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Series / The Last Leg

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From left-to-right: Alex Brooker, Josh Widdicombe, and Adam Hills
"Hang up your lampshades and go out for a wiki walk. It's Friday, we're live, and it's time for The Last Leg."

The Last Leg is a topical comedy show on the UK's Channel 4, which originally ran as part of the main coverage of the 2012 Paralympic Games, and proved so popular that it was spun off into its own show tackling the week in politics; currently, three series are shown each year, running for about half the year in total, with the show airing nightly during the Paralympics. The show is hosted by Australian comedian Adam Hills with co-hosts comedian Josh Widdicombe and journalist Alex Brooker, joined by one to two special guests each week (usually comedians, although actors and politicians sometimes appear too).

The Last Tropes:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Josh occasionally picks up Adam on pronouncing certain words differently due to his Australian accent. This started when Adam pronounced data as d-ah-ta.
  • The Alcoholic: Played for laughs and exaggerated with Josh as a Shout-Out to a newspaper story about how he had got so drunk at an awards ceremony that he fell over while getting into a taxi.
  • Almost Kiss: Alex jokingly tries to kiss Josh in series 6, except Josh flinches too fast for him. Alex then points out that they haven't kissed that series yet, and it was the last episode, hence the attempt.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: During a Christmas sketch in 2023, Alex asks Father Christmas for a snowball, as he couldn't originally hold one with two hands. Father Christmas is only too happy to oblige, giving him a snowball drink.
  • Anticipatory Breath Spray: Josh sprays Alex with breath freshener before they kiss in series 4.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Richard Ayoade gave one which actually caused a few seconds of silence before receiving an answer. They were talking about firearms in American schools and Richard jokingly gave his approval before asking "What's the worst case scenario of banning guns?"
  • Brick Joke: One episode started with Adam, Josh, and Alex sitting in a car and wondering where a loud, thumping noise was coming from. At the end of the episode, it was revealed that John Bishop was trying to fit a sofa into the boot of the car.
  • Butt-Monkey: All three presenters can be this at times, but Josh is usually the one who’s targeted the most.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Adam Hills has "You're being a dick!"
    • Adam closes each show with "see you next week for the next leg".
  • Character Tics:
    • In the introductions to each show, Josh scratches his head after Adam says the show name. Lampshaded in one episode, when Josh explains he feels he has to do it to have a good show.
    • Josh has a tendency to sit in a figure four position with the bent leg under his other leg, which is lampshaded whenever Alex impersonates him on the sofa.
    • Any time impressions of Josh doing stand-up are done by Adam or Alex, the "teapot" pose (i.e. one hand holding the microphone, one hand on hip) is guaranteed to appear.
  • Guyliner: Happens to Josh in series 4 episode 4 thanks to Claudia Winkleman.
  • Fun with Acronyms: When trying to rename ISIS, one of Adam's ideas was Combined United Northern Territories of Syria
  • Funny Background Event: In one episode, Josh sets Adam's cricket themed prosthetic on fire. The burning leg is then taken away, but the sound of the fire extinguisher used to put it out is so loud it momentarily interrupts the next segment of the show.
  • Honour Before Reason: In 2022, Adam bet that if England went further in the FIFA World Cup than his native Australia, he would put a burning flare up his backside - modelled on an England fan who hit the headlines in 2021 for doing the same at the Euros. Needless to say, he lost the bet, providing quite the end-of-episode spectacle.
  • Innocently Insensitive: During his rant about people who are against a woman being cast as the Thirteenth Doctor, Adam remarks that he's happy as long as she's "healthy, has ten fingers, ten toes and two hearts". The audience reacts uncomfortably, leading him to say "Why are you grumpy at that?! She's got two hearts!" He only realizes after he's done ranting that The Last Leg is maybe not the best show to say things like "I hope she has ten fingers and ten toes".
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Lampshaded by Josh in series 6, in the episode following then-Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's appearance.
