Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Hit UK TV show comes calling for Kiwi star Liam Malone

He nailed the Paralympics in Rio and now Liam Malone's jetting to London to nail comedy and cancer.

Malone's life story is heart-breaking, with a devastating history of cancer running through his family. But, the 22-year-old who shot to fame in Rio with two gold and a silver medal, says he wants to use his new-found profile to raise awareness around the illness.

And comedy, he says, is the perfect way to do it.

A British TV station is flying the gold medal sprinter and aspiring comic to London to film an episode of hit show The Last Leg. A special edition of the acclaimed late-night programme is being made to support the UK's annual televised fundraiser, Stand Up To Cancer.

"As a society, a lot of cancers are taboo subjects, we feel uncomfortable talking about things like getting a colonoscopy and ensuring we address any symptoms. Making it more approachable - comedy for relief - is really important.
Paralympic champion Liam Malone

"Cancer is everywhere in my family. When I was seven my grandmother passed away from cancer, when I was 12 my mum was first diagnosed with bowel cancer - stage three as it went undetected for a while - and she battled it for six years.

"Mum had multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation and was cleared twice. It was the third time she passed away.

"At the same time my uncle was diagnosed with cancer and only given about eight weeks to live. He ended up passing away a couple of months before my mum did. And then my other uncle has been battling leukaemia his whole life and I've had to watch that as well.

"Cancer is so prevalent and a real bastard of a thing. The pain it causes is so huge. We can't ignore conversations just because they make us feel uncomfortable."

Pulling audiences of around 2.5 million per episode, The Last Leg is an award-winning panel show and a jewel in the crown of Channel 4's programming.

Originally devised to run alongside the London 2012 Games as an alternative look at the week's events, it proved so popular bosses refused to take it off air and ended up commissioning it as a weekly staple.

Double Paralympic champion Liam Malone is on his way to London at the request of a major TV broadcaster. Photo / file
Double Paralympic champion Liam Malone is on his way to London at the request of a major TV broadcaster. Photo / file

Producers filmed in Brazil this year during Rio 2016 - where after bagging three medals, including two gold, aspiring comic Malone appeared as a guest panellist.

Now the Brits want the Kiwi blade runner back.

"I've always wanted to get down the route of comedy, into TV and entertainment," Malone told the Weekend Herald. "I said yes to the invite straight away and the next thing I know they've bought plane tickets for me."

TV producer Vesna Saunders says Malone was specifically requested by programme bosses.

"From meeting him in Rio, my execs wanted to get Liam over for this so I was asked to approach him. Lots of people came on the show during Rio but Liam's the only one who has been invited for this," Saunders said.

"Liam's an incredible athlete and he's hilarious, we love him. The Last Leg guys were like 'do you think we could get Liam to come over?' They thought it would be impossible but we eventually got him.

"The Last Leg is one of Channel 4's biggest shows and does a special programme every year for Stand Up To Cancer - which is a whole night of programmes, it's a bit like Comic Relief or Children in Need."

The trip tops a dream run for Malone whose three medals in Rio saw him given the honour of carrying the New Zealand flag at the closing ceremony of the Games. This month the Nelson youngster was also given the key to the city.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 29 Apr 2017 05:04:01 Processing Time: 726ms