They’re two of TV’s best-known faces, fronting up to the nation each morning, often bantering and seemingly a picture of health. But behind the dad jokes and quips that come with presenting The AM Show, hosts Duncan Garner and Mark Richardson have had to confront some personal health and wellbeing issues this year.
Now the pair are opening up and revealing a bond that has helped them get through what has been an unquestionably tough year.
For Mark, a melanoma scare has given him a new perspective and approach to life. The former Black Caps cricket star – now on the cusp of his own personal half-century – receives a fair bit of ribbing about his looks, including from Duncan, but he admits he hasn’t always taken care of himself.
“I’ve never wanted to be seen as someone who is vain,” Mark explains, as the pair sit down to lunch at Auckland restaurant Ahi for a chat with the Weekly. “Which is why I hate it when people think I put fake tan on or that I did my teeth for the look. Because I didn’t, I had to completely rebuild them.”
Laughs Duncan, “Yes, I’ve been giving you stick about that for about a year or so! I remember asking you to do a sport segment and I looked at you and thought something’s changed about you. I thought, ‘What’s different about my man today?’ Then I realised you had your teeth done! But you hadn’t said anything.”
“I was really self-conscious,” Mark admits. “I didn’t want to come across as vain.”
Duncan adds, “And I didn’t want to throw him under the bus.”
But now, as he reflects on his life as a former cricketer and keen surfer, fisherman and golfer, Mark is reminded of Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen). The 1999 hit song begins with the spoken lyrics, “Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.”
“I listen to it now and wish I could go back 30 years and start again,” Mark says, adding that he grew up in an era where men using moisturiser wasn’t the done thing. “It’s not that I want to look better or anything, but you don’t want to die 20 years earlier than you should.”
The 49-year-old was forced to reflect on his health earlier this year when – during his annual “old man check-out” – a dermatologist found a worrying mole on his lower lip and said a biopsy would need to be done.
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