Earlier this month it was claimed Ben Fordham could replace Today host Karl Stefanovic, as he’s “a devoted family man” with the “complete package” that would appeal to the breakfast show’s key audience.
Since then 41-year-old Ben has been seen out and about in Sydney, very much living up to his “family man” image with his wife Jodie Speers and their two young children by his side.
During his most recent outing, he swapped his TV suit for a casual white T-shirt, printed shorts and white running shoes as he held onto his kids’ backpacks and snacks.
Ben, who has filled in for Karl over the years when he’s been away, has a massive appeal to audiences thanks to his wholesome image, free of scandal.
He’s regularly seen spending time with his children, demonstrates a sense of relatability to viewers, and has the classic Australian humour that keeps fans engaged.
Karl, who shares three children with ex Cassandra Thorburn, was once upon a time the family man Australia loved, but recent events in his personal life seem to have changed that image.
After splitting from Cassandra in 2016, he began a relationship with younger shoe designer, Jasmine Yarbrough.
He was also involved in the ‘Ubergate’ scandal with brother Peter Stefanovic, where he criticised co-host Georgie Gardner.
Recently a report emerged that Ben was a top choice to replace Karl if the hosting gig became available.
“He ticks every box. He’s very likable and engaging. He’s smart and dedicated,” a network insider told Woman’s Day.
“But most of all, he’s the complete package – a devoted family man with a proven track record and a broad fanbase.”
Back in June, Ben said he wasn’t interested in replacing Karl as he believed Karl and Georgie Gardner’s on-screen chemistry was strong enough to hold the show.
“They are doing an incredible job… and I can’t see that changing. I think Karl is made for Today and has been doing it for what feels like 35 years and I reckon he’ll still be doing it in another 35 years,” he told news.com.au at the time.
Last month a source revealed Karl is “officially gone” even though his contract – worth almost $3 million – doesn’t expire until 2020, according to the Courier Mail.
“Top-level sources at Channel 9’s Willoughby studios say the embattled Today host is officially ‘gone’,’ the publication claimed.
While it seemed the network was sticking by Karl after his very public marriage bust-up, it’s claimed the 44-year-old will likely ‘be replaced in the new year’.
The show’s executive producer Mark Calvert stood by Karl, refuting the claims.
He described the host as a ‘bloody great broadcaster’, while stating, “we are the first to acknowledge our ratings are not as good right now as we would like.”
Karl split from wife of 21 years Cassandra Thorburn in September 2016, before confirming his new romance with 33-year-old Jasmine Yarbrough, who he had been dating since December.
His ex Cassandra Thorburn opened up about the impact the breakup had on her and the three children last month, which saw Karl’s image targeted again.
“Last year, I declared that Karl really was dead to me, a man I no longer know, but the children still have their father,” she told The Australian Women’s Weekly. “The flip-side of that is I feel like we’re dead to his family and almost anyone from our old life.”
Karl however quickly hit back in a statement saying he was ‘disappointed’ and that “nothing could be further from the truth”.
But it became clear at this year’s TV Week Logies that Karl Stefanovic was no longer ‘TV King’.
The annual celebration of Australian television had once been made for him, jam-packed with humorous antics and golden moments from the year gone by.
But this year the Today host appeared to squirm his way through the glitzy bash, taking a back seat from the limelight and instead becoming the butt of a major joke.
At the time David ‘Hughesy’ Hughes had fun pointing out to the Gold Coast audience, Karl had been struggling to hold onto his ‘TV King’ crown ever since that Ubergate scandal earlier in the year.
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