Shooting Stars

Aaaargh! Shooting Stars (BBC Two, Wednesday, 9 September, 10pm) is so irritating that it’s making my teeth scream.

The first in the new series was patchy at best, the second brought my living room ceiling down it was so funny… so in the same way most hip-hop careers go, it seems we’re following the formula of one good album, one bad, one good, one bad… and on and on.

Last night, the show had me expecting again. I was happy to write the first show off as a blip and that from the second show on, we’d regain the magic of the Shooting Stars of yesteryear.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. As I sat there, interested enough, I didn’t really let out one of those big belly laughs that only Vic and Bob can prompt. Sure, it ticked all the boxes of a Shooting Stars episode… but sadly, it mostly felt like A.N. Other Vic & Bob Production, which is a real shame as they don’t tend to make shoddy products.

On a purely geek level, I think that the real problem of the show is that Vic Reeves is faced with people who ‘get him’. They’re all too aware of the format of the show and, as such, gone is the fun of watching people who are absolutely non-plussed by what is going on.

Instead of inviting Julia Bradbury on the show, they should have got one of The Saturdays, who would’ve been a little frightened by Vic’s perv-skit and indeed, the prospect of seeing Frankie From The Saturdays nervously laughing throughout would have brought more joy than seeing Her Who Ruined Watchdog treading the I’m Cool And Know What Is Going On Here thing.

Also, the who thing felt a little static. The cameras used to crash and pan wildly, with fast anarchic edits, leaving the viewer feeling a little dizzy and drunk. Now, it’s like watching The Generation Game, only with herrings and adults in nappies replacing a segment involving someone icing a cake.

I guess that’s part of the problem. The show feels as staid as some of the things it once lampooned. Don’t get me wrong… I’d rather have a rubbish Shooting Stars on the box than a lot of other tripe that’s clogging up TV’s u-bend… but really, this show can surely do better?

With Vic Reeves bemoaning the state of modern comedy, here he is, with his trusty pal Bob Mortimer in tow, hawking an old show back onto our screens. Of course, that old show is the new series of Shooting Stars which has been off our screens for exactly 40 years.

All the old favourites returned, with Matt Lucas reprising his George Dawes routine in a typically affable manner. Back too was Vic rubbing his groin in the Pretty Girl To His Immediate Right, the Dove From Above, weird and wonderful contraptions and Ulrika Jonsson.

However, with this being a new show, we need new things right?

New jokes would have been a start. Anyone who heard the “Enid Brighton” joke and didn’t wince in agony is probably the kind of person who wishes someone would bring back the ‘classic’ ‘comedy’ of the seventies, complete with bud-bud-ding-ding ‘jokes’.

There was new stuff to get stuck into. Angelos Epithemiou is a character who is a premanent fixture on the panel and suitably odd, in a Potential Murderer In A Bedsit kinda way. He’s pretty funny and clearly waiting to hit full stride on the show. Jack Dee is the man chosen to replace Mark Lamarr as The Grumpy Team Captain, but sadly, doesn’t pull off the sulking half as well, despite basing his career on it.

Despite the occasional flashes of brilliance (or, should I say, flashes of skiddy undercrackers), the show lagged and was patchy at best. If you’re going to slate comedy for not being fresh, then you’d better up the ante a bit.

This first new show felt like it rested on its laurels a bit.

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are returning to our screens next week with Shooting Stars. Not only that, they’re eschewing the commissioners and over sensitive editors (blame Wossy etc) by putting the second series of their sitcom Catterick online.

While on the promotional trail, they decided to stick the boot in on the current crop of comedy.

Reeves said: “I think comedy probably is a young man’s game but it’s gone a bit stale at the moment.” Mortimer added: “It doesn’t feel like there’s been that much new. I think the Mighty Boosh are quite good. But I could have been watching this new crop – Michael McIntyre and people – 20 years ago.”

Reeves said: “When we were doing Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, they were the kind of people that were around, and we came along and did something different. And they’re still there. There’s nothing new.”

Surely though, bringing back a 15 year old comedy show is hardly forward thinking?

