Every morning, Sunrise’s Samantha Armytage is watched by hundreds of thousands of Australian­s. But it’s more than likely, her partner, Richard Lavender, is not one of them. The former farmer doesn’t watch a lot of television. “I don’t think he even knew who I was when we first met,” Armytage, 43, says of her beau. “I had no idea,” Lavender, 60, admits. A few weeks into their blossoming romance, Armytage decided enough was enough and asked Lavender, “Can you watch this show once so you know what I actually do for a living?”

Armytage has always been intensely private about her relationsh­ips. While there have been photos of the two of them, until now, she hasn’t publicly acknowledg­ed she and Lavender are together. But in her exclusive shoot for WHO’s Sexiest people, it’s clear she feels right at home as she and Lavender ride horses on his picturesqu­e 40-hectare property in NSW’s Southern Highlands. Indeed, part of the appeal of inviting us into her private life – something which she’s previously never done for a publicatio­n – was being able to shoot on Lavender’s property. “I love that it’s a really natural shoot,” she says. There is also a hope, she says, that by confirming she and Lavender are together in this way it may ease the scrutiny on her life away from Sunrise. That remains to be seen.

The couple were introduced in the country by a mutual friend around Easter this year. “His eyes were the first thing I saw,” Armytage says, adding “there was a connection” between them from the outset. “We both enjoy horses, skiing, architectu­re, art,” she says. “That’s really important to have a lot in common. And so far, so good.” She also likes that he’s not part of “the media circus”.

As for what she finds sexy about Lavender, Armytage says he’s “really comfortabl­e in his own skin”. “He doesn’t care what people think of him, which I admire greatly. He’s very decent, very honest. I love that he’s so modest.”

Lavender was “instinctiv­ely attracted” to

Armytage, even before he knew they had a shared interest in horses and the country life. “She had a sparkle in her eye,” he recalls. “She has a quick wit, a terrific sense of humour,” he says. He thinks Armytage is an anomaly in the TV industry in that “she’s very natural”. “I think a lot of the people who are in show business are a bit flouncy,” he says. “I’ve seen a few celebritie­s in public – it’s not always attractive.”

The couple divide their time between Sydney and the Southern Highlands. During the week, while Armytage is filming Sunrise, Lavender will come and stay. Then, most weekends, they’ll be back down on his property. “Richard is a fabulous rider. I rode as a kid and did pony club and didn’t get on a horse for about 20 years. I’m getting back into it. I’m a little bit more nervous than I used to be. When you’re a kid, you don’t think about hurting yourself. I’m a bit more wary than I used to be.”

What’s the next step for Armytage and Lavender? Right now, they’re “happy and having fun”, Armytage says.

Samantha had a sparkle in her eye, she’s very natural

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