TV

Who will be replacing Lisa Wilkinson on The Today Show?

It’s the most sought after job in the industry – so just who will be filling Lisa Wilkinson’s very big shoes on The Today Show?

By Bella Brennan

For ten years, the nation has woken up to the dulcet tones of Lisa Wilkinson and her wacky old co-host Karl Stefanovic.

From the outside, the pair seemed as solid as Richard Wilkins' hair-sprayed locks.

But behind the scenes, an ugly situation was unfolding as it emerged Lisa wasn’t being paid the same amount as her male co-host Karl.

Proving she’s every bit the inspiration we knew her to be, Lisa took a stand and quit over the unfair pay gap and is set to join the panel of Channel Ten’s The Project next year.

But as Nine deal with the fallout, behind the scenes there’s no doubt fierce negations are in place to lock down Lisa’s replacement, stat.

"There’ll be a lot of urgent meetings about this and I don’t think we’ll be waiting too long for an announcement to be made on who will be filling the seismic hole left by Lisa’s departure," TV WEEK's editor Thomas Woodgate tells us.

"It’s tough to know the timeline of something as big as this, but given how quickly it was announced that Lisa was heading over to Network Ten, I think within the next week we’ll hear news," he adds.

Perhaps the biggest question mark that remains is if Karl will even hang around, with reports he's keen to secure a slot on the 60 Minutes team and he's already been given his own show, This Time Next Year.

"I don’t see Karl leaving. Nine will need to think long and hard – but act quickly. It’s a combination of talent, experience and fan base that will be key to replacing Lisa. There’s a lot of negative press out there right now surrounding Nine’s failure to secure her, so they have to get this appointment right," Thomas explains.

And as Lisa is inundated with love and well-wishes from her dedicated fans from around the country, Thomas predicts the newcomer has a tough road ahead of them.

We'll hopefully know who Lisa's replacement is by the end of the week!
We'll hopefully know who Lisa's replacement is by the end of the week!

"The big question is: just who can replace Lisa? It’s not just Lisa’s journalistic integrity and experience, it’s the on-screen banter and chemistry she shared with Karl – which made them so formidable as a pairing – that will be hard to replace," he says.

"According to sources, contract negotiations have been ongoing for months, so I would expect that Nine would have thought – even if it was for a split-second only – on what the plan would be if negotiations weren’t successful."

"The smart money is on Sylvia Jeffreys and she’s definitely my front-runner for the role, but there’s also Deborah Knight, Georgie Gardner, Chris Bath, and Rebecca Maddern co-hosted Nine’s monster reality hit this year, Australian Ninja Warrior. What this does prove is there is a wealth of talent out there, but stepping into Lisa’s shoes will be no mean feat," Thomas reveals.

As we come to terms with our favourite breakfast duo’s surprise break-up, we round up the top five contenders vying for Lisa's job!

1. The shoe-in: Sylvia Jeffreys

Since re-joining the show in 2014 as newsreader Georgie Gardner’s replacement, Sylvia Jeffreys has fast become one of the stand-out stars of Today.

We already know she has great banter with her brother-in-law Karl Stefanovic and she’s often filled in for Lisa while she’s been away so knows the ropes.

After sharing her love story and eventual marriage with fellow Nine colleague Peter Stefanovic, the audience feels like they really know Sylvia.

The bookies' money is on Sylvia.
The bookies' money is on Sylvia.

In fact, Sylvia says she’s learnt so much from Lisa Wilkinson’s mentorship and the pair formed a close bond from the very start.

“On my first day [on The Today Show], I walked into my dressing room and there was a beautiful orchid from Lisa, just to say ‘Welcome,’” she told Sunday Style earlier in the year.

WATCH: A teary Sylvia pays tribute to Lisa. Post continues below...

2. The rising star: Julie Snook

Channel Nine sports presenter Julie Snook proved just how much she could hold her own when she stood up to newsreader Amber Sherlock back in January in what became known as #WhiteJacketGate.

Since then, Julie has won a whole new legion of fans and would be just the kind of fresh dynamic The Today Show needs.

"It’s been a big learning curve for me. It’s shown me both the good and the bad in people and shown just how much we can really come together. I’ve had a lot of support here at Nine," she told 9Honey of the viral white blazer moment.

"At the end of the day you just have to laugh it off, it was such a rare situation. There’s more to me than just a jacket, than just that incident.”

Julie doesn't suffer fools - a perfect skill for a breakfast host to posses.
Julie doesn't suffer fools - a perfect skill for a breakfast host to posses.

3. The (very) long shot: Samantha Armytage

Look, we know the Sunrise cash cow is more likely to give birth to a baby calf on live TV than for Samantha Arymtage to jump ship but can you imagine?!

It would be the biggest TV coup in recent memory and quickly brush Lisa’s shock exit under the rug. But something tells us Sam and her co-host Kochie are in it for the long haul!

4. The safe bet: Deborah Knight

With just a few hours’ notice, Deborah Knight was on The Today Show bright and early fill in for Lisa this morning.

And while Deb is a seasoned veteran who knows how to do the show with her eyes shut, the 44-year-old says she’s enjoying being the floating fill-in presenter across the network on shows like A Current Affair, Nine News Sydney and Today.

In February last year, Deb welcomed her third child – a daughter and said she was excited to spend time with her family.

“We’re just so thrilled to welcome another beautiful 
baby into our family,” she told Woman’s Day at the time.

5. The dream team: Lee Lin Chin

Again, this is a very long shot but who wouldn't want to watch a show co-anchored by Lee Lin Chin and King Karl?

The Gold Logie nominee is the unofficial queen of SBS (and Twitter) and boasts a stellar career in front of the camera including her role as lead anchor on SBS, the 2015 spokesperson for the Eurovision Song Contest and her hilarious segments on The Feed.

Her incredible outfits alone would be enough to wake us up each morning but sadly her mind is already made up.

"Don't worry, I won't be joining @TheTodayShow. If they can't afford Lisa, then they sure as hell can't afford me," Lee Lin Chin said on Twitter.

We would pay good money to see Lee Lin Chin and Karl work together!
We would pay good money to see Lee Lin Chin and Karl work together!

Here’s who Sportsbet have their money on, courtesy of sportsbet.com.au