Allison Langdon has firmed as the favourite in Channel Nine’s hunt for a new host for A Current Affair.
After weeks of speculation, TV sources say Langdon – who has served as Today co-host for two years – is now the likely replacement for Tracy Grimshaw who recently flagged her retirement after 17 years.
It’s understood Nine is poised to finally announce the hosting change which comes after weeks of on-air trials and speculation about the ACA role which is widely regarded as one of the best jobs in Australian broadcasting.
Allison Langdon has surged to the front of the pack in Channel Nine’s search for a new host for A Current Affair
Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon have helmed Today for the past two seasons however Langdon is said to be keen for the ACA role
Amongst those also considered, Nine News political reporter Chris O’Keefe who hosted a trial episode in October.
Long-serving Nine police reporter Dimity Clancey was also believed to have been on the shortlist along with veteran broadcaster (and short-lived Today co-host Deborah Knight) and Today Extra co-host Sylvia Jeffries.
However Langdon remains the favourite despite the fact her departure would open up the co-host role on Today – a show which continues to struggle in its ongoing battle against with the all-conquering Sunrise.
This year marks the 19th year in a row that Sunrise has rated first in its time slot for the year.
Sunrise has also yet to lose a ratings week to Today this year despite the fact Nine has become increasingly dominant with its prime-time offerings like The Block and Married At First Sight.
Today Extra co-host Sylvia Jeffries (pictured with friends second-from-right) is also believed to be in the mix for the ACA job
Langdon (with son Mack) remains the favourite despite the fact her departure would open up the co-host role on Today
In fact, Today has yet to fully recover from its ill-fated experiment to have Georgie Gardner and Deb Knight co-helm the show from January to November in 2019 before both were unceremoniously sacked.
Today has not won a ratings week since that highly-publicised era which ultimately led to Karl Stefanovic being re-instated after a network-enforced hiatus.
However the subsequent partnership with Langdon has also struggled to make up significant ground on Sunrise which bolstered its stocks recently by confirming long-serving co-host David Koch has inked a deal that would see him though until at least the end of 2024.
Meanwhile the move to ACA for Langdon could see popular reporter and former US correspondent Amelia Adams – who recently took up a role with 60 Minutes – installed alongside Stefanovic on Today.
Former US correspondent Amelia Adams (R) – who recently took up a role with 60 Minutes – could potentially join Stefanovic on Today.
Langdon (right) was the eighth woman to co-host alongside Karl Stefanovic and has served two years on the embattled breakfast show
Adams tops a list candidates being considered for the Today role, with long-time fill-in Sarah Abo also reportedly in the mix.
Whoever takes up the Today baton, it would make them the ninth woman to serve as co-host alongside Stefanovic in 17 seasons of the breakfast show.
For ACA it will be the first new host since Grimshaw stepped in for Ray Martin in 2006.
Langdon could add her name to an illustrious list which includes broadcast titans like Martin, Mike Munro and Jana Wendt.
Interestingly, Langdon’s husband Mike Willesee Jr is the son of the late former ACA great Mike Willesee who hosted the program’s first three seasons and, later, a further five.
Langdon with son Mack and husband Mike Willesee Jr, son of the late Mike Willesee
Mike Willesee (seen here in archive footage) was the inaugural host of ACA and helmed eight seasons in total
Famously one of the highest-paying gigs in Australian TV – Grimshaw’s take-home reportedly swelled to $700,000 per year at the time of her retirement – the ACA hosting gig is also coveted for its relatively short work week.
Taking into account time spent in hair and make-up, the job only requires the host present in the studio just a few hours per day, five days per week – with generous breaks during the ‘summer’ and non-ratings periods.
Conversely Today – while also lucrative – is much more demanding on hosts, particularly women who require more time in hair-and-make-up and are often required to arrive at Nine’s studios around 4am.
Speaking with Ray Hadley about her decision to quit ACA last month, Grimshaw said said her time had come when a three-month break from the airwaves felt like ‘three weeks’.
Famously one of the highest-paying gigs in Australian TV – Grimshaw’s take-home reportedly swelled to $700,000 per year at the time of her retirement
Langdon could add her name to an illustrious list of ACA hosts which includes broadcast titans like Mike Munro, Jana Wendt and Mike Willesee.
‘I kind of knew at the end of last year that I was pretty much fried and I took three months off – and I came back after three months feeling like it was three weeks and I thought ‘I’m a bit cooked’,’ she said.
The host revealed she ‘forgot how to sleep’ over the last two and a half years while delivering information on the pandemic because she spent so many early mornings awake to keep up with what was happening around the world.
During the interview, Grimshaw explained why she opted to drop her retirement bombshell on air.
‘We kept it such a secret because … we wanted our viewers to know before anybody else and we wanted them to hear it from me and not hear it from maybe a newspaper or gossip columnist who was putting a spin on it,’ Grimshaw revealed.
‘And if you want to keep a secret, you tell nobody.’