In the latest high-profile TV switch-up, an emotional Sonia Kruger told Today Extra’s audience live on air on Thursday that she’s called it quits with Nine.
“It has been an absolute blast but it is time for me to go and do something new,” she said, telling co-host David Campbell.
“You know what it is like … spread your wings.”
Campbell said he actually didn’t know what it is like: “I’m staying.”
Friday will be Kruger’s last day after joining the network in late 2011, and she promised Today Extra is “putting together something special to celebrate”.
“It’ll be semi-professional, hopefully.”
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) November 14, 2019
The 54-year-old has hosted the show since 2012 and also helmed The Voice for five seasons.
Campbell delivered a jokey line that seemed to reference Georgie Gardner, who refused to return to Today this week to serve out her time until Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon take over hosting duties next year.
“We are going to have a lot of laughs tomorrow and we are going to go out big. Or you just don’t have to turn up. It is one or the other. It is on you,” he said.
The opportunity to say goodbye bemused one industry source: “The big send-off is unheard of. There’s clearly no bad blood, which is a refreshing change.”
Last week a different source told The New Daily, “Sonia has been on a great wicket at Nine and she’s strong talent, but they wanted more bang for their buck.
“This will sound harsh, but it’s not like [Today Extra] is must-watch TV.
“Nine ultimately perhaps saw her as more of a liability and Seven helped them out by poking a carrot under her nose.”
Kruger’s exit stage left from Nine – which prompted Twitter comments including “good riddance” and “she should have been kicked off TV years ago” – has been TV’s worst-kept secret.
The network wouldn’t comment last week on reports she has been offered a more appealing deal by her old employer Seven, where her partner Craig McPherson is head of news and current affairs.
The pair share daughter Maggie, 4.
Despite her behind-the-scenes contract negotiations, Kruger was front and centre at Nine’s Upfronts presentation last month of its 2020 slate of shows.
TV Blackbox and The Daily Mail claimed she was wooed by a “seven-figure” three-year deal that trumped a new contract worth over $1.5 million that would have kept her at Nine until the end of 2022.
“I’ve got some great mates here at Nine, so it’s going to be really hard to say goodbye to them but I feel our paths will always cross in the future,” Kruger told 9Honey on Thursday.
She was quick to say those paths will be “at various events”, not on studio sets.
Kruger admitted “It’ll be nice to relax for a minute” but said it’s bittersweet saying goodbye to “our little family” at Today Extra.
“You do feel like you’ve developed a family. My work family. I’ll miss them.”
The star left Seven in 2011 after 14 years as the network, including hosting reality TV stalwart Dancing with the Stars.
If she is indeed returning to her old stomping ground, potential roles for Kruger at Seven include the hosting gig of its revamped Big Brother.
The former reality TV hit was bought by the network for 2020.
Kruger’s defection follows the Today upheavals which have kept breakfast TV fans fascinated all year, particularly Stefanovic’s Lazarus act.
The New Daily asked Seven last week if Kruger is heading back there but the network did not comment.