Comedy circles – 1993 heroes Vic Reeves and Red Dwarf return

Posted on 27 January 2012
By Martin Higgins
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The second coming of comedy’s revolutionaries is upon us. The spirit of 1993 has arisen out of the BBC archives in White City, and is hitting the box with a costly face lift and a new attitude. Anarchy and escapism is once more the tonic of the masses.

Let us teleport back to the early 90’s breifly, when Surrealist comedy was still a dimple in the mind of the heroic Vic Reeves and his sidekick, the man with the stick, Bob Mortimer.

They took the Pythons style of strange and absurd humour down Carol’s rabbit hole, sailed past Novelty Island, and created a world all their own on the other side.

The Shooting Stars pilot aired in 1993, when Reeves and Mortimer ripped up the manual of the generic quiz programme forever, incorporating elements of the working men’s club show, Salvador Dali, performance art and Keaton-esque slapstick. Their tool of destruction… the frying pan. Jokes would never be the same again.

These were heady days, when Mark Lamarr was still a mod from the jet age with that upright quiff and Ulrika Johnson was a knockout, freshly imported from Sweden and chugging pints like a Geordie cow. Who could forget the glorious club singer round, Vic’s 90’s dance, George Dawes lethal put downs, and the cooing down of the Dove From Above?

They won the nation’s hearts with their mischievous kidulthood and naughty boy posturing. Now Reeves, ever the sartorial trend setter, is back on TV in his plush tweed outfits and larking about with his evergreen sidekick like they have never been away.

Red Dwarf is another behemoth on the comeback trail, with all its scatological science fiction elements and irreverent charm. Many fan’s exhalt 1993’s Series VI as being the height of creators Doug Naylor and Rob Grant’s powers.

The show is poised to shoot a brand new series this month to be broadcast next year. Director Doug Naylor has confirmed the original cast will return, with Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John Jules, Robert Llewellyn and Norman Lovett all returning to the format in front of a live studio audience.

Dave Lister, the dread-locked Scouser and last known human in existence, will be reunited with his old foe and companion Arnold Rimmer, the narcissistic hologram. The jibes will be flowing like a Vindaloo sauce smoothie, Lister’s favourite brekkie.

Cat, who evolved from the descendants of Lister’s pregnant cat, will be pulling shapes like James Brown and wearing his best funkadelic capes and furs as though he has been frozen in stasis.

Not to mention the softly spoken Kryten, a Series 4000 mechanoid – with his gorgeous square bonce, which ‘looks like he’s spent four weeks with his head jam packed in a lift’ and his neurotic ways. It’s going to be colossal.

So be it; 18 years is the length of the loop before comedy reaches the end of its creative tether, and travels back to the past for artistic stimulus. We deem it so: surrealism is back, and so is sci-comedy. Tune in, turn on, drop out.

This article excerpt featured in the 1993 Future Throwback Über zine – distributed through all good indie retailers across Liverpool.