The ongoing soap opera that Nine’s Today has become has taken a further twist with reports that Deb Knight wasn’t network chiefs’ first choice to replace the axed Karl Stefanovic.
Over the weekend, Nine announced that Knight would partner with incumbent Georgie Gardner as co-hosts of the 2019 line-up that saw regulars Stefanovic, Richard Wilkins and Tim Gilbert all given the boot.
However, News.com.au is today reporting that Knight wasn’t the first choice to fill the vacant role.
According to the article, a “senior television source” claims the gig was initially offered to Nine’s Adelaide-based newsreader Brenton Ragless (left in main photo) who’d been filling-in on the show over the summer period.
“But he knocked it back for family reasons so Nine had to go back to the drawing board,” the source revealed.
Nine has denied the claims and has stood by its decision that Knight was the only candidate considered for the role.
Somewhat ironically, Knight’s first gig at Today was as the breakfast show’s newsreader before she was dumped for Sylvia Jeffreys back in 2014. Jeffreys announced she was quitting the show, but would remain with the network, just prior to Christmas.
Knight and Gardener will debut together next Monday as part of Nine’s Australian Open coverage and a good three weeks before the start of the official TV ratings period.
Nine chiefs will no doubt be hoping Today’s return will detract from damaging headlines that have centred on the show’s personalities, including Karl Stefanovic’s axing and brother Peter’s sacking.
Earlier this week, Karl was outed as having “liked” damaging social media posts that were uncomplimentary to Today and of Deb Knight’s appointment. Stefanovic later claimed the “likes” were the work of someone else after his Instagram account was hacked.
Media outlets have also reported viewers’ apparent dislike of Knight’s appointment, while others have suggested her promotion was gender based.
Regardless, all the news appears to be promising for a healthy 2019 for Seven’s Sunrise.