No one was more shell-shocked after Samantha Armytage's explosive – and scathing – interview last week than her TV family at Seven, with a source telling Woman's Day she's left a group of outraged employees in her wake.
"There are a lot of shocked people at Seven right now – the fact that Sam had the audacity to say those things in that interview, talk about brazen," says the source.
"Clearly it's a blunt message and hint to Seven's management that she's starting to realise her contract is not going to be renewed on her terms. That interview was as good as an exit speech if you read between the lines."
And interestingly, not long after the article was published, Sam and Seven confirmed the news - with a statement explaining that she has decided to step away from her role as co-host of the popular breakfast talkshow.
So was the interview the last straw?
Sam, 44, raised more than a few eyebrows last week with her Stellar magazine cover story, in which she went on an extraordinary attack on the media industry and the people who work in it.
"TV isn't a place that's necessarily very healthy. It's full of sociopaths and narcissists – it can be a dangerous environment, let me tell you," she said.
She also hinted at her retirement and said she felt her "creative side isn't being used as much as it should."
Our source adds, "Some are rightly hurt to hear her say these things, especially when Sam has been one of the most protected at Seven and has been treated like royalty from the get-go."
"It's the ultimate slap in the face and it's an understatement to say things were a little icy on set Monday morning the day after the story went public. One crew member said it was like walking on eggshells!"
With many hurt by her comments, our source adds that Monique Wright, Edwina Bartholomew and Natalie Barr – who are all working mums – were left particularly stung after Sam spoke of her single days, claiming that more was asked of her than wives and mothers at the network.
"Sam had almost half of 2020 off air and who filled in for her? Monique, Eddy and Natalie – and they're not whingeing!" the source adds.
Knowing very well the ripple effect the story would create, Sam booked a last-minute trip to Tasmania to avoid the backlash, according to our insider.
She was also noticeably absent from Sunrise executive producer and former best friend Michael Pell's annual party on the Saturday night.
"It was a postponed Christmas soiree and everyone from management to the Sunrise crew were invited and were mostly all there – bar one," says our source.
"Sam conveniently declined the invite and instead chose to spend a romantic weekend away with her husband Richard [Lavender] in Tasmania."
With yet another change in her management after Nick Fordham dumped her at the end of last year, we're told Sam's pinning all hopes on accountant to the stars Anthony Bell to help her get to the next stage of her life and career – and that doesn't necessarily mean on TV!
With her new podcast, Something To Talk About, up and running, many believe she's ready to channel all her efforts into that while living the quiet life in the Southern Highlands with Richard, 61.
According to our source, the podcast could also be serving as a vocal warm-up for her attempt at securing a highly coveted seat on radio.
"She's made no secret she fancies taking over from Deb Knight at 2GB."