Remember Vic and Bob? They were quite big around the beginning of the decade. Tom Lappin speaks to the re-emerging superstars of cult comedy and has a sniff at The Smell 0f Reeves And Mortimer.
an’s allotted span may be three score years and ten, but if you’re a hot name-to-drop cult entertainer, you’ve got about ten minutes and then exit stage left please. 80 if you want to be seriously unhip these days just utter the less-than-immortal phrases ‘What’s on the end of your stick Vic?’, ‘Will you look at the quality of that sausage,’ or the deﬁnitive ‘You wouldn’t let it lie’. If Reeves and Mortimer catchphrases were stock-market shares the culture brokers would be shrieking ‘sell!’ into their phones day and night.
Oh, what a cruel and ﬁckle existence it is to be a left-ﬁeld innovative superstar. Remember Wayne’s World? Not. Or those Turtles? Cowawhatever. Back in the heady days of 1990—91 Vic and Bob had it all. Post-pub surrealism had never been so infectious as those Big Night Out buzzwords. The tour sold out, as did supplies ofCadbury’s Boost bars, the single, Dizzy, topped the only chart that counts and Vic and Bob were laughing all the way to the butcher’s shop.
Since then, a year’s absence from our small screens and theatres has dimmed our heroes’ gleam in the cult ﬁrmament. Other stars have risen to take their place, people like Chris Evans, Angus Deayton, Zig and lag and the mighty Reg Holdsworth. Stricken by their plummet from the heights of public acclaim, Vic and Bob have been resting up in the residents’ lounge of the Luke Goss Retirement Home For Megastars Of Yesteryear, plotting their return, and agonising over the moment when i the sausages began to go sour.
OK, SO THEY HAVEN’T, really. Rather more prosaically, they’ve actually been sitting around in their ofﬁce writing a new series, The Smell 0f Reeves And Mortimer, available imminently on 625-line format on a BBC2- tuned screen near you. As for that lamentable loss of cult status, regrets they’ve had . . . well none really.
‘I couldn’t give a . . .’ splutters Jim Moir aka Vic Reeves, several pounds heavier than in Big Night Out’s heyday, sporting a foppish hairstyle in a shade of brown that flirts dangerously with ginger. Here is a man with conﬁdence enough in his innate star quality
10 The List 10—23 September 1993
‘lt’s nice that people appreciate . ' what you are doing, 1 3 but when it’s the eighth time in one i day that someone’s ,
f “what’s on the end of your stick?” it can grow boring,
to throw away the black hair dye. ‘You just get on with the work. You just produce the stuff. If people don’t want it, they don’t want it, if they like it they like it.’ Cult fame was turning into something of a double-edged meat cleaver anyway. On their ’91 ' tour Vic and Bob were regularly besieged in their dressing-room by hordes of lustful teenagers and catchphrase-crazed lads. ‘You enjoy it to an extent,’ Vic admits, ‘until it becomes tiresome. It’s nice that people appreciate what you are doing, but when it’s the eighth time in one day that someone’s shouted out, “what’s on the end of your stick?” it can grow boring, believe me. You end up having to ignore people, which isn’t very nice.’ Sex symbol status is also a thing of the past, ' conﬁrms Bob. Vic is a proud father nowadays, and Bob says, ‘we’ve moved on from that, we’re maturer now, above such things.’ Bob and Vic: The Wilderness Years were spent
completing the scripts for the Channel 4 short ﬁlm series The Weekenders (on ice since the lads signed for the BBC in a lucrative close season transfer deal) and writing the new series. Budget restrictions meant Vic and Bob had to wait a year before a BBC series could be recorded, time they spent creating a whole new Reeves and Mortimer style, and turning down offers to appear on panel shows.
‘This series took a hell of a lot of writing,’ explains Bob, ‘because we had to start from scratch again. So we were working in the ofﬁce from eleven to four most days just trying stuff out. Sometimes we’d get one page, sometimes four.’
THE WAITING AND and the work have paid dividends in some of the funniest and most accessible material they’ve ever produced. The feel they are aiming for with the new series is less of the anarchic alternative theatre atmosphere of Big Night Out and closer to classic BBC Light Entertainment of the mid 70s. The Morecambe and Wise comparisons have been made before, and it’s conceivable that if Eric and Em had included Salvador Dali on the