Samantha Armytage leaves Sunrise after eight years as co-host

Samantha Armytage will step back as co-host of Seven’s breakfast show, Sunrise, in a “few days”, she announced on-air this morning.

After close to eight years in the top spot alongside David ‘Kochie’ Koch, seven years at Weekend Sunrise before that, and almost 18 years with Seven, Armytage will embark on new projects with the TV network, but will decide on her “next chapter” after a break.

Armytage was tearful as she made the announcement this morning

“The last six months of my personal life have been very bittersweet,” she told viewers, referring to her marriage, the death of her mother, and the end of the relationship with her agent, Nick Fordham.

“Some bits have been very happy, and some bits have been very, very sad. And I want to step out of this public world for a while and take some time and calm things down. Enjoy a bit of slow living and spend some time with my precious family.

“Now, I go out of this job at a time of my own choosing and on top of the ratings, which not many people in television can say they do.”

Sunrise has retained its position as the top breakfast program against Nine’s Today Show and Ten’s Studio 10, even as Nine reinstalled Karl Stefanovic and promoted Allison Langdon last year and Studio 10 put dancer Tristan Harris into the hosting role with Sarah Harris, following the exits of Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Joe Hildebrand.

In a statement, Seven said it has provided Armytage with its “full support”, and the host added chair Kerry Stokes and executive producer Michael Pell gave their “blessing” and “understand the decision”.

CEO James Warburton noted Armytage “has been an important part of the Seven team for almost two decades”.

“We will be sad to see her leave Sunrise, but completely understand and support her decision to step back for a while and focus on her family,” Warburton said.

“We wish Sam nothing but the very best for her break and look forward to announcing some exciting new projects for her in late 2021 and into 2022.”

Koch and Armytage presenting at the Seven upfronts late last year

A week ago, Armytage launched a podcast with News Corp’s Stellar, where she is a regular columnist. In 2019, she called for a boycott of Are Media’s Woman’s Day and The Daily Mail, claiming they published false stories about her personal life, and originally had News Corp’s The Sunday Telegraph on the list before deleting that reference.

Early last year, she criticised News Corp columnist Annette Sharp’s “consistently wrong” reporting – she had previously referred to Sharp’s “creepy, nasty, menacing and mean obsession” – while she was on sick leave from Sunrise.

A few months later, Seven, Armytage, and media personality Prue MacSween were threatened with Federal Court action by a group of Aboriginal Elders for “platform[ing] wealthy white women calling for a Stolen Generations 2.0”. A racial discrimination complaint over the comments were made in the Human Rights Commission, but settlement negotiations collapsed, leading to the proposed court case.

In 2018, the Australian Communications and Media Authority found the segment on Indigenous adoption was inaccurate and provoked racial contempt. Seven criticised the ruling, and instigated court proceedings against the watchdog, before ultimately backing away.

At the time, Armytage denied calling for a second Stolen Generation and added: “Media reports about this have also mentioned another segment I did, back in 2015, about bi-racial twins … My words may have been clumsy but they were certainly not racist.”

In the 2015 segment to which she referred, she said: “The Aylmer twins come from a mixed-race family in the UK.

“Maria has taken after her half-Jamaican mum with dark skin, brown eyes and curly, dark hair but Lucy got her dad’s fair skin – good on her – along with straight red hair and blue eyes.”

In response to her resignation, co-host Koch said Armytage has “been the rock of the program” ever since she joined, and “always led from the front”.

“Sam’s humour, work ethic and team first values have been an inspiration to us all. But now it’s time for Sam to put herself and Rich [her husband] first and we couldn’t be happier for, or more supportive of, them both,” he added.

Her future projects with Seven will be announced down the track, along with her replacement.


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