Rarely sheepish, Hamish and Andy are unlikely to rue a trans-tasman challenge in their latest adventure, as Colin Vickery reports
from the past — a franchise that started on Rove McManus’s night time show Rove in 2007.
Blake and Lee went on to make two high-rating Caravan of Courage specials for Ten — covering the US, Britain and Ireland— in 2009 and 2010.
You get the feeling viewers might have seen the last of the Gap Year shows.
Caravan of Courage looks to be the way forward.
Blake and Lee have hooked up the caravan and travelled 10,000km for their specials — the length of New Zealand and across the Top End of Australia.
Viewers will be treated to important cultural experiences including a Captain Cook reenactment group, a bee beard, the world’s steepest street, a nude rugby club, sheep racing and a homemade hovercraft.
‘‘ It (Australia v New Zealand) is the idea that we have had for a long time — probably even before the Great Britain and Ireland Caravan,’’ Blake says.
‘‘ When it looked like we had a bit of free time at the end of this year we thought this was a great opportunity to dust off the van— or get a new van and put the same logos on it.
‘‘ Going from the very bottom to the very top seemed like a fair way to cover New Zealand and the equivalent distance across the top of Australia seemed fair too.
‘‘ We’re ashamed to say this, but in the early days, we probably didn’t think there would be a TV show in it (the Australia v NZ concept).
‘‘ We thought, ‘ it’s New Zealand, there can’t be that much there (interesting to see)’, but it’s phenomenal — such an amazing adventure.’’
The pair admits they got off on the wrong foot with some of the Kiwi locals.
‘‘ They are very sensitive about the sheep thing,’’ Lee says. ‘‘ I bought a cardigan when I got there because I forgot to bring a jumper along,’’ Blake says. SITCOM SLAM Tom Hanks is the latest celebrity to perform slam poetry on Jimmy Fallon’s show. His ode to the ‘90s sitcom Full House is Hanks back to his humorous best. Sure, Tom’s an Oscar winner now but deep down he’s still the goofy guy from Bachelor Party. WATCH: http://bit.ly/RX8yS0
Looking back, there’s a pattern of travel and mucking around
‘‘ It had some sheep knitted into it. I had a few people offended with it — but I bought it in New Zealand. They made it, and it was 100 per cent merino.’’
The strength of the Caravan of Courage specials, and the Gap Year shows for that matter, has always been the reallife characters Blake and Lee meet on their travels, and New Zealand didn’t disappoint.
‘‘ We met Ken from Fiordland. Moose were introduced into this giant forested area about 100 years ago for hunting purposes,’’ Blake adds.
‘‘ The last reported sighting was in 1950 but Ken still thinks there are moose out there. He has dedicated the last 35 years of his life spending three months at a time in the wilderness looking for them.
‘‘ We also met Vlad the vampire at a local pub. He brags that he is much more agile than a human.’’
Blake and Lee admit that the past two years with Nine have been a roller-coaster.
The first Gap Year series — more Rove-style chat show than comedy travelogue — wasn’t met with universal acclaim.
The show was filled with Hollywood celebrities, including James Franco, Taylor Swift and Neil Patrick Harris, flogging their latest album or film.
Gap Year premiered to more than 1.5 million viewers, but ratings slipped as the series progressed. That didn’t stop it winning the Logie for best light entertainment program.
Blake also collected the coveted Gold Logie.
The pair got their mojo back with Euro Gap Year. Celebrities out and funny travel segments in.
‘‘ There were a lot of challenges last year because, for the first time ever, we were building our own series in a
IF it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, is Hamish and Andy’s mantra for 2013. Hamish Blake and Andy Lee are about to unleash two 90-minute Caravan of Courage – Australia v New Zealand specials over the next fortnight.
The shows will bring an end to the comedy duo’s current contract with Channel 9.
The pair signed a two-year deal with Nine, reportedly worth at least $15 million, at the end of 2010 after jumping ship from Ten.
Last year, Blake and Lee launched their 10-episode Gap Year series, based in New York. This year, the pair backed it up with the sevenpart Euro Gap Year, presented from a London pub.
Now, theoretically, they are free agents — but it doesn’t look like they will be going anywhere.
‘‘ We’re extremely happy with what we’ve been allowed to do at Nine and the support they have given us,’’ Blake says. ‘‘ There is certainly no desire to change things massively.’’
He and Lee plan to hold formal contract talks with Nine once their Caravan of Courage specials have aired.
If they get their way, they will produce more travelbased comedy specials for Nine next year.
‘‘ The exciting thing is that so many characters keep presenting themselves (in the comedy-travel shows),’’ Lee says. ‘‘ We think there’s heaps more in this.’’
Caravan of Courage is a blast foreign country,’’ Lee says. ‘‘ This year was a lot more smooth sailing because we’d done one ( Gap Year) before.
‘‘ Looking back, there’s a pattern of travel and mucking around (in our shows),’’ Blake says.
‘‘ It is the thing we love doing the most. We are big fans of creating our own fun.’’ Caravan of Courage – Australia v New Zealand, Channel 9, Sunday, 6.30pm