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Karl Stefanovic’s return to prime time is a litmus test of loyalty

Under normal circumstances, this would simply be seen as the return of a show that was a success first time ’round. In 2017, when the feelgood interview program about people pledging to transform their lives premiered, it was greeted with enthusiasm.

But these are not normal circumstances and the second season could be viewed as one of the biggest risks of the year. When this local version of an English format debuted, its host, Karl Stefanovic, was one of Nine’s shiniest stars and the long-time co-host of the Today show had well-known aspirations towards prime-time.

But Stefanovic’s circumstances changed dramatically and very publicly. His Today show co-host, Lisa Wilkinson, departed amid a blaze of publicity in 2017. His 21-year marriage disintegrated and he was soon photographed enjoying the good life on a yacht with his new girlfriend. This was followed by their engagement and a big fat Mexican wedding, after which Stefanovic’s position at Today was terminated.

Through 2018, the morning show’s ratings slumped, with audience ambivalence about Stefanovic cited as a contributing factor. In the midst of all that came “Ubergate”, when he was recorded in a private conversation with his brother, sniping at his colleagues and bosses.

All is forgiven: Stefanovic is back in the Channel Nine fold.

All is forgiven: Stefanovic is back in the Channel Nine fold.

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