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Sam Armytage quits: Sunrise host’s most controversial moments

She has enjoyed a successful television career for two decades, but Sam Armytage’s time in front of the camera is over – for now, at least.

On Monday, the 44-year-old tearfully announced her resignation from Sunrise live on air, after hosting Channel Seven’s top-rating breakfast show for eight years.

Sam has had a glittering career as a news anchor, but in recent years has become one of Australia’s more controversial TV personalities.

The highs and lows of Samantha Armytage: From the launch of her new podcast to getting cut off by Khloe Kardashian and being sued for her controversial comments about Aboriginal children… as she quits Sunrise after eight years

She launched her career as a news reporter at WIN Television in Canberra in 1999.

Sam joined Sky News Australia as a chief political reporter in 2002, then moved to Seven the following year and landed her first major presenting role.

In 2007, the 44-year-old replaced Lisa Wilkinson as the co-host of Weekend Sunrise alongside Andrew O’Keefe.

In 2013, Samantha was announced as a permanent host for Sunrise.

Adult humour: In 2013, Samantha was announced as the permanent host for Sunrise. But just one year after landing her role, the presenter was criticised for 'offending strippers' by joking about her new 'stripper heels'

Adult humour: In 2013, Samantha was announced as the permanent host for Sunrise. But just one year after landing her role, the presenter was criticised for ‘offending strippers’ by joking about her new ‘stripper heels’

Just a year after landing her dream job on Australia’s number-one breakfast show, Sam was accused of ‘offending strippers’ by joking about her new pair of ‘stripper heels’.

She was presenting a fashion segment called Sunrise Couture when she mentioned the crew thought her shoes looked like ‘stripper heels’.

‘These shoes are the choice for pole dancers all over the country,’ she added.  

Awkward: Two months later, the TV host found herself at war with Khloe Kardashian. Khloé was forced to defend herself after her appearance on Sunrise cut off while she was being asked questions about her niece North West

Awkward: Two months later, the TV host found herself at war with Khloe Kardashian. Khloé was forced to defend herself after her appearance on Sunrise cut off while she was being asked questions about her niece North West

Two months later, the TV host found herself at war with a Kardashian.

Khloé Kardashian was forced to defend herself after her appearance on Sunrise cut off while she was being asked questions about her niece North West.

‘We thought it was a technical glitch but turns out @Khloekardashian’s people pulled the plug after @Sam_armytage asked about baby North,’ Sunrise tweeted.

Khloé fired back, accusing Sunrise of trying to create a story out of nothing.

‘Why would I cut an interview short because of North? Get over yourself Sunrise… The call dropped. Stop reaching for a story. You’re so f***ing desperate!’ she tweeted.

Backlash: In 2015, Sam faced international backlash over a 'racist' Sunrise segment in which she seemingly congratulated a white woman on her skin tone

Backlash: In 2015, Sam faced international backlash over a ‘racist’ Sunrise segment in which she seemingly congratulated a white woman on her skin tone

'Good on her': During her interview, Sam introduced the mixed-race twins (pictured) from the UK separately, and appeared to congratulate one twin on her fair completion

‘Good on her’: During her interview, Sam introduced the mixed-race twins (pictured) from the UK separately, and appeared to congratulate one twin on her fair completion

In 2015, Sam faced international backlash over a ‘racist’ Sunrise segment in which she appeared to congratulate a white woman on her skin tone.

The controversial interview featured British mixed-race twins Lucy and Mary Alymer. Sam introduced them separately.

‘Maria has taken after her half-Jamaican mum with dark skin and brown eyes and curly dark hair, but Lucy got her dad’s fair skin – good on her – along with straight red hair and blue eyes,’ she said.

Dropped: In 2016, she was dropped as host of a UN refugee fundraiser over a cringeworthy segment with Sex and the City star Kristin Davis (left)

Dropped: In 2016, she was dropped as host of a UN refugee fundraiser over a cringeworthy segment with Sex and the City star Kristin Davis (left)

Samantha Armytage’s career

Samantha launched her career as a news reporter at WIN Television in Canberra in 1999.

In 2002, she joined Sky News Australia as a chief political reporter.

