"It was really, really horrible." Why Kate Langbroek almost quit The Panel after a few weeks.


When Kate Langbroek was cast on a new prime-time talk show called The Panel back in 1998, she’d never ‘done’ television before. She’d had small acting roles, including on the soap Chances and in a Transport Accident Commission Community Service Announcement, and had built a profile as a host on independent Melbourne radio station Triple R.

But this was different.

Speaking to Sarah Grynberg on PodcastOne’s A Life of Greatness, the now-stalwart media personality revealed the early days of the weekly Channel 10 current affairs show were a maelstrom of insecurity and negative feedback from viewers.

Video by Channel 10

Because the program came via Working Dog Productions, which had close ties with more-established talent, Langbroek said many questioned her casting.

“People were expecting that it would be Jane Kennedy or Jude [Judith Lucy], and when it was me they were like, ‘Who the f*** is that?’… That is basically the letters that I got,” she told the podcast.

“Also, I was really bad, because I’d never done TV before. I was a bit overwhelmed that, suddenly, there I was with these people who were amazing and seemed to know a lot of stuff. If I didn’t know something, I would go, ‘What does that mean?’ And [viewers] would go, ‘You know nothing!’ [in letters].


“It was really, really horrible.”

Such was the intensity of the criticism, that she was ‘rested’ from the program.

“It was quite clear that this had been an interesting few dates, but it wasn’t going to be a relationship,” she said.

“Then they called back and said, ‘Come back and do another episode.’ And I remember saying to my manager at the time, ‘I don’t want to do it. No. Tell them no.'”

Kate with some of her co-hosts on The Panel: Glenn Robbins, Rob Sitch, Tom Gleisner. Image: Channel 10.

Langbroek's manager persuaded her to do one more episode, and at some point before filming, a switch flipped inside her.

"I was just so wrapped up in knots about myself, that somehow [during] that period of not doing it I basically just went, 'Ugh, it's too exhausting to care about myself, what people think about me.' And somehow the sheer exhaustion meant that I just shrugged it off," she said.

"That's just what I had to do. And from that first ep back, I think, it just worked."

Langbroek went on to appear in all seven seasons of the popular program, cementing her status as one of Australia's sharpest media talents. She now hosts HIT FM drive show, Hughesy and Kate, with comedian Dave Hughes, which she records in her new home in Bologna, Italy.

Langbroek moved to the city with her husband, Peter Allen Lewis, and their four children in January — a move she's since revealed was inspired by her eldest son's survival of childhood cancer.

"Our eldest son Lewis, who's 15 now, and healthy and beautiful, had leukaemia when he was six, and was in treatment for four years, and nearly died," she told The Project. "For so long we couldn't go anywhere, we couldn't travel anywhere — I mean we went to the hospital, we went home.

"There seemed something really life affirming about having an adventure together as a family."