Sam Armytage takes leave to battle health issues
With the fierce battle for the 2020 breakfast television timeslot barely begun, Seven's reigning breakfast queen Samantha Armytage has taken unscheduled leave from Sunrise.
The presenter went on leave last Monday after talks with Seven news director Craig McPherson and Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell.
In a social media post last week, Armytage said she had been laid low in recent months with a "respiratory infection" and was frightened by the coronavirus outbreak.
"Hi all, I'm taking a few weeks off work as I've had a respiratory infection - for three months - since the bushfires and it just won't heal," she posted in an Instagram story with an accompanying photograph showing the presenter, in woollen winter wear, with her dog.
"I DON'T have coronavirus but I'm worried I'll get it if I don't get better. Thought it was a good time to lie low," Armytage added.
Network sources claim the leave followed weeks of heightened tension on the set of Sunrise.
Armytage has missed about 14 days of production since the show returned to air for 2020 on January 6 and the absences have added to David Koch and Natalie Barr's co-hosting workloads. Koch has a four-day-a-week arrangement with the network.
In a prepared statement, McPherson yesterday said: "Sam, as we know, has been battling illness for months. We decided it best for her to take leave to rest and recover and come back 100 per cent, which she is doing.
"In regard to your question about a tearful meeting in my office, there were no tears."
McPherson denied there were issues between the castmates in recent months.
"The Sunrise team is very supportive of Sam's situation but like the rest of the world are far more focused on the coronavirus crisis and keeping Australia informed," he said.
Michael Pell did not return The Sunday Telegraph's calls for comment yesterday.
A month ago, Sunrise executive producer Pell denied Armytage's absences were due to her renegotiating a four-day working week.
Armytage's Seven contract lapses at the end of this year.
Originally published as Sam Armytage takes leave to battle health issues