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hris Bath isn’t used to hav­ing a cam­era in her face any­more. “I have for­got­ten how much I re­ally don’t en­joy do­ing this stuff,” the 51year old says with a wry laugh as she poses for her Stel­lar photo shoot. But for more than 25 years, look­ing down the bar­rel was a daily event for Bath, who started her ca­reer at Syd­ney’s 2UE ra­dio sta­tion then quickly moved to­ward tele­vi­sion. At the height of her run at the Seven Net­work, she was pre­sent­ing its cur­rent af­fairs pro­gram Sun­day Night as well as an­chor­ing the week­night Syd­ney news.

Photo shoots might not be her thing, and she now hosts ABC Ra­dio Syd­ney’s Evenings. But TV still feels like home, she ad­mits, so she looks for­ward to get­ting in front of the cam­era again to host the ABC’S nightly round-up of the In­vic­tus Games. “Tele­vi­sion is a bit like putting on a com­fort­able old pair of jeans,” she says. “Some­times be­ing on ra­dio is like be­ing in a skintight dress with stilet­tos, and I feel re­ally un­com­fort­able. Even though I’ve loved not hav­ing to worry about what I look like – god that’s been good! – I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to In­vic­tus.”

The in­ter­na­tional multi-sport event, in which wounded, in­jured or sick armed ser­vices per­son­nel and vet­er­ans com­pete, was cre­ated by Prince Harry in 2014. Bath is al­ready an avid sports en­thu­si­ast, but tells Stel­lar that’s not

why she signed up to host In­vic­tus Games To­day. “The thing I re­ally love about the In­vic­tus Games is that it’s not about who’s the fastest or strong­est; it’s ac­tu­ally about the peo­ple who re­ally need what In­vic­tus can give them, and in a lot of cases it’s about giv­ing them the mo­ti­va­tion to get on with life.”

It’s also per­sonal. Bath’s fa­ther Don had the first of two strokes nine years ago. “The other side of it is that com­ing from a fam­ily who’s been deal­ing with some­one with a dis­abil­ity – and all the things that brings with it – the fam­i­lies and car­ers of peo­ple com­pet­ing are recog­nised,” she says. “They get to march with them at the open­ing cer­e­mony. Be­hind any­body in that sort of sit­u­a­tion is a whole sup­port crew. I think the hard­est part of work­ing on it is go­ing to be not cry­ing, you know? Be­cause th­ese sto­ries just kill you – what th­ese peo­ple have gone through and how they’ve per­sisted. They’re in­spir­ing, but they break your heart at the same time.”

Bath’s re­turn to TV af­ter a three-year break has been cause for some re­flec­tion, and a re­minder that the medium made her one of the coun­try’s most fa­mil­iar faces in the ’90s, par­tic­u­larly af­ter she scored the cov­eted nightly news gig when Ian Ross re­tired in 2009. Be­ing a woman on TV, she says, placed more pres­sure on her to get it right. “I hon­estly thought [an­chor­ing the news] wasn’t a trail­blaz­ing thing,” she says now of the com­men­tary around her ap­point­ment. “There were women be­fore me who did, and I thought the world had got­ten to the point where it was quite easy for a woman to do that.

“I do think women on tele­vi­sion are of­ten judged on their ap­pear­ance rather than what comes out of their mouth. And I don’t think it just ap­plies to tele­vi­sion – it ap­plies to a range of things. There are pres­sures on women in me­dia that aren’t the same for men, but I think we’ve grown up a lit­tle bit and I don’t think women now are un­der the same pres­sure as some of the women in me­dia who went be­fore us,” she says.

Yet she ad­mits that it de­pends, like so many things, on who you’re work­ing for. “I’ve worked for some bosses who were gen­der blind; they didn’t care. If they thought you could do it, they’d get you to do it. But not every­body was like that. I have also worked for bosses who are com­plete psy­chopaths. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause they were sex­ist… they were just so­ciopaths.”

When it came time to re­new her con­tract with the Seven Net­work in 2015, Bath opted to walk away. The rea­son, she ex­plains, is that “I was just ready for a change. It was a re­ally big de­ci­sion, but I just felt I was done… It was time to see what else I could do. I was ac­tu­ally pretty ex­cited, to be hon­est, to have a bit of a rest! I didn’t do the gap year thing, so I had my gap year at 49.”

Her hus­band, sports jour­nal­ist Jim Wil­son, helped her with the tran­si­tion. “Jimmy was a big part of the rea­son I felt com­fort­able enough and have enough con­fi­dence to go, maybe I should try some­thing else,” she tells Stel­lar. The pair have been mar­ried since 2012, though they’d known each other, on air, for years. (Bath shares a 17-year-old son, Darcy, with her ex-part­ner, com­poser De­nis Car­na­han.) “To be hon­est, I didn’t re­ally think about [mar­riage], and if you’d told me it was go­ing to be Jim Wil­son I would have laughed, which is a ter­ri­ble thing to say! Jimmy was just the nice sporty boof­head.” Yet here they are. “Jimmy is the most gen­er­ous, can-do, giv­ing, won­der­ful man in the world. I def­i­nitely un­der­es­ti­mated him.”

If she sounds like a woman driven by the heart, she’ll hap­pily take it – at home or at work – and that’s whether the self-pro­fessed “bird nerd” is de­vot­ing ra­dio hours to her pas­sion for or­nithol­ogy or tee­ing up her TV re­turn out of a gen­uine con­nec­tion to the project. “For me, the In­vic­tus Games are pri­mar­ily about love. I know that sounds re­ally soppy, but I think it’s about love on a num­ber of lev­els: love for your coun­try, love for your fel­low man, love of fam­ily and friends.” In­vic­tus Games To­day starts 7.40pm, Sun­day Oc­to­ber 21, on the ABC.

MER­CURY RIS­ING

(from top) Ac­tor Rami Malek as Queen’s leg­endary front­man Fred­die Mer­cury in the up­com­ing biopic Bo­hemian Rhap­sody; with his Short Term 12 co-star Brie Lar­son in 2016; re­ceiv­ing an Emmy two years ago for his lead role in cult TV series

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