Just one day after announcing she was quitting the show and moving to a rival network, Sonia Kruger has been given an emotional send-off by her Today show and Today Extra family on her final day in the hosting chair.
The 54-year-old was treated to a lengthy show-reel of highlights from her eight ‘fabulous’ years with the Nine Network on Friday morning before she departs, bound it is believed, for Channel Seven.
Her colleagues David Campbell and Deb Knight were clearly feeling the love, with Deb - who was ousted from the breakfast program along with Georgie Gardner earlier this week - giving Sonia a warm hug.
The farewell stood in stark contrast to the one fellow Today franchise star Georgie got earlier this week.
After it was announced at the weekend that Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon would be taking over hosting duties in 2020, Georgie was a no-show on Monday morning’s show, with her absence explained by Deb and Tom.
In a scripted segment, the pair 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,” said Deb, “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.”
Unlike with Sonia’s farewell, there was no celebratory cake, balloons or flowers, or even any Georgie to say goodbye to.
Viewers sad to see Sonia go
In the wake of Sonia’s abrupt exit, fans of Today Extra have taken to social media to pay tribute to former The Voice host, calling her ‘impossible to replace’.
“Sonia and David have the best chemistry, you can see they genuinely like each other. They are a pleasure to watch. It is a sad day, but we wish her well. Don't know how you will fill her special Tina Sparkle shoes,” wrote one.
“I’ve already started crying. I’ve been watching you and @DavidCampbell73 for years it’s been awesome television. Pissing myself laughing most of the time! I’m really going to miss your face & laughs! Impossible to replace. all the best!” said another.
“What will Sonia be doing at channel 7?” questioned another.
Rumours are already circulating that Sonia is tipped to reprise her role as host of Seven’s rebooted Big Brother which is set to air in 2020.
She fronted the reality TV show while it was on Nine between 2012 and 2014, and an insider suggested to Daily Mail last week that Seven lured her over with a big cheque.
Tony Jones’ ‘long year’
In contrast with Sonia’s last hurrah, Today’s other departing host, sports presenter Tony Jones, was given little more than a whimper on his final day.
Tony wasn’t even in the studio for starters, joining his co-hosts via video link from a boxing ring where he was interviewing boxer Danny Green.
“It’s been a long year. Let me tell you. I feel like I’ve gone 15 rounds, I’m on the ropes, and despite what they say, I’m in your corner,” he told his colleagues.
While Sonia was given a five-minute video montage - which was later posted on Today’s Twitter - Tony, it appears, was not given the same treatment.
In fact, his last day has yet to be addressed on Nine’s social media, however, a gracious Deb Knight stepped in at one point to call Tony ‘the best live TV performer in Australia’.
Tony’s flat farewell wasn’t lost on viewers, either, who shared their thoughts on Twitter.
“I’m from Sydney and have no idea who Tony Jones is, but yes, he looks perpetually p*ssed off,” wrote one.
“Tony Jones trying to be perky and cheerful is a bit like Paris Hilton splitting the atom,” remarked another.
“Good to see Tony Jones is as happy as ever as he embarks on his final morning on @TheTodayShow,” joked one.
Tony announced he was leaving his role after just 12 months on Thursday, citing an ‘unsustainable workload’.
Sonia’s shock exit
Sonia also revealed she was quitting Today Extra - and the Nine Network - on Thursday, as a visibly upset co-host David Campbell looked on.
Sonia told viewers she was ‘ready for something new’, but very sad to leave the network after such a long time on board, saying that her last day would be Friday.
“After eight fabulous years, I’m leaving the show and the Nine network,” she said on air.
“I have had an amazing time here I’ve been very privileged to work on some top-shelf programs and of course with you David Campbell.”
Sonia joined Nine full time in late 2011 after years of odd jobs for the network.
In recent years, the former actress and dancer turned media personality, has been the face of Today Extra, as well as the host of programs like The Voice.
She told 9Honey the decision will allow her extra time with her daughter Maggie who turns five next year.
“I have more time to spend with Maggie now, rather than being committed on that daily basis,” she told the site.
No replacement has been announced, however it’s understood Sylvia Jefferys will be in the chair come Monday morning as the network looks for a replacement.
Sonia and Tony’s dual exit comes just days after hosts Deborah Knight and Georgie Garnder were axed in favour of Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon.
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