By PHILIP CHANDLER
How many 13-year-olds get to present the weather on national TV?
That’s the opportunity Wakatipu High Year 9 student Jack Smillie was given, and knocked off with polished ease, on TVNZ 1’s Breakfast show last Tuesday.
The Queenstowner, who’s obsessed with broadcasting, successfully auditioned for a weather-presenting slot on the programme in the absence of usual presenter, Matty McLean.
He entered the competition with a tape in which he pretended to be standing in the news room, courtesy of a background green screen he’d got for his bedroom only a couple of weeks before lockdown.
Jack was advised he’d made the cut just the night before.
“Thank God they didn’t tell him three or four days before,” proud mum Andi Smillie says.
He got up at 5.30am, before his alarm went off – “I was well excited” – to practise his script which arrived about 6am.
Then, straight after the 8.30 news, he went live, via Skype, from his family lounge.
He had to assure hosts Melissa Stokes, Pippa Wetzell and John Campbell that the scenic Queenstown view behind him hadn’t been green-screened.
While running down the weather and temperatures for the country, he gave an unscripted shout-out to his grandmother in the Hawke’s Bay: “Nana, put your washing out!”
On finishing, the panellists clapped him and showered him with compliments like “you nailed that” and “didn’t he have a beautiful optimism in his eyes?”
Before signing off, Jack put in a “huge shout-out” to his grandparents, parents and friends.
He later apologised to his sister Violet, 11, for forgetting to include her, so he put up a special Facebook shout-out to her, too.
Jack says he was “more excited than nervous” before his stunning stint on TV.
He’s always had a small interest in weather presenting and broadcasting, but admits that became “a bigger interest” when McLean, whose parents live in Queenstown, showed him around the Breakfast studio, when filming was going on, in Auckland two years ago.
As for the future, “I’d be real keen to get an opportunity to do it again, or go down that track”, Jack says.
So what was the highlight of his first live broadcast?
“Just being part of it, the experience.
“You could put that in your CV, saying I did the weather one day, I guess.”
And how’s he coping with the current lockdown?
“It’s going pretty well, I’m not really driving anyone insane, yet.”