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Karl Stefanovic returns to The Today Show! The inside story on TV's biggest comeback

Karl is back – but this time, things might be a little different

By Helen Vnuk
All eyes will be on the Nine Network on the morning of January 6. That's when Karl Stefanovic makes his much talked-about return to Today, with his new co-host, Allison Langdon, by his side.
What will Karl and Allison be like as a team? Well, they might have given a hint when they got together in late November to shoot promos for the show.
"We didn't stick to a script," Ally tells TV WEEK with a laugh. "I think there were a few people upstairs slightly worried: 'What's going to happen next year?' But it was certainly good fun."
It's no surprise Karl and Allison are willing to toss away the script and joke around. The pair have a "really great, fun relationship" that goes back years.
"We were trying to work it out the other day… I think we've been mates for 15 years or something," Allison, 40, says.
"I was a producer in the newsroom when he was a reporter here, and he was the one saying to me, 'Look, why don't you get out on the road more and look at being a reporter?' He was really encouraging."
Karl's return to Today, after a year of Georgie Gardner and Deb Knight fronting the show, has come as a surprise to a lot of people, including Karl.
He revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald he didn't think the job would come up again.
"I thought my time was up, but then, when I was sounded out about it, it got me thinking," Karl, 45, said.
"It's a big job with enormous pressures, and I know only too well some of the pitfalls, but it's also without question the best live TV job in Australia."
Allison and Karl to host TODAY together.
Lisa Wilkinson, who co-hosted Today with Karl for a decade before quitting in 2017, told Hit 105 FM she didn't expect Karl to go back either.
"I was surprised, because he now knows what it's like to sleep past that 3am alarm," Lisa, 60, said.
"But he clearly feels there's unfinished business, so I can't wish those guys anything but luck.Allison is the eighth co-host Karl has had since he started on Today in 2005.
She comes to the show with 10 years' experience as a 60 Minutes reporter behind her, as well as two years' on Weekend Today.
David Campbell, who's been Allison's Weekend Today co-host for the past year, is sure she's going to give Karl "a run for his money".
"I know, from sitting next to her for 12 months, she's an incredible journalist," David, 46, tells TV WEEK.
"But also, she has one of the most evil senses of humour I've sat next to in my nine years of being at the network. So I think Karl's in for quite a wild ride!"
Allison, meanwhile, is full of praise for Karl, who she describes as "great fun", as well as "one of the best".
"That's what I love about him," she says. "He's the first to laugh at himself, but he's also a brilliant journo, so I feel very safe sitting in the chair next to him. We've got the big stories covered, and when the big news isn't breaking, we're going to be having a good laugh."
Allison and Karl are thrilled to be working together.
For Allison, 60 Minutes was always her dream job. But now that she's mum to Mack, nearly three, and Scout, nine months, with journalist husband Michael Willesee Jnr, the role on Today has a whole new appeal.
"60 Minutes has been the best job I've ever had," she explains.
"I've loved it. But what I did find, because I have two young kids, is that the travel, and not really knowing week to week what's coming up, became quite difficult. So this, an amazing opportunity, one of the biggest jobs in TV, sitting next to someone that I both respect and like, was a no-brainer."
The early starts won't be too much trouble for the mum-of-two.
"Our kids are up at 4.30am, 5am, anyway – they're super-early risers – so this isn't much earlier," she explains.
Allison with her family.
Being on Weekend Today has also helped her get used to that alarm going off in the dark.
"When I was feeding Scout, I would get up at 3.45am, I'd express [breast milk], then go to work at 4.15. I enjoyed that time before everyone arrived, just reading all the papers. So 3.30am starts, I'm kind of OK with. Maybe talk to me again in the middle of winter!"
Allison has been honest about how she found motherhood difficult at first.
She started dropping back into the 60 Minutes office when Mack was just two weeks old, because she was struggling with being at home with a baby.
"I think it's really important that we're honest about it and have these conversations," she says.
"I hated that people were saying, 'You're amazing! Look at you! You're back at work!' It's like, 'No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.' I did not have it together."
Allison says she didn't have it together.
She says still struggles with one aspect of parenthood in particular: the juggle between work and kids.
"How do you get to a point where you don't feel that the kids or the family are missing out, but that you're also giving it your all at work?" she asks. "That's a battle."
Allison has been married to Michael, son of the late TV legend Mike Willesee, since 2008. She says they're both home bodies, so they're not into scheduling date nights.
"I don't like going out," she explains. "Part of that is probably having been on the road for so many years with 60 Minutes. We're both into cooking. I'd much prefer to get the kids to bed and then we'll have a glass of wine and cook and catch up."
With Allison taking up the role on Today, the couple are set to be seeing "a whole lot more" of each other in the future. However, she does admit to being slightly worried about how that will go.
In the past, she's joked that the secret to the success of their relationship is that they both go on a lot of trips with their jobs.
"I've been on the road travelling since I met my husband, and it's worked," she says with a laugh. "You're always happy and excited to see each other. This could be the worst thing I've ever done!"

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