Wellbeing & Fitness

The Last Leg: a review of the alternative Paralympics show

Alternative Paralympic highlights programme, The Last Leg with Adam Hills, airs on Channel 4 every evening at 10.30pm. Disability Horizons contributor, Emma Purcell, gives her view of this comedic offering.

Presented by Australian comedian Adam Hills, who has a prosthetic leg, and fellow comedian Josh Widdicombe along with sporting and celebrity stars, The Last Leg provides a comedic take on the day’s Paralympic events.

The unique quality of this show is its humour bringing a lighter element to the Paralympics and disability. As a young disabled person myself – I have cerebral palsy and am visually impaired – I’ve grown up using my disability as a positive and enjoy making jokes about it.

Rounding-up the events of the day with clips and quotes, the show changes the perspective of topical moments drawing out the humorous element in them. For example, Josh Widdicombe jokes;:”I don’t think this is a way to treat a Paralympian” before showing a clip of a dwarf powerlifter warming up by being slapped on the cheeks by his coach as though he was a cute child!

The show explains “what you can and can’t say about Paralympics” and what the line is between joking about disability and being offensive. It highlights the idea that disability shouldn’t be a taboo subject and it can be discussed in a comedic way. A brilliant example of this kind of humour is when, during the first show, Adam Hills makes a bet with a Paralympic reporter, who also has prosthetic legs, that if GB wins, he will paint a Union Jack and bulldog on his leg.

Overall the show illustrates that having a disability doesn’t stop you achieving. Wide coverage of a number of disabled presenters in comedic roles, working to create a young and relevant show, brings more awareness to the idea that disabled people can accomplish just as much as everyone else.

Another element that makes the programme entertaining is the Paralympic sport demonstrations. For example, in the first episode cricket legend, Andrew Flintoff, is taught some of the tricks used in blind Judo. These segments are an excellent way to show people how the different Paralympic sports work, particularly in relation to the disabilities, and reveals strategies and techniques used by athletes. Plus, it’s funny to watch the celebrities make fools of themselves!

Further humour is derived from the often bizarre and ridiculous questions posed by viewers, usually able-bodied. One person tweeted: “In the dressage, is it the rider or the horse who’s disabled?” For me, I thought it was hilarious, but from their point of view it seemed a quite sensible question. The show hopefully demonstrates both the ignorance that some people have about disability, but also the idea that you should be able to ask questions and talk openly about it.

Overall, for those who haven’t seen The Last Leg with Adam Hills, I would recommend you watch it. If you want more knowledge on the Paralympics, backstage gossip, updates on results or just a good laugh in the evenings, then this is for you.

By Emma Purcell

Check out…

Our definitive guide to the Paralympics.
The Opening Ceremony: pictures from inside the stadium.

Let us know how you’re celebrating the Paralympic Games and what disability sport you’re involved in – email us at editor@editor@disabilityhorizons.com, tweet us @DHorizons or send us a message on Facebook. Share your experiences with our community for a monumental Summer 2012!

Emma Purcell

Editor & Writer at Disability Horizons. Blogger at Rock For Disability. Loves live music, comedy, acting, chocolate and is a Harry Potter fanatic.


  1. I enjoy irreverent humour – and at my own expense. Sorry, but I watched this last night and was not impressed. This whole idea that they championed (and this piece seems to endorse) that there’s no such thing as being disabled, is exactly what those of us who are political, have been fearing. It feeds the whole ‘so what are they griping about’ rhetoric and can only deepen our oppression.

  2. I find myself in a strange position here. Normally I’d appreciate a show like The Last Leg. Being able to laugh at yourself is good, and can help get some messages across. But this show is badly timed and at times just plain bad. Why ? Well, we are on the cusp of something very special with London 2012. People never exposed to elite paralympian sport are watching, avidly, for the first time. They are investing in the quality, the emotion, and yes, those incredible “back stories”. Crucially, millions are investing in the PROFESSIONALISM of our Paralympians. This is REAL SPORT at the very highest level possible. It’s exciting to watch, it inspires and educates at the same time and guess what, it’s PEAK TIME VIEWING !!! So I was disappointed that we apparently need the at times edgy sing and dance led by Adam Hills, it’s soooo Ian Drury and Spasticus and I do get it, I really do. But at times it’s just plain Big Brother cringeworthy and though it made me laugh out loud, a few times, I just felt that anyone watching who had seen Elli Simmonds or David Weir or the great “Aled” would have somehow managed to miss the professionalism and gone right back to a view of disability we don’t want.
    Harsh ? Perhaps. Precious ? Well no actually, I appreciate the edgy humour, I’ve grown up with it when it wasn’t accepted by anyone other than a few so called disabled “activists. I think this show sets back the progress made each day and that’s a shame because some of the “Is it ok to ask” moments are so funny ! It’s just about timing and whether we actually want, or more importantly “need” this edgy approach right now when millions are seeing Paralympians as super human champions in exactly the same way they view Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah and how good is that.
    Cheers, Mark

  3. I agree with the author. I thought the show was hilarious. I’m 21 and have been disabled all my life, but have never particularly viewed disability as a political issue, but more just practical problem (sometimes). I think a tv show depicting the lighter side of disability has been long overdue.

  4. I watched The Last Leg for the first time yesterday and quite liked it. The way it was advertised I thought the presenters would be making inappropriate disability jokes but was pleasantly surprised to find even Jimmy Carr explaining himself so that his points made sense.

    I’ll be watching the rest of the series- Channel 4, this is much better than I’m Spazticus!

  5. What’s the song with the trumpets from the last leg advert? (and no, i’m not thinking about the public enemy song – it’s defo the song in the ad for the last leg… seen it on e4)

  6. I’m a little concerned that some people will now think that any disabled person who isn’t physically active is malingering. There’s a big difference between what a disabled friend of mine (in wheelchair with severe ME) calls “the able-bodied disabled” and somebody who is actually ill, and there are some conditions such as ME and ankylosing spondylitis where vigorous exercise can make the condition worse. In the case of myaesthenia gravis it can be fatal.
    I love the show, btw.

    1. Agreed but as they say Rome wasn’t built in a day – I have suffered with clinical depression for almost 20 years on and off but barriers are slowly being broken down thankfully.

  7. Fabulous – Can do for disability what Skinner and Baddiel did for football shows with Fantasy Football – hopefully Channel 4 will take note and make such a show a regular addition to their schedules

  8. I just watched tonight’s programme interviewing two of the gold medal winners and at the end Adam Hills was congratulating the two winners he said ‘ The two fastest men in the paralympics’ and it touched a nerve. If he had said olympics it would of sounded like a greater achievement as opposed to paralympics where as in actual fact paralympics is in some ways an even greater achievement than the olympics as they have disabilities/restrictions. What do you think guys? I just think these inspirational people deserve a more heroic title eg. super olympics or extreme olympics?

  9. Bit late from me, but still: Very good review. The video says it’s private. Is there any way for me to access it? Do I have to sign up somewhere or something?

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