Baaaa brawl

Rarely sheep­ish, Hamish and Andy are un­likely to rue a trans-tas­man chal­lenge in their lat­est ad­ven­ture, as Colin Vick­ery re­ports

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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

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