“I think that we’re like TFI Friday but in much darker times,” suggests The Last Leg’s Josh Widdicombe.
“TFI Friday for the Brexit era” chimes in his co-star Alex Brooker.
“I think we’re a version of [Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah’s] The Daily Show for a country that has a pub culture” suggests Adam Hills, the host of the Channel 4 show.
The Last Leg launched during the 2012 Paralympic Games as a comedy breakdown of the day’s sporting highlights.
“I remember when I was told about the show in the lead up to the Paralympics,” Brooker recalls. “‘We’re going to do the highlights show. It’s going to show some of the sport and we’re also going to take the piss out of it.’ I was just like: literally, that sounds like the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard.”
The possible titles for the show weren’t much better, he says. “Dwarfs Aren’t Magic? Imagine!”
“How would we [have] turned that into a topical show?” Hills asks.
Widdicombe laughs, adding “That’s a much better hashtag though.”
The three comedians have been nominated for the RTS Programme Award in the Entertainment Performance category alongside Romesh Ranganathan and Ant and Dec.
“This is the first time that [the RTS judges] have considered that all three of us together might create one personality,” says proud Adam Hills.
Although they have one win under the belts for Entertainment show in 2014, this is the trio’s first nomination for Entertainment Performance.
“It’s good,” says Widdicombe, “because it means that we’re getting better, but the show is getting worse. We’re good, and we’re not the one’s letting the show down.”
“I don’t think we ever set out to create this show,” he reflects. “I think it created itself naturally.”
The success of the show, they believe, comes from the low-stakes launch it received back in 2012.
“It’s been quite natural,” claims Hills. “It just grew out of the Paralympics and it grew of it’s own accord.”
Problems arise for entertainment shows, Josh Widdicombe maintains, when too much pressure is applied. “There are shows that are launched under a lot of pressure and with high stakes, and people are watching the ratings from Day One. That makes it a lot more difficult for them. We never had that.”
Brooker agrees, “I’m definitely glad they didn’t bump the news for us…”
Since the Paralympics, the show has morphed from a daily sports highlights show into a satirical weekly news breakdown.
“I think it’s quite a dark time,” says Widdicombe,” We’re quite a light show, but I think that’s maybe where we’ve met the world halfway.”
Difficult times are a gift to satire though, according to the trio.
Josh Widdicombe explains: “Two years ago we did five episodes in a row on Greece. It was really hard because no one really, after week one, cared as much…”
“No one gave a shit,” Brooker clarified.
The election of Donald Trump however, has proven a treasure trove of comedy opportunities for the show.
“[People] are looking for some sort of levity from the situation,” Brooker believes.
“A lot of people were going ‘This is the worst news ever.’ We were lucky enough to be on that day and we managed to cheer some people up.”
“I remember when we first started talking about Donald Trump. The joke of it was amazing: just imagine if this guy got in!”
Widdicombe chips in, “I think if we have proved anything over the past years, it’s that what we say has absolutely no impact over what happens in the world. I think we have zero power or sway.”
Although, he laughs, “I think if Donald Trump makes America great again, then we’re doomed.”
In 2016, the show returned to its Paralympic roots and headed to Rio for the 10 days of the Games.
“I loved it,” says Brooker. “It was probably the best we’ve ever been.”
Broadcasting live from a foreign country is a complex task, and Adam Hills remembers how tricky it was to pull together segments for the live shows in Rio.
“Being live from a foreign country, you’ve got all the stresses of trying to make a live TV show with a language barrier. You’ve got all those things where you go: why don’t we just serve a tennis ball from a wheelchair… That’s a lot harder to pull together in Rio than it is in The London Studios” he says.
Brooker adds, “The other thing with Rio is that everyone thought the Games themselves were going to be absolutely shit: the ticket sales, all the stuff about Zika… You went out there thinking ‘Fuck, this could be rubbish…”
It was something the team had to discuss: if the Games were terrible, would they talk about it?
“Our whole thing is that we’re honest,” says Josh Widdicombe. “You know on Sky when it’s Wednesday night and there’s a nil-nil Football League trophy game and they go ‘What a match!’ We can’t be doing that.”
For Widdicombe and Brooker, it was their starring role in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony in Rio that sticks with them.
“That was up there with the best moments of my life,” remembers Brooker.
The two comedians dressed as clouds and joined the Brazilians that had signed up to dance through the ceremony.
Widdicombe says, “I was far more nervous than I would be for stand-up. You didn’t know what you’re doing and then you’re buzzing for 20 minutes and then you realise – this is three hours long.”
“You know when you go to a wedding, and you’re all excited. Then you get in to the church and you’re like ‘How long is this?!”
Alex Brooker agrees. “Our dancing at the start – when the Argentinians came out we were going nuts, we were doing all the moves. By the time we got to the Germans, we couldn’t have given less of a shit.”
The trio are already looking ahead to Tokyo 2020, although the distance will make going out live impossible. “I think we’d be [broadcasting] at 4am” says Widdicombe.
“You’re not going to get any Paralympians to show up at 4.00am,” reasons Hills.
Josh Widdicombe adds, “Also I want to go out and get pissed.”
The trio - who Hills shamefacedly describes as “like a three-part harmony of comedy” before adding, “I can’t believe I just said that” – are looking forwards to letting their hair down at the RTS Programme Awards ceremony.
“I am so sick of sitting there with a painted smile on my face while Ant and Dec win an award!” laughs Hills.
Brooker adds, “Also by the sounds of it, Romesh is going to be an absolutely prick about [winning]. Fuck Romesh! His mum was better in that show anyway.”
The three recall the last time they were nominated for an RTS Award – in 2014 in the Entertainment category.
“I remember you turned up,” says Brooker to Widdicombe, “and I think David Suchet was getting the Lifetime Achievement Award. I remember looking over while his son was making this really poignant speech, and Josh was having a playfight with our producer.”
“I’d got hammered in the taxi,” Widdicombe explains.
Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker have been nominated in the Entertainment Performance category at the RTS Programme Awards 2017 alongside Romesh Ranganathan and and Ant and Dec. All the nominees have been approached for interviews.
Click to read an interview with Romesh Ranganathan