Carrie Bickmore, Peter Helliar discuss their Project exits

Outgoing Project stars Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar teamed up on radio today to discuss their respective exits from Ten’s long-running current affairs show.

Helliar announced his departure from The Project desk on Tuesday, just two days after Lisa Wilkinson revealed she’d be leaving the show after five years, effective immediately.

He will finish up on December 7 – a week after Bickmore, the show’s only remaining original host, says her goodbyes after 13 years on the desk.

Speaking on the Hit Network’s Carrie & Tommy show (alongside remaining Project panellist Tommy Little) today, Helliar said he felt “amazing” about his decision to quit.

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“You make the decision, you second-guess yourself for a little while, and then doing it felt really lovely. Once I got the first few words out … I did think, ‘Why didn’t I put this in autocue? I thought I could riff this,’” he said.

Bickmore described the past few nights on The Project as a “mass exodus”, with viewers tuning in to learn of to one shock departure after another.

She was the first to announce her intention to quit back in early October, giving her a seven-week on-air victory lap ahead of next week’s final show.

She also revealed how she’d broken the news to Helliar and fellow Project mainstay Waleed Aly – and shared Helliar’s hilariously brutal response.

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

The three 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.

With three of The Project’s most recognisable faces on their way out, we do at least know one person who’ll be joining Waleed Aly on the panel next year: Longtime Studio 10 host Sarah Harris was this week confirmed to be joining the show in 2023.

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