The thrilling competitive sports show, which sees athletes pitted against a series of incredibly difficult obstacle courses, has been a firm favourite in Leila’s home since it first aired on Channel Nine in 2017.
“As a parent, it’s a great family show to watch,” she says. “I can sit down with the kids and relax. There are no bad things I need to keep an eye out for. The competitors and hosts have always been so nice.”
Leila even scored some “cool mum” brownie points when she was able to arrange for her little ones to go to Sydney and watch an episode being filmed.
The trip was a big adventure for the family, after Leila and husband, David Gyngell, got ahead of the recent tree change trend and packed up their brood to move to Byron Bay’s hinterland almost five years ago.
“It’s been really great living in the countryside and being able to give Ted and Gwen lots of space to run around and just be kids,” says Leila. “Although they are growing up to be a little bit wild.”
The difference in their lifestyle became very apparent when the primary schoolers joined Mum for her work trip to the big smoke.
“When they come to the city, they have no idea about how to act with people in big crowds or crossing the road,” she says.
Leila will be co-hosting for the first time alongside fellow newbie Jim Courier after previous hosts Rebecca Maddern and Ben Fordham moved on to other projects.
Luckily, Leila and the American former world number one tennis star immediately hit it off.
“We have a mutual friend in Pat Rafter,” she says. “We both asked him about each other before we met and got an OK rap. That’s really saying something as Pat is a tough marker!”
Leila confesses the Ninja hosting gig is a job offer she probably would have turned down just a few short years ago.
“Over the years, I have been offered a few different reality- or entertainment-based shows and I’ve always said no as I was very focused on wanting to do hard news,” she admits.
“But after almost 30 years in the industry, I’ve started to become a lot more open-minded. I’m taking myself less seriously and no longer feel the need to prove myself to be a hard interrogator.
“I’m ready to just work on a project that brings people a lot of joy and happiness after a tough couple of years.”
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