Alex Brooker: The Last Leg presenter reflects on disability in documentary airing on BBC Two

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Alex Brooker: The Last Leg presenter reflects on disability in documentary airing on BBC Two
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By now, Alex Brooker is a familiar name for many British TV viewers.

The journalist and presenter is best known as one of the co-hosts of the hit Channel 4 panel series, The Last Leg.

What started as a limited-run evening show tying into the 2012 Paralympics soon evolved into a regular fixture of Channel 4’s programme calendar. Alongside co-stars Adam Hills and Josh Widdicombe, Brooker would tackle topical material with a humorous spin.

In an interview profile last year, Brooker was described by The Guardian’s Ammar Kalia as “one of the few disabled faces regularly seen on British TV”. The presenter was born in 1984 with hand and arm deformities, becoming a leg amputee at the age of 13 months.

Speaking to The Guardian, Brooker said: “When I was a kid there weren’t a lot of disabled people on television, so I grew up thinking there was no one else out there like me.”

He said that co-host Hills, who was born with limb loss, was the “first bloke I’ve ever been able to talk to about having a prosthetic leg”.

“That’s why I’m so proud to be one of the people who has broken through. I feel responsible to not just be funny about disability, but to bring the reality of it to light as well,” he added.

In 2020, Brooker fronted the BBC documentary Alex Brooker: Disability and Me, in which he revisits key moments from his past, addressing his concerns about his own health and mobility with the help of medical experts.

Alex Brooker pictured at the launch of the ‘House of Sky Q’ in November 2018 (Getty Images)
Alex Brooker pictured at the launch of the ‘House of Sky Q’ in November 2018 (Getty Images)

Brooker also used the documentary to explore the wider meaning of what it is to be disabled in the UK, speaking to other disabled people around the country.

The documentary, which re-airs on BBC Two tonight (31 August), was prompted partly by a charity swim he did back in 2019, which was filmed for the Channel 4 TV series Sink or Swim.

His other TV ventures include guest appearances on Would I Lie to You?, 8 Out of 10 Cats and Richard Osman’s House of Games, and he is a regular host of the Channel 4 daytime series The Superhumans Show.

Off-screen, he is married and has two daughters.

Brooker was also a presenter on the first season of the celebrity sports series The Jump, which aired on Channel 4 in 2014.

Speaking to Disability Horizons about the experience, Brooker said: “The Jump was tough. I was asked to be the co-host, but I don’t think my role was ever really defined, so it was quite chaotic.”

Brooker (centre) and ‘Last Leg’ co-hosts Adam Hills and Josh Widdicombe pursuing Nigel Farage for an interview in a boat on the River Thames in June 2016 (Getty Images)
Brooker (centre) and ‘Last Leg’ co-hosts Adam Hills and Josh Widdicombe pursuing Nigel Farage for an interview in a boat on the River Thames in June 2016 (Getty Images)

“As somebody who hadn’t done a lot of TV at that time, I felt like that reflected slightly in my performance. Some of it was good – interviewing Amy Childs and trying out the bobsled was a real highlight – but some of it wasn’t. It was a big learning curve for me.

“At one point, I was getting online abuse and it made me think that I didn’t want to do TV again. Looking back now, if I did it, I would be a completely different presenter.”

Asked if whether he would classify himself as a comedian, Brooker replied: “It’s hard to say you’re a comedian because that is almost an admittance that you’re funny, and if you say that, you have to be funny all the time. So I try not to do that because I realise my jokes are a bit hit and miss sometimes.”

Brooker has dabbled in stand-up comedy, performing short routines “here and there”, and once delivering a five-minute set before Widdecombe came on stage at the Comedy Gala, in front of over 10,000 people.

Before the Covid pandemic happened, Brooker had planned to “start gigging properly”, he revealed to Disability Horizons. “[Or] at least give it a go,” he added.

Alex Brooker: Disability and Me will be available to watch on iPlayer after airing on BBC Two at 9pm tonight (31 August).

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