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HomeNewsPeter Helliar leaves The Project: Comedian’s final show

Peter Helliar leaves The Project: Comedian’s final show

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Comedian and longtime The Project panellist Peter Helliar has bid farewell to the show, the third star in as many weeks to say their goodbyes.

And as expected there were a few barbed jokes at Helliar’s expense through the hour, with longtime co-star Waleed Aly back-announcing a news segment about footballer Cristiano Ronaldo by saying he had “barely worked and still got paid … They call that the Helliar Method, don’t they?”

And celeb tributes poured in through the show, including one from tennis player and disability advocate Dylan Alcott, who revealed he had Helliar to thank for his regular Project appearances.

“I remember the first time that we met: I went up to you and told you about my vision of mainstreaming disability in the media,” Alcott said.

“A couple of weeks after that, you and I were sitting opposite each other on The Project desk. You were the one that organised that opportunity for me.”

A less earnest tribute came from Rove McManus, who recorded his message from rehearsals for the AACTA Awards, also on tonight.

“Sorry I can‘t be there with you tonight. It’s just that you planned this the same night as the AACTA Awards. You IDIOT,” said McManus. “What were you thinking?”

Helliar finished the show with a speech that took in a few gigs at his colleague and friend Waleed Aly, with whom he’s always shared a dressing room: “I asked for my own but it wasn’t in the budget.”

He teared up as he thanked his wife Bridget: “My best mate, the love of my life.”

And he saved his final message to the audience, for “coming along for the ride” and encouraging them to “to get behind who sits in this chair (next year). Because the TV landscape is not as colourful without The Project in it.”

And Aly got his final “revenge” on Helliar, saying he’d been a fan since these days:

“We all have regrets,” Helliar said as he looked at the photo.

“I really enjoyed that moment of revenge … fantastic,” said Aly.

Helliar’s departure comes exactly one week after The Project’s sole original host Carrie Bickmore said goodbye to the show – and network – after 13 years on the panel.

And Lisa Wilkinson stunned viewers when she announced in the final minutes of the show’s November 21 episode that she’d be quitting, effective immediately.

Bickmore and Helliar opened up about their respective departures during a recent interview on her radio show, with Bickmore teasing her colleague about his blunt reaction when she told him privately she was leaving.

“I do remember the words you said,” she told Helliar. “You said something so quickly: ‘The show will be fine!’

They dissolved into laughter before Bickmore clarified that Helliar texted her later to explain the blunt reaction, attributing it to shock.

After the shock had worn off, Bickmore said she and Helliar had some “deep conversations” about their work / life balance, as he contemplated making the same move.

Both have children of around the same age, and both had felt the strain of being away from them most weeknights for over a decade.

“(Son) Oscar was three when I joined The Project – so I haven’t had those experiences I had (with his older children),” Helliar said.

But Helliar also reiterated that it was career, rather than family, that guided his decision to leave the show.

“But that’s not actually the primary reason I’m leaving – it is to create some space. There’s some places I want to go next year creatively that are completely new. I have to be present for that,” he said.

Amid all that staff churn, at least one new appointment has been announced for The Project’s 2023 season: Longtime Studio 10 host Sarah Harris will make the move to evenings, joining Waleed Aly on hosting duties on the desk.

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