Why Peter Helliar was 'nervous' about Chrissie Swan joining The Project

While Carrie Bickmore took extended leave from The Project to enjoy time with her family in Europe, Chrissie Swan spent the past few months filling in for her on the popular Channel Ten program and hosting on Monday nights.

And although her co-host Peter Helliar tells Yahoo Lifestyle it was an “absolute joy” having The Masked Singer panellist on the desk, he also reveals that he was initially “nervous” about her taking on the role.

The Project's Peter Helliar and Chrissie Swan.
Peter Helliar admits he was ‘nervous’ about Chrissie Swan joining The Project. Photos: Channel Ten

“It was a big chair for Chrissie to sit into,” he says. “She’s obviously been on the show before in that fourth seat, but that’s the seat where you’re reading the news.

“So I was excited to have her on but I was also a bit nervous because I was like, she hasn't read news before. People like Carrie and Lisa [Wilkinson] make it seem really easy and effortless, but there is a real craft and art to it and reading the news is something I'm glad I don't have to do.”


Peter went on to reveal that he even checked with the producers to make sure Chrissie was okay with the duties in her new role.

“She absolutely was and she just took it on with both hands and came with a smile on her face every day with great energy,” he continues.

“And to be honest, the biggest compliment I can give her as far as the job goes is that we thought the three months was going to take forever because Carrie’s the captain of our team, there's no doubt about it, and it actually went quite quickly.”

The Project's Peter Helliar, Hamish Macdonald, Chrissie Swan and Steve Price.
Chrissie had an awkward on-air clash with Steve Price last month. Photo: Channel Ten

‘Genuine love and respect for each other’

While Chrissie’s stint on the show has since come to an end, with Carrie reporting back for duty this week, one of her final episodes saw her get involved in a rather awkward on-air clash with Steve Price.

However, Peter asserts that although the hosts might not always agree with each other on-air, things are rarely awkward behind-the-scenes.

“I know Chrissie was kind of nervous about Pricey and how they would work together, but if you ask Chrissie I know she’d say that Pricey was great to work with,” he adds.

“We have different worldviews in some areas than Steve does, and sometimes I disagree with Waleed or Carrie or Lisa or whoever, but as soon as we go to a commercial break, it’s fine. We have these debates off-camera as well, but there’s a genuine love and respect for each other that we’re very much open to those conversations.”

The comedian says the only time things became awkward during a commercial break was when Steve “wasn’t particulate respectful towards Jacinda Ardern”.

“We had thought maybe Steve had crossed a line and funnily enough the next day he actually apologised,” he recalls. “It wasn't from pressure from the show or any of us, he just recognised it himself that maybe he misspoke.

"That was the only time that I can really remember things being a little bit… Not tense, just weird. Almost like I didn’t quite know where to look,” he adds with a laugh. “I couldn't quite give Pricey that reassuring nod that everything was okay.”

Peter Helliar’s podcast You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet was recently added to ARN’s iHeartPodcast Network Australia. You can listen to the podcast here.

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