Entertainment TV Lisa Wilkinson makes an impressive debut on The Sunday Project
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Lisa Wilkinson makes an impressive debut on The Sunday Project

The project
Hamish Macdonald with Lisa Wilkinson on The Project .alongside Hamish Macdonald. Photo: Channel 10
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Lisa Wilkinson’s much-anticipated debut on The Project on Sunday has been met with rave reviews.

Wilkinson made a highly publicised exit from her gig on Channel Nine’s breakfast show Today late last year, where she co-hosted with Logie-winning presenter Karl Stefanovic for a decade.

She jumped ship for Channel Ten after months of failed pay negotiations with Nine, after which it refused to pay her as much as her co-anchor.

And after a three-month break, Wilkinson returned to the small screen as a co-host of Ten’s popular nightly current affairs shows – joining Peter Helliar, Hamish Macdonald and Rachel Corbett on the show’s Sunday night panel.

“It’s so good to be here,” Wilkinson said as she opened the show to enthusiastic applause. “My apologies, it’s taken me about four years to get here but finally, I am here.”

Executives at Ten must be resting easy now, because Wilkinson’s debut was an unqualified success. Aside from receiving a hearty welcome from the rest of the panelists, Wilkinson also received a huge tick of approval from the toughest critics of all: online fans.

There’s no doubt that cool, calm and collected Wilkinson absolutely smashed it: reading the news, joking around with guest comedian Joel Creasey, and delivering a heart-wrenching story about the tragic death of a young woman with cystic fibrosis, four months before the birth of her first child.

In fact, Wilkinson’s cystic fibrosis report was so moving, she brought fellow panelist Macdonald to tears on-screen.

The resounding debut success must be a relief to the 58-year-old journalist, who told News Ltd’s Stellar magazine this weekend, “You are never quite sure something’s going to work, and that’s what makes a big change exciting.”

Wilkinson began her career in media at 21 as the editor of Dolly, so she’s used to risk-taking – not that joining a popular and long-running show like The Project is a huge risk for a beloved and seasoned presenter like herself.

And despite rumours that continue to float around regarding a feud between Wilkinson and The Project’s regular weekday co-host Carrie Bickmore, the Gold Logie winner was one of the first of many celebrities to offer her strong words of support on Twitter.

Other high-profile well-wishers included Rove McManus, Dave Hughes and, of course, Wilkinson’s husband – author and journalist Peter FitzSimons – who tweeted that his wife was “clearly loving every minute of it” and was “relaxed and happy to the Nth degree”.

Wilkinson will anchor Sunday nights and regularly join the panel on weeknights as well.

 

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