Vic Reeves

Vic Reeves

Date of birth: 24-01-1959

Born in Leeds and raisied in Darlington, Jim Moir undertook an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering after leaving school, eventually moving to London and becoming a factory inspector.There he formed a band and began a part-time course at art college, as well as performing on the comedy circuit as various characters - including the 'North-East’s Top Light Entertainer', Vic Reeves.

His stage show Vic Reeves Big Night Out began life as a regular Thursday night gig at Goldsmith’s Tavern, New Cross. Here he met Bob Mortimer, a solicitor who jumped up on stage one night and ended up becoming a regular, starting an enduring comic partnership.

The pair were championed by Jonathan Ross, who gave them a break on his TV show, and Big Night Out was made into a Channel 4 show in 1990, where it became an instant cult hit.

The pair followed it up with the sketch shows The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, and Bang Bang, It's Reeves aAnd Mortimer, quirky sitcom Catterick and he game show Shooting Stars.

They moved to prime-time Saturday night with the BBC One show Families At War, which ran from 1998 to 1999, and starred in a remake of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) the following year, but they never quite made the transition to mainstream entertainers.

He also had a No 1 hit with a cover version of Dizzy, recorded with The Wonder Stuff, and released hit versions of Born Free and I'm A Believer, a collaboration with EMF.

In 2004 he and was a contestant in the fourth series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! with his wife Nancy Sorrell.

His other credit include the Discovery Channel's history series Rogues Gallery, Sky's Brainiac: Science Abuse and Radio 2 panel game Does the Team Think... - and he continues to work on his art, occasionally hosting exhibitions of his work.

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Reeves and Mortimer: Poignant Moments Tour

Review by Steve Bennett

Workshy fops that they are, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer haven’t been on tour for 20 years. 

So with a quarter-century of TV fame to catch up on, it’s inevitable that the tongue-in-cheek-titled Poignant Moments tour is going to be based on nostalgia. Even if the middle-aged might be reluctant to accept that alternative comedy’s plenty old enough to have nostalgia tours, the prospect of these imaginative pioneers taking the the stage after so long is surely enough to have fans rubbing their upper legs in lustful excitement. One chap in the audience at the De Montfort Hall tonight, where the duo are getting Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival properly under way, even came dressed as Big Night Out sidekick Les, spirit level grasped comfortingly.

The trick with a show like this to blend the familiar with the unfamiliar. To cover all the bases, but without lapsing into convention – especially when you are an act built on surrealism, where the whole point is to surprise with unlikely juxtaposition.

But this is what Vic and Bob have always done; created a strange world of  predictable unpredictability, a parallel universe to the 1970s light entertainment shows, where nonsense catchphrases and unexpected call-and-responses are delivered as if everyone’s always known them. Of course we coo down a dove from above, what else would we do? Of course Greg Mitchell’s a labrador whose dumb decisions will have his wife killing him…

R&M have spawned a hundred imitators, of course, which does dilute the impact of some of their oddness on this tour, but not by much.

All the favourites are here: the Man With The Stick; Donald and Davy Stott, who perform a magic act; and Mulligan and O’Hare, the former boasting a perfect set of pert, active breasts. I missed Morrissey The Consumer Monkey, but you can’t have everything.

And, of course, there’s Novelty Island (‘like a miniature Britain’s Got Talent - but, with better acts AND it came first!’)  which sees a speciality act showdown between Mr Wobbly Hand, a knowledgable crab, and Graham Lister, pushing lard through the eyes and nostrils of Benedict Cumberbatch.

It’s all done in the same spirit of in-joke camaraderie as when Reeves and Mortimer were first performing to a handful of their mates in London’s Goldsmiths Tavern, before telly got involved. The performances are enjoyably loose – they delight in trying to make each other laugh off-script – and the charm of the DIY props is undimmed. You still feel these are things Reeves has knocked up in his shed.

The pair do everything themselves – and there’s certainly no sign that Mortimer’s had to slow down since his triple heart bypass, except for some jokes about Vic being the surgeon and the pulse monitor Bob now wears. All they have are a few videos to cover costume changes, including a hilarious advert for Geordie Jeans and a mockumentary about the least sprightly free runners you’ll ever see, characters originally created for the online series Foster’s commissioned.

Sometimes the big screen takes the camera feed from the stage,  including using a birds-eye point of view rarely seen in comedy (and not always that useful here) – and sometimes the shooting angle rather spoils the joke: revealing the comedians behind the cardboard cutouts in their Image! Action! Exchange! performance art spoof, for instance. But the screen also provided lyrics for their song-and-dance numbers, including one revealing Henry VIII's secret life.

Many in the audience, perhaps fans of Shooting Stars or House Of Fools, seem to be discovering some of the tropes of Big Night Out for only the first time. That  about half the audience didn't respond to the catchphrases of the twisted court of judge Lionel Nutmeg showed that. The bonding of having hundreds of people shout that the charges were ‘trumped right up’ and that we should now ‘spin, spin,spin the Wheel Of Justice/See how fast the bastard turns’ didn't quite gel as one might have hoped.

Not everything works 100 per cent. Though plenty love him, I’m still not convinced by Dr Shakamoto, probably because of that dodgy East Asian accent (‘I rive in Reeds’) – even though they try to head off such criticism with a preceding sketch in which Lovejoy has an hilariously misjudged Jamaican brogue.

But all in this is a wonderful reminder of this way this creative duo forged a unique niche in British comedy. You’ll be glad that when it comes to their classic material, they did not let it lie.

• Review first appeared February 5, 2016

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Published: 6 Apr 2016

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Claire Nightingale
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