She joined Network Seven in 2003 and landed her first presenting role on Seven News the following year.

In 2006, Samantha replaced Mike Amor as presenter of Seven’s Afternoon News.

She then replaced Lisa Wilkinson as co-host of Weekend Sunrise alongside Andrew O’Keefe in 2007.

In 2013, Samantha was announced as the permanent host for Sunrise.

She joined News Corp Australia lifestyle magazine Stellar as a columnist in 2017.

In February 2021, Samantha launched her podcast called Something to Talk About with Samantha Armytage

She announced her shock departure from Channel Seven’s Sunrise on March 8. 

In 2016, Sam was dropped as the host of a UN refugee fundraiser over a cringeworthy segment with Sex and the City star Kristin Davis.

During the interview, Samantha donned a blonde curly wig to portray Sarah Jessica Parker’s character from the HBO sitcom, Carrie Bradshaw.

Kristin later complained on Twitter that she had not been given enough time to discuss her work with refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sam also ruffled feathers in 2018 when she took aim at George Clooney’s wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, over her post-baby body.

Entertainment reporter Angela Cox was in the middle of announcing that Amal had delivered twins, when Sam interjected: ‘Come on – I bet she’s already back to her pre-pregnancy weight today!’

Controversy: Last year, Sam was sued for racial vilification over a 2018 panel debate which suggested a second stolen generation was needed to help Aboriginal children

Controversy: Last year, Sam was sued for racial vilification over a 2018 panel debate which suggested a second stolen generation was needed to help Aboriginal children

Last year, Sam was sued for racial vilification over a 2018 panel debate which suggested a second stolen generation was needed to help Aboriginal children.

The Sunrise anchor, commentator Prue MacSween and radio host Ben Davis had taken part in the three-way discussion about Aboriginal adoption two years earlier.

The comments ignited protests outside Sunrise’s Sydney studio after MacSween said Indigenous children needed to be taken away from their parents for their own welfare.

Moving on: Sam tearfully announced her resignation on Monday, after hosting Channel Seven's top-rating breakfast show for eight years. Pictured Sam and co-host David Koch

Moving on: Sam tearfully announced her resignation on Monday, after hosting Channel Seven’s top-rating breakfast show for eight years. Pictured Sam and co-host David Koch

Sam, who joined Sunrise in 2013, tearfully announced her resignation on Monday.

She said: ‘The time has come for the sun to set on my time at Sunrise. I have always been brave and fearless in my career and this decision is no different.’

She explained she was leaving of her own choosing, and was looking forward to life away from the spotlight after a ‘bittersweet’ year that included the death of her mother, Libby, and her marriage to businessman Richard Lavender.

Sam’s last day will be Thursday.

Her announcement follows months of rumours she was preparing to leave Sunrise in order to spend more time with Richard, 60, at his country estate in the NSW Southern Highlands.

While Seven has not yet announced Sam’s replacement, TV Blackbox reports newsreader Natalie Barr will be stepping in alongside co-anchor David ‘Kochie’ Koch.

Sam’s contract with Channel Seven was up for renewal this year, with celebrity accountant Anthony Bell said to be in charge of negotiations, but the exact date her deal expires is unknown.

Next step: Her announcement follows months of rumours she was preparing to leave Sunrise in order to spend more time with her husband, Richard Lavender (right), at his country estate in the NSW Southern Highlands

Next step: Her announcement follows months of rumours she was preparing to leave Sunrise in order to spend more time with her husband, Richard Lavender (right), at his country estate in the NSW Southern Highlands

History of Samantha Armytage’s highs and lows

January 2014: Samantha is criticised for ‘offending strippers’ by joking about her new ‘stripper heels’

March 2014: Khloe Kardashian cut off her interview on Sunrise over questions about her niece North West

March 2015: Samantha accused of racism after appearing to congratulate a woman for looking whiter than her twin

February 2016: Samantha is dropped as host of a UN refugee fundraiser over a cringe-worthy segment with Sex and The City star Kristin Davis 

2017: She joined News Corp Australia lifestyle magazine Stellar as a columnist

June 2017: The Sunrise host ruffled feathers when she took aim at George Clooney’s wife Amal and her post-baby body 

