For the cast of Celebrity Treasure Island, the challenges of the competition are obvious – there are mosquitoes, a lack of food, lack of sleep and potential sabotage from their fellow contestants.
But for Bree Tomasel and Matt Chisholm, their challenges as hosts are a little different. “I’m very prone to a Sula – a sweaty upper-lip area,” says Tomasel. “Going to have to dab that throughout the taping.”
No sooner have the words escaped the lips of Tomasel, who is remarkably perspiration-free in the Fiji heat, than Chisholm erupts into laughter.
Filming has yet to begin on the series but this pair are already cracking jokes and trading banter like a pair of old-school comedians.
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As the host of Survivor NZ, Chisholm is used to solo hosting duties but he is clearly enjoying sharing the workload with Tomasel.
When these former country kids – Chisholm grew up in rural Otago and Tomasel on an apple farm in Queensland – aren’t debating the merits of various cattle breeds, they are endlessly winding each other up.
“It’s not a lot of fun doing this by yourself,” says Chisholm.
“I was a pretty serious dude on Survivor and I’d like to think I’m not going to be as serious in this game. Having Bree here is just brilliant. I feel like I’m hanging out with my little brother or my little sister or my good mate.”
The feeling is mutual. Tomasel says, “It’s effortless to get on with Matt. “It’s just easy and we’ve got a kind of instant friendship.”
Thawed out after more than a decade in the TV freezer, Celebrity Treasure Island features 16 New Zealand personalities competing in challenges, both physical and mental, all while surviving on meagre rations.
The last person standing wins $100,000 for a chosen charity and there will also be chances along the way for the celebrities to win cash for their causes.
When the hosts are asked who they think will win the competition, Tomasel takes the diplomatic route.
“There are a lot of contestants that I think could be dark horses and then there are also people that I think will be stand-outs from the start,” she says, “so it’s really hard to kind of pick and choose.”
Chisholm has a clear favourite.
“I’m going to sound biased to you but I’m going to be biased and say Gary ‘The Whiz’ Freeman.
“He’s got good banter – looks great in a pair of budgie smugglers,” says Chisholm, while barely concealing a grin.
Both hosts agree that a meteorological battle between Sam Wallace and Matty McLean, the former and current weathermen of Breakfast, will make for great viewing.
“I think it’s going to be quite savage to be honest,” says Tomasel. “I’m looking forward to that.”
“I can’t wait to see how the weathermen go in the weather,” says Chisholm.
This is Tomasel’s first TV role and watching her in action it’s fair to say she’s a natural in front of the camera.
She says that TV was a “natural kind of progression” from her role as co-host on ZM’s drive show.
“I’ve always wanted to kind of do it but I’ve never really had the time and the guys back at my work have been super supportive and they were really excited about this.”
Having grown up in Australia, Tomasel missed out on seeing the original version of Celebrity Treasure Island, which predates Survivor, but has heard all about its many memorable moments from friends and colleagues.
Chisholm and Tomasel are sure this fresh twist on an old classic will also deliver more TV gold.
“I think New Zealand’s been waiting for something like this and I think the Kiwis love to get behind stuff where you know celebrities are putting themselves out there to do something that’s very outside their comfort zone for a good cause,” says Tomasel.
“One of the greatest things in life,” says Chisholm, “is just getting to know people and understand people and so this is a perfect opportunity for us and for the viewer to get to know these people and understand what makes them tick.” Chisholm is serious for just a moment before the pair explode with good-natured laughter again.
Celebrity Treasure Island contestants
Athena Angelou, 28
Charity: Diabetes NZ
Flava Drive host Athena Angelou says she wants to bring “good energy” to the game. But while she wants to make friends she is also out to win, saying her style of play will be “ruthless but compassionate”.
Barbara Kendall, 51
Charity: Surf Life Saving New Zealand
Barbara Kendall hopes to “see some sort of sailing challenge”, but admits that’s unlikely given she is an Olympic champion boardsailer. “I think it will just be really fun to see what challenges they have for us. I have no idea.”
