The comedian, who has been a permanent fixture on The Project since 2014, became emotional throughout the episode as the show replayed some of his most hilarious and heartwarming moments from behind the desk.
A number of famous faces also appeared throughout the broadcast to say their goodbyes, including Dave Hughes, Hamish Macdonald, Rove McManus, Nazeem Hussain, Nath Valvo and Dylan Alcott, who thanked Peter for everything he has done for him and his career.
“I remember the first time that we met, I went up to you and told you about my vision of mainstreaming disability in the media,” he said. “A couple of weeks after that, you and I were sitting opposite each other on The Project desk. You were the one that organised that opportunity for me, mate.”
The show’s panellists then shared their well wishes, with Tony Armstrong remarking that Pete’s best quality isn’t his comedy but his kindness.
“You’ve got a heart bigger than Phar Lap’s,” he said. “When I’ve gone through stuff that people might not know about, you’re always there on the text, on the phone, checking in and making sure things are going okay and helping people out.
“People come onto this chair who haven’t had a lot of experience, and you make them feel warm, welcomed, and you give them the best opportunity to thrive. That’s what I’ve felt from you and anyone who gets to meet you is - I nearly swore then - bloody lucky.”
Rachel Corbett also thanked Pete for his kindness, adding: “Ever since the first day I came on this show, you are so warm, welcoming and inviting... I have loved every minute of working with you, and thank you for being such a good friend, so supportive and just such a wonderful, wonderful person to work with.”
‘I’m incredibly grateful’
“You have this remarkable ability of saying something poignant and thoughtful and then pivoting to a joke shortly afterwards, and you do it so well,” she said.
“If you’ve seen me laugh over the years in the middle of a news read or in the middle of a segment, it’s usually Pete’s fault. I look forward to many dinners with you going forward, you and (your wife) Bridget. And sorry for leaving my bra in your car again Bridge, it won’t happen again.”
Pete delivered a heartfelt speech at the end of the episode, thanking everyone from the show’s producers, writers and executives to his family and the viewers at home.
“To you, the audience, thank you for embracing my silliness, understanding my intentions and accepting my limitations,” he said. “When I look through this lens at camera four, I do actually believe I'm looking at you and I’m seeing you, so thanks for coming along for the ride.
“Now it’s time for somebody else to inherit this chair and I encourage you to get behind them and Sarah Harris and Waleed [Aly] of course next year and onwards, because the TV landscape is not as colourful without The Project in it.
“And for me, I'm looking forward to this next phase. There are things I know are going to happen, things I'm pretty sure are going to happen, and things I have no idea may happen… So I look forward to playing trust games with the showbiz gods. Until then, I'm pretty sure I'll see you around and thank you, I'm incredibly grateful.”
— The Project (@theprojecttv) December 7, 2022
Waleed’s farewell gift
To wrap up the episode, Waleed told Pete it’s been “such a privilege and such an honour” to work alongside him.
“As a performer, you’re incredibly generous,” he added. “And you do your job with so little ego in an industry that is almost all about ego. It's incredible that you are able to do that.
“So for everything you've done as a performer, as a colleague, for everything that we've experienced sharing that dressing room together, for the fact that you are such a great bloke, this is the bit where we’d normally give you a bunch of flowers. But you don't deserve that. You deserve the most awesome thing in the world.”
Pete was then presented with a large bucket of custard in reference to a former gag on the show as confetti shot from the ceiling and he waved goodbye.
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