March 2018: She is criticised for claiming at-risk Aboriginal children were only being placed with family members of other Indigenous families. The comments ignited protests outside Sunrise’s Sydney studio

June 2020: Samantha sued for racial vilification over 2018 discussion which suggested a second stolen generation was needed to help Aboriginal children

December 2020: The Sunrise host marries millionaire businessman Richard Lavender on New Year’s Eve

February 2021: She launches her own podcast – Something To Talk About with Samantha Armytage

March 2021: She divides opinion after claiming women are treated better in the workplace when they are married with children in her column for Stellar magazine

‘As many of you know, the last six months of my personal life have been very bittersweet. Some bits have been very happy, and some bits have been very, very sad, and I want to step out of this public world for a while and take some time and calm things down, enjoy a bit of slow living, and spend some time with my precious family, my husband and [dog] Banjo,’ she said during the show on Monday.

 

‘I go out of this job at a time of my own choosing and on top of the ratings, which not many people on television can say they do.

‘I’m extremely proud of my almost eight years at the helm of Sunrise, my seven years before that at Weekend Sunrise, and my almost 18 years with the Seven Network.’

Time to say goodbye: The 44-year-old, who was comforted by her co-host David 'Kochie' Koch (right), said: 'The time has come for the sun to set on my time at Sunrise. I have always been brave and fearless in my career and this decision is no different'

Time to say goodbye: The 44-year-old, who was comforted by her co-host David ‘Kochie’ Koch (right), said: ‘The time has come for the sun to set on my time at Sunrise. I have always been brave and fearless in my career and this decision is no different’

Supportive: Kochie said, 'Ever since Sam joined Sunrise eight years ago, she has been the rock of the program and always led from the front'

Supportive: Kochie said, ‘Ever since Sam joined Sunrise eight years ago, she has been the rock of the program and always led from the front’

Leaving: Sam was pictured leaving Seven's studios in Martin Place after Monday's broadcast

Leaving: Sam was pictured leaving Seven’s studios in Martin Place after Monday’s broadcast

I'm outta here! She looked calm and composed as she drove herself home

I’m outta here! She looked calm and composed as she drove herself home

What will the future hold? The presenter said she would be having an extended break before deciding what to do next

What will the future hold? The presenter said she would be having an extended break before deciding what to do next

History of Samantha Armytage’s highs and lows

January 2014: Samantha is criticised for ‘offending strippers’ by joking about her new ‘stripper heels’

March 2014: Khloe Kardashian cut off her interview on Sunrise over questions about her niece North West

March 2015: Samantha accused of racism after appearing to congratulate a woman for looking whiter than her twin

February 2016: Samantha is dropped as host of a UN refugee fundraiser over a cringe-worthy segment with Sex and The City star Kristin Davis 

2017: She joined News Corp Australia lifestyle magazine Stellar as a columnist

June 2017: The Sunrise host ruffled feathers when she took aim at George Clooney’s wife Amal and her post-baby body 

March 2018: She is criticised for claiming at-risk Aboriginal children were only being placed with family members of other Indigenous families. The comments ignited protests outside Sunrise’s Sydney studio

June 2020: Samantha sued for racial vilification over 2018 discussion which suggested a second stolen generation was needed to help Aboriginal children

December 2020: The Sunrise host marries millionaire businessman Richard Lavender on New Year’s Eve

February 2021: She launches her own podcast – Something To Talk About with Samantha Armytage

March 2021: She divides opinion after claiming women are treated better in the workplace when they are married with children in her column for Stellar magazine

She added: ‘My mother used to say to me, “Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It is your masterpiece after all.” And that is precisely what I’m doing.

‘This is a chapter, not the whole story, and I have a few days left to say goodbye to you all for now. I’ve spoken with our chairman, Kerry Stokes, to whom I’m eternally grateful for employment and opportunities, as with our executive producer, Michael Pell, who put me in this job. Both men have given me their blessings and understand this decision.

‘I want to say a very big thank-you to the Sunrise production team, the entire crew, who get up so early every day and put this wonderful show together. It has been a pleasure working with you all. And thank you for having me in your lounge rooms all these years. Now it is time for me to spend a bit of time in my own lounge room.

