That’s the spirit

Car­ols co-hosts Lisa Wilkin­son and David Camp­bell put a tough TV year be­hind them to bring fes­tive joy, writes TIF­FANY DUNK

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

AS the TV year comes to a close and Chan­nel 9 stars Lisa Wilkin­son and David Camp­bell pre­pare to take their long-awaited hol­i­days, the tra­di­tion of host­ing Car­ols by Can­dle­light on Christ­mas Eve of­fers the per­fect sign-off – es­pe­cially given the year they’ve both had.

From cov­er­ing end­less elec­tion cy­cles here and over­seas, to an on­slaught of tragic news sto­ries, it’s been a tough year to be in the news busi­ness.

Add in your co-hosts com­ing un­der some pretty in­tense scru­tiny – Karl Ste­fanovic’s mar­riage split and So­nia Kruger’s call for a Mus­lim ban – and it’s no won­der they are all yearn­ing for a break.

“I think we all have to be hon­est, and say that 2016 was one of the tough­est years on record,” Camp­bell says. “There was a lot of bile that rose to the sur­face.

“We’ll all be glad to get this year be­hind us and start afresh. We’ve learnt a lot of lessons this year and I think those lessons cul­mi­nate on Christ­mas Eve.

“One of the great things that you can say about the hol­i­day pe­riod is that ev­ery­body is nice to each other. We need to look at Christ­mas as a hard restart.”

Wilkin­son agrees it’s been a big year, but for the To­day host it’s been one with plenty of per­sonal pay-offs.

Hav­ing beaten Sun­rise in the fivecity metro rat­ings and come close to top­pling them na­tion­ally, Wilkin­son says the ku­dos for the show has been “com­ing for a long time”.

“It’s taken 10 years of Karl [Ste­fanovic] and I be­ing to­gether and the gap con­sis­tently clos­ing ev­ery year. We’ve been work­ing hard and made the view­ers our No.1 pri­or­ity,” she says.

Wilkin­son still pinches her­self that she has what she calls the best job in tele­vi­sion – and co-host­ing Car­ols by Can­dle­light for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year with Camp­bell is the ic­ing on the cake.

“I reckon I have more smiles per minute dur­ing that show than at any other time dur­ing the year,” she says.

This year’s per­form­ers in­clude Dami Im, The Voice win­ner Al­fie Ar­curi, Ma­rina Prior, Shane Ja­cob­son and peren­nial kids favourites Hi5.

Camp­bell is well aware of the thrill that comes with be­ing asked to take the stage on Christ­mas Eve. In fact, he says be­ing asked was the mo­ment he knew he’d well and truly bro­ken into the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

“The first year I was asked, I was do­ing [the stage mu­si­cal] Shout and I couldn’t be­lieve my luck,” he says.

“I thought, ‘I’m go­ing to sing on Car­ols – I’ve made it’.

“It’s up there as one of the most iconic shows on TV.”

Camp­bell isn’t alone in his re­gard for the tele­cast, with Wilkin­son say­ing ev­ery­one gives it their all.

“As we be­come more dis­con­nected in so­ci­ety, that mo­ment on Christ­mas Eve is when peo­ple re­mem­ber what that con­nec­tion feels like,” she says.

“It’s a re­ally sig­nif­i­cant night for peo­ple to take pause and re­mem­ber what Christ­mas is about … it’s a spe­cial feel­ing you don’t have on any other night of the year.”

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