Georgie Gardner replaces Lisa Wilkinson as Today Show co-host

Nine has finally announced the replacement for long-standing Today Show host Lisa Wilkinson, with Georgie Gardner to join the team alongside Karl Stefanovic next year.

It comes after Wilkinson abruptly departed the broadcaster, after the two parties were unable to reach an agreement.

Less than an hour after announcing her departure from Today, Wilkinson defected to Ten, where she will co-host The Project alongside Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly, as well as host the Sunday edition of the show.

Following Wilkinson’s departure, there was widespread scrutiny after speculation emerged she had walked due to the gender pay gap. Nine CEO Hugh Marks hit back at the time arguing negotiations fell apart because Wilkinson refused to sign an exclusive contract, which restricted the network’s ability to use her across Nine’s digital assets. Stefanovic is also the host of This Time Next Year.

Gardner’s appointment sees her return to the Today Show, which she left in 2014 to spend time with family. She has spent the past three years as Nine Network’s weekend newsreader. According to The Australian, Nine has offered Gardner a contract worth at least $750,000 a year. Stefanovic is reportedly paid $2m for all his commitments with the network.

Gardner told 9Honey when the opportunity to return to the breakfast program presented itself, she had to grab onto it – despite the challenges she may face.

“One could feel somewhat intimidated when I consider the women who have gone before me and the legacy they leave. Lisa, Jessica, Tracy, Liz…all fabulous, strong, intelligent women who I hold in the highest of regard both professionally and personally,” she told 9Honey.

“If I can connect with the Today audience to the same degree they all have, in their unique styles, then I’ll be enormously satisfied.”

Nine Network director of morning television, Mark Calvert, was full of praise, telling 9Honey there’s no better person on Australian TV than Gardner.

“Ever since she left, viewers have been asking me when she’s coming back. Well here she is, and I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Wilkinson was quick to congratulate her former colleague on Twitter.

The ratings battle between Today and Sunrise. Source: OzTAM’s overnight preliminary metro ratings


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