VIC REEVES & BOB MORTIMER

Vic Reeves Big Night Out on Tour: Manchester Academy, 1990
Reeves and Mortimer: The Brown Tour of 1591: Labatts Apollo, Manchester, 1991
The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer: Weathercock Tour 1495: Hammersmith Apollo, London, 1994
Reeves and Mortimer: R & M Tour 1694 Puce: Hammersmith Apollo, London, 1996
Shooting Stars (BBC TV Recording): BBC TV Centre, London, 1997
The Fast Show / Shooting Stars Live: Hammersmith Apollo, London, 1998
Poignant Moments: 25 Years of Reeves and Mortimer: Hammersmith Apollo, London, 2016 

Vic Reeves Big Night Out first aired on Channel 4 television in 1990.  I remember flicking channels with a TV remote and coming across this surreal, sort of parody of a variety show featuring bizarre, soon to be classic characters such as Judge Nutmeg and The Stotts.  Fronted by Britain’s Top Light Entertainer Vic Reeves (real name Jim Moir) with Bob Mortimer appearing from time to time as himself or different characters as well as Fred Alwyn appearing as mute scientist helper Les, I didn’t know this show was but I stayed with it and realised that I was laughing loudly at the screen.  If I had thought the TV show was off-the-wall, the live tour that followed was an incredible experience.  The show had become a cult and the tour was a sell-out.  As I sat in the audience at the Manchester Academy I watched in awe as the entire crowd chanted catchphrases on cue at the characters played by Reeves and Mortimer on stage.  I happily joined in and can remember vividly the audience willing Les to catch loaves of bread with a fishing rod whilst standing on top of a step ladder on stage.  When he successfully caught one the cheers from the audience took the roof off. This was something very strange, very funny and very special.

More ever more weird characters, TV shows, tours, and even hit records (Reeves sang covers of Born Free and Dizzy featuring The Wonder Stuff which reached number 1 in the charts) followed and in 1995 the BBC gave them a quiz show called Shooting Stars. It still featured the duo’s odd take on the world as well as regular team captains Mark Lamarr and Ulrika Jonson with celebrity guests as well as Matt Lucas (later to appear in Little Britain with David Walliams) under the guise of score-master George Dawes who always appeared in each show dressed as a baby playing the drums.  I attended a television recording of Shooting Stars in 1997 and Lucas had to sing the theme to the classic children’s television programme Rentaghost.  Sitting near the front, I laughed so hard at this that the recording of the song had to be stopped several times because Lucas kept laughing at my laughing!

In 2016, Reeves and Mortimer returned to touring to celebrate 25 years of the act.  I saw them on their anniversary tour at the Hammersmith Apollo in London and as they had been away for a while, it was great to see them back.  Mortimer had to cancel some early gigs due to a heart operation and when they first walked onto the stage, Mortimer fell over like he used to on Big Night Out along with the catchphrase Vic, I’ve fallen.  When Reeves helped him up, the audience cheered and the show continued. This was a running gag to let the audience know that Mortimer was ok and it was a brilliantly funny show featuring the classic characters that made the duo famous – The Man with The Stick, Graham Lister, Wavey Davey, Morrisey the Consumer Monkey, Slade In Residence, The Stotts, Judge Nutmeg and Novelty Island amongst others all appeared with blistering comic effect.  It was as though this strange, fantastic world created by the classic comedy double act had never been away.

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