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Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

manda Keller is flit­ting around her new kitchen, mak­ing tea, show­ing off her fancy new bar fridge and point­ing out her folly of buy­ing plates that are too big to fit into her new dish­washer.

Barry Du Bois, her co-host on The Liv­ing Room, helped de­sign the new kitchen with its Shaker-style cup­boards and long is­land bench – but nei­ther could have fore­seen that the popular TV and ra­dio host would have even less time to cook than pre-ren­o­va­tions.

As if start­ing each week­day with three hours of break­fast ra­dio, host­ing a Fri­day night life­style show and mak­ing ap­pear­ances on a slew of other pro­grams, in­clud­ing The Project and Have You Been Pay­ing At­ten­tion?, was not enough, the 56-year-old pre­sen­ter has now signed on to co-host the up­com­ing re­boot of Danc­ing With The Stars.

“At the be­gin­ning of the con­ver­sa­tion, I was think­ing, ‘Oh, I can’t take that on – that’s mas­sive,’” says Keller of host­ing the re­vamped se­ries, which was once a rat­ings jug­ger­naut for the Seven Net­work, and will now be given a new lease of life on Net­work Ten. “But by the end of the con­ver­sa­tion I thought, ‘Oh, gee, that’s a great one. I’ll def­i­nitely do that.’ It’s like The Liv­ing Room – the world is hard and we need some­thing light, colour­ful and ex­u­ber­ant.”

Keller could be de­scrib­ing her­self. For more than 35 years, she has avoided be­ing type­cast, with a ver­sa­til­ity that has taken her from science and com­edy to popular cul­ture and life­style. She pos­sesses the Holy Grail of TV talents – in­tel­lect, wit and heart – all rolled in a dust­ing of dag­gi­ness to which au­di­ences re­late. As her long-time friend and

“Mmm, maybe Mark Bouris so I could flirt with him. Let me think, who else would be on my flirt list?”

Keller has al­ways got on well with men. Whether it’s ap­pear­ing with Ray Martin on Mid­day, her TV and ra­dio for­ays with An­drew Den­ton, her 13 years on ra­dio with Jonesy, or her role along­side Du Bois, Chris Brown and Miguel Maestre on The Liv­ing Room, she has al­ways held her own. “I haven’t wanted to play the role of the fe­male who stops the man be­ing naughty or takes the moral high ground,” she says. “I don’t want to wrist slap be­cause it makes you sound like a harpy and it’s such a bor­ing, one-note thing.”

In the mod­ern me­dia where women are of­ten pi­geon­holed with a per­sona rang­ing from drum-beat­ing fem­i­nist to sim­per­ing side­kick, Keller de­fies such des­ig­na­tion. As Den­ton says, at heart she’s still the daggy girl he met at col­lege. He re­mem­bers her hav­ing “Thomp­son Twins hair and ear­rings that Circus Oz must have lent her”, though he points out that she no longer irons her kaf­tans. “Other than that,” he says, “she still has the wickedest laugh and a fe­ro­cious black sense of hu­mour. She’s also loyal and sen­ti­men­tal and gets in­stant crushes on the most un­likely men… pag­ing Barry Manilow.”

Keller laughs and con­firms she and her child­hood friend Me­lanie still call them­selves “Mrs Manilow” when they call each other. As for her suc­cess, she at­tributes it to au­then­tic­ity – “it’s the new black” – and “that lit­tle sprin­kling of fairy dust that some­how gives you more than the sum of your parts”.

She also gen­uinely likes the peo­ple she works with. “Jonesy and I are old friends – work­ing to­gether is like ice-skat­ing. When we’re an­noyed with each other, we run over each other’s fin­gers, but we know the rhythms.” Keller laughs at head­lines claim­ing the pair have “de­throned King Kyle” Sandi­lands: “I guess there’s a ri­valry, but it feels nice to be re­warded as we work so hard.”

She’s also close to her co-hosts on The Liv­ing Room. Keller has a par­tic­u­lar bond with Du Bois, who has been bat­tling the re­turn of can­cer. They met at a func­tion sev­eral years ago and soon re­alised they shared par­al­lel lives in their strug­gle to have chil­dren. “We just got each other,” Keller re­calls. “I learn a thou­sand life lessons from him ev­ery day – the way he lives in the mo­ment and is so gen­er­ous with peo­ple. They say love is a do­ing word and Barry just lives that.”

The warmth is mu­tual, with Du Bois point­ing out they’re “like a cou­ple of dol­phins. We don’t have to talk to know what each other is think­ing,” he says. “She’s the most hon­est per­son I know and has more in­tegrity than any­one I know.”

AMANDA WEARS Lee Mathews jacket and pants, leemath­ews.com.au; Strateas Car­lucci shirt, the­un­done. com; Zara ear­rings, zara.com/au (from top) Amanda Keller pre­sent­ing Be­yond 2000 in 1989; with her ra­dio show co-host Bren­dan “Jonesy” Jones; and her co-stars (from left) Barry Du Bois, Chris Brown and Miguel Maestre hold­ing their Lo­gie from this year.

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