Monday, 28 September 2009
BAZ'S CULTURE CLASH airs it's third episode tonight at 10.25pm on RTE TWO
Baz's Culture Clash is a new series on RTÉ Two in which Baz Ashmawy takes a humorous, and at times dark, journey into six very different worlds, be it reborn Hells Angels, celebrity look-a-likes, or America's new sexual revolution -The Silver Ring Thing.
Along the way Baz ends up cooking up road kill he scooped up 20 minutes before, letting off some pent-up anger during a session of scream therapy, hanging out with an ex-LA gang leader who preaches the word of the Lord using Hip Hop, going under hypnosis with a secret coven of witches in a small Irish town and getting a glimpse of UFOs flying over Donegal.
Baz travels to Los Angeles, home to some of the most radical forms of alternative therapy. Baz visits a laughing yoga session, gets his chakras blown about and undergoes scream therapy, where he is encouraged to let loose using a punch bag and base-ball bat.
Baz goes into the world of the Freegans, a group of people who believe that the end of the capitalist system is nigh - and that total self reliance is the only way to go.
Baz ends up building eco toilets, going bin raiding and hitting the by-roads of Britain with England's most notorious consumer of road kill, who cooks up something special for supper.
Programme 3 (tonight's)
Baz enters the world of the supernatural. In a seemingly haunted shopping centre in Carlow one of the production crew collapses after being overtaken by a strange presence.
In Donegal Baz finds video evidence of UFO activity. And in a secret Wican ritual Baz is put under hypnosis and brought back to meet his Egyptian fore-fathers.
How Low Can you Go?
Baz presented this series along with Michael Hayes and Mark O'Neil. It was a travel show with a twist. They visited various cities and attempted to find the lowest cost and stay in a number of different cities. The series covered Europe, USA and Australia.
Baz managed the Wicklow team, Ballymanus. His team was eventually beaten by Marty Whelan's team.
Well known faces worked in a hotel - the public decided their fate. Baz and Aidan Power were the live hosts on eviction nights. Baz was criticised by the press as trying to emulate Russell Brand which he says annoyed him at first but then a week later he felt bulletproof.
No Frontiers: Guest Presenter
The Panel: Guest Host
Baz Ashmawy Interview
You first started off as an actor - where did you study?
I went and did Drama and Theatre Studies in Trinity and I lasted about a month and then realised how much work was involved in it. Drama was from 7am till 8pm at night. I decided it was too much hard work and I went travelling and then when I settled down I did consultancy in London for about 7 years. Then while living in London I got back involved with theatre and I did a few acting courses over there and then I came back to Dublin and did a few more courses in The Gaiety School of Acting. I was 26 and I decided to give myself 5 years to get into acting.
How did you move into TV?
I was doing a lot of theatre and the money was really bad. I loved doing it. Then one day ne approached me about doing a travel show and I auditioned and I got it. It was funny when I went to the auditions there was 6 guys. They picked 3. Mark was laughing as at the auditions Mark thought I was gay and he thought I had the niche for the gay guy (Baz isn't Gay) and I saw a guy of mixed race and I thought oh no he has my niche. Then it ended up that the 3 of us got the gig.
We did How Low For 5 years. Then I was offered a few gigs and I jumped at it. Culture Clash looks at 6 different belief systems. To investigate them and to meet people and to show some interesting and funny moments. It's not about me it's about the individuals. We did one on alternative therapies, paranormal, one of celebrity and one of eccentrics. We did them in America, UK and Ireland. The whole series was brilliant. The paranormal in Ireland was brilliant. I did this thing with the Wycam witches in Kells. I met the locals and asked them what they thought of them. Then met two of the witches. They did research on me and wanted to do a ritual on me and bring back to my Egyptian ancestors. I was a bit hesitant and then they came out in robes. They put me under hypnosis for 45 minutes. I still don't know if I got in touch with my ancestors. I went into this whole heartedly. I don't believe in making fun of other people's belief systems.
I met eccentrics in the UK. I met a guy who wants to be a baked bean. He painted himself orange. He entered an award ceremony for The Most Eccentric Person in Britain. It was in Mayfair Club - but it was so cringe worthy - but great TV.
I also met Arthur who eats road kill. It was great to meet all these different people. I met a gangster rapper who now is a devout Christian and I kept in touch with him but not Arthur - I don't dig eating road kill.
Your niche seems to be travel type shows?
I don't really have a niche. I just like people. I do love to travel and if I can do both then it's amazing. You want to show people at home other places and different people and I love to do that. I'm so lucky.
Are you interested in your heritage?
I haven't looked up much about it. When I was a kid I was obsessed with Pharaohs and was really hoping I was a king. But my dad explained that they were all dead.
I was born in Libya and was brought up in Egypt till I was 7. I have lots of passports.
What's the Culture Clashes between Ireland and Egypt?
They are very different cultures. My sister is still in Egypt (half sister). The more you travel around the more you realise people are the same. I remember being in Cairo watching a match and the whole thing was the same as Ireland but no one was drinking. That was the only difference. I feel at home in Egypt but I'm very Irish as well. I love a pint and I went to school here but I am aware of my heritage.
My mom is crazy about looking back at your family tree.
When was the series filmed?
The series was filmed a year ago and it got put back till now.
You are Ireland's Sexiest Male?
It's a load of rubbish. They just wanted someone to stir it up and who would go and collect the award. I am not even the sexiest man on my road. My girlfriend laughed for about an hour. I have a broken trophy on my mantelpiece. I'll give it to my future kids.
I loved it. GAA is huge but it wasn't huge to me as I wasn't into sports. But it's great the community spirit was amazing. I managed the team in Ballymanus in Wicklow as my Mom was born near there. The lads were amazing and great crack. I was gutted we lost but it was such good fun.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
Irish TV is always compared to the UK and there is this negative attitude to Irish shows. We make great shows here in Ireland. I like to make shows that I would want to watch myself. That makes me happy and I love what I do. It's a learning curve. People criticise you and I used to take it personally and then when you come out the other side you realise that you shouldn't take it personally.
Filming New Series
I am now doing another series about extreme worlds. Can't talk much about it. I was off with the NY fire Brigade and now I'm off to Chad with the army.