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The real true story: Hamish and Andy on life, mateship and how it all began

'There has never been a master plan'

Back in 2003, Andy Lee answered his phone, thinking it was good mate (and now radio host) Michael "Wippa" Wipfli prank-calling him.

At the time, Andy and best friend Hamish Blake were generating huge buzz around their Channel 31 community television program Radio Karate in Melbourne and their homemade sketch videos.

Little did Andy know that call would be crucial in kick-starting their career as one of Australia's most successful comedy duos across television and radio.

"I got a call from a guy named Guy Rundle, who said he was from Channel Seven, who sounded exactly like Wippa," Andy, 36, explains. "I was working at a roof-rack store at the time, and Guy said he wanted Hamish and I to come in and have a chat about potentially being on a new show for Channel Seven."

Andy didn't take the offer seriously, as he thought it was a prank.

"I was saying, 'Yeah mate, you can't afford us.'" he recalls. "I was being really rude, beating Wippa at his own game."

Andy hung up and gave the real Wippa a call. His stomach dropped when he realised he had made a fatal error.

He panicked, thinking he had blown a meeting with Guy, who was a top television executive at Channel Seven at the time.

"That was when I realised I just told the Channel Seven guy to stick his show where the sun doesn't shine," Andy shakes his head, cringing.

"At that point, I thought, 'If this guy doesn't ring back, will I ever tell Hamish?'"

Thankfully, an hour later Guy did call back, and Andy avoided having to tell his friend that he'd ruined their big break.

The boys ended up hosting their first show, Hamish & Andy, in 2004 for Channel Seven, which lasted only six episodes. TV critics savaged them, but it didn't stop the duo.

"What's interesting about any kind of criticism is that there's usually a grain of truth to it," Andy concedes."Weirdly, my dad has kept every single [news] article we've been mentioned in, even the really bad ones. In fact, at the start, there were more bad ones than good ones!"

It was two years later that Network Ten signed them for Real Stories.

That led to several successful TV specials, including Hamish And Andy's American Caravan Of Courage.

In 2011, the Nine Network signed the boys for the popular Gap Year series.

Fast forward seven years and they're still at Nine, with the second season of their original-format show, True Story With Hamish & Andy, hitting ratings highs again.
Away from TV, the lads are the envy of the radio world, with two top-rating national radio stints with Southern Cross Austereo under their belt.

The pair are proud – if not a bit surprised – of their success.

"When we started in radio, and then TV, my high school asked me to come back and give a talk," Hamish, 37, says.

"I couldn't believe I'd become one of those people. Growing up, I would never have dared to dream I would get a job that would warrant returning to school to talk about it."

In television, you can't fake chemistry –and Hamish and Andy have it in spades.

Television and radio executives are always on the hunt for the "next Hamish and Andy" to try to emulate their commercial success. So, what's the secret?

Well, the trick is, they don't have a plan! As always, they just want to make each other laugh and hope that connects with a wider audience.

"There has never been a master plan," Hamish explains. "Like anyone in comedy [would agree], it's kind of dumb having a master plan, because it can go in 50 different directions at any one time.

"It's almost detrimental to be to steadfastly planned or set on one path."

Chatting with Hamish and Andy at our exclusive TV WEEK photo shoot, they're exactly like they are on television, bouncing seamlessly off each other.

While television is a big-money business with big egos, for these two, it's genuinely not about that. They simply love making great content and seeing their ideas come to fruition.

"I think with everything we've done, we're just searching for and trying to find things that you love and that make you laugh," Hamish says.

"It's really hard to put a science to this, because it's just a gut thing."

For more of our chat with Hamish and Andy, pick up a copy of this week's issue of TV WEEK

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