Jeff Douglas

Sticky Situations: Jeff Douglas, host of History Television’s Things That Move, has found himself swimming with the coast guard and following garbage men. (Photo: Paul Darrow)

When his director asked him to lie down on an embalming table as part of a show about hearses, Jeff Douglas said "Yes."

But when the Truro (Nova Scotia)  native saw the cold, steel table - and the gutter running along the edge to catch any escaping body fluids - he took his time to jump on top.

"It took a lot of nerve," said Douglas, who is the host of History Television's Things That Move. The off-beat, half-hour show is about different types of vehicles, their history, and people who drive - or are intrigued - by them.

Now in its second season, the show takes a look at everything from the racing yachts to oil tankers, surf boards to garbage trucks.

"It's a funny weird, not funny ha-ha," said the 34-year-old about the hearse episode. "The show is not offensive, but nothing is sacred.

"I do end up in some pretty strange situations," he said. "That's my job."

That includes swimming with the coast guard in the St. Lawrence Seaway in November, following garbage men around Toronto, and firing a gun on a Sherman tank.

"Different vehicles take on different tones, but it is a pretty lighthearted look at locomotion. It's not being earnest, or holding up the army tank as the thing that saved the world - there is enough of those shows already."

Known to many as Joe, the "I am Canadian" guy from beer commercials, Douglas got the job because the History Channel and the show's producer - Primitive Entertainment - were looking for an irreverent host, not a journalist-type.

"I think I am on the show because my hair is not all grey yet," he said. "The show is informative enough without swamping people with facts."

The original concept, he said, was to make the vehicle the star of the show, but it has slowly become more about the people who operate the vehicles and are enthused by them.

The hearse episode includes a man who rented his three-way hearse to an adult film company, a man who was looking for a vehicle to drive aronud his growing family, and a woman who thinks a hearse is a great way to carry lumber.

"It's the story aspect of history that intrigues me - it's the characters, it's the places," said Douglas, who has is about to premiere a second History Channel show, Ancestors in the Attic.

Airing in October, it tracks the genealogy of average Canadians, looking into their past and telling the stories of their ancestors - relating them to moments in history.

"I look at things differently now," Douglas said.


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This page was last updated on 30 September 2021

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