Being a huge fan of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer meant that before watching this 2012 pilot from the duo I presumed by the end of it I’d be shaking my fist at the injustice of it not being given a full series, and indeed that was the case. It’s not as if Vic and Bob are exactly newcomers to tv either, presumably Channel 4 knew exactly what they’d be getting from the deranged duo and so it feels odd that it wasn’t picked up.
In many ways it’s quite similar to Shooting Stars as it features Vic and Bob asking the contestants (who in this episode were Eddie Izzard, Thomas Turgoose and Chelsee Healey) a variety of absurd questions, and also on hand was a fairly unusual character played by Dan Skinner (best known for Angelos Epithemiou) though rather than keeping count of the scores he was giving out a number of stupid prizes. But there’s enough differences for it to be its own thing, and it’s so funny that the similarities didn’t bother me.
It begins with some fun black and white 1940’s style opening credits (which claimed “Vic Reeves Sings…And it’s wonderful!” and “Bob Mortimer speaks…And it’s terrific!”, plus “She Will Seduce You With Her Pies – it’s Chelsee Healey”), Vic and Bob come out on to a stage that looks like a mix of Big Night Out and Shooting Stars and after a brief (smart) fart gag the guests are introduced, and pleasingly there were no regular team panellists, which can’t be a bad thing given how lazy regular panellists seem to get in this sort of thing.
Dan Skinner’s John Meringue is then brought out, he’s the “Guardian Of The Prizes” and though he’s an enormously hairy, sword wielding viking looking bastard the twist is that Skinner plays him like an intellectual university professor, and it’s a combination which works really well. Finally before things kick off we’re told that the game is against the clock, and the keeper of the clock is Mr Simon Cowell, though of course it’s not the real thing but a man holding a very large cut out painting of him.
After this the game starts a proper and the ridiculous questions come thick and relatively fast, including “Where is Anthony Worral Thompson housed when he’s not on television doing one of his shows?”, and “What does X-Factor judge Cheryl Cole do every morning at ten thirty?”, while a fair few revolve around Vic’s paintings, all of which are surreal but fantastic, though for my money “Bob in a coma” and a picture of Jeremy Clarkson with a gigantic arse were the funniest.
A fair few of the questions are also accompanied by either Vic and Bob mucking about on stage, which is why at one point Vic chats to a mug that looks vaguely like Anthony Worral Thompson, asking him what he’s stolen lately (which among other items include a chocolate bar, £120,000, and lots and lots of window sills), and we also get to see Vic and Bob pretending to be JLS, moving small models of them about while singing a song which includes the lyrics “I’ve got smoked salmon in the fridge for you, it must seem like a dream come true”, instantly making them better than the real thing.
There’s also some filmed segments including a clip of Miranda Hart doing exercise (ie Vic in wig) before she floats in to sky and her head explodes, a scene from the saddest film of the year, The Hobbit’s Chod, and Bob as Dr Christian Jessen from Embarrassing Bodies who is rather in love with himself, kissing his muscles and singing “Doctor Sexy”. Best of all though is a song from Estonia’s X-Factor winners, where Vic and Bob have day glo red and blue fake hair and the song is weird ambient music accompanied by some very slow tap dancing before Bob plucks a flaming golden ball from his groin, throws it to Vic, who eats it, Vic shits it out.
All of this is bloody hilarious stuff and Vic and Bob at their very best. If there’s a tiny downside it could be suggested that the panellists don’t have much to do admittedly, but they’re still game for a laugh, with Eddie Izzard unsurprisingly coming out with the funniest lines. And despite this being a glowing review and a piece of comedy that I loved a huge amount perhaps it’s not the worst thing in the world that it didn’t get given a full series as it might have meant that Vic and Bob got stuck in panel show hell and we plausibly perhaps wouldn’t have seen House Of Fools and the return of Big Night Out. Yet at the same time it would have been fantastic to have all three, as this is a gem of a comedy pilot and then some.