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EXCLUSIVE: Big Brother host Sonia Kruger talks age, career change and how her daughter is just like her

''I was really worried, like any mum would be.''

By Helen Vnuk
Sonia Kruger is running slightly late for this interview. But she has a good excuse. She locked herself out of her house, and had to go and get a spare key.
"I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, I've got to get up and back,' so now I'm like, 'I've done my workout for the day,'" she cheerily tells TV WEEK. "It's all good."
That's Sonia. Her energy and positivity make her the perfect TV host. This year, it feels like she's fronting everything – first, Holey Moley, then Dancing With The Stars: All Stars, and next up, Big Brother, with The Voice still to come.
"It wasn't planned to be like this at all," she explains. "I just didn't feel like there was anything I wanted to say no to."
With all that energy, it's hard to believe Sonia is 55 years old. She certainly doesn't feel it.
"Mentally, I still feel the same way I felt when I was 25," she says. "That hasn't really changed."
It's a lot of long days in heels for Sonia. (Channel Seven)
But she does admit to occasionally getting tired.
"Physically, some days, it's a struggle. When I've done a long day of shooting in high heels –after I've shot a big day of The Voice or a big opener or a grand finale of a show – sometimes the next day I feel like I've run a marathon and physically I'm a bit exhausted. But usually it only takes a day or two to recover.
"Really, it's the high heels. In my downtime, like right now, it's all about Birkenstocks."
Because shows like DWTS and Big Brother are now pre-recorded instead of going live to air, Sonia finds herself working long days but getting "big slabs" of time off.
As mum to six-year-old Maggie, with her partner, Channel Seven director of news and public affairs Craig McPherson, Sonia's happy about that.
"That works in my favour, because it does give me more time with her," she says.
Craig and Sonia conceived Maggie with the help of an egg donor. (Instagram)
Maggie, who was born to Sonia and Craig with the help of an egg donor, is now at school, and Sonia says she's "loving life".
"I was really worried, like any mum would be, about sending their little one off to big school, but she loves it. It's hard for me to get her home."
Sonia is seeing her daughter's personality change as she gets older. She used to think Maggie didn't really take after her.
"I thought she was a bit shy," she explains. "Then during Easter, we had family over. We were playing music, and all of a sudden, she just busted out this full-on dance performance.
Everybody looked at me and went, 'Well, she is just like you, isn't she?"
Maggie is Sonia's world. (Instagram)
As for whether Maggie ends up on TV like Sonia, that will be up to her. But if she does choose to go into the industry, she'll have a head start.
"She's getting a pretty good education in it because Craig works in news and public affairs, and I feel like she already understands a lot of television terminology. I think she knows what a play-on and a play-off is, and what a voiceover means. It's a cadetship via us."
Sonia's two decades on TV haven't been without controversy. She's been attacked online for things she's said.
"I think when you work in the public eye you have to have a fairly thick skin, because you're not going to make everybody happy all the time," she says. "And while I don't set out to offend anyone, I think occasionally that does happen."
Sonia can see a career change in her future.
She says she just tries to avoid reading online comments.
"While 90 per cent are positive, you've still got 10 per cent that you might want to avoid looking at because they can get inside your head and then it can make you second-guess what you're doing and how you are. If there's anything I've learnt about television, it's that you have to be yourself. The audience know if you're faking it."
One of the things Sonia loved about returning to DWTS was the freedom to be herself, alongside co-host Daryl Somers, on a "pretty much unscripted" show.
"Daryl doesn't work with an autocue," she says. "Most of it is just us riffing and adlibbing."
Of course, there were other attractions.
"Let me tell you, Tom Williams, he's still got it, man. He still looks so good, if not better. He's such a fox. Maybe I should stop now!"

As for Big Brother, Sonia is loving this season's housemates.
"The casting's really interesting from an age and diversity perspective," she says. "You've got people like SJ, who's 65. I find her to be very youthful in her approach to life and her approach to fashion. She inspires me from a fashion perspective."
She thinks older women have a lot to offer on reality TV.
"They have life layers and experience and depth. And that's not to say anybody under a certain age doesn't have that, but as you go through life you do gain some wisdom, somewhere along the line, hopefully!"
Sonia may be the busiest host on TV right now, but she doesn't expect to be in front of the camera forever. Looking ahead 10 years, she can see herself in a different role.
"I really feel like I'll still be involved, but probably – well, I'd say most definitely – behind the camera," she says.
Having worked with female executive producers on Big Brother, The Voice and DWTS, she sees her future with them.
"They inspire me because I think, 'There is life when you're not on camera.' I don't want to be clinging onto that forever, if ever. While they want me there that's fantastic, but eventually, I would hope that I would be able to make that transition to maybe working alongside some of those great women and helping to run those shows."

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