As the comedy genius of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer plan to call in to the Echo Arena as part of their 25th anniversary tour, getintothis’ Del Pike looks back and ponders on their past achievements.
It’s so hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Vic Reeves Big Night Out hit our screens. Rushing home from the pub on a Friday night was never so worthwhile. The then mysteriously enigmatic figures of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer captured the imaginations of those well versed in off the wall comedy and created a cult phenomenon before you could even shout “You wouldn’t let it lie!!!” Sitting comfortably on late night Channel 4, home of Saturday Night Live, The Comic Strip Presents… and Whose Line Is Is Anyway, it was a true zeitgeist moment.
Students the length and breadth of the country would soon be queuing around the block to catch Vic and Bob on their Big Night Out tour and catchphrases like “What’s on the end of the stick Vic” and “You lying get” became somewhat household. Slim line Vic took on the persona of a nightmarish light entertainment presenter, embracing the surreal in the most natural way, while the shorter, cheeky faced Bob played right hand man in a brace of supporting roles including the man with the stick, Judge Nutmeg and Norris Cole-esque Graham Lister. It felt like Ch4 was their natural home but bar one pilot episode of the brilliant Weekenders (Still available on demand) the duo moved wholesale to the BBC and have resided their ever since.
While most of us remember them for Shooting Stars, the mental as anything panel show that picked questions from the dove from above, introduced Matt Lucas as Man-baby George Dawes and invented the words ‘Uvavu’ and ‘Eranu’, there has been so much more. Two series of The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer introduced such favourites as the bra men, Councillors Cox and Evans, Slade at home and Mulligan and O Hare, the follow up series Bang Bang it’s Reeves and Mortimer offered a darker side to their humour and possibly alienated some of their audience. It was nonetheless fantastic.
Vic had a semi-successful foray into the charts in the early 90s with his version of Born Free and teamed up with The Wonder Stuff for a number one single, Dizzy.
When The Fast Show’s Charlie Higson decided to breathe new life into the 60s supernatural – buddy cop show Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) in 2000, Vic and Bob were perfect for the part and the Saturday night – late tea time schedule and family friendly sci-fi fantasy feel seemed to pave the way for the regenerated Doctor Who series a few years later. Indeed it even had a co-starring role for Tom Baker. When Vic and Bob themselves tried their hand at writing a comedy drama series in the form of Catterick in 2004, they may have created their own career high, shame hardly anyone saw it.
Despite a few mis-judged moments like It’s Ulrika and the family friendly Saturday night game show Families at War, the duo have always managed to bounce back as the two recent series of House of Fools has proven, a part scripted, part improvised surreal sit-com recorded in front of a live audience and giving welcome airtime to the brilliant Matt Berry.
25 rich years with a million laughs in between later and Vic and Bob are embarking on a Silver anniversary tour, squeezing in two nights at the Echo Arena in November. The show promises to include appearances from characters spanning their whole career. Vic and Bob are no strangers to the live circuit and have brought most of their sketch shows to the stage at some point. Big Night Out started off as a live show with just Vic at the helm until Bob, who was a solicitor at this point, decided to join him onstage and the rest is history. From obscure late night curiosities to absolute comic gods, Vic and Bob’s new show is an absolute must for comedy fans.
Vic and Bob’s UK Tour comes to Liverpool’s Echo Arena on December 16. Tickets go on sale April 8 at 9am.