    Josh: There was quite a lot of articles about The Last Leg last week, because Alex had interviewed the Deputy Prime Minister, and there was one in The Telegraph. It was all this stuff about Nick Clegg and then - out of nowhere, no context - just a paragraph that said, "And then the Deputy Prime Minister got a melon and threw it at the disabled Alex Brooker, who cut it with a blade on his leg." People must have been reading that going, "What the fuck is going on? What kind of TV show are they making?"
    • This also applies to any time they end the show on a segment where they recap the news, since they'll also throw in pretty much all the in-jokes from that episode too. For example, the 11th March 2022 episode ends with Adam being followed around by a bunch of colourful microphones on sticks, Alex is miming punching Josh who is holding onto a branch that's been moved up and down by a man in a bear suit, the show's former resident Jeremy Corbyn impersonator is wearing carnival dress and shaking some maracas, guests Victoria Coren-Mitchell and Rose Aisling-Ellis are dressed up as skiiers on skis and a man in a pig costume sings Bobby McFerrin's 'Don't Worry, Be Happy'.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: In series 18, ep. 5, the team decide to test whether Prince Andrew's claim that an overdose of adrenalin can destroy your ability to sweat. To do this, Adam has Alex blindfolded and strapped to a board surrounded by balloons. Adam tells Alex that his going throw knives to pop the balloons. He then proceeds to pretend to throw knives while the balloons are popped by Josh who is standing next to the board. Alex's flinches reveal that he has no idea it is being faked.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Played for laughs with Greg Davies. When he made his second appearance on the show, he wore a red checkered shirt over a black t-shirt. Adam then pointed out that he had already worn that shirt days earlier on another show; and at the end, a Twitter user sent in a picture they'd taken with Greg also wearing that shirt.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Adam's introduction for Josh and Alex varies:
    • The most commonly used introduction is, "Joining me is the pride of Dartmoor, Josh Widdicombe, and the man who [comedic fact about Alex, usually beginning with "this week"], Alex Brooker".
    • The Rio Paralympic specials saw Adam use, "Joining me is the pride of Ashford, Alex Brooker, and the man who [comedic fact about Josh], Josh Widdicombe." Since the return of the regular series, Adam now alternates between the two introductions each week.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Adam occasionally does impressions, and Josh and Alex tend to lampshade the quality of the impression immediately afterwards.
  • Medal of Dishonour: The "Dick of the Year" award, instituted in 2013 and is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Previous winners are Vladimir Putin, Nigel Farage, Jeremy Hunt, the entire year of 2016, Donald Trump, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Boris Johnson. Three people have been disqualified from receiving the award precisely because the winner isn't supposed to want to win it: controversial far-right columnist Katie Hopkins, disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein (perhaps because "dick" could refer to his penis), and unrepentant transphobe Graham Linehan (of The IT Crowd fame).
  • Milestone Celebration: Subverted. As Adam and Alex both have one 'lost' body part, the number episode celebrated loses 1 as well, such as celebrating the 299th episode, not 300, in 2023.
  • N-Word Privileges: Part of the show's raison d'etre, to say things about disability no non-disabled person could. However, probably the harshest jokes come from Josh, who isn't disabled (but is the butt of many short jokes).
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Josh in this sketch, when he doesn't bother doing a Greek accent.
  • One Head Taller: Greg Davies (6'8") when he guested in the Stand Up To Cancer 2015 special. Josh, Alex, and the other guest Russell Howard are all around 5'6-7", so their appearance on the sofa was Lampshaded by Russell, who pointed out that they looked like an odd boyband auditioning for The X Factor.
    • In fact, when Russell was introduced, he jumped up to hug Greg, who managed to hold him up in the air for several seconds.
    • The height difference was also the reason why, as part of the show ending, Greg ended up power lifting Josh several times into the air.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping / What the Hell Is That Accent?: Adam struggles to keep his German accent consistent in this sketch. At one point, he admits he sounds South African instead.
