17 Nov 2004, 04:13:10 PM

Noni Hazlehurst, the founding host of the Seven Network's multi award winning lifestyle program Better Homes and Gardens, has decided to hang up her gardening gloves and oven mitts, and return to her career as an actor.

After her acclaimed performance on the Sydney stage last year in the David Hare play The Breath of Life, triple AFI award winner Noni has leading roles in three forthcoming feature films.

Announcing her decision today, Noni said she was very proud of Better Homes' enduring success. 'I've loved doing the show, and I'm grateful to the loyal viewers who've welcomed me and my family into their lounge rooms every week.'

'I've been lucky to work with some very talented and dedicated people. I've learned a great deal and I'll miss the team very much,' Noni says. 'But the time has come for me to begin a new chapter.'

Following ten years as host of a weekly television program which won five Logies, Noni is looking forward to performing, writing and producing again. And as a presenter and writer for Play School for 25 years, she is particularly keen to work again on projects for children. 'I'm ready to develop some ideas I've had simmering away for a while,' says Noni.

Speaking for the Seven Network, Chief Executive David Leckie paid tribute to Noni's outstanding contribution to Better Homes and Gardens. 'Noni's unique connection with the audience has been an important factor in the remarkable ratings we have enjoyed over a decade in prime time. She has been a great talent for the Network also as host of the Logies, Carols in the Domain, and many specials. We wish her every success and hope to work together again in the future'

Better Homes attracts more than a million viewers every Saturday night, and a recent special screened in its old Tuesday 7.30 pm time slot scored an audience of 1.8 million. Noni says 'Better Homes and Gardens has been an extremely successful enterprise and I'm proud to have been part of that success.'

Noni is currently filming in Sydney with Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Sam Neill in Little Fish directed by Rowan Woods.