Despite being part of the Sunrise team for almost two decades, Natalie Barr admits she was still “a bit shocked” to be offered the chance to co-host the breakfast TV behemoth.
After much speculation over who would replace Sam Armytage, the veteran news presenter has been officially unveiled as the woman who will be next to David Koch on the top-rating show.
“It all happened pretty quickly,” Barr told The Sunday Times.
“When you get that call, it sort of feels sudden, because I honestly wasn’t seeking it.
“So I thought, ‘OK, I’d better step up here.’
“Luckily, I’ve had quite a bit of practice, particularly in the last couple of years.”
The 52-year-old became a permanent fixture on Friday’s couch last year and regularly co-hosted with Kochie while covering the coronavirus pandemic.
And while her new role is one of the most sought-after gigs in television, it’s not the job she had set her sights on as a girl growing up in Bunbury.
“The newsreader job was my dream job, I couldn’t believe I landed it. I’ve loved every second of it,” Barr said.
“My nearly 20-year-old was 18 months when I started. It’s been my family for a long time. I’ve just loved it and I can honestly hand on heart say I’ve never sat there and coveted the job next to mine. So, if Sam had sat there for another 10 years that would have been great with me, too.”
Armytage came under intense scrutiny during her eight years on Sunrise and on Tuesday said she was taking a break with husband Richard Lavender to “calm things down”.
While Barr’s years in the media have prepared her for the spotlight, she admitted it will be difficult to ignore the increased “abuse” that is unfortunately likely to come with the territory. “This role does bring a lot of a lot more attention and I’m well aware of that,” she said.
“I’m trying to mentally prepare for that.”
Barr said she was “used to blocking people who are pretty awful” and had already turned off her Twitter notifications.
“Isn’t that sad that we live in a world where that’s the first thing you have to do?” she said.
“All those awful comments, that can be personal.
“I’m making a commitment to myself not to read any of those from now on. You think it’s sort of removed but some of that gets in your head.”
But Barr said it was a small price to pay for doing what she is passionate about and she is looking forward to sinking her teeth into everything the show throws at her, from controversial stories to big-ticket items and heart-warming interviews.
“One of the great things about Sunrise is that we don’t just cover the news, we go behind the news,” she said.
“I’ve travelled around the world, I have been to some of the world’s biggest news stories. I like to think that we bring heart, we bring the inside story to what people are feeling and I hope to continue to do that.”