Weekend Sunrise host Matt Doran engaged to Weekend Today producer Kendall Bora
It’s a scenario worthy of a rom-com: a television host falls in love with the executive producer of a rival program. But for newly engaged couple Matt Doran and Kendall Bora, marrying the fiercely competitive world of breakfast TV with a happy home-life is very much a reality.
It’s one of the hardest-fought battlegrounds on commercial television, so what happens when you’re the host of a top-rating breakfast show and your fiancée is the boss of your main competitor?
That’s the conundrum for Seven Network’s Weekend Sunrise host Matt Doran and his wife-to-be Kendall Bora, who is executive producer of Weekend Today on the Nine Network. In an industry driven by “exclusives”, competition for guests and experts, and those all-important ratings, surely it makes for tense moments when you’re effectively sleeping with the enemy?
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Bora laughs and reveals that it’s made worse by the fact she’s hopeless at keeping a secret. “I love stories and I love breaking news so I have to tell people not to tell me their secrets.” Doran, who also fills in on Sunrise during the week, is the opposite. “I’m the vault,” he tells Body+Soul. “I could be told the most spectacular piece of news and I don’t divulge it.”
While Bora jokes that’s often because her fiancé can’t actually remember what he’s been told, both agree they had to quickly establish a protocol around sharing information. To that end, they don’t discuss what stories they’re working on or which guests might be appearing on their respective shows – although, Doran, 38, still questions whether he was deliberately sabotaged by his paramour on one occasion.
“There was a big breaking story and I was madly chasing a guest for our program,” he recalls. “I’d had confirmation that he was happy to come on Weekend Sunrise but first he was appearing on the Nine Network. But from the moment he came off air, he was uncontactable…My allegation – which was fervently denied – was that he’d been held hostage at Nine so no-one else could have him!”
Bora, however, denies the guest’s sudden disappearance had anything to do with her. A rising star at Nine since she joined the network as a law graduate in 2013, the 33-year-old says that while the shows are competitive, she runs her own race. “I strictly try to produce a show that I like and not one based on what other people are doing,” she says.
Likewise, while she’s ambitious and has a “very clear idea of the career path I want”, she’s not clamouring for a spot in front of the camera. While the couple have different start times – on weekend mornings, Bora is out the door at 4.15am, while the punctuality-challenged Doran jokes that he rolls in to work at 6.30am for his 7am start – they’re driven by the same desire to increase ratings. As host of the higher-rating show, Doran admits that he feels torn when the rival Weekend Today does well. “When that happens, I’m both thrilled and devastated. It’s a reflection of the show and what Kendall has pulled together. But I don’t want to get beaten!”
There are benefits to working similar hours, though, particularly since their jobs rule out socialising on Friday and Saturday nights – a life-limitation that one of Bora’s colleagues took up with their mutual boss, pointing out that if her friend ended up a lonely old spinster, she would blame him.
That fate was changed when she met Doran in June 2019, though Bora says a relationship with someone in television was the last thing she was looking for. “I wanted somebody low-key, like an accountant,” she says wryly. “When a friend tried to set me up with Matt, I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ He’s just too good-looking and too charming.”
Their first meeting, with mutual friends, didn’t go well after Doran turned up late and ate all the pizza. His defence? He’d just returned from a long stint working overseas on stories for Seven’s now defunct current affairs show Sunday Night, and had to be lured away from his sofa. But the chemistry was there, and before long, Doran was finding his way to Nine Network’s HQ in northern Sydney to drop off lunch to his new girlfriend.
When asked what drew him to his now-fiancée, Doran lists her intellect, the rigour of their conversations, her international upbringing, and the empathy and resolve that he believes comes from her losing her father at the age of 18.
Meanwhile, Bora says she loves Doran’s ability to admit when he’s wrong, the love he’s shown in caring for his sick mum, and the effort he puts into making occasions special. She was particularly touched when, after dating for six months, he tracked down an old letter from her dad – via her mum, who he was yet to meet – and had her dad’s signature engraved on a necklace. She says such thoughtfulness and care made her realise he was a keeper.
Doran’s career has taken him from newspaper reporter to covering news, crime and public affairs on Network Ten, then to the US in 2015 to host true-crime program Crime Watch Daily, and he’s approached each role with the same level of perfectionism – a trait he also applied to his marriage proposal on New Year’s Eve.
After the pandemic thwarted his elaborate plan to propose on remote Norfolk Island, off Australia’s east coast, Doran tried to recreate a surprise in a Sydney hotel room. But when he was unable to get the video messages he’d gathered from Bora’s family to play on the room’s television, he had to call for help.“I was nearly having a coronary what with the tech issues, the excruciating minutes waiting for Charlie from reception, then trying to surreptitiously reach for the ring I’d stuffed under the mattress,” he recalls.
Fortunately, none of that mattered and Bora said yes. With most of her family living overseas, the couple aren’t sure when and where they will marry, though chocolate addict Doran is pitching for a wedding near the Lindt factory in Switzerland, where Bora grew up.
Despite working for the opposition, the pair say they have similar ideas about what makes good television and wouldn’t rule out working together in the future.
That said, Doran realises that could mean his betrothed would be his boss. “Imagine you being in my ear telling me what to do,” he says, laughing. “Actually,it would just be like any other day.”
5 tips for seperating your work and home life
While Doran and Bora’s “breakfast wars” scenario is specific to the TV industry, plenty of couples meet at work or while in jobs at competing businesses. Elisabeth Shaw, CEO of Relationships Australia NSW, has these tips for those who may find themselves with a conflict of interest.
1. Consider the implications:
Talk to each other early on about the risks of getting involved and the implications from the perspective of multiple stakeholders.
2. Inform the bosses:
Let your employer or HR department know. This may seem intrusive or feel premature in a new relationship but it’s advisable to disclose it to trusted people.
3. Set boundaries:
Know what you can/can’t talk about (though don’t let shop-talk define you). Assure others of the boundaries – and live up to them. Let your networks down once and it may be hard to recover.
4. Declare any conflict of interest:
Inform people at the beginning of conversations so it doesn’t seem as if you’re avoiding the elephant in the room. Use phrases such as “As you know, I’m dating… However, I have no knowledge of this matter.”
5. Be prepared for exclusion:
If colleagues want to draw a veil over your participation where there’s a potential conflict, accept that’s part of the deal. This doesn’t have to affect your career.