  • Portmanteau: Josh + Alex = Jalex. This came about after Josh and Alex's first kiss in series 4, when people on Twitter started to refer to them as Jalex. It has since been used by the show's official Twitter feed, and mentioned by Adam.
  • Precision F-Strike: The show loves to take advantage of this trope. All three presenters are prone to this big time, and especially the guests.
    • One running gag involves a guest being asked what they think of one of the subjects of the week, and tend to give long and detailed answers. No matter how tame the guest is, there will always be at least one “Fuck” given out at the end. For example, David Mitchell when talking about tax evasion and Professor Brian Cox when talking about physics.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Anytime Adam launches into a tirade starting with "If (x) then you're being a dick!".
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • The Stand Up To Cancer 2015 special was broadcast from 8-9pm, which meant the show was restricted by watershed rules, especially with the language barrier. It didn’t stop them from unintentionally doing it, though.
    • While discussing Jeremy Hunt, Adam quipped that doctors might not bother rescuing him but instead give him a probe up the arse. Seconds later, Adam had to admit that he might have just violated a watershed rule, and immediately had to apologise over roaring laughs from the audience.
    • Johnny Vegas derailing a promo with confessions of a murder, having a wank over a nun, and a bloke who was fishing, caught a carp, then stuck his penis in his mouth.
    Johnny: I mean, they look shocked enough, don't they?
  • Rule 34: One 2017 episode involved the subject of handwriting analysis, whereupon Adam, Alex, Josh and guest Russell Brand all wrote something down and signed it... and Josh chose to write a Adam and Alex Slash Fic.
  • Scenery Censor: Adam has one in series 6, when he's shown bouncing naked on a trampoline with a dog covering him up note .
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sophisticated as Hell: One 2017 episode ends with the MTA choir singing the results of counting up the number of profanities on Twitter directed at the by-election candidates:
  • Take That!: Nigh-constantly to Vladimir Putin. And Justin Bieber. And many others.
  • Token Non-Disabled Person: Josh for the first four years of the show. He then announced he would soon be getting glasses, so it's now closer to Token Bipedal Person.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Adam started growing a beard to help illustrate how long it would take to finalize Brexit. Because of how protracted the negotiations were, his beard ended up extending down to his chest.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: In series 18, ep. 6, Josh—despite a warning from Adam—licks an ice sculpture of Mike the Cameraman (It Makes Sense in Context, kind of) and gets his tongue stuck and has to be pulled free by Alex.
  • Unexpected Character: In-Universe example; when Adam announced at the end of an episode that next week's guest would be former US Vice President Al Gore, he was clearly genuinely astonished and quite seriously said that he was sure Gore had no idea what kind of show he was going on.
  • Unflinching Walk: Parodied in the title sequence, complete with slo-mo and explosions.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Adam, Alex, and Josh will make jokes at each others' expenses.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Played for laughs several times in series 6, usually whenever someone was about to say something controversial.
    • Subverted for the first episode of series 7, when genuine technical issues interrupted the programme for several minutes. This was then played for laughs in the following episode, when Alex was unimpressed with the voice over man, to which the latter interrupted the programme straightaway to insult Alex back.
    • The 1 October 2021 episode went out at the end of a week where Channel 4 had been experiencing technical difficulties all week due to a fire taking out a control panel responsible for playout; in Adam's words, at the time the episode was airing the entire channel was still being run off a single laptop in someone's bedroom. Apart from there being no subtitles available for the episode (which they acknowledged was especially unfortunate for this show in particular), they had to be prepared for the possibility the show might fall off air at any moment or that an advert break might fail to run correctly.
  • You Keep Using That Word: The 2017 season naturally made reference to Donald Trump, like one story about Trump's outrageous demands for a state visit:
    Adam: His people have asked for a "full monty" visit. (Beat as audience laughs) I do not think that phrase means what you think it means.
  • Your Mum: The winner of the viewer poll in series 7 to rename the show for the following week's episode. Results in several immortal lines, including:
    Adam: Join us next week for Your Mum.