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"I've been on some loony shows in my time, but this one takes the cake."
Larry Hagman, after appearing on the show in 2002.
Brainchild of British surrealist comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, and a loving parody of British celebrity Panel Games. The questions made little sense, the answers made no sense, and the top prize could be as much as £120.
The show was hosted in a traditional Panel Game format, with Vic and Bob in the middle acting as quizmasters and two teams on either side, headed a regular team captain. Team A was always hosted by TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson, while Team B was initially hosted by greasy-haired 1950s throwback Mark Lamarr (who himself hosted the Panel Game Never Mind the Buzzcocks for over a decade) and later by English intellectual and novelist Will Self. Comedian Johnny Vegas became a regular contestant on Ulrika's panel. The scores would be read out by George Dawes, a giant baby played by Matt Lucas (later the star of Little Britain). Sometimes George's mother, Marjorie, (also played by Lucas) would take over.
The show followed roughly the same format each time. After an initial song and dance, Vic and Bob would introduce the team captains, and voiceover man Graham would read out a short biography of the guests. These rarely said what the guests were famous for and were usually just a tissue of lies (for example, that singer Alvin Stardust hid for 30 years inside a cow).
There would then follow a question-and-answer round, where the answers were almost impossible to guess correctly (e.g., "True or false: Cupboard doors open outwards"; the answer is "false" because the question is asked from the perspective of a trapped cat). After this, there would be a random selection of other rounds including video rounds, in which the contestants must answer a question based on a short sketch; impressions rounds in which Vic sings a song in the style of an incoherent nightclub singer and the guests must guess what it is; and the interpretive dance round in which a guest must express something through the medium of dance.
However, the most popular section was the "Dove From Above" round in which the guests would call down a shoddily-made prop dove with question topics growing from its body. If the contestants answered the question incorrectly, Vic would pull a face and say "UVAVU"; if they chose a special category he would pull a different face and say "ERANU". This, of course, resulted in much imitation in schools and workplaces across the UK. Sometimes the topic would signal "George's Song", in which George would take centre stage and sing a song on various topics including potatoes, peanuts, hip-hop and lesbians. Variations on The Dove from Above included The Crow from Below, The Vest from the West, The Beast from the East and George Dawes from the Upper Floors. The Dove was replaced in later series by a succession of "guest stars" (such as the Crow from Below and the Fly from On High), then the Wonderful, Wonderful Car, a tiny remote-controlled car that fired questions out of its prosthetic arse, and finally Donald Cox the Sweaty Fox, who would make salacious remarks about Ulrika and the celebs. In 2009 the Dove was, at last, brought back -- now sporting overly-tight shoes.
A 15th-Anniversary Special was broadcast on 30 December 2008 with most of the original cast returning and Jack Dee filling in as the captain of Team B. The result was a new series which began in August the following year, with a new regular guest panelist in the form of Angelos Epithemiou. In 2010, George Dawes left, and Angelos took over scoring. The show ended for the third time following its cancellation after the 2011 series.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Bob liked to call Johnny Vegas "a big bag of bollocks".
- Amusing Injuries: to Vic Reeves.
- Biggus Dickus:
Bob: "Love me for a reason, and let the reason be...?"
Bob: "No, my thirty-seven-and-a-half inch penis."
- Blatant Lies: The show used to be introduced with a narrator giving these as 'facts' about the celebrity contestants. Also a lot of the question answers: getting Vic and Bob's true or false questions right is a matter of pure luck.
- British Accents: As on Vic and Bob's other shows, a common gag is to give incongruous Geordie accents to characters you wouldn't expect to have them.
- Butt Monkey: Fifties throwback Mark Lamarr.
- Ulrika too, the amount of flak she takes from her age, apparent plastic surgery and, ahem, sexual activity; it's amazing she's stayed on the show so long.
- Calvin Ball
- Cannot Tell a Joke: See Chirping Crickets below.
- Catch Phrase "ERANU!", "UVAVU!", "Ulkrika-ka-ka-ka-ka!", etc.
- Character as Himself: In the revived series, Angelos Epithemiou is credited as playing himself. He is actually played by Renton Skinner, a regular on The Armstrong and Miller Show.
- Chirping Crickets: Vic usually decides to tell a joke, despite being warned off by Bob. It always bombs; the lonely wind howls, the others look embarrassed or turn their faces away from him. Often, a tumbleweed drifts through the studio.
- On one occasion, Vic has an Imagine Spot where he lets Bob do the joke and it turns out to be so funny that the whole audience comes down to congratulate him -- so he quickly does it himself instead, and of course it bombs as usual.
- Another time, Mark Lamarr steps in to "tell the joke properly". It is treated as the funniest joke the programme created.
- Commedia Dell Arte Troupe: Some questions feature film clips, typically spoofs of other media, which star the regulars on the show in other roles.
- Cool Versus Awesome: One of the quickfire questions was "Which would win in a fight between a steel octo-bear and some sort of strange man-fungus?"
- Couch Gag: In the Theme Tune. Initially, the second and third lines of the song were "The stars have been greeted/and successfully seated". This later became "The stars have been seated/and successfully greeted", before eventually devolving into nonsense -- "I like brambles/I like cheese" being particularly memorable.
