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Spicks and Specks host Adam Hills under fire as ABC star Michael Rowland blasts John Lennon joke

‘Tasteless’ joke about John Lennon on the ABC’s Spicks and Specks spectacularly backfires with even the network’s own stars slamming the segment

  • Popular ABC quiz show Spicks and Specks returned to air on Sunday night
  • Host Adam Hills made a joke about death of former Beatle John Lennon in 1980
  • Joke sparked furious backlash from viewers, including stars from same network 

The host of a popular quiz show has come under fire from his ABC colleagues and viewers after he made a tasteless’ joke about the murder of The Beatles’ John Lennon. 

The ABC celebrated the return of its popular music show Spicks and Specks on Sunday night, with comedian Adam Hills returning to host.

But its return sparked a divided response from viewers as ABC News Breakfast host Michael Rowland took aim at a joke made by Hills about Lennon’s shooting death. 

The faux pas unfolded after the two teams were asked to name the famous band the characters from the 1967 Disney film The Jungle Book were based on. Comedian Rhys Nicholson correctly guessed The Beatles.

‘I think they were meant to do it, and kind of last minute, there was a little bit, like, either whether it was publishing or money problems and they refused to do it in the end – have I made that up?’ Nicholson asked the host.

Hills said there were many stories as to why The Beatles didn’t do the movie, joking: ‘One was the scheduling, another was that John Lennon reportedly refused to work on animated films. 

‘But he did appear in live action films. So ironically, he preferred to be shot in real life.’

Lennon, 40, died on December 8, 1980 after he was shot four times in the back by Mark David Chapman in the archway of the singer’s New York home The Dakota.

Rhys Nicholson reacted in horror to a joke made by host Adam Hills on Spicks and Specks

Nicholson was seen cringing with his head in his hands as several other contestants and the audience laughed awkwardly.

Rowland was among the many viewers who weren’t amused.

‘That John Lennon gag….#spicksandspecks’  the television breakfast host tweeted with two cringe face emojis.

Many other viewers agreed.

‘Yeah… in my opinion, real music lovers don’t make jokes about murdered musicians,’ one replied.

Others called for Hills to be pulled off-air. 

Spicks and Speck host Adam Hills (pictured) divided viewers over his joke about John Lennon

Spicks and Speck host Adam Hills (pictured) divided viewers over his joke about John Lennon

‘Ban Adam Hills. Tired of his jingoistic gags, poor taste jokes. He’s bloody on every night on ABC and yet the ads and intro keep saying he’s back. He never bloody left. What’s with the team captain BS? Hasn’t Australia had enough of “Hillsey”?’ one tweeted.

Poll

Was the host’s joke about John Lennon’s death in bad taste?

  • Yes, it was tasteless 172 votes
  • No, it was fine 90 votes
  • Undecided 12 votes

Another viewer added: ‘I’ve always disliked Adam Hills but the John Lennon joke sealed the deal.’

But some fans jumped to Hills’ defence.

‘Bit of dark humour. It’s fine,’ one viewer wrote.

Another added: ‘People love to reflect on Aussie larakinism….until they hear it, then they whinge and feel offended.’

Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life over the murder of Lennon.

He’s been imprisoned ever since and has been denied parole 10 times since he became eligible in 2000.

Adam Hills came under from ABC colleagues, including News Breakfast host Michael Rowland

Adam Hills came under from ABC colleagues, including News Breakfast host Michael Rowland

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the ABC for comment. 

The series return of Spicks and Specks was the first of 10 new episodes and features a new game called ‘The Secret Song’.

‘As the Australian live music scene slowly gets back on its feet, we wanna give it a leg up by showcasing some of the best new musicians Australia has to offer (as well as a couple of legends thrown in for good measure),’ Hills said before the first episode aired.

‘Of course, we’ll do it all with some of the best comedians in the country. Spicks and Specks is a joy to make, and this series felt like one of our best.’

The Beatles co-founder John Lennon (pictured with wife Yoko Ono) was shot dead in 1980

The Beatles co-founder John Lennon (pictured with wife Yoko Ono) was shot dead in 1980

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