Adam Hills

Last updated

Adam Hills
Adam Hills 2008 Paralympics.jpg
Born (1970-07-10) 10 July 1970 (age 50)
Loftus, Sydney, Australia
MediumTelevision, radio
Years active1989–present
Genres Social satire, observational comedy
Subject(s)Everyday life, current events, disability
(m. 2009)
Notable works and roles

Adam Hills (born 10 July 1970) is an Australian comedian and radio and television presenter. In Australia, he hosted the music quiz show Spicks and Specks from 2005-11 and again from 2021, [1] and the talk show Adam Hills Tonight from 2011-13. In the United Kingdom, he had hosted the talk show The Last Leg since 2012. He has been nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award, the Gold Logie Award and numerous BAFTA TV Awards.


Born in Loftus, Sydney, he began performing as a stand-up comedian in 1989 at the age of 19, and since 1997 has produced ten solo shows which have toured internationally. He has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Montreal Just for Laughs festival, earning three consecutive Edinburgh Award nominations for his Edinburgh shows in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

In 2002, he scored a minor hit in Australia with his single "Working Class Anthem", in which he sang the lyrics of the Australian National Anthem to the tune of "Working Class Man", a song by Scottish-born Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes.


Stand-up career

Hills first appearance in comedy scene was in 1989 at the Sydney Comedy Store. He did breakfast radio on SAFM in Adelaide besides stand-up gigs, and by the mid-1990s he decided to focus on live comedy. In 1997 he premiered "Stand Up and Deliver", the first of 10 solo shows, all of which have toured internationally. He has travelled widely, performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Montreal Just For Laughs festival. [2] He has been nominated for three consecutive Edinburgh Comedy Awards for his 2001, 2002 and 2003 solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. [3]

The title of his 2001 show, "Go You Big Red Fire Engine", was coined during a 1999 performance in Melbourne. Hills asked an audience member to yell his name to the audience and for the audience to yell it back, but instead the man yelled "Go you big red fire engine!" [4] The phrase quickly became an audience chant, and Hills promised he would make it the name of his next show because, he says, "it was such an uplifting and genuinely silly moment." [5] "Go You Big Red Fire Engine" later became the name of a second stand-up show and a comedy album; it also appeared in a Detroit newspaper, on a Swedish website and was yelled by Senator Natasha Stott Despoja in the Australian Parliament. [4]

His artificial right foot is commonly used as a source of humour in his shows and the comedian has been known to remove it and pass it around. However, Hills had been performing live comedy for over a decade before he made reference to his prosthesis on stage, and it was only after "Go You Big Red Fire Engine" was nominated for a Perrier Award in 2001 that he began incorporating it into his act. Hills says he felt he could too easily have become a novelty act and that he "didn't want to be known as the one-legged comedian ... I wanted to prove myself as a comic before talking about this." [6]

Hills regularly performs alongside Leanne Beer, an Auslan sign interpreter at his festival shows, a move sparked by a performance he did in Adelaide at a disability art conference. [7] An interpreter had been provided at the show, and Hills found that it not only allowed the deaf audience members to enjoy his material but was also an entertaining and fascinating experience for the hearing audience members. "Now I have hearing people who will only book [for sign interpreted shows]", he says. [8]

His influences are Chris Addison, Greg Fleet, Rich Hall, Daniel Kitson, Ross Noble and David O'Doherty. [9]

Television career

Hills hosted the music trivia show Spicks and Specks from its premiere in 2005. In late-2007, he joined the show on a national live tour dubbed the "Spicks and Speck-tacular", with appearances in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Newcastle and Perth. [10] In late 2011 and early 2012, the show hit the road again for Spicks and Speck-tacular – The Finale, appearing in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Wollongong, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne. He has also made appearances on Australian shows: Rove Live , The Glass House and The Fat , as well as the UK shows: Never Mind the Buzzcocks , Mock the Week, QI and Ask Rhod Gilbert . [11] [12] Additionally he appeared on the first TV edition of BBC Northern Ireland's Great Unanswered Questions. [13] He conducted backstage interviews at Australia's 2005 and 2006 Logie Awards and was one of three presenters at the 2007 awards. [14] [15]

In September 2008, Hills co-hosted the ABC coverage of the 2008 Summer Paralympics. [16] [17]

In July 2009, Hills appeared in Thank God You're Here ; he also appeared on Good News Week .

