The comedian, famous for playing Kel Knight and Russell Coight, has opened up about a TV segment that went horribly wrong.
The comedian, famous for playing Kel Knight and Russell Coight, has opened up about a TV segment that went horribly wrong.

Glenn Robbins almost died on TV

There are few Australian performers as loved as Glenn Robbins.

For more than four decades, he's made audiences laugh on sketch shows, in stand-up and through his numerous characters including Uncle Arthur, Russell Coight and Kel Knight.

But the comedian's life was almost cut short in the early '90s when a TV stunt went horribly wrong.

In an interview with news.com.au to promote his podcast with Dave O'Neil called Somehow Related, Robbins opened up about the moment he almost died while filming an episode of Tonight Live With Steve Vizard.

"I used to do segments where I'd go out and do sh*t and do crosses back into the studio," Robbins said about his role on the Channel 7 show.

"We were doing a show from Blenheim Palace in the UK and I did a thing where I was up in an ultralight plane.

Glenn Robbins in the ultralight aircraft. PIcture: Channel 7
Glenn Robbins in the ultralight aircraft. PIcture: Channel 7

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"I was in one ultralight with a pilot and then there was one next to us filming us," Robbins explained.

"The joke I was doing was where Steve (Vizard) would ask, 'Where are you?' I'd pull out a map and the joke was going to be that the map blew out of my hands and I'd say, 'Well, I don't know where I am now!'"

As soon as Robbins had made the joke during the prerecorded segment, the pilot turned to him and said, "We're in trouble, we have to do an emergency landing!"

"I thought, I know what's happened, the map's blown into the blade and it's going to stuff the engine," Robbins said. "We did an emergency landing. We landed in a paddock and we landed hard!"

The pilot did a quick inspection and informed Robbins that it wasn't the map that almost brought them down.

"He turns around and goes, 'Um, this is what it was.' It was a scarf that I had had around my neck," Robbins said. "It was so stupid of me to wear a scarf. I don't think there was any protection between me and the propeller, so the scarf unfurled very slowly and went into the propeller and then we went down."

Glenn Robbins with his mangled scarf. PIcture: Channel 7
Glenn Robbins with his mangled scarf. PIcture: Channel 7

It quickly dawned on Robbins that it could have been much worse.

"If the propeller had taken the other end of the scarf, it just would have knotted and snapped my neck!" he told news.com.au.

As mentioned, the stunt was prerecorded, but viewers didn't know that and assumed it was live.

When Robbins had to make an emergency landing, host Steve Vizard "played it up" and hurriedly threw to a commercial break.

"He knew I was OK," Robbins said about Vizard. "But my friends didn't.

"The people back home were watching going, 'Glenn's just crash landed in an ultralight!'

All my friends and family were thinking I was dead!"

Spoiler: Glenn Robbins didn't die and has continued to make audiences laugh ever since his close call.

His current project is the Somehow Related podcast which he co-hosts with Dave O'Neil.

In each episode, the comedians are given two seemingly random topics and together they have to work out how the two very different things are 'somehow related'.

Dave O’Neil and Glenn Robbins.
Dave O’Neil and Glenn Robbins.

The podcast has been a hit with listeners with more than 1.3 million downloads so far.

Part of the reason it's been so successful, Robbins believes, is because the episodes have a theme rather than just a couple of comedians talking.

"It's great to listen to people who you're a fan of talking, but I'd rather it be framed and by giving it a destination, it lowers the bar and means you can talk about things that you wouldn't normally talk about it," he told news.com.au. "As a listener, you go: I'm getting information, anecdotes, I'm getting facts and I'm going on a personal journey with these guys and at the end there's a little lolly on your pillow where you find out how the things are related and then you can tell that at a dinner party."

Some of the topics in past episodes include "Nazis and Fanta", "Margaret Thatcher and soft serve ice cream", and "Osama bin Laden and boy bands".

 

You can check out the episodes of Somehow Related here or wherever you get your podcasts

Originally published as Glenn Robbins almost died on TV



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