Lisa Wilkinson and David Campbell return for Carols by Candlelight
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.