Vic Reeves Big Night Out (Channel 4, 1990-1991)
When Vic Reeves Big Night Out launched in 1990, the cover of NME said “you don’t know this yet but Vic Reeves is Britain’s funniest man”, and although it might have been something of a risk to put him on the cover, Reeves went from a virtual unknown to a big comedy star by the end of the show’s run as the self-styled “Britain’s top light entertainer and singer” brought his terrifically daft stage show to TV.
Although he didn’t get equal billing at the time, Bob Mortimer did appear in the show regularly alongside Reeves, and he would often fall. Also taking part was Vic’s assistant Les. He was someone who didn’t have much to say for himself and he had an unusual fear of chives, but he was much fonder of spirit levels. Beyond this there were a big range of memorable characters who appeared in the show, and also several daft catchphrases which endured. One of my favourites has to be “ooh, would you look at the size of that sausage!”. I suppose you had to be there.
Other features included Novelty Island where not very talented acts would do their turn including the very irritating Graham who Vic didn’t like and Mr Wobbly Hand (another future comedy star Paul Whitehouse sometimes appeared in this segment). There were also the Stott brothers, Judge Nutmeg, the living carpets and the man with the stick who would all become big viewer favourites. Vic would also finish every edition however chaotic things became with the song “Mr Songwriter”.
Some people consider the DVD release of Big Night Out to be a little disappointing, the 1990 New Year’s Eve special isn’t included, and the sketches going in and out of where the advert break would have been are edited out, although there is a new interview with Vic and Bob, and overall a lot of people still think that this show was one of the best comedies of its era. Big Night Out was a great success, it a ran for two series and was still being repeated on Channel 4 in the late-90s, and there was also a spin-off book released called Vic Reeves Big Night In and a very successful stage tour.
Vic and Bob’s fame escalated very quickly and they were soon appearing on TV frequently, including adverts for Cadbury’s Boost where were we informed “it’s slightly rippled with a flat underside”, and they were poached by BBC2 to appear in more crazy comedy shows including Shooting Stars. Vic also went on to have some hit singles which led to some lovely Top Of The Pops performances, including in 1991 a chart-topping cover of “Dizzy” alongside The Wonder Stuff. Now how many other comedians can say that they have achieved that.