Charlie Pickering makes surprise return to The Project after mass exodus

The comedian hosted the show from 2009 to 2014.

Almost a decade after saying goodbye to The Project, Charlie Pickering made a surprising return to the Channel 10 program as a guest on Monday night.

The TV personality, who was one of the show’s three original co-hosts alongside Carrie Bickmore and Dave Hughes, appeared on the panel to promote his role as a team captain on the comedy series Would I Lie to You? Australia.

Charlie Pickering returned to The Project as a guest on Monday night. Photos: Channel 10
Charlie Pickering returned to The Project as a guest on Monday night. Photos: Channel 10

It didn’t take long for Charlie to address the fact that he originally fronted the show and comment on the recent shakeup of presenters.

In the past few months, Carrie, Peter Helliar and Lisa Wilkinson have all quit, with Sarah Harris, Sam Taunton and Michael Hing joining the program. Meanwhile, Rachel Corbett announced on Sunday that she would be stepping away from the desk for a few months on maternity leave.

“Tell us, is it nice to be back in the studio?” Sarah asked Charlie at the beginning of their interview.

“Oh, it really is. A lot of memories coming back here. Mainly [of] former colleagues' farewell episodes that I tend to come back for,” he replied, receiving awkward laughter from both the panel and the audience.


Elsewhere in the chat, Charlie responded to comedian Jimmy Carr’s controversial remark on The Project last week that “this show was better with Charlie Pickering”.

“I mean, I think this is the best version of the show, absolutely,” Charlie said in reference to the current line-up.

“Cop that, Carrie and Pete!” Waleed Aly laughed.

Charlie Pickering on The Project.
'I think this is the best version of the show, absolutely.' Photos: Channel 10

Charlie quit The Project in 2014 as he felt his moral values were being compromised working for a commercial network. He then signed with ABC where he currently hosts the satirical news show The Weekly, the comedy panel discussion show Tomorrow Tonight, and his own Friday morning Breakfast show on ABC Radio Melbourne.

The father-of-one spoke candidly with Stellar Magazine about The Project’s mass exodus earlier this month, saying that it’s still “a great show”.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity for some really smart, funny people to make some great TV,” he adds. “But it’s natural that people are going to want to seek other opportunities.”

When asked about whether he would ever return to The Project desk, Charlie admitted he had never been approached.

“They’ve not asked, and I don’t think I would [go back],” he said. “Never say never. I left The Project because I felt that I’d achieved everything I could in that job, and I wanted new challenges.”

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