The Seven Network has confirmed it is parting ways with long time, game show presenter Andrew O’Keefe in the wake of domestic violence charges.
The decision comes after the Television presenter was charged with assault and had a provisional apprehended violence order placed upon him, after an incident involving his partner, Dr Orly Lavee on Sunday morning.
O’Keefe’s’ contract with the network expired at the end of 2020. Discussions had been ongoing regarding a renewal, however the network had been seeking assurances from O’Keefe regarding his mental health and ability to continue working without production breaks.
Seven confirmed the network’s decision to part ways with the presenter with a network spokesperson stating:
“Seven has had a 17-year relationship with Andrew across a number of programs, although he is no longer with the network. 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 still has to be made.”
Last weekend should have been a happy time for the O’Keefe family.
On Friday night, the extended family gathered together to celebrate a milestone birthday for his mother. His new relationship with Dr Lavee had brought much joy to his life, and it’s understood she had played an important role in helping him with his issues.
However, things turned ugly on Sunday morning when police were called to his home.
Despite his history of personal issues, O’Keefe has until now remained hugely popular at Seven. Sources within the network described him yesterday as a ‘brilliant’ performer, but someone who was always troubled. Much had been done to try and accommodate his needs and shield him from media attention.
Production on The Chase has been suspended three times over the years due to O’Keefe’s mental health issues. The most prolonged delay was for eight months in 2019-20 when the network went dangerously close to running out of new episodes and was forced to air multiple repeats each week to pad out the season.
The production delays combined with Covid travel restrictions more recently have led to popular Chaser’s, Anne Hegerty and Mark Labbett being unable to film new episodes of The Chase Australia for nearly two years.
The decision to part ways brings to an end a 17-year career for O’Keefe at the Seven Network. A career which would see him start out as a comedian on 2003’s Big Bite performing impersonations of quiz host Eddie McGuire. It wasn’t long before O’Keefe would himself enter the world of gameshows fronting the hugely popular Deal Or No Deal while getting to show his serious side co-hosting Weekend Sunrise for 11 years.
Since 2014, O’Keefe has hosted The Chase Australia for Seven, The evening quiz has proved too be hugely successful and provides a critical ratings lead-in for the networks 6pm news service. The format had proved so successful for Seven the network also commissioned a series of Beat The Chasers specials in 2020.
As revealed by TV Blackbox yesterday, the network currently has approximately six months’ worth of unaired episodes of The Chase which were filmed in the final months of 2020.
O’Keefe will face the Waverley local court on Thursday.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service 24-hour helpline 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732