Shooting Stars is a British television comedy panel game broadcast on BBC Two as a pilot in 1993, then as 3 full series from 1995 to 1997, then on BBC Choice from January to December 2002 with 2 series before returning to BBC Two for another 3 series from 2008 until its cancellation in 2011. Created and hosted by double-act Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, it uses the panel show format but with the comedians' often slapstick, surreal and anarchic humour does not rely on rules in order to function, with the pair apparently ignoring existing rules or inventing new ones as and when the mood takes them.
- 2 Participants
- 3 Most appearances
- 4 Merchandise
- 5 Relaunch
- 6 Transmissions
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The basic format of the show is that of a conventional panel game. The hosts (Reeves and Mortimer) and the two teams of three sit behind desks. The hosts ask questions of the two teams, and points are awarded for "correct" answers. The scoring is largely arbitrary and simply a device to give a structure to the proceedings. Reeves will almost always perform a gesture of rubbing both his thighs in front of a beautiful female guest seated directly to his right, to indicate his attraction to her.
Each episode is produced by editing together excerpts of a longer session. Sometimes the number of questions asked to each team is different, or certain contestants are never asked a question at all. Props also occasionally appear on contestant's podiums for no reason, including an M-Audio Keyboard which appears regularly in front of Bob but which he never plays.
Rounds include "true or false", the filmclip round, the impressions round and "The Dove from Above" ("The Blue Suitcase" in the pilot, and later briefly replaced by "The Crow From Below", "The Vest From the West", "George Dawes from the Upper Floors," "Donald Cox – The Sweaty Fox," "The Fly From Upon High" and "The Beast From The East" using the head of Ron Atkinson as well as various other one-off ideas). In the impressions round, contestants have to guess what song Vic Reeves is singing "in the club style" – so stylised (or perhaps drunkenly slurred) as to be incomprehensible.
"The Dove from Above" is a large and shoddy prop animal made from cardboard and coloured paper, while being suspended above the contestants merely for the purpose of bearing six key words for further questions. Guests would be prompted to "coo" down the dove, referred to by Vic as "The gift of the coo" and would often use the word "Gift" for many descriptions including "Using the gift of the air guitar", in which a contestant had to pretend playing guitar to a recording. In 2002, the Dove was replaced by "the Wonderful, Wonderful Car", which was a tiny red car with buttocks on the bumper which fired out its questions at Mortimer. In the following series, the car was replaced by "Donald Cox the Sweaty Fox", a large, drunken, tentacled fox (again, suspended from the ceiling) who was voiced by Rhys Thomas. For the special episode, a cardboard Spitfire called "Jet 1000" was used, which had its categories listed on a series of bombs coming out from it on pieces of string (referred to by Bob as its "payload"), while the others were written on the wings. Upon arrival the teams were asked to take pictures of it "flying" over with disposable cameras, while Bob called it a special once in a lifetime event. When "The Dove From Above" was absent, the contestants had to call down its respective replacements in various styles. One of these was going "Bzzzz, Bzzz!" to call down "The Fly From Upon High", while a shivering noise that went "Brrrrr!!!, Brrrrr!!", being used to call down "The Vest From the West". During this alternative, Vic would introduce the round only for Bob to stop him and explain that the "Dove From Above" is on vacation, before following this up with "But we've got the next best thing!". In the pilot episode, a massive suitcase with the categories on were listed in lights with all of those chosen by the contestants. In the main series not all the categories are chosen.
In the "Dove From Above" round, and subsequent versions of the same round, if a contestant answers incorrectly, Vic shouts "UVAVU" // and pulls a silly face. If the contestant chooses a certain, prize-winning option, Vic will pull another silly face and yell "ERANU" // The prize is invariably a bizarre and practically useless device, an example of which would be eye-spoons, consisting of spectacle frames with teaspoons attached where lenses would be. These are to be used should one's eyes pop out of their skull when visiting a nudist beach. Another example of bizarre and practically useless prize was a fartridge, which was part fart, part partridge. Vic often tells a poor joke before this round, followed by silence, a howling wind, and a tumbleweed blowing across the set, accompanied sometimes by the Grim Reaper walking across shot to the sound of death knells. Occasionally, as an act of mercy, Lamarr or Mortimer would sacrifice their reputations and tell the joke, at which point it becomes exceptionally funny and is almost worshipped by the audience and guests, much to Vic's disgust. Occasionally, this was shown as a dream sequence, and Vic would wake up, convinced the joke would be a success, only to be greeted by the usual silence.
Occasionally, there would be a "Maverick Round" where a guest would have to stand centre stage and represent something "via the medium of dance", or "The gift of the air guitar" as previously mentioned. They would then be judged by scorekeeper George Dawes (Matt Lucas), who would invariably award them no points.
The impressions round saw a "random light" pick a contestant at random, and then they had to do an impression of a celebrity. In the pilot this was called by Vic "random factor". Other elements of the impressions round included the aforementioned club style singing.
