Suffering for his art
THE VOICE'S Darren McMullen explores the weird and wonderful in his new travel show.
McMullen has dedicated his time in between filming seasons of Channel 9's hit reality singing competition to his new pet project, which sees him travel across Europe in search of society's "outsiders".
From fighting crime with a so-called ninja to playing in a Viking heavy metal band and attending his own funeral at Spain's Near Death Fiesta, McMullen has sought out little-known sub-cultures.
"It's one of the best experiences I've ever had in my TV career," he told The Guide.
"As my Mum says, 'You couldn't have designed a more perfect show for yourself. You've always been obsessed with people a little left of centre'."
McMullen said it was difficult to "infiltrate the ranks" of some of the groups, who were either secretive or wary of the press.
"I put them at ease quite quickly by telling them 'I'm a humanist; I'm here to experience your life in a very non-judgemental way'," he said.
"There are so many shows out there where they make fun of people who are a little bit different. I don't want to do that; it's not my personality. I very much wanted the show to be about me giving them a platform to show why it is they believe what they believe.
"We got some fantastic scoops from people just because we weren't making fun of them."
Immersing himself in his subjects' interesting lifestyles, McMullen often put his body on the line for the show.
"I managed to get two cracked ribs while training to take part in a chess boxing competition," he said.
"It's this up-and-coming sport where they play three minutes of chess and then three minutes of boxing. You either win by knockout or check mate.
"I also almost cut my finger off when I was trying to be a Viking in the south of Sweden... I worked out I was very accident prone. I'd never been to the hospital in my life (before show)."
In this week's episode, McMullen trains with England's crime-fighting ninja and has a whirlwind tour around Amsterdam's red light district with twin prostitutes in their '70s.
Darren McMullen's Outsiders - Nat Geo People - Tuesday at 7.30pm Qld, 8.30pm NSW.