Veteran television host Samantha Armytage has quit her Sunrise breakfast gig on the Seven Network after eight years, telling viewers “the time has come for the sun to set” on her time on the show.
“I have always been very brave and fearless in my life and my career and this decision is no different,” the 44-year-old said, wiping away tears.
Armytage, who has been a Stellar Magazine columnist since 2017 and recently announced she was starting a weekly podcast, said “as many of you know, the last six months of my personal life have been very bitter-sweet, some bits have been very happy, and some bits have been very, very sad,” she said.
“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 Banjo [her dog].
“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.”
Armytage began her career as a news reporter in 1999, and joined the Seven Network in 2003 working in various news reading and hosting roles, eventually replacing Melissa Doyle as Sunrise co-host alongside David Koch in 2013.
In a statement, Koch said Armytage “has been the rock of the program and always led from the front”.
“Sam’s humour, work ethic and team first values have been an inspiration to us all,” he said.
“But now it’s time for Sam to put herself and Rich first and we couldn’t be happier for, or more supportive of, them both.”
Colleagues took to social media to congratulate her on her long career in television, including the ABC’s Michael Rowland, who wrote: “Congratulations on your great run in the crazy, unrelenting world of Breakfast TV … All the best for what comes next!”
Craig McPherson, Seven’s Director of News and Public Affairs said Armytage had been “a breath of fresh air to wake up to for eight years”.
“Sam carved her way through thousands of hours of news, issues, debate, the odd argument or two and a large dose of humour in her very own unique way,” he said.
“Sam can be very proud of what she’s achieved, and we all look forward to her next venture across the screens of Seven.”
Armytage married equestrian businessman and horse breeder Richard Lavender, 60, at his 40-hectare country property in the NSW Southern Highlands on New Year’s Eve, after announcing her engagement during the tumultuous COVID-19 lockdown last year.
She returned to her co-hosting role three weeks later on January 18, telling viewers the wedding was “hastily arranged” after her father Mac urged them to “just do it” with both parents being hospitalised with illness last year.
She told the Seven network at the time: “Dad said ‘just do it, for god’s sake, just do it,’ so we did it!”
“It was nice, there was 12 of us there, we organised it in three days and it was fun.”
Her father had had a stroke and recovered but her mother Libby, 68, sadly passed away in November last year.
In announcing her departure on Monday morning, she said this was a “chapter” in her life, “not the whole story”.
“My mother used to say to me, ‘edit your life frequently and ruthlessly, it’s your masterpiece after all’ … And that’s precisely what I’m doing.
“This is a chapter, it’s not the whole story, and I have a few days left to say goodbye to you all, for now.”
As to who will replace her, a few names are already circulating, including Sunrise colleague and newsreader Natalie Barr and Seven presenter Sonia Kruger.
The Seven Network said her final Sunrise show will be on Thursday March 11.