‘And after I take a break, and only after I feel refreshed, will I decide on my next chapter. Thank you.’

Emotional moment: Newsreader Natalie Barr embraced Sam during her farewell address. Right: Sunrise sports reporter Mark Beretta

Emotional moment: Newsreader Natalie Barr embraced Sam during her farewell address. Right: Sunrise sports reporter Mark Beretta 

Replacement? While Seven has not yet announced Sam's replacement, TV Blackbox reports newsreader Natalie Barr will be stepping in alongside co-anchor David 'Kochie' Koch

Replacement? While Seven has not yet announced Sam’s replacement, TV Blackbox reports newsreader Natalie Barr will be stepping in alongside co-anchor David ‘Kochie’ Koch

A Sunrise producer then rushed over with a box of tissues, and offered her a hug. 

Her co-host Kochie said: ‘It’s been a big year, hasn’t it? You’ve got to put yourself first. We’re going to miss you so much. It’s not going to be the same. Eight years.’

Natalie offered: ‘You know when it’s time. We wish you well.’

Sam also said that one of the reasons she resigned was because she wanted to spend more time with her father, Mac.

Stepping away: Sam explained she was leaving of her own choosing, and was looking forward to life away from the spotlight after a 'bittersweet' year that included the death of her mother, Libby, and her marriage to businessman Richard Lavender (right)

Stepping away: Sam explained she was leaving of her own choosing, and was looking forward to life away from the spotlight after a ‘bittersweet’ year that included the death of her mother, Libby, and her marriage to businessman Richard Lavender (right)

After Sam’s on-air announcement, Kochie said in a statement: ‘Ever since Sam joined Sunrise eight years ago, she has been the rock of the program and always led from the front.

‘Sam’s humour, work ethic and team first values have been an inspiration to us all. But now it’s time for Sam to put herself and Rich first and we couldn’t be happier for, or more supportive of, them both.’ 

Seven West Media’s Chief Executive Officer, James Warburton, also said: ‘Sam has been an important part of the Seven team for almost two decades, including eight fantastic years as co-host of Australia’s number-one breakfast show.

‘We will be sad to see her leave Sunrise, but completely understand and support her decision to step back for a while and focus on her family.

‘We wish Sam nothing but the very best for her break and look forward to announcing some exciting new projects for her in late 2021 and into 2022.’ 

Samantha Armytage’s career

Samantha launched her career as a news reporter at WIN Television in Canberra in 1999.

In 2002, she joined Sky News Australia as a chief political reporter.

She joined Network Seven in 2003 and landed her first presenting role on Seven News the following year.

In 2006, Samantha replaced Mike Amor as presenter of Seven’s Afternoon News.

She then replaced Lisa Wilkinson as co-host of Weekend Sunrise alongside Andrew O’Keefe in 2007.

In 2013, Samantha was announced as the permanent host for Sunrise.

She joined News Corp Australia lifestyle magazine Stellar as a columnist in 2017.

In February 2021, Samantha launched her podcast called Something to Talk About with Samantha Armytage

She announced her shock departure from Channel Seven’s Sunrise on March 8. 

Parting ways: Sam said she was leaving Sunrise with the blessing of executive producer Michael Pell (centre)

Parting ways: Sam said she was leaving Sunrise with the blessing of executive producer Michael Pell (centre)

Sam’s emotional farewell comes days after she said the TV industry was full of ‘narcissists and sociopaths’ – remarks which didn’t go down well with colleagues.

‘There’s a lot about television that’s all about you and that’s an awful way to live your life. TV isn’t a place that’s necessarily very healthy,’ she told Stellar magazine.

‘It’s full of sociopaths and narcissists. It can be a dangerous environment, let me tell you,’ she added.

She also said unmarried, childless women in television were treated differently and given more work compared to their married counterparts.

This comment in particular riled up Seven executives, with a source telling The Sydney Morning Herald: ‘Look at Natalie Barr. She regularly drops everything to cover a story with no complaints, and she’s got two teenage boys at home. Sam’s got a dog.’

