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

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - News - HOLLY BYRNES

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.”



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