Just what does it mean to host one of Australia’s most iconic Christmas celebrations? asks Freye Lowery.
David Koch, Samantha Armytage, Natalie Barr and Mark Beretta are the ultimate team. Their genuine rapport is evident not only on-screen as hosts of Channel Seven’s popular morning program Sunrise, but easily translates into playful banter off-screen.
Their genuine desire to work together means they are very excited to return as hosts of the Woolworths Carols in the Domain in 2016.
Broadcast around Australia on the Seven Network, Carols is Australia’s largest free Christmas concert. On Sunday, 18 December, thousands will gather to sing along to their favourite carols with Australia’s brightest stars. And this year the Sunrise hosts will be joined by what is tipped to be the best line-up of entertainers in the event’s history.
No pressure, guys.
While they’re more than comfortable in front of the camera, hosting a live event (and one that includes singing) is no easy feat, even for the professionals.
We caught up with the Sunrise team to find out why they love the Carols, why they so generously support The Salvation Army, and if there were any behind-the-scenes slip-ups…
What’s your favourite thing about Woolworths Carols in the Domain?
‘I love it when the Wiggles come out. And all the little kids, including my grandkids, dance and sing,’ says Kochie.
‘The funniest thing is looking into the audience when the fireworks go off. All the little kids are asleep by then on their parents’ laps, then the fireworks go off and they all jump up!”
‘And the parents are really happy with us…’ says Nat, ever so slightly sarcastically.
Has there ever been a behind-the-scenes blooper?
Judging by the immediate laughter from all four hosts, there apparently has been.
‘Well last year I got pooed on by a bat,’ says Sam. (Cue more laughter, especially from Sam herself.)
‘We’ll never forget that, Sam,’ says Nat. ‘You almost had to change into your third dress.’
In an attempt to offer praise, Mark says, ‘But the ability of you girls to move through the crowd and through the long grass in those beautiful frocks has got to be seen to be believed.’
‘And don’t forget the high heels Beretts!’ adds Sam.
What's your favourite Christmas carol?
‘I love the big stirring ones, like Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,’ says Nat. ‘I love it when thousands and thousands of voices just take off from the crowd.’
‘And yours!’ says Kochie. ‘You sing them all out loud.’
‘I sing them out loud. But the microphone is always off, which I request,’ retorts Nat. ‘But I like pretending that I can sing,’ she adds good-naturedly.
When asked by Mark to give an impromptu rendition of her favourite carol, Natalie graciously declines, intimating we’ll all just have to wait until the big night.
The Sunrise team are great supporters of the Salvos, especially at Christmas. As TV personalities you have access to many organisations; why do you love the Salvos?
‘The Salvos just do a fantastic job right around Australia,’ say Mark, straight off the bat. ‘There’s such a focus for the Salvos at Christmas time in making sure that desperate individuals and families get the support they need. And that’s something the Salvos do brilliantly. We love supporting them because it’s a great cause. Good on the Salvos.’
‘And that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it?’ says Kochie. ‘The Christmas spirit.’
Capturing the heart of The Salvation Army at Christmas, Nat adds, ‘The Salvos are always there to give hope where it’s needed most.’
How is Christmas celebrated in your household?
While all the hosts reflect on their Christmas traditions, Sam shares her amusing, yet iconic, Australian family Christmas.
‘We usually have a hot meal (of course) for lunch at my parents’ house past Wagga, which in itself is very hot. So it’s a very hot day,’ she laughs.
‘But we have a lovely day. It’s all very relaxing. It’s the average Aussie Christmas—presents in the morning, a big lunch and a sleep in the afternoon.’
It’s the expectation that everyone should experience a joyful Christmas that drives Sam’s support of the Salvos.
As the Salvos’ busiest time of the year, this Christmas an estimated 300,000 people in need are expected to seek support. It is only through the incredible generosity of the Australian public that The Salvation Army can give much-needed comfort and joy. This can be as simple as putting Christmas dinner on the table and presents under the tree.
In taking the stage for their third year as hosts of the Woolworths Carols in the Domain, the Sunrise team hopes everyone in the crowd, and those watching at home, join in the spirit of the occasion and have themselves a merry little Christmas.
Australia’s favourite carols
Carols in the Domain was established in 1983 by Robyn Ann Hobbs, OAM. Observing Christmas carol events from around Australia, Robyn wanted to develop a premier carols event for Sydney.
In its inaugural year, the Carols attracted 15,000 people and has been growing every year since. Tomorrow, an estimated 80,000 people are expected to attend, with millions watching the broadcast at home.