CELEBRITY

Karl Stefanovic and Richard Wilkins race for TV’s top job

Nine’s biggest names are eyeing off the vacant Ninja Warrior hosting gig
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It’s fast paced, high energy and brings ratings that make its timeslot rivals sweat.

But despite the success, Australian Ninja Warrior has seen its hosts, Ben Fordham and Rebecca Maddern, quit!

Watch: Watch Katie Williams take on the Ninja Warrior Australia obstacle course

Recently, Rebecca, 44, walked away from Nine after almost six years at the network, exiting following a lengthy contract negotiation. Reports indicate she and Nine “were unable to agree to terms on a new deal” for her contract.

Meanwhile, Ben, 45, announced his departure from Ninja in October.

Speaking exclusively to New Idea, a Nine insider reveals that the quest to become the rating juggernaut’s new host has narrowed down to a two-horse race between popular Nine personalities, Today host Karl Stefanovic and Weekend Today’s Richard ‘Dickie’ Wilkins.

Karl stefanovic
“This is such a huge opportunity, especially for Karl,” tells the insider. “He’s flat out proving he’s worth the big bucks they are already paying him, and Ninja would pad out his deal.” (Credit: Getty Images)

“When Ninja first kicked off, no-one wanted to host it! Now it’s become one of the big-ticket items for the Nine Network and everyone is throwing their hat into the ring – enter Karl and Dickie,” laughs the source.

The insider maintains Karl, 47, and Dickie, 67, are both hoping to front the program, given it’s ratings gold.

“This is such a huge opportunity, especially for Karl,” tells the insider. “He’s flat out proving he’s worth the big bucks they are already paying him, and Ninja would pad out his deal.”

However, Dickie “can’t be ruled out”, adds the source, due to his close friendship and excellent dynamic with Ninja’s commentator, Shane Crawford.

Richard Wilkins
However, Dickie “can’t be ruled out”, adds the source, due to his close friendship and excellent dynamic with Ninja’s commentator, Shane Crawford. (Credit: Getty Images)

The source notes that it could be a hard sell for bigwigs to lure in new talent outside of Nine, given two top talents have suddenly walked from the show, but hints it’s all to do with money.

“It seems Bec has done a ‘Lisa Wilkinson’ – she sent in her management to demand the big bucks and Nine bosses wouldn’t budge. She called their bluff and it didn’t work,” tells the insider.

Despite leaving her plum job, Bec will no doubt enjoy her three months of gardening leave before she likely turns up at a rival network in the new year.

Read more in this week’s issue of New Idea. 

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