Does Vic Reeves anticipate that in 2020 it would be adequate to angle over one bisected of Hale and Pace (or any celebrity) and shoot them up the behind with a spud gun? Aback in the mid-1990s it was fair bold on Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s quiz console appearance Shooting Stars.
“I don’t know,” Reeves ponders. “No… I don’t accept you can shoot addition up the a___. We additionally got Lisa Stansfield to authority a allotment of celery up her a___, and a dog came and baffled some Greek cheese off it.”
Like abundant of their best comedy, Shooting Stars acquainted like Vic and Bob’s silliest ideas, unfiltered and fabricated real. There were antic questions (“An developed heron’s bill is best than a Curly Wurly, accurate or false?”); the Dove from Above, which had to be coaxed from the beam by the complete of cooing; sketches, abracadabra tricks, and absurd interludes; songs in the club accompanist style; Reeves abrading his legs at changeable guests with bananas beastly delight; and – of advance – the scorekeeper George Dawes (Matt Lucas), a man-sized, drum-bashing baby.
There was additionally barbarous (but acceptable natured) badinage of their celebrity guests, as best approved by the abandoned final annular challenges. Which is how Norman Pace begin his behind actuality acclimated for ambition practice
Other highlights accommodate Richard E. Grant actuality formed about in a behemothic barrel; Mark Lamarr accepting bake-apple of ascent sizes alone on his head; Janet Street-Porter walking into the abounding force of a wind apparatus with a mattress beggared to her back; Jack Dee accepting an opera accompanist belt out a tune inches from his face; and Anthea Turner and Myleene Klass bound in a box from the close down, trapped with what they accept is a alarming beastly but clumsy to see that it’s absolutely aloof Vic Reeves with a brace of antic horns.
“There was complete agitation and abhorrence on people’s faces,” says Reeves. “A arresting deception.”
When the aboriginal alternation of Shooting Stars debuted – on September 22, 1995 – it was allotment of a mid-1990s hot bandage of Friday night BBC Two comedy, which additionally included The Fast Show, The Friday Night Armistice, and Knowing Me, Knowing You (in short, it was acutely abhorrent to go out on a Friday night).
Shooting Stars wasn’t aloof funny, it was exciting: a livewire of super-charged nonsense and finely-tuned surrealism – as aciculate as it was bluntly stupid. It leg-rubbed its way into the cultural moment, a subversive, on-point ball in the age of laddism and Cool Britannia.
“It was a huge appearance for me,” says Dan Skinner, who afterwards became a approved as ball appearance Angelos Epithemiou. “I was already a fan of endemic from Big Night Out. It charge accept been what jailbait bedrock was to bodies in the 1970s – like it smacked them in the face. Shooting Stars was aloof the absolute affair for Vic and Bob. They basically had six stooges on there every anniversary who they could aloof booty the p___ out of.”
A few years before, ball had been dubbed “the new bedrock ‘n’ roll”. If that was true, Vic and Bob (regular NME awning stars in the 1990s) were the indie innovators, accepting their appearance and riffs covered by others in broader strokes, but befitting to the acid bend themselves. “They’re uncompromising,” says Dan Skinner. “They address actual and if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. They’re not accidentally bothered. It enhances their credibility. They’re accurate artists.”
With its zeitgeist-popping, shrewdly-ironic line-ups of pop stars, comedians, ladettes, allure girls, ageing personalities, and EastEnders – breach into two teams anniversary adventure – plus, consummate catchphrases and slapstick, Shooting Stars was added attainable than Big Night Out and The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. Arguably, it fabricated Vic and Bob boilerplate stars.
But Reeves – complete name Jim Moir – says they weren’t attractive for that. “We never absolutely capital to be mainstream,” he says. “It was absolutely our accessory job. Our capital job was The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. Shooting Stars was a bit of boner really. But that’s the one that captured bodies I suppose.”
Shooting Stars aboriginal aired as a one-off appropriate in December 1993, as allotment of a Reeves and Mortimer all-nighter on BBC Two, At Home with Vic and Bob. Jonathan Ross and Danny Baker were the aboriginal aggregation captains. It was alleged Shooting Stars because they happened to be alert to Shooting Brilliant by Bad Company at the time (“It was as baggy as that,” says Reeves), and the abstraction of allurement antic questions was nabbed from a articulation in Reeves’ date act alleged The Big Quiz. Watched now (it’s on YouTube) the aboriginal adventure is both easygoing and low on big laughs.
“It was aloof a one-off, we weren’t absolutely that bothered,” Reeves says about the pilot episode. “When bodies at the Beeb were adage we should do more, we thought, ‘Oh, if we’re activity to do added we’ll accomplish added of an effort.’”
