It’s barely a month since we wrapped up 2021 in the company of Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker, so you can be forgiven for being surprised that the curtain’s going up on the edgy topical chat show’s 25th series.
There will be cake and candles later this year as it celebrates its 10th anniversary in August, and rather sweetly, host Adam is still amazed at the show’s success.
“We never thought The Last Leg would become a series,” he says. “It just felt so intrinsically tied to the Paralympics that there’s no way it would survive on its own. When Channel 4 said they wanted to keep it going, but for it to be a topical show, we were really hesitant. We just thought we’d give it a crack and see what happened.
“Now, it’s become a regular thing, and it’s also broadcast in Australia, which is something I love.”
Fans of The Last Leg – and there are lots of them – eagerly lap up the bewitching blend of so-sharp-it-might-cut-itself comedy, social commentary, celebrity guests and sheer smarts that put it head and shoulders above the average chat show.
For newcomers, a quick round-up: Adam is Australian and famously described the show as “three guys with four legs talking about the week” (he was born with no right foot and Brooker’s right leg was amputated in infancy).
They and Josh riffle through the stories that caught their eye over the week, joined by celebrity guests, who add their take.
They have included the usual raft of comedy panel show stalwarts such as Aisling Bea, the much-missed Sean Lock, James Acaster and Sue Perkins, though occasionally the odd politician pops their head above the parapet, with Ed Milliband and Nick Clegg among the most notable names.
The brains behind The Last Leg have also been smart enough to recognise the show’s power, particularly when it comes to providing a platform for disabled people.
Adam once quipped: “If the Paralympics is covered well, it can change the way Jim Davidson looks at and treats people with disabilities”. He proved his point when the trio decamped to Brazil for the 2016 and Tokyo for the most recent Paralympic Games, where nightly live shows chewed over each day’s action, winning a new army of fans and admirers.
They’ve also dabbled in Top Gear-style waters, going Down Under and travelling into the wild and harsh terrain of the Australian Outback, and been vocal parts of Channel 4’s Stand Up to Cancer campaigns. Plus, like the rest of the world, worked from home for a 2020 series.
The Last Leg has lent its inimitable point of view to the General Election, and tried to bring a divided country together in two-hour special entitled Re-United Kingdom, marking the second anniversary of Jo Cox’s murder in 2017.
It has set out to bring world leaders, including Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, down a peg or two, and blown up social media with its #isitok hashtag, initially created for people to ask awkward questions about disability but which now covers, well, anything.
The Last Leg has spent almost 10 years going where other chat shows, political round-tables and celebrity interviews have feared to tread, doing it with equal amounts of dark humour and heartfelt compassion, pricking the egos of anyone who gets too big for their boots along the way.
We can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring.
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