The Project host Carrie Bickmore returned to our screens earlier this month after maternity leave. But while fans were excited to see the new mum of three back on TV again, the 38-year-old could be struggling to re-establish her position as ‘top host’, with Lisa Wilkinson, 59, securing A-grade interviews while she’s been away.
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Last week, Lisa’s The Sunday Project sit-down with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – and the tough questions she put to the country’s leader – appear to have made her the audience favourite. But the interview was described as 'awkward' as the host was accused of desperately trying to score credibility points.
"You've described Scott Morrison's stance on deportations as 'corrosive'," Lisa said bluntly during the interview, before things got increasingly edgy, with Adern forced to defend herself about her positions and relationship with the Australian government.
It was far from the cozy, back-slapping sisterly chat that many were expecting, after the gushing praise the show had heaped on Adern for her handling of the Christchurch massacre.
With the interview making a mark for Lisa - for better or for worse - another of Carrie’s The Project co-hosts, Peter Helliar, 44, joked that “baby brain” had led her to make an on-air mistake.
“You’re still getting yourself back into it … I’ll take it from here, Carrie,” Pete quipped, adding to the sometimes embarrassing air on the show.
But while they were just having a laugh, there are concerns that the friendly competition between Lisa and Carrie could turn into serious rivalry.
"They are both very serious about their careers, and while everything is friendly between them, and very professional, it's hard to believe that either of them want to live in the other's shadow," says a source.
WATCH: Carrie Bickmore makes big TV return