Gossip: For months, it was rumoured that 2021 would be Sam's last year hosting Sunrise. Speculation was rife she wanted to quit TV and focus on family life with Bowral businessman Richard Lavender, whom she married on New Year's Eve (pictured on their wedding day)

Gossip: For months, it was rumoured that 2021 would be Sam’s last year hosting Sunrise. Speculation was rife she wanted to quit TV and focus on family life with Bowral businessman Richard Lavender, whom she married on New Year’s Eve (pictured on their wedding day)

Sad loss: The death of her mother, Libby (left), from an autoimmune disease in November had also made her rethink her priorities in life, sources said

Sad loss: The death of her mother, Libby (left), from an autoimmune disease in November had also made her rethink her priorities in life, sources said 

For months, it was rumoured that 2021 would be Sam’s last year hosting Sunrise.

Speculation was rife she wanted to quit TV and focus on family life with Bowral businessman Richard, whom she married on New Year’s Eve.

The death of her mother, Libby, from an autoimmune disease in November had also made her rethink her priorities in life, sources said.

She had hinted at her resignation in an interview with The Kyle and Jackie O Show last month.

Daddy's girl: Sam also said on Monday that one of the reasons she resigned was because she wanted to spend more time with her father, Mac (right)

Daddy’s girl: Sam also said on Monday that one of the reasons she resigned was because she wanted to spend more time with her father, Mac (right)

Sam told hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson that while she was still under contract at Seven, she hadn’t ruled out giving up her TV career.

She said she was ‘very happy’ in her job but could ‘easily’ see herself embracing country life ‘down the track’.

Radio host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson observed: ‘I get the feeling, Sam, that you’re going to give this up next contract or something. Do you ever see yourself [retiring to the Southern Highlands]?’

Sam replied: ‘Oh yeah, I think down the track I could, easily.’

Considered decision: Sam (pictured with co-host Kochie) had hinted at her resignation in an interview with The Kyle and Jackie O Show last month. She said she was 'very happy' in her job but could 'easily' see herself embracing country life 'down the track'

Considered decision: Sam (pictured with co-host Kochie) had hinted at her resignation in an interview with The Kyle and Jackie O Show last month. She said she was ‘very happy’ in her job but could ‘easily’ see herself embracing country life ‘down the track’

When asked if she would miss working in TV, Sam offered a thoughtful response.

‘I do wonder… there’s a lot of adrenaline in television. Anything that’s live there’s a lot of adrenaline. Sometimes I wonder… but by the same token you don’t want that adrenaline all the time,’ she said.

‘And you know, I’ve been a journo for 22 years. I’m very old.’

In December, Sam had furiously hit back at a report in a Nine-owned newspaper which claimed her position at Seven was ‘one of the biggest question marks of 2021’.

She denied she was leaving the network and accused the newspaper of doing a hatchet job on her because Sunrise had beaten Nine’s Today show in the ratings.

‘Good one, Channel Nine. If you can’t beat Sunrise in the ratings, invent a (bitchy) column for some Christmas “cheer”,’ she wrote on Instagram.

Denial: In December, Sam had furiously hit back at a report in a Nine-owned newspaper which claimed her position at Seven was 'one of the biggest question marks of 2021'

Denial: In December, Sam had furiously hit back at a report in a Nine-owned newspaper which claimed her position at Seven was ‘one of the biggest question marks of 2021’

Sam launched her career as a news reporter at WIN Television in Canberra in 1999.

She joined Sky News Australia as a chief political reporter in 2002, and jumped ship to Seven the following year, where she soon landed a presenting role on Seven News.

In 2006, Sam replaced Mike Amor as anchor of Seven’s Afternoon News. A year later, she replaced Lisa Wilkinson on Weekend Sunrise alongside Andrew O’Keefe.

She was announced as a co-host on Sunrise in 2013, replacing Melissa Doyle – who insisted she was ‘stepping down’ but was widely rumoured to have been sacked.

Outside of the Seven Network, she became a weekly columnist for News Corp’s Stellar magazine in 2017. 

In February this year, Sam launched her podcast called Something to Talk About with Samantha Armytage, in partnership with Stellar. 

Over and out: Sam manoeuvred around paparazzi as she drove out of Seven's headquarters in Martin Place

Over and out: Sam manoeuvred around paparazzi as she drove out of Seven’s headquarters in Martin Place

 

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