The first television outing for comedy duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, which ran for two series on Channel 4 from 1990 to 1991.
It was developed from a three-hour live neo-variety show which Jonathan Ross once went to see and then commissioned them to make a cut-down half-hour version for TV. Allegedly the idea came about because Reeves (real name Jim Moir) ended up running a conventional variety show, but worked out that he could save money if he fired all the acts and performed them himself.
Its fusion of surreal humour and Stylistic Suck made it an alternative comedy favourite (being particularly popular among students in the early 1990s), and rocketed the duo to stardom.
In the late 2010s it was revived under the name Vic and Bob's Big Night Out, and saw the return of many characters and sketches which the duo had not performed for years, such as Graham Lister, Judge Nutmeg and the Man with the Stick.
The show displays examples of:
- Ascended Fanboy: Legend has it that Bob joined the show having sat heckling at one of the live performances, whereupon he was invited to do better himself. Bluff called, and the rest was history.
- Blatant Lies: Absolutely everything the Living Carpets say to each other.
- Butt-Monkey: The Man With the Stick, who is Driven to Suicide by the end of the series.
- Vic: "That was my idea!" ; "You wouldn't let it lie, would you?!"
- The Stotts: "Marzipan's private, Davy!"
- The Ramblers: "But it's not all rambling, is it?"
- Wavy Davy: "Hiya!!!!!"; "Seeya!!!!!"
- Bob: "Oh Vic, I've fallen" sometimes followed with "I can smell the chafing!"
- The Living Carpets: "You lyin' get!"; "I heard that rumour" "I know, I started it!"
- Continuity Nod: In one episode both of the Living Carpets claim to be Les's father. It is pointed out that an earlier episode's Les Facts had stated that Les's father was Parker out of Thunderbirds. So they both promptly claim to be Parker as well.
- Department of Redundancy Department: and Product Placement "The new Reeves and Mortimer name of product, by Reeves and Mortimer!"
- Downer Ending: parodied by the final episode. Vic's closing song is interrupted by Lister, and they fight with everything that comes to hand including a beer bottle from the Man with the Stick's stick. Lister is left unconscious or dead. The Man with the Stick, now despondent and alcoholic over Vic's mistreatment of his children, fires a gun randomly, hitting Vic and possibly Les as well, before slumping in despair and putting the gun to his own head as the curtain falls. Vic's hand waves goodbye weakly from beneath the curtain.
- Everything Is Better With Explosions: The Stotts insist on starting their act with "a nice explosion", consisting of igniting a saucer of oil, which later became a Running Gag when they reappeared on Bang Bang It's Reeves and Mortimer.
- Inexplicably Identical Individuals: In the second series Vic would periodically go on a live video feed "to our Swiss counterparts, the Ponderers", who were blond shirtless versions of Vic and Bob with giant strap-on chins to aid their pondering.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: ic delivers a tribute to the then-fading phenomenon of punk rock in an incongruously 1920s-music-hall style.
- Once an Episode: The Man with the Stick, Les Facts and other regular features.
- Phrase Catcher:
- "And what do we cry when we see a man with a stick?" "WHAT'S ON THE END OF THE STICK, VIC?"
- "And what do we do with the Wheel of Justice?" " COMB ITS HAIR!"
- Product Placement: All the Reeves and Mortimer products
- Running Gag: Les cannot help smiling every time he sees a spirit level, but is mortally afraid of chives - among others.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Graham Lister acts as one to Vic.