The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are almost upon us, with the opening ceremony taking place in the Japanese capital on Tuesday 24 August and kicking off a two-week festival of sporting endeavour that promises to be every bit as nail-biting as the Olympics.
An estimated 4,350 athletes from 160 countries will be taking part in 539 events across 22 sports in 21 venues, beginning with an exciting schedule of track cycling, swimming and wheelchair fencing on day one.
You can watch this summer’s Paralympics on Channel 4 and More 4 in the UK, with the latter channel dedicated to team sports and the pair showing more than 300-hours of coverage over the Games’ two-week duration between them. There will also be a dedicated microsite featuring 16 livestreams and over 1,000 hours of footage.
Ade Adepitan will host the highlights show as part of a presenting lineup that also includes such familiar personalities as Sophie Morgan, JJ Chalmers, Ed Jackson, Lee McKenzie and Vick Hope in Japan and Clare Balding, Steph McGovern and Arthur Williams on home turf.
Also joining in the fun will be The Last Leg’s Adam Hills, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe, who will be on hand to present a daily show sending up the events of the last 24 hours, with stand-up comedian Rosie Jones providing her take from Japan.
The topical comedy show first got its start in support of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, where it proved a hit with viewers and critics, and has since run for 20 seasons and an extraordinary 235 episodes.
Australian comic Hills fronts the show and has summarised it as “three guys with four legs talking about the week”, alluding to himself being born without a right foot and Brooker having his right leg amputated as an infant.
Hills, known for his impassioned and articulate political rants, is a renowned international stand up and TV presenter from Sydney who has toured no fewer than 16 shows since 1989 and been nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award and a BAFTA.
Brooker actually started out as a sports journalist before auditioning for the original run of The Last Leg and getting his break in comedy. He has since made two very personal documentary films about issues related to physical impairment: BBC Two’s Disability and Me and Channel 4’s Alex Brooker: My Perfect Body.
Widdicombe meanwhile is one of the most recognisable faces in British TV comedy, a seasoned veteran of such shows as Mock the Week, Fighting Talk, Taskmaster, Insert Name Here, A League of Their Own and his own self-titled sitcom, Josh. He also hosts two podcasts, Lockdown Parenting Hell with Rob Beckett and the particularly glorious 1990s football show Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? alongside Chris Scull and Michael Marden.
Joining them this time will be Jones, a fellow stand-up from Yorkshire known for her appearances on panel shows like 8 and Out 10 Cats and Would I Lie to You? and for her outspoken advocacy of LGBT+ issues and disabled rights. She herself suffers from ataxic cerebral palsy.
The Last Leg is broadcast live and encourages audience interaction via social media (notably through the promotion of humorous hashtags), an approach that became all the more complicated in lockdown, when it had to be conducted via Zoom from the hosts’ respective homes in Melbourne, Huddersfield and London, taking social distancing to a global extreme.
One of its most popular segments is its annual “D*** of the Year” prize, awarded to the most obnoxious public figure of the last 12 months, with Vladimir Putin winning the inaugural accolade in 2013, followed by Katie Hopkins (2014) and Jeremy Hunt (2015) before 2016 itself scooped the prize in its namesake year after the annus horribilis that gave us Brexit, Donald Trump’s presidency and a host of celebrity deaths, from David Bowie and Prince to Leonard Cohen and Victoria Wood.
It has since been won by Trump (2017), Jacob Rees-Mogg (2018), Boris Johnson (2019) and Dominic Cummings (2020).
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