Deborah Knight and Georgie Gardner on Today.
Deborah Knight and Georgie Gardner on Today.

‘It’s hurtful’: Georgie’s ‘lowest’ point

AN emotional Georgie Gardner has opened up about one of her "lowest" on air moments in a radio interview, also admitting the scrutiny that comes with her TV gig is "intense" and "hurtful" at times.

Gardner and her co-host Deborah Knight spoke candidly to 2GB's Ben Fordham on Friday afternoon about the uphill battle they've faced since becoming co-hosts on the Today show.

After Karl Stefanovic was axed in December and Knight was brought in as his replacement Today has continued to struggle in the ratings, with the show facing scrutiny over the lacklustre numbers.

But Gardner said it was a story in February that claimed viewers were switching off because of her that has been the hardest to deal with.

The claims were published in The Daily Telegraph and the newspaper later issued an apology and withdrew the comments saying it accepted the claims were wrong.

"I had an experience earlier this year that was pretty tricky to contend with - it's no secret, The Daily Telegraph writing outright lies about me," Gardner told Fordham.

Deborah Knight and Georgie Gardner’s time on Today has been far from smooth sailing
Deborah Knight and Georgie Gardner’s time on Today has been far from smooth sailing

"And coming in at four o'clock in the morning and being confronted with that was very tough I've got to say, probably one of the lowest times I've ever had while being on air."

Knight added that while the time had been difficult for Gardner it had acted as a turning point for Today as plenty of people came out to defend the TV host.

"We do have a really lovely core Today audience that I am greatly appreciative to and you're right Deb, people do come out and support," Gardner said in agreement.

"But there's no getting around it; the scrutiny is intense, and at times it's hurtful."

Acknowledging the show's slip in the ratings, both hosts said they were still surprised to see stories about Today still cropping up in the media.

"We're constantly perplexed because it's disproportionate the amount of rubbish that is written about the show compared to the people who are watching," Gardner said.

Gardner also defended the Nine's shrinking breakfast TV audience, putting it down to people getting their news in the morning from "many other sources".

"We know for a fact that sadly the audience numbers have dropped over time, it's a bit more fractured now there's so many other sources where people get their information," Gardner said.

The ratings have continued to slip since Karl Stefanovic was axed last December. Picture: David Caird
The ratings have continued to slip since Karl Stefanovic was axed last December. Picture: David Caird

"Gone are the days where the Today show just had the lion's share of audiences across all platforms."

Today's ratings have continued to struggle since it debuted its new panel to just 197,000 metro viewers in January.

Numbers dropped to an "embarrassing" new low in February, with only 168,000 metro viewers, a 10-year ratings low for the Today show.

It has also been beaten by ABC News Breakfast, a feat almost unheard of in the commercial TV world.

David Knox, from TV Tonight, has previously said Nine had an uphill battle on its hands but refused to say the show couldn't recover.

"Breakfast TV is notoriously habitual, and it would be easier to turn around the QEII than an underperforming show," Mr Knox told in February.

"Viewers are rusted on and do not like change. That said, Nine had to respond to a year of poor figures and bad headlines.

"The rapport between Georgie and Deb is good, and Tom's strength lays in live news reportage. Some viewers have questioned whether Richard Wilkins actually left the show, why Tony Jones is not sitting alongside the team and why Steve Jacobs isn't on the road more for weather. There is still room to tweak but Nine has to hold its nerve."