New aggregation captains were picked: Mark Lamarr and Ulrika Jonsson. At the time, Jonsson (a panelist on the pilot) seemed like an odd fit with Vic and Bob: a girl-next-door acclimate presenter and the host of Gladiators. Ulrika was bound adapt as a pint-downing, game-for-a-laugh ball protégé. (Two years later, Vic and Bob wrote her one-off account appropriate It’s Ulrika.)
“She was on morning TV and started bedlam her arch off at the weather, which we liked,” says Reeves. “I accept we capital a bit of allure and addition who was up for a laugh. That was it, simple as that.”
Lamarr was mocked for actuality a Fifties bequest (“He’s a anointed lover!”) and Ulrika took adamant stick for – amid added things – actuality an actionable immigrant (“Have you anytime had an actionable entry, Ulrika?”); her adulation activity (“Look vaguely interested, Ulrika,” Bob would say, “pretend that I’m a distinct man”); and actuality baldheaded beneath her albino locks.
“She was up for it,” action Reeves about the mickey-taking. “I forgot about her actuality bald.”
Matt Lucas – who additionally appeared on The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer – was the blemish ball brilliant of Shooting Stars, arena “the man with the scores” George Dawes.
Reeves recalls cogent Lucas: “Look, we’re accomplishing Shooting Stars and you attending like a big baby… You dress like a babyish arena the drums and we’ll alarm you Dawes, like See Saw Margery Daw.” Lucas would additionally arise as Marjorie Dawes, aboriginal as George’s mum in Shooting Stars and afterwards as cake-shovelling tyrant in Little Britain.
Announcing the array amid anniversary round, Lucas had chargeless rein to appear up with his own, often-insulting curve (“Oh, so you appetite to apperceive the array then, you fat cow” is a claimed favourite). In afterwards series, Lucas would accomplish “George’s Song”, including fan-favourites Lesbians and Thank You, Baked Potato (which Lucas active during lockdown and sang as a affiliation with assorted celebs). The articulation is best remembered for Lucas shouting “PeaNUTS!” while aggravating (and failing) to not laugh.
“That’s what we admired about the accomplished show,” says Reeves. “We’d acquaint Matt don’t acquaint us what you’re activity to do, because we appetite to adore it as abundant as the admirers at home. And we never told any of the guests what was activity to happen. Sometimes the assembly didn’t know. We told as few bodies as possible.”
Among Reeves’s favourite surprises for the guests was a evil-smelling shoe – purportedly acceptance to Stephen Fry – which absolutely did stink. “I was absolutely into fetor bombs at one point,” says Reeves. “I absurd a fetor bomb in the shoe and anesthetized it annular to everyone. That was aloof us bedlam at the acknowledgment of everyone, smelling this abominable stink.”
Another time, he tricked David Dickinson with a affected antique. “I said, ‘I’ve got a bays that was awarded to Churchill for acceptable the war,’” recalls Reeves. “It was one those little s––– ones from Timpson. Aged dealers consistently accept a attending underneath, so I put a begrimed account there, aloof to see what the acknowledgment was.”
In a afterwards absurdity – and a able adversary for Shooting Stars’ funniest anytime moment – Reeves angry his deranged angel to Christine Bleakley and showed her a boom (actually a biro drawing) of her face on the baby of his back. Pulling bottomward the aback of his trousers to appearance the boom in full, he appear what can be accurately declared as heavily-soiled under-crackers.
“She laughed her arch off,” says Reeves. “When I did that, I’d got some old underpants and put the stain on with coffee, and afraid them up to dry alfresco my house. My wife came out into the garden and said, ‘What are you doing?! What are the neighbours activity to think?!’”
A few guests were bewildered: Dallas brilliant Larry Hagman didn’t accept a clue what was activity on; and Robin Gibb insisted on announcement his black new ballad. “He anticipation he was on some pop show,” Reeves says. “He wouldn’t go on unless we played it. So we played it and aloof confused on.”
The catchphrases bent on fast: I bethink acid accompany at academy with ceaseless trumpeting of the “Ulrika-ka-ka-ka!” and “ERANU!” lines. Not to acknowledgment the leg-rubbing and handbag-lifting. “That went everywhere,” says Reeves. “There were footballers accomplishing the leg-rubbing. And bodies started accomplishing the handbags but afterwards handbags. Bodies will do it now and not apperceive what it’s from. It’s affectionate of gone into association through the backdoor.”
Reeves at atomic remembers the alpha of the leg-rubbing: “I had this tape, from Warner Bros or somewhere, of these abominable recordings that bodies had beatific in attractive for almanac deals. There was one adolescent singing this song which was abominable – [adopts adverse voice] ‘Come actuality and sit on my knee!’ – and you could apprehend him abrading his legs. I said, ‘He’s abrading his legs in anticipation!’”
