Amanda Gillies, 40, and Duncan Garner, 43, met during the halcyon days of TV3’s Wellington newsroom. She was a crime reporter, he was a political reporter. Almost two decades later, the pair remain great friends, co-hosting The AM Show on Three.
DUNCAN/ My impression of her straight away was: great journo. Really direct and incisive journo. That’s how I remember her, right from the start.
I always thought she was quite a goody two shoes. I was a bit wild and a bit loose and I thought, here we go, she’s a lot straighter than you, more well-behaved.
She’s very much that girl-next-door from Gisborne. Her brothers call her Doris, you know. She still likes to party, don’t get me wrong. She’s not so nerdy she doesn’t know how to have a good time. We’ve had a few nights out together. Put it this way, though, on every occasion, she’s left before me.
You won’t see this on the telly, but I know that as soon as the camera’s off her she uses her hands to express herself and get the words out, like she’s a conductor. She’s just a bloody good sort, you know?
She’s the sort of person that’ll go past and give me a tap on the bum. I haven’t done it back to her! I have wondered if it’s acceptable but I probably don’t think so.
She’s one of the number of people whose cellphone number I remember off by heart [recites number].
If I wasn’t working with Amanda I would still stay in touch with her because she’s just a truly decent person. We’d have text and phone conversations outside of work two or three times a week, easily.
We’ve been in the trenches together for 20 years. She knows my battles and my personal story. She knows how hard I’ve worked.
She’s been there for me; she’s a mate. She’s like the spine that’s been there all the way through.
I feel quite protective of Amanda. I don’t know why but I do. Recently, when we were talking about the fertility stuff on the show, I looked at her and she just gave me a nod – “no, no, no” – she didn’t want to talk about it. I looked at her a second time – “no, no, no”. I looked at her a third time and I saw maybe she was up for expressing herself, and her story. I reached out and held her hand and she was brilliant. She was brave and she was bold. We talked about it afterwards and I asked if she was OK with me doing that. She said absolutely, it’s fine. I was so proud of her that day.
She’s one of the most experienced journos. She told great stories out of Australia with all their bushfires. She’s done a truckload of work around New Zealand, won awards – all that sort of thing.
I’ve always believed in Amanda which is why I really wanted her on The AM Show. I trust her. And I quite like the fact she’ll play the straight guy, the nerdy one. I quite like that for a bit of a tease.
AMANDA/ Let me start this off by putting it on the record that I never touch Duncan Garner’s butt. Every now and then his butt might be pushed into my hand. That’s about as close as it gets.
Everything about Duncan is big. Big heart, big personality. You know when he’s entered the room. He’s sort of the wild child, larger than life, the bulldog.
I’m probably more conservative – he’ll probably say goody two shoes. It’s like brother and sister. It has been that sort of relationship since we first met. He’s always had my back, I’ve always had his.
Last year he said to me, look, do you want to present Story? Heather [du Plessis-Allen, co-host] was away for a couple of weeks. I’d never presented in my life.
I didn’t actually know where the studio was – they’d done a revamp. He took me down there and I was really nervous. Just before the show started he held my hand and said, we’ve got this, it’s OK, you’re going to be good.
His dad grew up in a house about 300 metres from the house I grew up in Gisborne. He said he’d always thought of himself as a Gizzy boy. And he is! An honorary Gizzy boy, I would say. I met his dad when he was alive and he was gorgeous. We had that immediate bonding experience.
By the end of his stint as political editor he was overworked and, in his own words, he was angry. It was quite hard to see that because I think he was frustrated working 24/7. He just got sucked into that whole world. He made a huge punt and he got out.
I see him sitting there now and he’s lost something like 15kg – he and his wife go to these boot camps – he’s doing his dream job, he’s doing a brilliant job of it and I’m so proud of him. I say it to him quite a bit.
He’s a little bulldog, but he’s also a big teddy bear at the same time. He did the baby Moko story last year which I know really affected him. He wears his heart on his sleeve, our Duncy.
He fancies himself as a bit of a singer. He’s actually got a beautiful singing voice.
Every time you see Duncan he’ll sing you a line from a song. If you’re wearing red, he’ll sing you Lady in Red. Whatever it is, he’ll have a line.
Amanda Gillies and Duncan Garner co-host The AM Show weekdays from 6am on Three and RadioLIVE.
“He’s a little bulldog, but he’s also a big teddy at the same time... He wears his heart on his sleeve, our Duncy.”