The new line-up for Nine’s troubled Today have put on a united front, appearing together publicly for the first time in Melbourne ahead of Monday’s big debut.
Georgie Gardner was joined by her new co-host Deb Knight, newsreader Tom Steinfort, entertainment reporter Brooke Boney and sports reporter Tony Jones, with the cast posing for press photos after touching down in Melbourne on Saturday.
The Sydney-based program will relocate south for two weeks to broadcast from the Australian Open. A day of camera rehearsals is set for Sunday before the revamped show launches at the crack of dawn on Monday morning.
But there was a surprising absence when it came time for the group media photos. Despite flying down with the team, Richard Wilkins did not pose in pictures with the Today cast.
Since the addition of Boney as entertainment reporter, Nine has insisted Wilkins has not been replaced and that the pair will be “working together” as Dickie expands his role on Today Extra.
Putting to rest the rumours of chaos that plagued the program in the lead-up to the axing of former host Karl Stefanovic, the new team was photographed laughing together as they made their way through the airport. Later in the day, Boney shared photos on her Instagram Story of her new co-stars having a hit on the tennis court.
Talking about her new co-host, Gardner told The Daily Telegraph on Saturday the addition of Deborah Knight was not “tokenistic” and said she was “consulted, without question” about Stefanovic’s replacement.
The host also laid to rest claims of bad blood between herself and Stefanovic, insisting they had a “good chat” in the wake of his public firing while on his honeymoon.
“He and I have chatted extensively and there certainly never has been bad blood, despite what has been written, and there certainly isn’t now,” she said.
Rumours of tension between the pair escalated when Stefanovic was busted last year criticising Gardner’s on-air capabilities, with the conversation reportedly recorded by an Uber driver.
It’s controversies like this Nine bosses are hoping to avoid with the new look breakfast show — which will refocus itself on “news, information you can use and fun” under the stewardship of new executive producer Steven Burling.
But will the revamp be enough to win the breakfast show battle with Seven’s Sunrise?
We’ll find out soon enough.