And another one’s gone: Peter Helliar the latest to quit The Project

And then there was one – only Waleed Aly will remain at <i>The Project</i>.

And then there was one – only Waleed Aly will remain at The Project. Photo: Twitter/Ten

The Project has lost its third long-time host in a matter of weeks, with Peter Helliar announcing on-air that he is calling it quits.

Helliar made his announcement on Tuesday night, citing other work commitments for his decision to join Lisa Wilkinson and Carrie Bickmore in exiting Network Ten’s flagship current affairs show.

“It’s been something on my mind for a while. People will read into the situation however they want to read into it but I feel like I need to create some space for some projects that I want to work on,” he said.

“I still love the show. I really do. It means a lot to me. It’s done amazing things for me.

“I interviewed Luke Skywalker once. And that meant a lot. And I look forward to see what the show is in the future.”

Helliar has been a Project co-host since 2014.

“I’ve been able to juggle over the years. You guys have seen me do How to Stay Married and stand-up and books over the years, but I feel like there are some new areas that I’m going into hopefully next year that I need to be present for,” he said.

Watch Peter Helliar's surprise announcement

Source: Twitter/The Project

His decision, which came just two days after Wilkinson’s own bombshell, leaves Waleed Aly and Steve Price as the show’s remaining regulars.

“I’m pretty sure there are no more announcements and I can’t wait to see what you and Kyle and Jackie O do with the show next year,” he said to Aly.

“[But] there are things I want to do. I need to put more effort into my OnlyFans account.”

An emotional Bickmore paid tribute to Helliar, with whom she has worked for about 17 years.

“It’s going be a very sad for the next few weeks because yeah, we’ve been doing it together for a while now,” she said.

“I’m blessed to call you one of my great mates and this is not goodbye because we see each other outside of work. But the desk will miss you, our viewers will miss you. Not just your humour, but your amazing interviews over the years.”

Paramount Australia and New Zealand executive vice president and chief content officer Beverley McGarvey said Helliar had “been part of the Ten family for 22 years”.

“We all remember Pete delivering his comedic brilliance on Rove Live back in 2000, but also his role on the much-loved AFL show, Before The Game, where his alter ego Strauchanie was born.

“Pete’s talent at 10 has also extended behind the camera as writer, director and star of How To Stay Married, which ran for three seasons, plus his comedy shows Skithouse and Cram.”

Ms McGarvey said Helliar was one of Australia’s “most loved and respected comedians” and it was amazing “that we have been lucky enough to have him sit at The Project desk four days a week”.

“Pete has made the decision to take more time to dedicate to his first loves – writing and stand-up – and we look forward to our continuing relationship,” she said.

Helliar will finish at The Project in two weeks. Wilkinson finishes next week, while Bickmore will present her last show at the end of the month.

The show’s producers are yet to announce who will take over from the departing trio.

Wilkinson, who has spent five years on the Network Ten show, told viewers on Sunday night she was ready to “reprioritise a few things in my life”. She cited a difficult past six months marked by “relentless, targeted toxicity”.

Wilkinson, who joined the program after 15 years on Nine’s flagship breakfast program The Today Show, said it was time for a change but assured she would remain with Ten in another capacity.

“I have had a ball. But for me, right now, it’s time for a change,” she said.

“The last six months have not been easy, and the relentless targeted toxicity by some sections of the media has taken a toll not just on me, but on people I love.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not above criticism, far from it. I’m human, and I don’t always get it right. None of us do.”

The round of TV departures doesn’t stop at Ten.

Earlier this year, Leigh Sales ended her 12-year tenure as host of the ABC’s 7:30, followed shortly after by the shock on-air announcement of Nine’s A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw that she was leaving the program she had led for 17 years. Grimshaw finishes at ACA this week.

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