But for Jessica’s TV sidekick and close friend Denise Drysdale, the announcement was far from unexpected.
‘We have no secrets, and yes we’d quietly talked about it. The truth is, Jess simply wants to spend more time with her daughters Allegra, 11, and Giselle, 8. She wants to do the school run each morning, and she wants to become a tuckshop mum,’ says the two- time Gold Logie winner, known affectionately as ‘Ding Dong’.
Denise says from the moment she joined the Studio 10 panel in 2015, she’d made a ‘friend for life’ in Jessica.
‘In showbiz it’s hard to make true, life-long friends. You work with someone, you might catch up for a drink, then it fades away when the show ends or someone moves on. I worked with Ernie Sigley for 30 years, we were like a married couple we were together so much for work. I love Ern, but we didn’t really socialise. With Jess it’s different. I’ve made one of the best friends I’ve ever had,’ confides Denise, 69.
Denise says another bond is their love of cats. Jessica has three, named Daisy, Violet and Alfie and, last year, she helped Denise acquire Sweetheart.
‘Jess’ cats are all beautifully behaved. But Sweetheart is a monster. She’s possessed and won’t let me cuddle her. Living alone, I’ve become so keen to cuddle something at night, I’ve just bought myself one of those snuggly things and I’ll cuddle that instead! Jess feels terrible my Sweetheart has turned out to be such a horror.
‘We’re working on a lifestyle podcast, coming soon. We just have so much fun together, it should be illegal!’
Read the full story in this week's issue of New Idea, on sale now.