Shooting Stars (BBC2, 1993-2011)
I have been a fan of the double act Reeves and Mortimer for a long time, so when they decided to bring their comedy style that had become popular on shows including The Smell Of Reeves And Mortimer to a game show format there was no doubt that I was going to enjoy what was on offer. After a one-off edition at the end of 1993, Shooting Stars was given its first full series in 1995, and there were three eras of the show.
Two teams of three took part, and in the first era Mark Lamarr (who was memorably described as a “cheeky cockney conman”) was the grumpy captain of Team A. With the exception of one edition Ulrika Jonsson was the captain of Team B. Ulrika was best known at the time for hosting shows including Gladiators, and Reeves and Mortimer were so impressed by her unexpected comic talent they wrote a one-off sketch show for her called It’s Ulrika! which was shown on BBC2 in 1997.
Also taking part was oversized baby George Dawes (played by Matt Lucas) who liked to keep track of the scores whilst playing the drums and making such odd jokes that even Vic and Bob didn’t know what he was on about half the time. Lots of celebrities took part, and all of them enjoyed taking part in the rather strange rounds, such the Dove From Above round where they could choose a category to answer a question, and there was a chance that they could win a bonus prize! Vic would also occasionally burst into song for no reason.
There was also a round which featured quickfire questions on the buzzer so we really wanna see those fingers. At the end, the winners would nominate one of their team to play the final game, which was usually an absurd challenge which would mildly embarrass who was taking part, but there was a lot of money at stake if they succeeded, sometimes as much as £8. Unsurprisingly, Shooting Stars became very popular and two videos were released, one featuring the best moments called Unpicked And Plucked, and an extended one-off special that was never shown on TV called Unviewed And Nude. After a five-year gap, the second era began when Shooting Stars returned in 2002, with some editions being shown first on digital channel BBC Choice. Will Self was now the captain of Team A, and Johnny Vegas also joined the show as a regular panellist on Team B, and it was fair to say that he enjoyed the occasional Guinness or two, and there was lots of fun, especially when he played the final challenge. George would also often take the opportunity to sing a lovely song.
After an even longer gap, the third era began when Shooting Stars returned for a special in 2008, plus some more series. Jack Dee was now the Team A captain, and George Dawes left at the end of series six, meaning that Angelos Epithemiou who had previously taken part as a panellist on Team B took over as the scorer. Curiously, the sixth and seventh series have been released on DVD in full, but none of the others have been.
Shooting Stars came to an end after eight series in 2011, and a year later Reeves and Mortimer tried to continue the format with a new comedy panel game on Channel 4 called Lucky Sexy Winners, but only one edition was made. Shooting Stars was a great show with lots of funny moments, it was among some of the best TV comedy that was around in the mid-90s and it ended up running for almost two decades.