Why Hamish Macdonald quit Q+A for Project return: 'Pretty isolating'

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·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
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Ahead of his highly anticipated return to The Project, Hamish Macdonald has revealed why he quit his hosting gig on Q+A just 18 months after landing the plum role.

The 40-year-old told SMH on Saturday that the online 'trolling and abuse' he copped after stepping into outgoing host Tony Jones' shoes in February 2020 had taken its toll.

Hamish Macdonald hosting Q+A.
Hamish became the second-ever Q+A host in February 2020, but had left the program after 18 months. Photo: ABC

Why Hamish left

"It was overwhelming at times," he told the publication. "It became something I could not manage on my own, and I could not get away from it."

In January this year, Hamish made the decision to abandon his Twitter account.

Hamish added that the blowback often spilled over into real life, revealing that it 'wasn't uncommon' for people to confront him on the street and want to 'get stuck in' to discussing matters from the program.

While he said he was prepared for the added scrutiny before he jumped ship from Channel 10 to the ABC, he was surprised to find that he was 'left alone' to navigate the trolling and abuse.

He described the experience as "pretty isolating".

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Tommy Little, Hamish Macdonald, Lisa Wilkinson and Sarah Harris on The Project.
Before joining the ABC, Hamish Macdonald previously hosted The Sunday Project on Channel 10. Photo: Twitter/theprojecttv

Back to 10

Hamish, who first appeared on The Project in 2011, is expected to rejoin the fold in 'early September' alongside Lisa Wilkinson and Tommy Little on The Sunday Project.

He's also said to be joining the likes of Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly on the weeknight panel on Fridays.

"Tommy [Little], Carrie [Bickmore], Lisa [Wilkinson], Waleed [Aly], Pete [Helliar], they are genuinely my friends," he told SMH.

"They’re people I talk to all the time, they’re people that my partner is friends with, I’m friends with their partners, we see each other on holidays. They’re a very big part of life for me, and I love working with them. And to be able to walk back into that is a genuine privilege."

Hamish announced his surprise return to Channel 10 less than 48 hours after revealing his exit from the iconic ABC current affairs program in late July.

The announcement had viewers wondering if Hamish would be replacing an existing panelist, with some pointing the finger at the current co-host of The Sunday Project, Peter van Onselen.

Channel 10 newsreader Hugh Riminton celebrated Hamish Macdonald's return to The Project on Twitter. Photo: Twitter/hughriminton.
Channel 10 newsreader Hugh Riminton celebrated Hamish's return on Twitter. Photo: Twitter/hughriminton.

A Network 10 spokesperson told Yahoo Lifestyle at the time:

"Peter van Onselen remains an integral member of The Project team. As 10’s Network Political Editor, he will be focussing strongly on the upcoming election and continue to break news from Canberra."

The spokesperson also confirmed that Peter would not appear as regularly on The Sunday Project once Hamish returned.

Hamish previously worked for Channel 10 between 2010 and 2013, before rejoining in 2017 as a regular host of The Sunday Project.

Hamish's Q+A replacement has yet to be announced however the ABC has said that the program will continue to be hosted by members of the network's presenting roster.

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