- Disco Dan: Vic and Bob usually referred to Mark Lamarr as a "Fifties Throwback".
- Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune: sung on-set by Vic and Bob at the beginning and end of each episode.
- Foreign Remake: Parodied by one of the film clips, which is supposedly a remake of The Incredible Hulk TV series done on a shoestring budget by the Sunderland Independent Film Trust.
- Funny Background Event: Fairly often, such as a self-propelled deckchair or Uncanny Valley mannequin dragging itself across the studio in the middle of a question, ignored by everyone.
- He Also Did: Shooting Stars is generally more mainstream and well-known than Vic and Bob's sketch shows such as Vic Reeves Big Night Out and The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: The "Club Singer" round.
- Insistent Terminology: Bob always referred to Johnny Vegas' shirts as "gowns".
- Vic and Bob also call any kind of hat "a helmet", which started on their earlier programmes.
- I Want You to Meet An Old Friend of Mine: While it has yet to be explicitly brought up, (and is most likely coincidence) both current team captains -- founder captain Ulrika Johnsson and new captain Jack Dee -- have won Celebrity Big Brother.
- Lyrical Tic: more a lyrical speech impediment, really. Songs In The Club Singer Style.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Some people use their first names "Vic and Bob" while others use their surnames "Reeves and Mortimer" to describe their partnership--a recent gag is for people to mix these two up and call them "Vic and Mortimer".
- A few times you can hear Bob accidentally call Vic "Jim", his real name.
- Mythology Gag: Or possibly just recycling -- e.g., Donald Cox the Sweaty Fox first appeared as a glove puppet on Vic Reeves Big Night Out.
- Once Bob asked Ulrika what name she would use if she was a Gladiator, then asked the same question to guest Noddy Holder. Noddy replied "Cup-a-Soup!", which had been the Trademark Favourite Food of his band Slade when Vic and Bob had mocked them in The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer.
- The 2011 series has seen "What's in Angelos' Bag" (a variation on "What's on the end of the stick, Vic?" from Vic Reeves Big Night Out) as well as the appearance of Vic and Bob's recurring characters the Stotts.
- Norse by Norsewest: Often these clichés are applied to Ulrika Jonsson, a Swede.
- Oop North: There is a Geordie flavour to many of the film clips.
- Panel Game
- The Points Mean Nothing: And there's no logic involved in gaining them either. Vic and Bob have no idea what the scorekeeper is going to say when they ask him to announce the scores.
- Really Gets Around: Ulrika Jonsson is, as we were frequently told in 2002, football crazy, even football mad , to the point where Bob Mortimer couldn't think of a footballer that Ulrika hadn't had.
- Reunion Show
- Revival: Twice.
- Running Gag: Sadly overused in the final series, to the point where it seemed like a Clip Show of previous episodes.
- Some decided to stop watching the show after thinking that they had accidentally put the previous week's show on, only to realise that it was in fact a new episode that just had exactly the same jokes and songs. Happily rectified as of Series 7 in 2010.
- Shout-Out: Possible subtle example in Series 5. At the end of every episode (like every other series) the panel members start dancing about to the theme song. However in Series 5 they are joined by an otherwise unseen attractive woman who walks in from off camera and otherwise has nothing to do with the proceedings. This may be a Hotter and Sexier version of Morecambe and Wise's "Lady Who Comes Down At The End" gag, especially since Vic and Bob are often compared to Eric and Ernie in chemistry.
- The woman was Nancy Sorrell, Vic's then-girlfriend (now wife).
- Small Name, Big Ego: George Dawes and Angelos Epithemou both act like this when addressing team members before giving the scores. In George Dawes' case this is somewhat Hilarious in Hindsight, as Matt Lucas really did go on to become a headlining star.
- Stealth Pun: One of the film clips is supposedly of the band The Who, but its members have been replaced with different incarnations of the Doctor from Doctor Who.
- The Stoic: Team A's captain whoever it is, although Jack Dee has had his fair share of Not So Stoic moments.
- Subverted Trope: After Vic's incomprehensibly "singing a song in the club style" as a question, a former Running Gag was for Bob to then say "Let's hear that song sung correctly", only for Vic to sing it exactly the same as before. However in the 2011 series Vic has instead started singing the song normally, albeit with a What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome? routine complete with dancers.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Will Self and then Jack Dee for Mark Lamarr, Angelos Epithemiou for Jonny Vegas, and the Wonderful Wonderful Car and Donald Cox the Sweaty Fox for the Dove From Above.
- As of Series 7, Angelos Epithemiou for George Dawes, due to Matt Lucas' filming commitments.
- Running Gag: Vic Reeves' jokes about Jack Dee's face. Jack remains deadpan throughout, but ocassionally becomes Not So Stoic.
- Who's on First?: "What is the unit of power?" Vic never got it.
- There are questions like this every now and again. Recently; "What is the English translation of Pardonnez-moi?"
- Zonk: In early seasons, the prizes were always a few dozen pounds. More recently, they consist of "this one-pound luncheon voucher!" or similar.