The film clip round always included a clip that was related to the question, but the answer to the question was never shown in the film just like the lyrics of George's songs, despite Bob as a running gag saying to watch or listen carefully. In one episode, Mark Lamarr's team were shown a clip from Citizen Smith (instead of a comedy clip created by the Shooting Stars team), and were totally unaware the question would relate directly to the clip. A serious question was asked requesting what a man's t-shirt read, only for Mark to make something up and then Vic saying his traditional "UVAVU!" wrong answer catchphrase. One of the most memorable film clips, was a spoof of The Naked Chef, with Matt Lucas playing the part of Jamie Oliver, and Ulrika Johnson playing the part of his then wife-to-be Juliette Norton. In the sketch Lucas plays on highlighting Jamie's then constant use of the word pukka, constantly using the word while making sandwiches for a party in which he has invited his friends along (which he often used to do on his show, including theSainsburys adverts). He keeps saying that he'll use something later which he has discarded such as an eggshell, while Juliette twice appears asking if he would like any help, only to be turned away. At the end of the filmclip he throws a load of chips in his motorcycle crash helmet.
Whichever teams "wins" the round according to the scoring system "wins" £1 per point, and the captain must nominate a teammate to do a silly stunt for an alleged £5 per point. This is a timed round, often marked by Vic or Bob stating, "We don't know how much time we have, but when the time is up, you'll hear this sound," prompting George to say a silly phrase such as "Come on, come on! Clear it up, woman!"
The credits then roll after this round as Vic and Bob sing their goodbyes.
The title of the show is a pun on the fact that much of the humour is at the expense of the guest stars. To prove this point in the pilot episode, on the final line of the opening song (".. and let's start Shooting Stars"), Vic and Bob produced shotguns from behind their podium and fired these at the panels where the guests sat.
There are two teams – Team A and Team B. Each team has a regular team captain – originally Mark Lamarr and Ulrika Jonsson – and two celebrity guests on each team. Lamarr left the series in 1997 as he disliked being in too many quiz shows at once (at the time he was hosting Never Mind the Buzzcocks), and was replaced by novelist Will Self when the series returned in 2002. At the same time comedian Johnny Vegas was brought in as a regular guest on Jonsson's team, where he had a pint of Guinness on his desk where all the other contestants had water. Will Self was replaced by dead-pan comic, Jack Dee for the 2008 15th Anniversary Special and for the 2009 series, which also saw Vegas replaced by Angelos Epithemiou, a creation of comedian Renton Skinner. Contestants are often addressed by their surnames, in reference toUniversity Challenge.
In addition to the 'regulars', the panel consisted of other celebrities from music, sports, politics and other fields. Some of the most memorable episodes included members who were clearly unaware of the show's format. On one particularly famous episode Larry Hagman is clearly totally befuddled by the experience. Writing in The Guardian, Nancy Banks-Smith described him as looking like a man in a nightmare.
Until the 2010 series, the "score" was kept by George Dawes, a bizarre, overgrown, ranting, drumming baby played by comedian Matt Lucas. (Occasionally George's "mother" Marjorie Dawes – also played by Lucas – appears instead. She also appears in Little Britain.) His arrival at the start of the show would be accompanied by the words "He's a baby!" sung to the tune of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog". He would also provide a sound effect to signal the end of timed rounds: in earlier series this was a simple scream, but later became random phrases ("Leakage"), sometimes in regional accents ("That's it I'm turning the car around and we're going back to Dorset!"), or advertising slogans ("Have you ever been to a Harvester before?"). In the later series he would also perform "George's Song," on which subject questions would follow. These included "Lesbians", "Everybody's Talkin' About Football", "Hip Hop Is The Best", "1942" (appeared in the 15 year special, while being a song about inventions such as floors, trees, shoes and the 'flu) and even a rendition of the Rentaghost theme song. One of the most famous songs is "Peanuts", with George shouting "Peanuts!" every so often to a backing track, while corpsing. The costume Lucas wore for this performance later became an inspiration for his Little Britain character Andy.
Lucas quit the programme in the 2010 series due to scheduling conflicts with his other projects and the role of scorekeeper was taken over by Angelos Epithemiou.
Apart from the Team Captains, Johnny Vegas made the most appearances with 19 as he was a permanent panellist on Ulrika's team during the 2002 series. Carol Vorderman made a total of 3 appearances and Jarvis Cocker, Stephen Fry, Zoë Ball, Les Dennis and Sara Cox each made two appearances (although Fry made a short appearance in the 2002 Christmas special). Martin Clunes made two appearances as a panellist, once on Series One and once on video exclusive Unviewed and Nude, and was also featured as a "mystery celebrity" in series two.
- In November 1996 the first Shooting Stars VHS was released entitled Shooting Stars - Unviewed and Nude.
- 1996 saw the release of the Shooting Stars book and CD game. Published by BBC Books in hard cover, this 120 page book retailed at £9.99, and featured various rounds from the shows, as well as a 45 minute CD of the Club Singer round, allowing you to play a full game of Shooting Stars in your own home.
