Today hosts announce Georgie Gardner's exit after 'very challenging year'

Holly Hales
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Deb and Tom were forced to announce Georgie's departure on Monday's Today show. Photo: Channel Nine

This weekend’s announcement that Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon will take over as Today show hosts from next year, was a dramatic one for fans and stars alike.

So when Monday morning rolled around, it came as little surprise to many that Georgie Gardner’s tenure as anchor had already come to an abrupt end – according to her co-stars’ slightly awkward relaying of the situation.

Onscreen tribute

In a scripted segment, Deborah Knight and Tom Steinfort paid tribute to their ‘colleague and friend’, saying her departure came after a stretch of difficulty in the high-profile gig.

“You might have read over the weekend that Georgie has left the Today show,” Deb told the show’s audience.

“After a really challenging year, we want to wish Georgie all the very best.”

“She has been a committed and passionate member of the team here,” Tom added.

“She has always been a woman of strength here, a woman of class, and also, who could forget, a very wicked sense of humour that would just pop up from time to time as well.”

Reflecting on their dramatic 12-month stint at the Today show’s helm, Deb awkwardly summed up the experience by saying her co-star ‘gave it a red hot go’.

Just days earlier, the duo were unceremoniously axed in favour of 14-year veteran of the gig, Karl Stefanovic, and 60 Minutes reporter Allison Langdon, following weeks of speculation.

Karl and Allison will be Today's newest hosts in 2020. Photo: Instagram/allison.langdon

The announcement came in a statement shared with Yahoo Lifestyle on Saturday, which saw Karl admit he never expected to return to what he described as ‘the best live job in Australia’ – despite the ‘enormous pressures’ and ‘pitfalls’.

The ‘best job in Australia’

“Going back to the Today Show is not something that I thought would come up again,” he said.

“I thought my time was up but then when I was sounded out about it, it got me thinking. It's a big job with enormous pressures and I know only too well some of those pitfalls, but it is also without question the best live job in Australia.”

Karl added that while he’s ‘loved’ working as a reporter on 60 Minutes, he ‘missed’ his former role in live TV and considered it the ‘best way’ to use his skills.

Weekend Today host Allison’s appointment was also announced and saw her reveal she’s keen to join ‘unpredictable’ Karl onscreen from next year.

“There is a lot of hard work ahead but I can tell you one thing, it's not going to be boring! I love the unpredictability of live TV… and Karl,” Allison said in a statement supplied by Nine.

“Wind him up and let him go! I'm sure we'll butt heads, but we'll do it with a smile on our face. I just want to help our viewers get their day off to a good, fun start,” she added.

But the pair’s new gigs were not without casualties, and saw existing hosts Georgie and Deb get the boot, with Georgie admitting the decision left her ‘disappointed’.

The Today show started this year off with a new-look panel. Photo: Channel Nine

“I was consulted two weeks ago about the future direction of the Today Show, and naturally I'm disappointed with the outcome,” she told 9 Now.

History-making stint

Georgie had been hosting the show alongside Deb since January 2019, following Karl’s shock axing, and said she was ‘very proud’ to have been one half of the first female hosting duo in Australian breakfast television.

She added that while her nine-year tenure with the program had ‘at times been cruel’ she was departing with ‘fond memories’ and planned to return to her ‘first love’, news. Prior to the new look format, Georgie had been standing in for Lisa Wilkinson alongside Karl.

Today’s radical casting switch-up earlier this year saw Tom Steinfort take over from Sylvia Jeffreys as newsreader, while Deb Knight stepped into Karl’s hosting shoes and Brooke Boney joined as entertainment reporter.

But despite the fresh line up’s initial promise, each has failed to resonate with audiences, reaching its year-long low earlier this month when it pulled in just 155,000 viewers.

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