Truth about Channel 7 star’s shock exit from TV


Samantha Armytage’s emotional departure from Sunrise left fans reeling yesterday – but apparently the writing had been on the wall for some time.

The 44-year-old will step down this Thursday, after taking the Sunrise reins from predecessor Mel Doyle back in 2013.

But while her tearful announcement shocked many viewers, it came after months of speculation that Armytage’s days were numbered.


Back in December, Sydney Morning Herald columnist Andrew Hornery reported that “one of the biggest question marks of 2021” was hanging over Armytage’s head, and that “tensions on the set of Sunrise have been well documented, especially the deteriorating relationship between Armytage and her former bestie, Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell.”

Yesterday, Hornery doubled down on his claims, writing Armytage had been “at the centre of an internal storm” at Sunrise for months which had “split” the team and “divided loyalties”, leaving bosses “frustrated”.

RELATED: Sign Sam was done with Sunrise

He also cited sources who claimed Armytage’s relationship with fellow host David Koch was at an “all time low”.

Meanwhile, The Australian also revealed Armytage had been in “secret talks” regarding her departure for months and that her departure had been “weeks in the planning”.

Insiders were reportedly concerned about the amount of personal leave the TV stalwart had been taking and questioning her commitment to the job, with rumours previously swirling her contract might not be renewed.


Veteran media analyst and director of Pearman Media, Steve Allen, told he also believed the departure was a long time coming and not a snap decision.

“There was a lot of pressure on Sam since she came in – far more than her predecessor,” he said.

“The paparazzi chased her around trying to get inside her personal life, and it’s a tough gig when you’re in breakfast TV it seems, in that you get a lot of surveillance and commentary and probably more than half of that is unwarranted and unneeded.

“You need to be enormously resilient and a very strong person to withstand it week after week, year after year and in the end it doesn’t matter what you’re paid if it doesn’t make you happy.”

RELATED: Sam quits Sunrise live on air

Mr Allen said he wasn’t sure why Armytage seemed to have received harsher coverage than other breakfast TV stars.

“I don’t know whether the publicity hounds at the 7 Network pushed her forward more aggressively which therefore made her more of a target,” he said.

“It just seems that suddenly with Mel Doyle stepping away from the show and Sam coming in, there was a lot more attention paid to the person than to the job.”

Mr Allen said “unquestionably” some of Doyle’s loyal fans would have had it in for Armytage from the get go, and that the “personality cults” associated with the TV industry paved the way for trolling, coupled with the rise of social media in recent years.

“The world has changed a lot and people are far more prepared to say far nastier things far more frequently than they were even five years ago – it’s a very different age today,” he said.

“My perception was that everyone thought Mel was very wholesome and a real person, and she was never portrayed to my memory in that same kind of way Sam has over the period she was co-host of Sunrise.

“I think the next person who comes in will have a it a bit easier because they won’t have this very wholesome family person to be compared against – when you have someone who has been trashed for a period of time, when they’re replaced by someone else, the comparison is not as stark, no matter what people make of (the decision).”


So what does Armytage’s abrupt departure mean for arch rival Today?

According to Mr Allen, not much, with the program fronted by Karl Stefanovic and Ally Langdon lagging far behind Sunrise even after making recent inroads in the ratings war.

“Unquestionably a change like this is a big opportunity for Nine to wade in and ramp up competitions, cash giveaways, promotions and public relations to try and close that gap further – it’s the one opportunity that is going to come around for the next half a decade and they’d be crazy not to try to take advantage of it,” he said.

Mr Allen said David Koch was also on a short-term contract, and that while it was unlikely he would leave his new co-host in the lurch by departing in the near future, the powers that be would certainly be devising a “strategy”.

“They would be very concerned (about finding a replacement) … Seven has got to have a good strategy and they’ve got to work to protect their base – one thing about Seven is that over the decades they have always been pretty good strategists so they would be boardrooming this well and truly,” he said.

RELATED: Armytage says TV is full of ‘sociopaths’ and ‘narcissists’

“They’ve got to find someone with enormous emotional intelligence and somebody who is really empathetic and someone who can really pick up on an interviewees personality and foibles very quickly and therefore know how to handle them.

“So much of what Sunrise and Today does is live and there’s no second crack at it, so you have to have a really engaging personality with enormous reserves of emotional intelligence.”


Speculation regarding Armytage’s replacement is running rampant, with Sunrise’s long-time news presenter Natalie Barr emerging as a frontrunner.

Former weather presenter turned entertainment correspondent Edwina Bartholomew has also been named as a potential replacement, as has Monique Wright, the hugely popular host of Weekend Sunrise.

Meanwhile Studio 10 host Sarah Harris, who got her big city break on the Today show before moving to Network Ten to host the morning show, is also rumoured to be in the running.


An emotional Samantha Armytage announced she would leave the show that helped make her a household name on Monday morning.

She revealed through tears she had endured a “bittersweet” year following the death of her mother Libby and her marriage to businessman Richard Lavender on New Year’s Eve.

“The time has come for the sun to set on my time at Sunrise. I have always been brave and fearless in my career and this decision is no different,” she said.

“As many of you know, the last six months of my personal life have been very bittersweet. 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, my husband and (dog) Banjo.

“I go out of this job at a time of my own choosing and on top of the ratings, which not many people on television can say they do. I’m extremely proud of my almost eight years at the helm of Sunrise, my seven years before that at Weekend Sunrise, and my almost 18 years with the Seven Network.”

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