VETERAN TV presenter Sam Newman has been hailed as “one of the great stars of Australian television” following his shock decision to walk away from the program that made him a household name.
After a headline-grabbing 25-year stint, Newman confirmed on Thursday night that his time on The Footy Show would likely finish at the end of the season as uncertainty lingers over the program’s future.
In an emotional monologue, Newman said Channel 9 had not confirmed the show would be renewed for 2019, or that he would be a part of it if it was.
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“It’s opportune that I end my association with this show and the network on the off chance that this is the final show we do,” Newman said on the show.
Melbourne champion Garry Lyon, who worked with Newman on the show as a panellist and co-host for almost two decades, paid tribute to the 300-game Cats ruckman on Friday morning.
“A fanfare befitting of one of the greatest entertainers we have seen on our screen, where we celebrate him, we go back, we reminisce, we look at all his highs and lows,” Lyon told SEN Breakfast.
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Bec Maddern, who worked alongside Newman for two years, said Newman had been extremely supportive.
“My great friend Sam Newman speaking from the heart tonight. He IS The Footy Show,” Maddern wrote on Twitter.
“Some will find this hard to believe but he’s been my no 1 supporter from Day 1.”
Veteran Melbourne 3AW radio host and journalist Neil Mitchell said he didn’t expect The Footy Show to return next year and that the show couldn’t survive without Newman, who Mitchell said was one of Australian TV’s “greatest success stories”.
“It’d be a pity. I’d like to see Sam continue in some sort of role, maybe as a commentator,” Mitchell Channel 9’s Today.
“He is one of the great stars of Australian television, there’s no question. People mock him and bash him, but he’s a star. He’s one of the great success stories of Australian Television.
“Don’t underestimate him. He’s a lovely man; anyone who knows him knows he’s not the entire persona he is on TV. He’s a very good man, a very decent person and smarter than he pretends. He does a lot of good social work as well.”
Other former colleagues and on-lookers took to social media to pay tribute to Newman’s contribution.