Christ­mas pres­ence

Lisa Wilkin­son and David Camp­bell re­turn for Car­ols by Can­dle­light

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Wilkin­son has been host­ing Car­ols By Can­de­light for nearly a decade so at this stage she knows what works and what doesn’t.

In fact, she’s elim­i­nated one prob­lem quite sim­ply.

“Cos­tume changes can be quite chal­leng­ing. One year I ac­tu­ally missed an in­tro­duc­tion to a song be­cause we were hav­ing a few prob­lems do­ing up a cou­ple of buttons so we’re not go­ing to do that again,” Wilkin­son said.

In­stead, Wilkin­son will host the ex­trav­a­ganza wear­ing one dress, which means the pres­sure is on to make sure it’s per­fect.

“I think I get to wear the most an­tic­i­pated dress on Aus­tralian TV so I have to get the dress right ev­ery year,” she said.

This year she’s work­ing with Mel­bourne de­signer So­nia Cap­pel­lazzo for the first time, a de­signer known for her cou­ture gowns and bridal range.

“We’ve never worked to­gether be­fore but from the mo­ment that I started work­ing with So­nia I re­ally felt like we were go­ing to end up with some­thing very, very spe­cial,” she said.

“I ab­so­lutely love what she’s do­ing and we have very sim­i­lar ideas of what we want the dress to look like.”

In say­ing that, Wilkin­son still has to face up to that first mo­ment when she walks out on stage and the coun­try’s eyes are upon her.

“There’s al­ways that ner­vous mo­ment just be­fore I step out on stage be­cause every­one loves a frock, and every­one’s got an opin­ion of a frock. But un­like an event such as the Lo­gies where there’s a hun­dred frocks that can di­vert at­ten­tion, this is the one frock. I ab­so­lutely have got to get it right so I’ve got my fingers crossed on that one,” she said.

Wilkin­son: “I think peo­ple just re­ally re­spond in such a dis­con­nected world to such a con­nected TV ex­pe­ri­ence as Car­ols by Can­dle­light.”

This will be Wilkin­son’s ninth year host­ing Car­ols By

Can­dle­light, and it hasn’t lost any of its sheen for her.

“It’s just the most mag­i­cal night of the year and the most mag­i­cal tele­vi­sion ex­pe­ri­ence of the year be­cause, even as the world con­tin­ues to change enor­mously, there’s some­thing that just draws peo­ple back to the beau­ti­ful tra­di­tions of Car­ols

by Can­dle­light on Christ­mas Eve,” she said.

It’s also a much- needed re­minder of the good that is in the world and the sense of com­mu­nity that still ex­ists. “We all re­mem­ber the Christ­mas car­ols that we grew up with and I think peo­ple just re­ally re­spond in such a dis­con­nected world to such a con­nected TV ex­pe­ri­ence as Car­ols by Can­dle­light,” Wilkin­son said.

As a host on Nine’s break­fast show To­day, Wilkin­son is of­ten the first source of news for the coun­try, with this year feel­ing like it’s been one of the harder ones for the TV pro­fes­sional.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of peo­ple who would say, ‘ Yes, 2016, I’ll put that in a box and take it with me’,” she said.

“We are liv­ing in quite a dif­fer­ent world now and I think that’s one of the rea­sons why break­fast TV figures are so strong be­cause it’s a bit like

Car­ols by Can­dle­light, it’s the rou­tine of choos­ing a break­fast show that you feel con­nected to, the peo­ple you feel con­nected to, and that is your con­stant in the morn­ing when you wake up.”

As Christ­mas Eve ap­proaches, Wilkin­son ap­pre­ci­ates her role on Car­ols, host­ing along­side her col­league at Nine, David Camp­bell from To­day Ex­tra.

“Car­ols for me is just joy,” she said.

“I’m not the ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer. I just get the fun part of go­ing out and get­ting to in­tro­duce ev­ery­body and work­ing with the fabulous David Camp­bell who I just adore. I swear he was a brother of mine in an­other life.”

Wilkin­son is not the only star re­turn­ing to the event.

Many of the singers and per­form­ers are com­ing back, hav­ing been in­volved in sev­eral other car­ols be­fore. That will keep the au­di­ence happy – and there are one or two new ad­di­tions this year.

“Dami Im should knock it out of the park and Al­fie Ar­curi, who won The Voice this year, is per­fect for Car­ols by

Can­de­light,” Wilkin­son said.

“We’ve got so many of our favourites re­turn­ing and the funny thing is, it’s re­ally dif­fi­cult for all the sort of top- line stars to get out there and per­form when there’s so many peo­ple who come back year af­ter year that ev­ery­body loves, like Sil­vie Pal­adino, Ma­rina Prior, Lucy Du­rack, Tim Camp­bell and Denis Wal­ter. Denis has been do­ing the show now for 157 years and he’s still one our most pop­u­lar per­form­ers.”

Af­ter years of ex­pe­ri­ence at the helm, Wilkin­son hasn’t just fig­ured out what the au­di­ence likes but she knows what she likes to hear too. “I’m a bit par­tial to Hark the

Her­ald An­gels Sing and I do love Have Your­self a Merry Lit­tle Christ­mas which I don’t think is par­tic­u­larly a carol. And then for just pure joy, I do love Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christ­mas

is You. Tell me any­one who doesn’t want to get up and sing along to that,” she said.

The event will once again be in aid of Vi­sion Aus­tralia, which pro­vides ser­vices to peo­ple with blind­ness and low vi­sion, and Wilkin­son hopes the au­di­ence will be gen­er­ous in aid of this great cause.

“We’re hop­ing to raise $ 1 mil­lion this year,” she said.

“If as peo­ple are watch­ing they can maybe do­nate some­thing, it re­ally goes to an in­cred­i­bly good cause.”

Timely tra­di­tion: David Camp­bell and Lisa Wilkin­son have hosted Car­ols by Can­dle­light since 2013.

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