TV story: Kruger still sparkles.
Ahead of the new season of The Voice, Sonia Kruger reflects on her stunning quarter-century in show business. By AMELIA SAW
IT’S been 25 years since Sonia Kruger waltzed her way into our lives, wearing a glittering Perspex fruit bra.
And while she hasn’t pulled on that bedazzled, banana-adorned bikini since her character Tina Sparkle wore it in Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom, it was a fabulous way to start what has proved a brilliant career.
Unlike other home-grown stars, who would prefer their first showbiz steps were erased from living memory, Kruger says she’s proud of her past – particularly because it impressed no less than Sir Elton John.
The Voice host and Today Extra presenter recalls flying to London to interview the British pop icon, when small talk between her producer and the nowknighted superstar revealed him as a fan. “My producer said, ‘Sonia was in Strictly
Ballroom, she was Tina Sparkle’. And Elton John was like, ‘Shut up! That’s what I nickname my hairdresser’.”
Making an impression has been a trademark of Kruger’s career – from the outrage which erupted last year over her regrettable call to ban Muslim immigration to Australia; to the novel way she applied for her first job on Wonder
World! (which relaunched Ten’s popular Simon Townsend series on Nine).
It was 1993 when the Toowoomba-born, 20-something responded to a newspaper advertisement seeking a new recruit for the children’s variety show. To stand out from the 7000 applicants, she cut out letters from magazines and compiled a “ransom note”, which read: “We have Tina Sparkle, if you want her, call this number.” And they did.
She followed Wonder World! with jobs on Seven, working across Sunrise, 11am and Today Tonight, where she first worked with her now-partner and Seven News boss Craig McPherson.
The couple started dating in 2008 and welcomed daughter Maggie two years ago. Learning on the job as a junior news and entertainment reporter had its moments, with Kruger confessing to one blooper which almost certainly would have gone viral if it aired today.
“The hosts crossed to me in what I thought was the commercial break to check comms [ear piece and microphone],” she explains.
“[They said] ‘Hi, are you there? How you going? And I said, ‘Bloody hot’. And they said, ‘Oh … really? Why, what’s happening?’. And I said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. It’s bloody … I’m schvitzing out here’.”
Within seconds the director was in her ear, screaming: “WE. ARE. LIVE.”
In 2004, she would combine her ballroom experience with her first prime-time role, co-hosting Seven’s live talent series Dancing with the Stars.
Switching channels back to Nine in 2012, she showed off her polished instincts for live TV and comedy as the host of Big Brother, while building an easy rapport with David Campbell on Mornings (later rebranded as Today Extra).
She is soon to return to prime-time as anchor of season six of The Voice, working alongside this year’s stellar line-up of coaches including Delta Goodrem, Seal, Kelly Rowland and Boy George.
Proving there’s still plenty of Tina Sparkle in Kruger’s wardrobe choices, she says her flamboyant style recently caught the eye of Culture Club singer Boy George. In a good way – at least, she thinks so.
“He said to me the other night, ‘Can I compliment you on your [bright yellow] dress?,’ she says. “And I said, ‘Sure’. Then he went, ‘Because it’s a commitment … isn’t it?’.”
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