Adam Hills gets the band back together for Spicks and Specks

Alan Brough, Adam Hills and Myf Warhurst get ready to bring joy with Australia's unique music quiz show.

Alan Brough, Adam Hills and Myf Warhurst get ready to bring joy with Australia's unique music quiz show. Photo: ABC

Australian comedian Adam Hills is reuniting with his two original co-hosts for a new season of music trivia game show, Spicks and Specks, and he promises to breathe new life into the original 20-year -old format.

Hills, who is also preparing to co-host his London-based talk show, The Last Leg, in Paris for the 2024 Paralympic Games, says reuniting with the unique talents of Alan Brough and Myf Warhurst is the “secret sauce”, as is having “a whole new generation of music”.

“[In 2005] we tried to find a combination of people that really clicked together – Myf, Alan and I somehow do – we’re like a three-part harmony and that still happens,” he tells The New Daily after filming the first two episodes of the new season at ABC studios in Melbourne.

“First day back, it was back to what it used to be. Back in the day, when we made it, we never really hung out that much together outside of the shows, and part of that was intentional because for me, it meant when you saw us come together on TV, we were genuinely excited to see each other.

“Never a stale component, never in-jokes, you were genuinely watching a group of friends get together and talk about music,” he says.

The trick is “keeping it fresh”.

“Talking about all the new music that’s sprung up over the past decade that my kids are showing off to me,” referencing his 14-year-old daughter who is listening to hiphop artist, The Weeknd, rapper Frank Ocean as well as downloading Billy Joel’s, Vienna on Tiktok.

It also means bringing new musicians on set to perform, switched-on behind-the-scenes staffers, and having a new combination of comedians, celebrities and musicians to battle through the show’s agenda of old … and new segments.

“The great thing about a young cohort, whether it’s behind the scenes or on air, is that they’ve grown up watching Spicks and Specks so I don’t need to tell them what the feel of the show is,” says Hills.

“Back in the day, we ‘d get guests on who hadn’t seen the show, or maybe seen it once or twice, and we’d have to explain how [the segment] ‘Substitute works.

“Musicians would clam up having to sing words of a book for this weird game … musos in their 20s are now coming on, saying I did this at my 15th birthday party with all my friends.

“So anyone who is a muso in Australia right now under the age of 30 probably grew up with Spicks and Specks, so they’re coming on the show, knowing how to play. Weirdly I don’t have to give them a steer.”

Hills says “the vibe” is great this year.

‘Happy half hour’

Spicks and Spicks premiered in 2005 and was an ABC mainstay until 2011, relaunching in 2014 with new hosts and team captains.

It didn’t quite work, with the music show bringing back its original trio for reunion specials before getting a relaunch in 2021.

After a short break, they’re back with a big bag of celebrity panelists including Anthony Callea, Montaigne, Abbie Chatfield, Tommy Little, Hamish Blake, Gillian Cosgriff, Courtney Act and Shane Jacobson.

Dan Sultan, Mark Seymour, Steph Tisdell, Ella Hooper, Claire Hooper will watch on as acts including TISM, Ruby Gill, Folk Bitch Trio, The Bamboos, Lime Cordiale, Gut Health and – Hills’ favourite du jour – the DMAs.

The show will have the usual games like Know Your Product, Final Countdown, Substitute and Brough’s Secret Song along with some new sensations.

Hills, who has done standup gigs from the age of 19, started his career on radio in Australia before discovering the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the late 1990s and settling in the UK.

He says a lot of his career has been “accidental”, but he’s gone where the work is, and also followed his heart.

The Last Leg came about because I had hosted the ABC’s [2012 London] Paralympic coverage and Channel 4 were looking for someone with a disability who could do comedy and live TV and it turned out I was the guy that fit the bill.”

Hills was born without a right foot, James Brooker had his right leg amputated when he was a baby, and Josh Widdicombe revealed a phsyical disability [pectus excavatum] during season 11 of the show.

He tells TND he chose to talk about his disability after doing stand-up for 13 years, incorporating it into his show, “around the time” of the 9/11 terror attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, and being “waved through” by security guards because he had a prosthetic which they didn’t want to check.

“Because I waited so long it means it’s not the only facet of my comedy. It means I can host Spicks and Specks and not talk about my foot. It means I can host The Last Leg, and when we’re doing the Paralympics I can talk about disability,” he says.

He’s put stand-up on hold to play disability rugby league, and is set to play in the Para-Standing Tennis world championship in Italy later in June.

For now, music trivia dominates before The Last Leg heads to Paris in July to cover the Paralympics.

Spicks and Specks premieres June 9 at 7.30pm on ABC and iview

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