Originally created for the National Geographic Channel, Outsiders with Darren
McMullen has found a new TV home at ABC2. We chat to the host about what newcomers can expect from the travel documentary with a twist.
How did the project initially come about?
The concept was conceived over a few whisky sours in Scotland with a great guy called Will Simpson. He was talking about essentially travelling the world and doing a talk show with all the interesting characters you may meet in life and I said, ‘That would be my dream — to do a travel show with the weird and wacky and wonderful.’ Then I kind of forgot all about it.
He obviously didn’t though?
No. Six months later he called me up and said, ‘Hey remember that show we came up with after a few whisky sours? Well, National Geographic wants to make it.’
Who do we meet during the show? We cover every gamut. We see bizarre religions — people who worship aliens or animals among other things — people who make music with their plants and people who go time travelling. You have some pretty interesting adventures along the way.
I love Louis Theroux, but it irritates me a little that he doesn’t immerse himself in what he’s doing, he kind of makes judgment based on being a fly on the wall. For me, it was always, I want to walk a mile in their shoes to see if it’s something I would consider with absolutely no judgment or preconceptions.
That must be hard to do?
It is, yeah. But I’ve always been attracted to the weird and wonderful people in life. I’m fascinated in how people’s brains work, how they get to that point where they’re seeing life in a completely different light than anyone else. Are they the ones who are actually seeing the world the way it is or are they completely mental?
What did you discover?
It’s completely up to the eye of the beholder. There are certainly some things I found that I never thought I would believe or sympathise with but in reality I did.
Have you ever felt like an outsider?
That’s probably why I was so perfect for the show, I’ve always felt like an outsider. I’m always the one that’s on the edge of all the groups and that’s the way I preferred it.
Where do you think that comes from?
I came to Australia at the age of 12. Coming from a completely different culture, with a completely different sense of humour, speaking completely differently and really made to feel I was an outsider and different from everybody else and that kind of cemented my adulthood. I still feel like a guy on the edge of society and I guess that’s why these colourful characters I get to meet fascinate me so much.”
OUTSIDERS WITH DARREN MCMULLEN, ABC2, FRIDAY, 9.30PM