Zemiro delivers intriguing lives

Harvey Rae
Dave Hughes opens up to Home Delivery host Julia Zemiro

Comedians often mine their childhood and upbringing for laughs. That's what makes them perfect subjects for Julia Zemiro's Home Delivery, according to the show's host.

With an interesting twist on the standard interview show format, in season one Zemiro took subjects including stand-up comic Carl Barron, subversive doco-maker John Safran and Spicks and Specks musicologist Alan Brough to their home towns, revisiting key childhood locations such as schools, parks and the houses they grew up in.

The show's first season was popular enough that the ABC has commissioned nine episodes this year, three more than in 2013. In addition, the new season will feature instalments devoted to international comics Bill Bailey, Ross Noble and Ruth Jones.

"I happened to be over there for Eurovision and to get Ross, Bill and Ruth was fantastic," Zemiro, best-known as host of SBS trivia show RocKwiz, says from Sydney, where she recently started rehearsals for the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Cyrano de Bergerac.

"It was hard to lock them in because they had to go back to their childhood homes - if we were doing it where they lived it would have been easy but we had to make them come to Bath or Newcastle, so it was fabulous they were able to do that."

The remaining six episodes feature comedians from closer to home, including Julia Morris, Wendy Harmer and Dave Hughes, who kicks the series off tonight.

"I know Dave and I've seen him work over the years, I think he's fantastic, but I didn't know what to expect," Zemiro says.

She leads Hughes through several locations that bring back memories of sporting successes, crying behind the school toilets and the Christian Brothers' College, Warrnambool, where he graduated dux in 1988.

It paints a complex picture of Hughes and his journey to now, Zemiro comparing his mix of intelligence, athletic gifts and the sensitive side that often brought him to tears to Bill Bailey's Renaissance man styled all-rounder, who over-achieved academically as well as in music and sport, "even though he may not look like a sportsperson".

"I hope when people watch the show they realise that we are different things at different times in our lives," she says. "We can be lots of things. We live more and more in this world where you have to be labelled as something."

Without stooping to sentiment, the opening episode offers insights into how the Dave Hughes of then has shaped the "Hughesy" of now, a loving father of three who doesn't drink and subscribes to Buddhist principles of meditation and death being an inevitable part of life.

"I was delighted to see how he felt about still being someone that isn't super-confident; that still to this day, even though he's had a great career, still wonders if he can do it," Zemiro says.

"I hope people see that. I think there's still this notion that everything comes easy and it just doesn't. It was lovely to see him talk about that."

Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery’s second season starts airs today at 9pm on ABC.