Seven has confirmed it has parted company with longtime host Andrew O’Keefe ending a 17 year relationship together.
It follows reports The Chase host is facing assault charges this week. His contract formally ended with Seven last year.
“Seven is of course very concerned to read the reports regarding Andrew O’Keefe. Seven has had a 17-year relationship with Andrew across a number of programs, although he is no longer with the network,” a spokesperson said.
“As this is a police matter before the Courts, we cannot comment further. The program hosted by Andrew, The Chase Australia, is not currently in production. The program is produced for Seven by ITV Studios Australia. Production will resume soon and a decision about who will host future series is still to be made.”
The versatile O’Keefe has been ever-popular within the Seven stable across The Chase, Deal or No Deal, Weekend Sunrise amongst other shows and known as a hard worker and team player. His shows have been key to the network’s success, especially leading into Seven News.
But Seven has also demonstrated considerable patience as O’Keefe dealt with health and personal issues, including halting production to afford him time to recover.
A year ago he said, “I’m not in the least ashamed to admit I’ve struggled at times over the last year with issues around my mental health, but thanks to the excellent support of friends, family and expert clinical practitioners, I’m in a very good place at the moment.”
The network also has a hefty stockpile of completed Chase episodes, but there is also no decision on primetime specials Beat the Chasers at this time. On the weekend the network denied O’Keefe was to be replaced, but that was before charges emerged.
Andrew O’Keefe is due to appear at Waverley Local Court on Thursday.
Here's a Seven O'Keefe departure package we prepared earlier.
Channel 7 needed a separate media release to carry O'Keefe's fawning, self-serving "spending more time with the family" paragraph. The one that comes after "Andrew made the decision to step away" and "focus on other projects".
Sunrise Executive Producer Michael Pell - perhaps with tongue firmly in cheek - put it beautifully. "Australians have woken up to his irreverent style".