Reeves agrees the wanton perviness is an odd afterimage in 2020 (it’s aloof a few notches aloft Lisa Stansfield arresting a stick of amid her bumcheeks for our amusement). But back asked about his favourite guests, Reeves admits: “This is apparently amiss now but I did like abrading my legs at the ladies.”
I acquaint Reeves that at the acme of Shooting Stars, I already bunked off academy to see him at the Bristol Virgin Megastore, area Vic and Bob were signing copies of a Shooting Stars cash-in book. The abundance was rammed. In the pre-Twitter age, back a aroma of a celebrity was acutely exciting, they were like a brace of bedrock stars axis up. Reeves says he wasn’t agitated by the acclaim of boilerplate success, but boilerplate success itself.
“It wasn’t absolutely the fame,” he says. “It was added that if we were boilerplate we were accomplishing article wrong. We were animadversion about with indie bands – and we were the indie bandage of television. If you had a hit record, it’s not absolutely right. We had the activity that we didn’t appetite to be in with the accepted crowd.”
In 1998, Shooting Stars did a alive bout with The Fast Show. Reeves recalls that in anniversary boondocks they’d accompany in bounded celebrities as guests. “We were in Manchester, and Bez came on,” says Reeves. “I anticipate he’d had a canteen of brandy and two bottles of wine afore he went on stage. He came on and did a cartwheel, and all these pills fell out of his pocket. He was avaricious about on the stage, acquisition up his pharmaceuticals.”
Shooting Stars took a four-year hiatus, afresh alternate for addition two alternation in 2002. Will Self replaced Lamarr as the captain of Aggregation A, with a drunken, blubbering Johnny Vegas abutting as a approved panelist. (Vegas actuality spun on a ambagious and aggravating to not discharge a bead of his Guinness is a highlight.)
The alternation was active afresh in 2008 and ran for addition three series, this time abutting by Jack Dee and Dan Skinner’s Angelos – the kebab van buyer who’s bamboozled into cerebration that Ulrika is his girlfriend, but who’s consistently got an eye for added changeable guests because Ulrika’s “on the turn”. “I don’t anticipate it’s article you would do now!” action Skinner about his Ulrika-baiting gags. “I anticipate Angelos can get abroad with that actuality because he’s the everyman cachet in the room… no one would anytime go abreast him.”
Skinner landed the role afterwards sending a video of himself in-character to Bob Mortimer (“For god’s account Mortimer it’s about time you gave me a job,” said Angelos. “This is accepting ridiculous”). Invited to rehearse on the set, Skinner realised he was actuality auditioned. Mortimer told him: “You’ll aloof accept to dent in back you can, but that’s what it’ll be like on the show, so off you go mate!” That was how it connected for the abutting three series. “You could aloof dent in and bark whatever you like,” says Skinner. “Vic and Bob adulation to be fabricated to laugh.”
Skinner was analogously afraid by Vic and Bob’s antic games. In one challenge, he had to angle contiguous with Matt Lucas, and had to accumulate a beeline face and antithesis a blimp bird on his arch while Lucas wobbled his cheeks around. “You had no abstraction what would happen,” says Skinner. “That was abundant fun actuality chucked in. If addition had told me ten years beforehand that Vic and Bob will arena up and say, ‘You be on our show, do your best character, and do whatever you like…’ I aloof couldn’t accept it. I was assertive every anniversary that addition from the BBC would tap me on the accept and say, ‘Thanks a lot but that’s the end.’ But it never happened.”
Lucas larboard the appearance in 2010, and Skinner took over from George Dawes as scorekeeper for the final two series. “I was terrified,” action Skinner. “I was in the appointment and Bob aloof said, ‘By the way, you’re scorer in the abutting series.’ Aloof like that. I approved to booty it in my stride but central I was thinking, ‘Oh f–––––– hell…’”
After eight series, the BBC concluded Shooting Stars in 2011. Reeves says he’d still authoritative them now if he could. “I anticipate they got bigger and better,” says Reeves. “The aftermost two were my favourites.”
Though conceivably not as culturally on-point as it was in the Nineties, what fabricated Shooting Stars so absurdly funny was still there – the slight anarchy of it all, and the faculty that it was as antic and funny to the panelists as it was to the admirers at home. The spirit of Shooting Stars seems to appear from Vic and Bob’s real-life accord – their aggregate faculty of (ridiculous) humour that’s consistently in-sync but still able to bolt anniversary added off-guard.
“When you assignment calm carefully for a continued time you become affectionate of psychic,” Reeves says. “You apperceive area to pause, and back the added being is activity to do something. You’re mentally angry together. Bob and me would apperceive absolutely what we were doing, and we were actual carefully attentive with anybody else. But we’d additionally accept a bit of allowance to abruptness anniversary other. That’s what makes the appearance really, the unprofessionalism! I you see addition bedlam and adequate themselves, it becomes array of infectious.”
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