- In March 1999 the second Shooting Stars VHS was released as a double VHS along with the first one. It was called Shooting Stars - Unviewed And Nude & Unpicked And Plucked.
- In November 2009, the first Shooting Stars DVD was released, containing the complete series 6. The complete seventh series was released on DVD the following year.
An anniversary edition entitled All New Shooting Stars was shown on 30 December 2008, celebrating the 15th anniversary of Shooting Stars. Ulrika Jonsson returned as captain with Jack Dee as the replacement team captain. Matt Lucas also reprised his George Dawes character for the episode. Guests for the episode were Peter Jones, Kate Garraway, Christine Walkden, and Dizzee Rascal. 
On 3 April 2009, it was announced that the show would return for a full sixth series. Most of the original cast returned along with Jack Dee, who continued as a permanent team captain after his appearance on the anniversary special. It began on BBC Two and BBC HD on 26 August 2009.
The relaunched series altered the format in a number of ways:
- There are now only three rounds; a general round, the Dove from Above round, and the quick-fire round. The first general round usually contains "true or false" questions, but contains other questions as well, including a regular "Who is Hitler" question in which the contestants must identify which celebrity has been disguised as Adolf Hitler.
- The Dove from Above has only four categories, meaning that all are exhausted in every show. The rules for "Eranu" and "Uvavu" are still read out (usually with the final -u extended into a reference or comedy phrase), but these phrases are not actually used during the round, and no "hidden special prizes" are ever awarded in spite of Vic saying that they exist and every category of the Dove being used in every show. The phrases, and the references to a special prize, are finally dropped entirely in the last two episodes.
- The four categories of the Dove always correspond to classic theme skits: one is always "George's Song", another is always "a song in the club style", and another is always either a spoof video clip or a performance by the "Hartlepool Film Re-enactment Society" in which Vic and Bob use a wendy house and dolls on the end of sticks to play out a skit featuring characters from a well-known film.
- Other regular skits integrated into the show include a conversation with kebab van owner "Angelos Epithemiou" (actually comedian Renton Skinner), and an attempt to "cheer up Jack Dee" by playing him a song using drain pipes.
- The prize awarded for the final game, rather than being surreal, is instead laughably small: examples include "a cassette of Reggae", and "this wonderful toothpick holder".
Shooting Stars returned in July 2010 for a seventh series. This series made the following further changes:
- Following Matt Lucas's decision to leave the programme, Angelos Epithemiou became the scorekeeper. Angelos' entrance music is Shaggy's "Boombastic"; rather than George Dawes' drumkit, he keeps the scores from behind his "Dream Machine", a combination of a DJ station and a pound shop. It does still include a miniature electronic drumkit which he uses to accompany Vic's "songs in the club style". Angelos always plays a short burst of rave music (an excerpt from "Drop The Pressure (Jack Beats 'Rinsed Out Rave' Remix)" by Project Bassline) before announcing the first round's scores, and brings in a plastic bag, the contents of which are revealed between rounds during the show.
- There are now four rounds: the opening general round, the "clip round" (which has only one question, opened to both teams, on the presented clip), the Dove from Above and the quick-fire round. The video clips (and the "Hartlepool re-enactments") are removed from the Dove round and replaced by "celebrity questions", in which a question is asked in a video clip by Vic or Bob while dressed up as another celebrity.
- "George's Song" - as one of the options on the Dove - is replaced by "Angelos Epithemou's Variety Showcase" in which Angelos performs a short skit, often involving dancing or a parody of a magic show. Spoof magic tricks appear frequently elsewhere in this series, including a regular routine with a magic box at the beginning of each show (although many of the tricks are obviously done by camera cuts or editing).
- Ulrika is introduced by the singing of a spoof song to the melody of Agadoo.
- In at least one round, an unoccupied pair of trousers will "walk" unattended across the studio. This is completely ignored by everyone else. In one episode, this is replaced by a taxidermy Great Dane which quietly drifts up behind one of the contestants' podiums.
- Shooting Stars returned for an eighth series on 8 August 2011. It now features Archie Andrews, a puppet who walks and "hands" the question to the contestant on the left of Ulrika.
- It was announced by Bob Mortimer on 15 November 2011 that the BBC had cancelled further series of the show. The BBC have confirmed that the show has been axed.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|Pilot||27 December 1993||1|
|1||22 September 1995||10 November 1995||8|
|2||27 September 1996||20 December 1996||13|
|3||26 September 1997||7 November 1997||7|
|4||13 January 2002||3 March 2002||8|
|5||13 October 2002||15 December 2002||10|
|6||26 August 2009||30 September 2009||6|
|7||13 July 2010||17 August 2010||6|
|8||8 August 2011||12 September 2011||6|
|29 December 1995||Christmas Special|
|27 December 1996||Christmas Special|
|22 December 1997||Christmas Special|
|10 June 2002||Summer Special|
|22 December 2002||Christmas Special|
|30 December 2008||Anniversary Special|
|30 December 2010||Christmas Special|