The Last Leg Goes Down Under
The Last Leg is a great staple of Channel 4 satirical comedy. With comedian Adam Hills and the support act of Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe, the show has been both a strong support of disabilities - particularly in sport - and also not been afraid to speak what we're all thinking about the events of the world. This latest series kicked off with something altogether different - a road trip across Australia as Adam Hills showed Alex and Josh a very different side to his home country on a 3,000 mile road trip to his 93-year old grandpa's birth in Sydney.
Over two weeks, we saw them encounter crocodiles, biker gangs and Harold from Neighbours. I was expecting something amusing but ultimately throwaway; what we got was something altogether very special. Two emotive, powerful episodes that made you laugh one moment and shrink back into your sofa the next, this cross-Oz journey was as much an epic journey for the audiences as it was for Adam, Alex and Josh.
The first episode of The Last Leg Goes Down Under was a full exploration of the Australian wilderness as the trio encountered deadly alligators close up and shared a beer with a local biker gang. In truth, I found the latter a little more terrifying for my tastes but it was all great fun. It also brought up some disturbing ideas, from the mindless slaughter of thousands of cattle that was the lifeblood of northern Australia to widespread racism against the indigenous Aboriginal population, something that you wouldn't expect to encounter at quite this level in the rest of the Western world. There was something lovely about the three enjoying a heavy-rock concert performed by the aboriginal band that showed very simply how there was no difference between them and the white population that settled there centuries ago.
The look into the disturbing side continued through into the second and final episode with their off-road trip to the overnight feral pig hunt. The idea of dogs being used to hunt down and kill the wild population was a mirror to the UK's own fox hunting debate and as someone who is against any kind of culling I found it a bit much too watch.
But while it was moving and emotive there was a lot to enjoy too; catching up with Ian Smith (Harold from Neighbours) in Alice Springs brought a lot of joy as they reached the midpoint of the journey, racing souped-up mobility scooters as they visited the Mad Max II Museum and Adam dressing up in drag during the visit to a hard-as-nails mining town and then completing a full on Priscilla Queen Of The Desert-style performance on top of their 'dick mobile' was fantastic.
And then there was the emotional journey of the three comedians, one that went much deeper than I would ever have expected. There was a constant theme of 'manning up' as they journeyed across Australia in their van and there were times it really did feel like that was pushed too far, to Josh and Alex's discomfort and Adam's frustration. And it all came to a head in that lovely Aboriginal cleansing ceremony in the Blue Mountains before they made their final descent towards Sydney. Hearing Alex opening up about his own difficulties, and the realisation that manning up didn't mean hardening up was beautiful to watch.
The Last Leg Goes Down Under was a powerful experience that showed us an entirely different culture in a place that was both barren and hostile and majestic and beautiful. I am so glad I didn't dismiss it as another 'let's watch some celebrities go travelling' show because it was so much more than that. From the beauty of Ayers Rock and the Blue Mountains to the desolation of Coober Pedy, I experienced Australia in way I had never seen before and for Adam Mills and his crew - and the planning of faithful tourguide Amar - I am very grateful!
And in case you missed out, you catch both episodes on Channel 4 On Demand here.