I know things can be taken away

Deb­o­rah Knight opens up to Stel­lar about the in­tense scru­tiny shes been un­der since tak­ing her role on the To­day show and why shell al­ways stand up to the trolls.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy DUN­CAN KILLICK Styling NI­COLE BONYTHON-HINES In­ter­view AN­GELA MOLLARD

If Deb­o­rah Knight wanted to re­fute sug­ges­tions that shes the hard­est work­ing woman in tele­vi­sion, then she per­haps shouldnt have cho­sen a Fri­day in which to do it.

When she sits down to chat with Stel­lar at 2pm, shes in the mid­dle of a split shift, hav­ing al­ready worked for seven hours on the To­day show, in­clud­ing an ex­tra hour on air for a break­ing news story in Mel­bourne. Af­ter our in­ter­view, shes back in the make-up chair ahead of an­other four hours of re­search­ing and read­ing the af­ter­noon and evening news bul­letins. When she clocks off around 7.30pm, shed like to go and watch her hus­band play in his band, but theres the small mat­ter of or­gan­is­ing a babysit­ter for the kids.

All journos are hard­work­ing, she says, in­stantly dis­miss­ing the no­tion that shes any more in­dus­tri­ous than her col­leagues. Ev­ery­one whos worked with me in news­rooms over the years would know that I throw ev­ery­thing I pos­si­bly can at ev­ery job I do.

Af­ter be­ing over­looked, rst at Net­work 10, where she lost her news­read­ing role to San­dra Sully, and then on To­day where both Sylvia Jeffreys and Ge­orgie Gard­ner were pro­moted

ahead of her, this year has seen Knight nally land the plum role many be­lieve she has long de­served. Snar­ing the seat va­cated by Karl Ste­fanovic was al­ways go­ing to gen­er­ate in­ter­est, par­tic­u­larly when Nine Net­work ex­ec­u­tives made the un­prece­dented de­ci­sion to have two women helm its ag­ship break­fast show.

But if ve mornings of gru­elling break­fast tele­vi­sion wasnt enough, Knight has also held on to her role read­ing news bul­letins on Fri­day and Satur­day evenings, prompt­ing spec­u­la­tion shes keep­ing her op­tions open if the new To­day line-up doesnt work out.

I re­ject that its a safety net, she says em­phat­i­cally. I re­ally love do­ing both and I think they com­ple­ment each other. The age of hav­ing jour­nal­ists just pre­sent­ing one bul­letin is gone. Ev­ery­one is versatile. Im work­ing six days a week, but its not as if Im here all day [on] those six days.

If Knights seven-year tenure at Nine had her po­si­tioned more as a sup­port act, her pro­mo­tion to the head­lin­ing gig has brought with it not just greater status but more in­tense scru­tiny. In­ex­pli­ca­bly, break­fast tele­vi­sion hosts are sec­ond only to re­al­ity-show con­tes­tants when it comes to ap­praisals of both their per­son­al­ity and pair­ings. In other in­dus­tries the pro­mo­tion, on merit, of

two women to the top roles might be seen as in­no­va­tive and pro­gres­sive, but for au­di­ences still in their py­ja­mas theres a sus­pi­cion of change.

Knight says she watches the rat­ings be­cause its the daily gauge of the show, but she doesnt take the com­ments to heart. A lot of it [the com­men­tary] was just hate­ful and you have to ig­nore it. The rst day we were on air, we hadnt even com­pleted the rst show and ar­ti­cles were ap­pear­ing on­line writ­ing us off and say­ing This is a dud. It was silly and un­fair. I re­alised I couldnt con­trol any of this, but what I could con­trol was do­ing the best job I can.

Shes taken a sim­i­lar ap­proach to con­jec­ture that she and Gard­ner dont get on and are locked in a bat­tle for the top spot. Were not school­girls in a school­yard, she points out with barely con­cealed ex­as­per­a­tion. Were pro­fes­sional peo­ple and it shouldnt mat­ter that were two women. It dis­ap­points me that has to be the fo­cus.

While much of the nar­ra­tive has po­si­tioned the pair both blonde, both in their 40s as locked in a cat­ght, they each say noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. Ge­orgie and I have enor­mous re­spect for each other, says Knight. Were very dif­fer­ent peo­ple, but I think

DEB­O­RAH WEARS Marni jacket, dress, and ear­rings, (02) 9327 3809

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