Gary Freeman, 56
Charity: Big Buddy NZ
Rugby league star Gary Freeman has a relaxed attitude to life on the island and the inevitable lack of food. “I’ve always wanted abs,” he laughs. “This could be really good for me.”
Eric Murray, 37
Charity: Autism New Zealand
Olympic rower Eric Murray knows who his biggest competitor will be – everyone. “I don’t think anyone’s going to be good competition. I think everybody’s going to be good competition. I think everyone’s got their own little thing that they’re going to be good at.”
Jodie Rimmer, 45
Charity: Talk Peach
Actor Jodie Rimmer says her kids are “super excited” about Mum competing on Celebrity Treasure Island. “If I’m eliminated first I’ve made a deal and I have to pay them $100 each so that’s not great. But then if I win they have to eat three disgusting foods each.”
Karl Burnett, 43
Charity: St John New Zealand
This former Shortland Street star is hoping his stay on the island is less dramatic than the soap’s storylines. “Everyone seems really nice,” he says. “And so far no one’s seemed extremely competitive – apart from Sam.”
Charity: Safe Man Safe Family
Singer Ladi6 says starring on Celebrity Treasure Island was something she would never have considered in the past. But after undergoing surgery for her voice two years ago she decided, “I was going to start saying ‘yes’ more, so here I am.”
Lana Van Hout, 29
Charity: Child Cancer Foundation
Runner and social media influencer Lana Van Hout hopes to take the competition one day at a time. “It’s kind of like you’ve got rungs on a ladder, that you’re working towards the big goal.”
Lily McManus, 22
Charity: National Foundation For The Deaf
The Bachelor NZ star Lily McManus hopes she can net a catch for her team. “Honestly, if I can walk out of the ocean in slow motion on TV with a fish flapping around on a stick I can die happy; like that is bucket list ticked off.”
Matty McLean, 32
Charity: Rainbow Youth
There’s pride on the line for Matty McLean with pressure from his Breakfast colleagues to match Hayley Holt’s victory in 2007. “If there’s one winner and one loser sitting together at the table that will just be a recipe for disaster for me but glee for them,” he laughs.
Moses Mackay, 29
Charity: Dream Chaser
Sol3Mio singer Moses Mackay plans to follow the teachings of one of TV’s most famous survivors to get to the end of the competition. “I hope I’ve locked all of Bear Grylls’ textbooks in my mind,” he says.
Rosanna Arkle (Rosie), 30
Charity: Heart Kids New Zealand
Rosanna Arkle was last seen on our screens on The GC and says she is looking forward to New Zealand seeing another side of her. “I’ve done a lot and grown so much and learnt heaps since then.”
Sam Wallace, 38
Charity: Starship Foundation
The Hits’ breakfast host has been training hard and doing his research, even turning to Celebrity Treasure Island alumni Stacey Morrison for advice. “She said I’d come in too hot. She said, ‘You’ve turned up looking too muscley and everyone’s going to vote you off’.”
Shane Cameron, 41
Charity: Key To Life
Boxer Shane Cameron is used to eating every two to three hours and says the biggest challenge for him will be going without food. “I had two omelettes and a big bowl of fruit and that was only an hour ago and I’m getting hungry again already.”
Shannon Ryan, 31
Charity: Blind Foundation Guide Dogs
Television presenter Shannon Ryan knows that the competition might get heated at times between contestants. She says she’ll try to, “figure out how to deal with things before it gets confrontational”.
Zac Guildford, 30
Former All Black Zac Guildford says he wanted to join the show to find “a purpose bigger than myself”. He’s not worried about the physical challenges, but admits, “I’m so bad at puzzles so I’m hoping there’s not too many of those.”
Celebrity Treasure Island, TVNZ 2, Sunday August 18