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"The hours are insane for women." What it's really like working on Australian breakfast TV shows.

After a mere 11 months, Channel Nine’s breakfast show Today is set for another major shake-up.

In December 2018, the Australian network announced that Karl Stefanovic would be “stepping off” the morning show after 13 years.

The news came following a series of controversies, including the 45-year-old’s very public divorce from his wife Cassandra Thorburn, which was followed by an equally controversial new relationship with his now-wife, Jasmine Yarbrough.

Then, of course, there was the infamous Ubergate scandal of March 2018, in which Karl was caught ‘complaining’ to his brother Peter Stefanovic about his then Today co-host Georgie Gardner.

Watch Karl Stefanovic say goodbye to the Today show below. Post continues after video.

Now, almost a year later, Stefanovic is set to return to the program in early 2020 – and yes, he’s just as shocked as you are.

“It’s not something that I thought would come up again. I thought my time was up, but then, when I was sounded out about it, it got me thinking,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s a big job with enormous pressures and I know only too well some of those pitfalls, but it is also without question the best live TV job in Australia.”

Following the announcement, Georgie Gardner – who had been hosting the show alongside Deb Knight since Stefanovic’s departure – didn’t return to the show.

On Monday morning, Gardner’s co-hosts Deb Knight and Tom Steinfort acknowledged her absence, describing her as a “committed” and “passionate” member of the team.

Speaking to The Quicky on Monday morning, Peter Ford – entertainment journalist and regular on Channel Seven’s Morning Show – spoke about the sudden change to the Today show lineup.

Mamamia’s daily news podcast, The Quicky, speak to entertainment journalist Peter Ford about the inner workings of Australian breakfast TV. Post continues after podcast.

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“It’s the roller coaster of show business, isn’t it,” Ford told The Quicky.

“You’re the prized rooster one day and a feather duster the next. If the show can make this work and if Karl can make this work, this will be the best comeback since Lazarus.”

Speaking about former Today hosts Georgie Gardner and Deb Knight, Ford shared that he thought the pairing didn’t work.

“I just don’t think it worked – 12 months ago, I think they thought it worked on paper and they believed the concept of two women hosting together would be alternative and fresh and bold,” he said.

“But it’s the oldest mistake you can make in television and radio – you can find really talented people and put them together behind a microphone or in a studio and think magic is going to happen – and very often it doesn’t happen,” he continued.

“Sometimes people don’t click – there’s no spark or banter between them, as talented as they are as individuals. There’s gotta be some cohesion and some familiarity – we just never saw that happen on the Today show from day one.”

georgie gardner instagram
Karl Stefanovic and Georgie Gardner. Image: Channel Nine.

As a regular on morning television, Ford knows first-hand what it's really like behind the scenes.

"It's like taking vows. It's like becoming a nun – basically your whole life is devoted to it," Ford explained.

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For women, however, it's particularly hard.

"The hours are insane, I would assume for most women [on breakfast TV] because hair and makeup is so much more time-consuming," he added.

"Most of the women on breakfast TV are probably getting up at 2.30am or 3am. The men, maybe, an hour later.

"From then on, it's full-on from the moment they walk in and sit in the makeup chair – they're getting briefed, they're reading notes and trying to catch up on the news.

"It's absolutely non-stop – it's a train out of control until they walk out of there and sign off air just after 9am. It's intense to say the least."

karl stefanovic today show return
Karl Stefanovic is returning to the Today show. Image: Channel Nine.

Ford added that while some presenters thrive with the early morning starts, others struggle.

"Some people love early mornings," he said.

"Karl [Stefanovic] went off the early starts but he always loved the show. Getting out of bed was the hardest thing for Karl. Once he got there, the adrenaline took over and he loved it. I found that with most [breakfast TV presenters]," he added.

"I would imagine it would be harder if you had a family and young kids – that becomes obviously a much bigger drain on you."


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