Looks like In Gordon Street Tonight must have got the arse – how else to explain the plethora of Adam Hills projects in the UK at the moment? TV Tonight reported on Thursday that Hills is to host a new panel game for BBC Northern Ireland and that he’s developing a show for BBC Radio 4 (which airs multiple sitcoms, sketch shows and panel games each week). He’s also currently presenting a nightly programme, The Last Leg, about the Paralympics for Britain’s Channel 4, although he did find time to co-host the Paralympics Opening Ceremony for the ABC the other night.
Hills is well known and well-liked in this country on the back of his work on Spicks & Specks, and his show In Gordon Street Tonight looked set to be a hit purely because he was hosting. But after a second series which dipped in the ratings we’re guessing it’s been dropped, and Hills has gone off to seek work in the UK where he’s maintained a significant profile over the years by living and working there for part of each year. Hills may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s a popular Australian comedian that Australia doesn’t seem to have been able to find TV work for, and that’s kind of a pity.
The Last Leg (available to illegally download from various places) isn’t necessarily an example of a show which is a great idea, but given that it appears to have a budget of about £5 it’s not bad. It airs every night at 10.30pm following on from Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympic Games, and aims to take a lighter look at the day’s events.
As with In Gordon Street Tonight Hills has a co-host who sits on the sidelines and chips in with the odd zinger; that co-host is up-and-coming British stand-up Josh Widdecombe and he’s quite funny. Another regular on the show is sports journalist Alex Brooker, who’s part of Channel 4’s Paralympics commentary team; like Hills he’s a nice guy who’s mildly amusing. A regular segment on the show is an update on a bet between Hills and Brooker, who both have prosthetic legs, about whether Australia or Britain will end up with the most Gold Medals (the loser of the bet has to paint his leg in the other team’s colours, so that’ll obviously be hilarious). The rest of the show consists of daily news round-ups, amusing clips, a special guest learning a Paralympic sport (i.e. English cricketer Freddie Flintoff is taught blind Judo) and discussions on what is and isn’t offensive to say to about the Paralympics. That last one has its own Twitter hashtag – #isitok – although that’s pretty much the extent of the social media integration in the show.
Like we said, The Last Leg isn’t bad – although the small studio audience don’t laugh much at Hills’ jokes – but it’s hard to see why anyone in the UK would deliberately stay up to watch this (especially in the case of the second episode, which was delayed by an hour to cover Great Britain’s win in a wheelchair basketball game, meaning The Last Leg didn’t finish until after midnight). Late night comedy shows are traditionally a lot more edgy than this, while this programme with its lightweight discussions and feel-good segments wouldn’t be out of a place at 6.30pm. Perhaps Channel 4, like broadcasters in this country, are utterly paranoid about putting out something which will be offensive? Or maybe Hills is the wrong fit for late night British television, where comedy usually pushes it a bit further than we Australians would?
I will freely admit that Adam Hills makes my skin crawl, and when he has appeared on Mock The Week, you can almost feel every eyeball in the studio roll when he gets his artificial leg out. However, I had a look at this last night and it’s amiable enough. No, no one laughs at his jokes. He does go on a bit much about being an Aussie, but overall it was watchable.