Hills presented his own weekly talk show, Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight , on the ABC from early-2011. [18] In 2012 it was renamed Adam Hills Tonight and ended with its third-season finale on 31 July 2013. [19]

In 2012, he was part of the UK Channel 4 TV commentary team for the London 2012 Summer Paralympics, [20] and hosted a daily alternative review of each day's events, The Last Leg , with Alex Brooker and comedian Josh Widdicombe. [21] The Last Leg was renewed for seven episodes in 2013, then extended to nine episodes, [22] beginning on 25 January 2013. The 200th edition aired on 6 December 2019. Hills hosted the panel game Monumental for BBC Northern Ireland in 2013.

In August 2013, it was announced that Hills would present a special one-off revival episode of Channel 4's quiz show, Fifteen to One . [23] This was broadcast on 20 September 2013, as part of the channel's 1980s-themed Back to the Future weekend of programmes. [24] He was credited under the name "Adam C. Hills" in a tribute to the original presenter, William G. Stewart. In 2014, Hills returned to present four more celebrity specials; a full daytime series was hosted by Danish-born comedian Sandi Toksvig. [25]

In 2016, Hills voiced Buddy Pendergast in Thunderbirds Are Go . [26]

Other work

In 2002, Hills released a single titled "Working Class Anthem", in which he sang the lyrics of the Australian National Anthem, "Advance Australia Fair", to the tune of "Working Class Man", a famous song by iconic Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes. Around 40 comedians contributed to the song, which made the independent top 10 in Australia. All proceeds went to the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, an organisation supported by Barnes and Jon Bon Jovi that supports firefighters. Hills has performed the song several times on television, including a performance honouring Barnes' guest appearance on Spicks and Specks. [27]

Between 2003 and 2005, Hills wrote as a columnist for the BBC's disability website Ouch!. [28]

Hills published a memoir, Best Foot Forward, in 2018. [29]

Solo shows

Awards and nominations

2006 Logie Awards Most Popular New Male TalentNominated Spicks and Specks
Most Outstanding New Talent Nominated
2008 Most Popular Personality on TV Nominated
Most Popular PresenterNominated
2009 Most Popular Personality on TVNominated
Most Popular PresenterNominated
2010 Most Popular Personality on TVNominated
Most Popular PresenterNominated
2011 Most Popular Personality on TVNominated
Most Popular PresenterNominated
2012 Most Popular Personality on TVNominated Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight / Spicks and Specks
Most Popular PresenterWon
2013 Logie Awards Most Popular Personality on TVNominated Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight
Most Popular PresenterNominated
British Comedy Awards Best Breakthrough ArtistWon
Best Comedy Entertainment ProgramNominated The Last Leg
2014 Logie Awards Most Popular PresenterNominated
British Comedy Awards Best Comedy Entertainment PersonalityNominated
Best Comedy Entertainment ProgramNominatedThe Last Leg
2015 Royal Television Society AwardsBest Entertainment ProgramWon
2017 British Academy Television Awards Best Entertainment PerformanceNominated
2018 Best Entertainment PerformanceNominated

Personal life

Hills playing for the Warrington Wolves PDRL side in 2019 Adam Hills.jpg
Hills playing for the Warrington Wolves PDRL side in 2019

Hills was born in the southern Sydney suburb of Loftus. [31] Hills was born without a right foot and wears a prosthesis, which has become a frequent source of comedy in his act. [8] He studied for a Bachelor of Arts (Communications) at Macquarie University, graduating in 1991.

In December 2009, Hills married opera soprano Ali McGregor. [32] They have two daughters and live in London. [33]

Hills participated in the Australian version of the program Who Do You Think You Are? ; his episode debuted on 2 April 2013 and explored Hills's Austrian and Maltese roots, with a Maltese ancestor of his turning out to be a pirate. [34]

Hills is a supporter of his hometown rugby league club the South Sydney Rabbitohs. [35]

In 2017, he set up the Warrington Wolves Physical Disability rugby league team. In August 2018, he played in their World Club Challenge vs South Sydney Rabbitohs winning 34–12. [36] [37]

In February 2020, Hills became Ambassador for The Children's Trust, a British charity for children with brain injury and neurodisability. [38] He first became involved with The Children's Trust when he visited the charity in 2014 to meet Seb, a nine-year-old boy who had a severe brain injury and leg amputation following a road traffic accident. [39] He has also supported five annual comedy shows at The Comedy Store for the charity. [40]

In April 2020, Australia Post released a set of stamps recognising Australian Legends of Comedy, [41] with Hills appearing on one of the stamps. [42]

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External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Adam Hills and his memoir Best Foot Forward on YouTube, Matter of Fact with Stan Grant , ABC News