Samantha Armytage reflects on another succesful year ahead of co-hosting this year’s Carols in the Domain
Five years on, the sun is still shining for Samantha Armytage, writes
AS five-year plans go,
Sunrise and Carols in the Domain co-host Samantha Armytage has hit that goal and come out a winner.
The Channel 7 favourite marked her fifth year at the helm of the network’s breakfast show with yet another ratings victory over rivals at Nine’s Today and inked a contract extension which cements her partnership with co-star David Koch.
While Today has been plagued by the shock defection of popular co-host Lisa Wilkinson, the ongoing fallout from the personal life of Karl Stefanovic, and awkward onair chemistry with new co-host Georgie Gardner, Sunrise has “got on with getting on”, Armytage says.
So focused on sailing their own ship and keeping her head down, the 42-year-old “hasn’t yet taken the time to sit back and reflect on [her career milestone], but it’s been another fantastic year and we’ve been rewarded for that ... we’re very grateful and very thrilled,” she says, adding, “life is good”.
When she first signed on to Sunrise – replacing Melissa Doyle in 2013 – she had the five-year mark in mind to reassess her working life.
“I thought, ‘I’ll do it for five years and see how I feel.’ But it has to be a mutual agreement. The network has to love you and you have to love the network.”
Keeping that relationship going was, in the end, an easy decision. “I didn’t feel like it was time to go ... like there was more to do,” she says. “And I’ve never been under any illusions I’d do it forever. Life doesn’t work like that, but I think there’s a few more years to go for me. While you’re winning,” she adds, “you keep going.”
On the flipside, Today sunk to its worst ratings in 12 years this year, with the national battle won by Sunrise with an average of 456,000 viewers to Today’s 352,000. The poor result for Nine cost the show’s executive producer Mark Calvert, who stepped down as director of morning television.
Both breakfast shows have known victory and defeat over the years, and have an intense rivalry despite the friendships that exist across the networks. “It’s a competitive business and we don’t get up at 3am to come second,” Armytage states, “but Karl is a mate of mine. We go way back ... we were on the road, reporting together. And certainly, I feel a great deal of empathy for anyone whose life is splashed around in the tabloids and for anyone who has lost the right to privacy. So of course, they’re mates of ours ... we’re all just journos at the end of the day.”
Consistency and the genuine chemistry of the
Sunrise team – including newsreader Natalie Barr, sports anchor Mark Beretta, showbiz editor Edwina Bartholomew and weatherman Sam Mac – has been key to their success this year, she says.
“I mean, people don’t want to tune in and see people having a fight ... that’s not what you want to see in the morning when you’re trying to get your kids out the door to school. So we’re doing what we do and not overthinking it. We’re having a good time when the time is right to have a good time, and we’re handling serious news when that is called for and it’s been a successful year.”
But the year was not without its controversies, with a beachfront broadcast during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast surrounded by protesters, who accused Armytage in particular of “blatant racism” during a ‘Hot Topics’ segment on Aboriginal adoption.
The experienced news personality, who endures more than her share of ugly trolling on social media, remains defiant. “Sunrise has always been a lightning rod for controversy and will always attract its fair share of haters. That is the era we’re living in,” she says.
“For me, personally,
I’m proud of the way I’ve conducted myself this year. I’ve done my job to the best of my ability.”
Finishing on a happy note, Armytage, Barr and Kochie will reunite to host the annual
Carols in Sydney’s picturesque Domain – which will feature performances by Samantha Jade, The Wiggles and Home and Away’s Penny McNamee.
After the concert, Armytage will go bush to celebrate Christmas with her family and Banjo, her two-year-old “fur baby”, who may find himself on Santa’s naughty list after literally eating Armytage through house and home.
“He does love a remote control for breakfast,” she laughs. “Also loves shoes ... I think I’ve lost half my shoe wardrobe to him.”
CAROLS IN THE DOMAIN
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