“It didn’t feel cynical bringing it back – there’s nothing much like it. There’s a big difference between this and, like, Mock the Week and the other panel shows,” said Mortimer. “I don’t think Shooting Stars has ever successfully been replaced. There have been a few attempts – ITV2 did one with Leigh Francis, a sort of madcap thing … A few of the quizzes, even like QI, took a bit of Shooting Stars on board with silly buzzers and things, but it’s a gap that’s never been filled.”

So has comedy gone stale? Well, the stand-up circuit is as lively as ever with some incredibly talented funnyfolk coming through the ranks. However, concerning television, they certainly seem to have a point. I mean, hands up if you’re stupid enough to laugh at The Kevin Bishop Show or The TNT Show?

Perhaps comedians aren’t the problem, but rather, as alluded to in the Catterick Goes Internet thing, the problem lies in those that commission shows. Have they lost their nerve? Stewart Lee was a success… and hip, smart and edgy. But would they employ someone like Doug Stanhope on a regular basis? Methinks not.

Shooting Stars! Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer, Jack Dee, Ulrika Jonsson

Whoah yesh – following a successful Christmas special in 2008 followed by a retrospective documentary, BBC Two have finally yielded and commissioned a years-overdue new series of Shooting Stars!

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are back at last as hosts of the most anarchic and entertaining celebrity quiz show ever, and once more are joined by team captain Ulrika Jonsson, Little Britain‘s Matt Lucas as George Dawes and new team captain (first seen at Christmas) Jack Dee.

The classic Shooting Stars regularly featured much antagonising of Ulrika, while successive team captains Mark Lamarr and later Will Self would offer considerable opposition and constant refusal to engage in the silliness – much to the amusement of Vic and Bob.

If anyone feared that motherhood and maturity have in any way changed Ulrika, however, they should find themselves heartened by Bob Mortimer’s words:

“We’re really looking forward to it. Jack is going to be a great headmaster and Ulrika is as game as ever so it should be a very pleasant evening’s journey.”

Following the series’ original premier in 1993, Shooting Stars ran for 5 series until 2002.  Six episodes are to be recorded for the new run which is set to be aired in the Autumn, and it’s interesting that a 1990s comedy hit should return months after another; Red Dwarf is set to return over the Easter weekend.

With the reinstatement of the legendary Dove from Above round, Vic and Bob aim to take Shooting Stars back to its roots…

“We have a new attitude and new rounds and this series will feature a secret weapon which will assist us in re-inventing the panel show again, just as Shooting Stars originally did.”

I personally cannot wait – I’ve already checked for free BBC tickets!


Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are to return to our screens in the autumn with comedy panel show, Shooting Stars,

The show, which started 15 years ago, is coming back due to the success of a Christmas special on BBC2 to mark the 15th anniversary. It was a surprise hit in the Christmas 2008 viewing schedule, which resulted in the BBC recommissioning a new series.

Reeves and Mortimer will return for the new series with their “baby” scorer, George Dawes, played by Matt Lucas.

Original team captain Ulrika Jonsson is also back, along with comedian Jack Dee, who made his first appearance as a team captain in the Christmas Special. His deadpan style worked well with the show, particularly during his final challenge, where he had to keep a straight face whilst a tenor sang loudly into his face.

Bob Mortimer said: “We’re really looking forward to it. Jack is going to be a great headmaster and Ulrika is as game as ever so it should be a very pleasant evening’s journey.

“We have a new attitude and new rounds and this series will feature a secret weapon which will assist us in reinventing the panel show again, just as Shooting Stars originally did.”

The show started in 1993 as a Christmas special. It continued on for five series on BBC2 until 1997, with comedian and presenter Mark Lamarr as one of the team captains. He was made fun of in the show for his unusual 1950s style of dress.

The show returned again for a while when it was brought back to digital channel BBC Choice in 2002. Novelist and guest on Grumpy Old Men, Will Self replaced Lamarr as a team captain. Johnny Vegas also joined the show at this time as a regular contestant on Ulrika’s team.

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