Pat Sajak will return to Wheel of Fortune at the end of the month. Sort of.
Sajak, who has hosted the popular game show since 1983, returned to the set earlier this month after undergoing emergency surgery for a blocked intestine. The 73-year-old host recently sat down with ABC’s Good Morning America for his first interview after the procedure, which is scheduled to air Friday morning.
Filling in during Sajak’s absence has been longtime cohost Vanna White, who switched from turning letters to spinning the wheel during the 15 episodes Sajak missed. White, 62, told the New York Post she had only one rehearsal before shooting her first show, which taped the day after Sajak was forced off by his health scare. She said she had to adjust her famed wardrobe during her stint as the show’s host.
“I didn’t wear any full-length gowns during the hosting days,” White told the Post. “The contestants are on platforms, some high, some low, and I have to take big or little steps and I didn’t feel comfortable wearing full-length gowns back there — so I wore cocktail dresses.”
White’s episodes began to air Dec. 16. For Christmas week, Wheel of Fortune turned to reruns from last season.
Next week is when things will get a bit confusing.
Wheel of Fortune tapes six shows a day — one full week of five episodes and a sixth that becomes part of another week of shows. The last week of December is one of the weeks when those extra episodes air, so Sajak will be back on the air the week of Dec. 30. But those episodes were all filmed prior to his health scare, so there won’t be any mention of his absence or White’s stint hosting the show.
White will then return as host on Monday, Jan. 6, where she’ll host her five remaining episodes. After that, Sajak wrote on Twitter that “the planets will realign, and it’s back to normal,” with the first episode featuring his return airing on Monday, Jan. 13.
Sajak and White celebrated their 7,000th Wheel of Fortune episode together back in May, and according to Variety, both are under contract through 2022. The show, which is syndicated across the country and paired with Jeopardy! in most major media markets, has averaged about 10 million viewers an episode this season, according to Nielsen.