Join John Safran, Cal Wilson, and Adam Liaw as they embark on a journey into Australia’s multicultural past to uncover stories that the history books left out
Who the Bloody Hell Are We? premieres Wednesday 19 July on SBS and SBS On Demand
Australians love a good yarn, but so much of our rich history hasn’t been told or isn’t celebrated. How can we truly know ourselves if we aren’t telling the whole story? SBS Original three-part documentary Who the Bloody Hell Are We? is a playful, surprising, and revelatory series that breathes new life into the Australian story by exploring our history through the lens of some of our most intriguing multicultural communities.
Join professional provocateur John Safran, stand-up comedian Cal Wilson, and kitchen maestro Adam Liaw as they explore how people of Jewish, Kiwi, and Chinese descent, like themselves, fit into our national narrative. Their irreverent romp through the margins and back alleys of Australian history brings cracking stories that have been overlooked, ignored, or forgotten back into the spotlight.
Was the Jewish homeland of Israel really almost established in the Top End? [i] Did a pragmatic Kiwi engineer inadvertently give birth to multicultural Australia? [ii] And should we thank a humble Chinese tradie for founding one of our big four banks? [iii]
Determined to fill in the blank pages in the Australian story by unearthing tales of unsung heroes and forgotten acts of derring-do, John, Cal, and Adam track down first-hand witnesses, expert raconteurs and the descendants of historical figures who shaped our national story in profound or surprising ways – from the Jewish single mother who was transported to Australia as a convict and effectively became the colony’s First Lady, to the touring Māori athletes who saved Australian rugby league from bankruptcy, to the celebrated Chinese Australian Gallipoli sniper who learnt his trade as an Outback roo-shooter in Queensland.
As they unearth one remarkable yarn after another, John, Cal, and Adam reveal the story of modern Australian to be so much more fascinating, diverse, and twisty than the history books depict. John Safran said: “This series not only covers history but makes it. For the first time on Australian soil, a holy Jewish mud creature known as a golem is created, using that very soil, and brought to life through Kabbalah prayer. All captured on film!”
Humorous, unexpected, and thought-provoking, Who The Bloody Hell Are We? unearths the deep multicultural roots of modern Australia and helps us to discover a fuller picture of ourselves. Shamelessly entertaining, it’s Australian history – but not as we know it.
Bernadine Lim, SBS Commissioning Editor for Documentaries, said: “Who The Bloody Hell Are We? is another breakthrough documentary series from SBS, taking us on a fascinating journey of rich discovery through parts of Australian story that, until now, have been shrouded in secrecy. And who better to explore the hidden parts of our history than John Safran, Cal Wilson, and Adam Liaw? With their signature humour, insight, and wit, watch as they unveil astounding and captivating stories that you’ll have to see to believe.”
Chemical Media Executive Producer Tony Jackson said: “As Cal Wilson so eloquently says in the Kiwi episode of Who The Bloody Hell Are We?, history has largely been written by white dudes. So going back through the modern Australian story and looking at it again through the eyes of other migrant groups effectively revealed a whole new Australian story. All three Australian directors on this series (of Jewish, Māori and Chinese descent respectively) took the helm of a long-form documentary for the first time. And judging by the results, I’m sure it won’t be the last.”
Screen Australia Head of Documentary Alex West said: “We’re extremely proud to support this distinctly Australian series from Chemical Media, who have a proven track record for crafting innovative and highly engaging documentaries. Who the Bloody Hell Are We? promises to entertain and inspire audiences, in the often conflicted arena of Australia’s cultural identity. I can’t wait to see the eye-opening stories this new series on SBS uncovers.”
Who the Bloody Hell Are We? is a Chemical Media production for SBS. Major production investment from Screen Australia in association with SBS. Financed with support from VicScreen.
Who The Bloody Hell Are We? will be subtitled on SBS On Demand in Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. All episodes will be available with audio description.
All three episodes of Who The Bloody Hell Are We? will be available to stream on SBS On Demand from Wednesday 19 July. Episode one will premiere on SBS on Wednesday 19 July at 7:30pm and continues weekly.