Georgie Gardner on the Today show. Picture: Today/Channel 9
Georgie Gardner on the Today show. Picture: Today/Channel 9

Why Georgie Gardner had to go

When Karl Stefanovic returns to Today hosting duties in 2020, a little over 12 months after he was unceremoniously dumped from the show, it will be alongside Allison Langdon, not his former co-host Georgie Gardner.

And there's a very good reason for that.

Stefanovic and Gardner only worked as Today co-hosts for a year - she was drafted in to replace Lisa Wilkinson at the start of 2018, before he was ousted that December - but many believed the union was doomed before it began.

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It was reported last year Gardner had earlier quit her role as the Today newsreader in 2014 in part due to Stefanovic's blokey on-air antics. She acknowledged the pair had had their "bumps" when she was announced as Stefanovic's new co-host on-air in November 2017.

"I'm assuming with you we pick up where we left off. That is me running amok and you keeping me in line," she said.

"Jokes aside, you know how much respect I've had for you. There's been a bit of conjecture over the last few weeks how we feel about each other, loathe each other," she joked.

"You know, we have had our bumps, we've had our laughs."

And there was more "bumps" to come as the unlikely duo tried to settle into co-hosting duties in the first few months of 2018 …

THE UBER-GATE SCANDAL

 

The loose-lipped brothers served up a PR nightmare for Nine. Picture: Instagram
The loose-lipped brothers served up a PR nightmare for Nine. Picture: Instagram

Stefanovic and Gardner's relationship suffered a very public blow only months into their on-air tenure last year, when an Uber driver leaked the details of an explosive, 45-minute conversation between Karl and his brother, fellow Nine personality Peter.

The private phone call in March 2018 as reportedly heard by the Uber driver while Peter Stefanovic and his wife - Today newsreader Sylvia Jeffreys - were in the back of his car late at night, speaking to Karl on speakerphone.

According to the driver, Karl vented his frustration at Gardner, who he accused of "sitting on the fence" and not having enough opinions. The driver told New Idea magazine that Karl became angry as he declared that she needed to "step up" if she "wanted to stay on the show."

It was a massive public scandal that only confirmed rumours of bad blood the co-hosts had always denied. Karl later publicly admitted Nine bosses "weren't happy" with him over the Uber scandal.

And viewers tuning in to Today in the immediate wake of Uber-gate to try and spot any tension on set may have stumbled upon the first sign of it in the most unlikely of places.

In a lighthearted segment about a sausage dog event in the UK, Karl jokingly refused to watch the footage after it was revealed that he'd been "savaged" by one as a child.

"You have to face your fears, Karl," newsreader Deb Knight told him.

"That's right, and that's coming up - don't you worry about that," Gardner responded pointedly, looking him directly in the eye.

When Karl continued to air his fears about sausage dogs, Gardner told him: "Well, it's probably about now I should call you pathetic."

 

'FRICTION' WITH KARL

All smiles — but Gardner admitted on-air there was a “fraction too much friction” between the two.
All smiles — but Gardner admitted on-air there was a “fraction too much friction” between the two.

By July last year, Gardner and Stefanovic were on a charm offensive, appearing together as guests on Hit Network's Hughesy & Kate show as Today's ratings slid. They were there to sell themselves as a harmonious duo - but they didn't do a very good job.

"There's a fraction of friction between you two," Kate Langbroek said to the Channel 9 stars.

"A fraction too much friction," replied Gardner.

"Is there too much?" asked Langbroek.

"Occasionally," Gardner admitted.

The pair were asked what they last fought about and Gardner said: "There was a bit of tension on our thoughts on Donald Trump.

"And then there was the time that you got a bit narky that I had a slightly bigger dressing room," Gardner said to Stefanovic.

"I had a full meltdown," Stefanovic joked.

Speaking about the infamous Uber phone call, Stefanovic said: "Georgie was so incredibly good about that … I thought she was going to hit me."

Gardner said she first learned about Ubergate when she read a vague story in the paper about a potential "war at breakfast".

"I remember thinking to myself, 'Gee, I wonder who that is?' And then it became apparent it was us," she said.

When Hughes suggested that Gardner "got off all right" in terms of what was said about her in the private phone call, Stefanovic awkwardly joked, "It could have been a lot worse."

GEORGIE 'WANTED KARL GONE'

 

Karl and Georgie when she was announced as his new co-host. Picture: John Feder/The Australian.
Karl and Georgie when she was announced as his new co-host. Picture: John Feder/The Australian.

After Stefanovic got the boot from Today just days after his Mexican wedding to Jasmine Yarbrough in December last year, more details began leaking of the alleged tension between he and Gardner.

The Sunday Telegraph talked to inside sources at the breakfast TV show who reportedly claimed the pair could not stand one another - with Stefanovic taking the view Gardner was "humourless".

It was then the senior executive detailed a promise that was reportedly made to Gardner.

"She signed on to the show after having been assured she would only have to do one year with Karl," they reportedly told the newspaper.

"After that, he's gone and Nine will recast and she will get to work with someone else."

In the lead-up to Karl's axing, Gardner allegedly met with Nine bosses and asked for her co-host to be dumped because of poor ratings and embarrassing headlines, according to The Daily Telegraph.

"Georgie simply demanded she won't work with Karl anymore," a Channel 9 executive told the Telegraph.

"She hates Karl and has done for a long time. They didn't like each other before she joined the show. Then the Uber thing tipped it over the edge. And then the wedding, she didn't go when she was invited. You'd think your co-host would support you by being there but Georgie can't stand Karl and has been waiting for this moment for a long time."

GEORGIE 'DISAPPOINTED' AS KARL RETURNS

 

Today’s ratings have plummeted further in recent weeks. Picture: Today/Channel 9
Today’s ratings have plummeted further in recent weeks. Picture: Today/Channel 9

With Karl and Alison Langdon taking over hosting duties in 2020, the current team including Georgie Gardner, Deb Knight and Tom Steinfort will be replaced, with Gardner reportedly returning to Nine News and Steinfort to 60 Minutes.

In a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald today, Gardner said she was consulted two weeks ago about Today's direction next year - "and naturally I'm disappointed with the outcome." She also took a swipe at the scrutiny she's faced as host of Today: "I have no regrets, even though the scrutiny and public discourse has been daunting and disproportionate. It's also at times been cruel."

 

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