?' I was involved in a few pilots and that never got made. But this one did, and it felt right, right from the beginning.

"When we did the pilot, it was a bit of a vehicle for a lot of the TV3 sort of celebrities to have them on a panel show when they weren't doing their main shows but none of them could make it when we filmed the sort of the initial pilot. 

7 Days Jeremy Corbett has been there from the very first show - and will be there for the very last.
7 Days Jeremy Corbett has been there from the very first show - and will be there for the very last. Photo credit: Warner Bros Discovery

"It was all comedians and of course we all knew each other, so there was a natural chemistry there. We had a viewing party when it went live to air, and we were watching it at the Mount Eden Bowling Club, and I just remember, I just laughed so hard. And part of it was because it was genuinely funny. But also, I just couldn't believe that we'd made it; that we were getting away with it."

It has not always been plain sailing. Corbett also revealed the show's first season ran into trouble when the owner of the Auckland basement studio where it was being filmed forbade them from relocating, forcing the then producer Jon Bridges into somewhat of a tricky position.

"[We had to move it all] through the restaurant, upstairs. And the guy who owned the restaurant got upset with Jon. I believe he was Korean. So Jon even got an interpreter to go with him and try and bargain with this man, to let him bring the sets through the restaurant. And he wasn't having any of it. But to Jon's credit, he won him over eventually. It was very much a dungeon-like studio that one."

The salt-and-pepper haired host said he remains proudest of the talent they've nurtured through the years, both on screen and behind the cameras.

"It's been a great help for a lot of Kiwi comedians. We're often asked, you know, why don't we have more female comedians on. But I feel that was addressed. We made sure that we did have sufficient female comedians on though it's still a problem because a lot of them have become so successful that they're too big for us now! 

"The Urzila Carlsons of this world, the Melanie Bracewells. You know, I wouldn't be surprised if Hayley Sproull starts not returning our calls and not saying that we have been wholly responsible for their success, but we certainly were a part of it," he said. 

7 Days has seen hundreds of episodes and hundreds of comedians through its doors.
7 Days has seen hundreds of episodes and hundreds of comedians through its doors. Photo credit: Warner Bros Discovery

He didn't hold back when asked what part of the show is his favourite, quickly citing the one segment that's always had him in stitches.

"The 'My kid could draw that' because it's a true New Zealand original. The Kiwi kids have been so good. And the way the team have kind of recorded them and looked after them, and we've been very, very careful to protect the kids and make sure that they're presented in the best possible light and safe on the night and all the rest of it. That's one of my favourites."

While 7 Days gears up for its 16th season, Newshub can't help but ask if Corbett has ever given any thought to how it could end and whether it would all end with a big bang.

"I'm almost a fan of the not very big ending to that. I mean, sort of talking down the camera and saying: 'We'll be back next week. Hang on. I'm just... no, I'm hearing we're not back. Ever. Okay, bye'. You know, that sort of thing appeals to me. Or I guess cutting to a control room where I finally find out that they haven't been putting it to air or something like that for a year, and they just didn't have the heart to tell me it was over. They kept it running for another year, just with me turning up."

Asked if he'd ever consider the final moments of the show would reveal that it had all been a dream and fellow comedian Paul Ego would then draw back the shower curtain in homage to American soap Dallas' infamous season-ender in 1986, Corbett's not shy in hiding his repulsion at the idea.

"The problem is Paul would do that. He would have no problems with a full nude shower scene to wrap up 7 Days!" 

7 Days airs on Thursdays at 7.30pm on Three and ThreeNow.