Viewers to 'boycott' Today after Karl ousts 'disappointed' Georgie Gardner

Gillian Wolski
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Viewers say they 'won't watch' Today after Karl Stefanovic's 2020 return. Photo: Channel Nine.

It’s official: former Today show host Karl Stefanovic will reclaim his plum role on Channel Nine’s morning TV program in 2020, alongside 60 Minutes’ Allison Langdon.

But fans of the show - nor ousted host Georgie Gardner - aren’t very happy about Karl’s big comeback, which was announced on Saturday.

After the news broke, many viewers threatened to boycott the program, saying they ‘prefer’ existing hosts Georgie, 49, and Deb Knight.

While Georgie herself, who stepped in beside Karl after Lisa Wilkinson departed the show in 2017, admitted the move left her ‘disappointed’.

He's back: Karl Stefanovic will return as host of Today along with Allison Langdon in 2020. Photo: Instagram/AllisonLangdon.

Viewers ‘won’t watch’ Karl

Despite the network’s hopes that Karl and Allison will revitalise flagging viewer numbers, they may face a hard sell with existing fans taking to the comments section on Georgie’s Instagram to voice their disapproval.

“I won’t be watching the today show anymore. I thought the girls did a great job,” wrote one supporter.

“I will miss this team, especially Georgie Gardner. I live in Central Vic and won't see her again!” said another.

“I'd rather have Georgie and Deb any day than Karl,” added one.

“I have loved The Today Show 2019 with you and Deb hosting,” wrote another.

“Disappointed. I liked both Georgie and Deb, prefer them. Karl’s had his time,” commented one.

Others were happy to see Georgie and Deb go, with one writing, “This is the best decision that Channel 9 has made in years”.

Deb (left) and Georgie with news presenter Tom Steinfort and weather presenter Steven Jacobs. Photo: Channel Nine.

Georgie ‘disappointed’ over axing

Outgoing host Georgie wasn’t afraid to share her feelings about being given the boot in favour of Karl and Allison, saying the move left her ‘disappointed’.

“I was consulted two weeks ago about the future direction of the Today Show, and naturally I'm disappointed with the outcome,” she told 9 Now.

Georgie, who along with Deb had been hosting the show since January 2019 after Karl’s shock axing, said she was ‘very proud’ to have been one half of the first female hosting duo in Australian breakfast television.

She added that while her nine-year tenure with the program had ‘at times been cruel’ she was departing with ‘fond memories’ and planned to return to her ‘first love’, news.

She went on to thank viewers for their ‘unwavering loyalty and kindness’.

“They have made my job more rewarding than they will ever know,” she said.

Georgie shared this candid moment with then-co-host Karl Stefanovic in December 2018, shortly before he was axed. Photo: Instagram/georgiegardner9.

Female co-hosts ‘didn’t work’

In a statement supplied to Yahoo Lifestyle, Nine’s director of news Darren Wick admitted that the female hosting duo was a ‘bold decision’ that ‘regrettably [...] has not worked’.

Deb will reportedly remain with the network and is expected to be in the co-host chair on Monday morning however Georgie will no longer appear.

It’s said that remaining Today’s entertainment reporters Richard Wilkins and Brooke Boney will stay with the show while newsreader Tom Steinfort may move to 60 Minutes.

The full line up of Today in 2020 ‘will be announced in due course’ with Karl and Allison ‘due to start in early January,’ according to SMH.

Karl’s 2020 comeback

Karl’s reappointment at Today is a massive coup for the controversial TV presenter, who was axed from his hosting role in December 2018 when his colourful private life - including a highly-publicised lavish Mexican wedding to second wife Jasmine Yarbrough - saw viewership nosedive.

In a statement shared with Yahoo Lifestyle on Saturday, the 45-year-old admitted he never expected to return to what he described as ‘the best live job in Australia’ - despite the ‘enormous pressures’ and ‘pitfalls’.

He added that while he’s ‘loved’ working as a reporter on 60 Minutes, he ‘missed’ his former role in live TV and considered it the ‘best way’ to use his skills.

Allison with her Weekend Today co-hosts, newsreader Tom Steinfort and entertainment reporter Brooke Boney. Photo: Channel Nine.

Allison joins Today

Karl’s new co-host, Weekend Today’s Allison Langdon

“There is a lot of hard work ahead but I can tell you one thing, it's not going to be boring! I love the unpredictability of live TV… and Karl,” Allison said in a statement supplied by Nine.

“Wind him up and let him go! I'm sure we'll butt heads, but we'll do it with a smile on our face. I just want to help our viewers get their day off to a good, fun start,” she added.

Karl said he was looking forward to teaming up with ‘confident, capable’ Allison to ‘fight’ to re-energise what is currently a flailing format with record-low viewership.

“The show and the audience make me feel alive. I'm up for the fight and I want to fight for our audience. Ally is her own confident, capable woman and I will be there to help her any step of the way but we are equals in this fight and I feel confident in our partnership,” he said. 

“We're both good journalists and we both love a laugh,” he added.

The pair will reportedly be based at the existing Nine studios before relocating to the new, multimillion-dollar North Sydney location next year.

Deb and Georgie hammed it up on the Today set. Photo: Instagram/georgiegardner9.

Rumours are true

The day before the Karl and Allison’s official reveal, rumours about Today’s future reached fever pitch when a TV insider predicted the show’s only road to success would be through a ‘complete format change’.

Former Studio 10 executive producer Robert McKnight made the suggestion on his site on TV Blackbox, tipping season pros Karl and Allison to lead a US-style opinion-charged program from 6:30am instead of the present start time of 5am.

“Producers have a chance to go in a different direction and engage viewers who have given up on the format,” he wrote.

At that stage, however, Channel Nine had yet to announce any firm direction for the show and maintained their ‘no comment’ response.

The Today show started this year off with a new-look panel. Photo: Channel Nine

Mr McKnight’s theory came after a smiley Karl was spotted suited up for a suspected meeting at Nine’s Willoughby headquarters on Thursday.

That same morning, talk emerged that the controversial TV personality would have to ‘sacrifice’ some of his current $2m a year paycheck to reclaim his top spot at Today.

And back in October, Allison was tipped to join the show due to her popularity with audiences, and the fact she hosted the network’s 2020 Upfronts.

Today’s radical casting switch-up earlier this year saw Tom Steinfort take over from Sylvia Jeffreys as newsreader, while Deb Knight stepped into Karl’s hosting shoes and Brooke Boney joined as entertainment reporter.

But despite the fresh line up’s initial promise, they’ve failed to resonate with audiences reaching its year-long plateau on September 23 when the program attracted just 169,000 metro viewers.

And last Friday, viewership sank to an all-time low of 155,000 in the five capital cities.

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