Comedian Peter Helliar is leaving The Project after eight years, following the resignation of co-hosts Carrie Bickmore and Lisa Wilkinson.
Helliar, who has held the comedy chair on Ten’s The Project since 2014, said he wanted to get back to his writing and stand-up work.
“All these things come in threes and it’s time for me to say goodbye,” he said at the end of the show.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while… People will dig into this situation however they want to read into it, but I need to create some space for some projects I want to work on.
“I feel like there are some new areas that I’m hopefully moving into next year and need to be present for…”
Last month, Bickmore, a founding member of The Project, announced she was leaving the Channel Ten show after 13 years.
On Sunday, the exodus continued as Lisa Wilkinson left The Project after five years, citing the toll of “targeted toxicity” on parts of the media she’s been exposed to.
“The past six months have not been easy,” said Wilkinson. “And the relentless, targeted toxicity by some sections of the media has taken its toll not only on me, but on people I love.”
Helliar, like Bickmore, said he wanted to quit while still loving the show.
“You said you’re happy to leave The Project while you still love it,” he said. “I still love this show. Really. It means a lot to me. It has done great things for me. I interviewed Luke Skywalker once.”
It now seems likely that the producers of Ten and The Project wanted to renew The Panel in the new year, though co-hosts Waleed Aly and Hamish Macdonald remain.
Paramount Australia’s chief content officer Beverley McGarvey said Helliar has been on Ten for 22 years, dating back to Rove Live in 2000.
“Pete’s talent at age 10 has also expanded behind the camera as the writer, director and star of How To Stay Married, which ran for three seasons, plus his comedy shows Skithouse and Cram,” she said.
Bickmore has confirmed that she will continue to host the national drive show with Tommy Little on The Hit Network, Carrie & Tommy for four years.
Bickmore said that quitting The Project was the “hardest decision of my professional life to make … but it’s time for a new challenge”.
“I’m going to miss my best friends in the office, the job itself which is just so incredibly satisfying, our amazing viewers who have been traveling for the last 13 years,” she said last month.