With Shooting Stars, they've taken the game show into a world of daft surrealism. But for their new TV series, VIC REEVES and BOB MORTIMER are returning to their sketch show roots. Words: Ellie Carr


808 MORTIMER USES MOISTURISER. I know because he told me. That is how intimate it‘s possible to get with the shortish. ex-solicitor half of Vic & Bob.

'It's a very pertinent subject.~ says Middlesborough—born Mortimer. ‘I‘ve just started using it. Me face started falling off because of something we did in the show. so I was introduced to female oils. It was exciting for three days. but I can‘t be bothered now.‘

Insights into skincare regimes. or any other subject for that matter. are less easily extracted from the remaining half of Generation X‘s favourite comedy duo. While Bob Mortimer spouts forth on everything from his blooming skin and fresh eyes (his words) to the wonders of Family fortunes. Vic Reeves (real name Jim Moir) prefers the monosyllabic route and remains thoroughly enigmatic.

It's a persona Moir has been working on most of his life. and not one he drops willingly. But separated from his sidekick Mortimer. it becomes almost impenetrable. Which is fine. What has Vic Reeves been doing while we‘ve been chatting to his mate‘.’ Reading? Sleeping? Fixing himself a drink‘.’

“I‘ve been carving the turnips.‘ he replies matter-of-factly. Of course he has. And we wouldn‘t have it any other way.

For Shooting Stars fans reared on a diet of

Eranu. Uvavu and The Dove From Above. this

brand of surrealism is now a familiar part of

the TV landscape. What started as a dodgy pub gig with audiences chanting 'What's on the end of the stick. Vic'." has mutated into a BBCZ game show with 4.5 million viewers. a spin—

off tour that broke box office ME: records for comedy. and more m mugs, T-shirts and assorted *---""*‘ merchandise than you could shake a. chm. stick at.

An edition of highbrow BBC arts documentary ()mnibas and an appearance in that Renault (‘lio ad series with the delectable Nicole during the 1998 World Cup simply proved that Vic & Bob's particular alternative had become the mainstream.

And what could be more mainstream than a BBC] Generation Game—style show called Families At War and a remake of offbeat 70s detective

30TllElI8T17 Dec 1998-77 Jan 1999

Mai 23‘:

'Me face started falling off because of something we did in the show, so I was introduced to female oils.’ Bob Mortimer

series Randall Ami Ila/)kit'k (l)eeease(/)‘.’ Both of these new Vic & Bob projects air next year.

More risky is the decision to return to the sketch show format with Bang Bang, It 's Reeves {Ind Mortimer. Shooting Stars got twice as many viewers as previous sketch show outing The Smell ()f Reeves :inr/ .I/Iartimer. and. despite being on its third series. is as popular as ever.

'We could do Shooting Stars till the day we dief admits Mortimer. ‘But Bang Bang is more like our proper job. This is what we love really.‘

Highlights of the new series

I’m/lee. (‘atneta xlet'itlent hosted by Neil Sedaka and old favourites

,5“ such as folk singers Mulligan and

()‘llare and the Stotts. Mortimer makes no secret of the fact that he is a telly addict of Noel Iidmonds proportions. so it is no surprise to see that recent scourge of the schedules. the docu-soap. make its mark on Bang Bang with regular feature The ('lab.

In fact. like Jane McDonald. Vic a Bob‘s careers now hang on the success of their very own docu-soap. ‘The series will stand or fall on it. to be honest. because

include a special edition of

it's such a big chunk of the show.‘ explains Mortimer. ‘lt‘s about a working men’s club in Hull. We play all the different parts the owner. the barmen. the bouncer and what have you. It‘s quite funny. I think.‘

A working men’s club . . . So plenty of room for club singers then. We? ‘There‘s a boy band on.‘ he says pondering the question. ‘There‘s an erotic night and a talent night. but there's no singers on. There‘s things on that are better than singers.‘

Obviously it‘s hard to imagine what could be better than singers but. like most comedy that involves two blokes pratting about. it loses something in the translation. Try explaining The Dove From Above to your Auntie Betty. and you‘ll get the drift.

As with all good things. though. there are always those who reckon they can bottle the formula. Industry rumour has it that there are those planning to sell the Shooting Stars format to America. the nation that knows no irony.

Let's just hope it doesn‘t go the same way as Men Behaving Badly. where the laddish stars became so straight they made the cast of Frienth look wild. A stunningly attractive Vic & Bob with perfect teeth and a sensible system of awarding points? Uvavu to that.

Bang Bang, It’s Reeves And Mortimer, BBCZ, Fri 1 Jan, 10.15pm.