Shooting Stars (TV series)

This article is about the comedy game show. For other uses, see Shooting Star.
Shooting Stars
Genre Surreal comedy, slapstick comedy, British comedy
Created by Vic Reeves
Bob Mortimer
Presented by Vic Reeves
Bob Mortimer
Starring Team Captains
Jonathan Ross (1993 pilot)
Danny Baker (1993 pilot)
Ulrika Jonsson (1995–2011)
Sara Cox (2002 special)
Mark Lamarr (1995–1997)
Will Self (2002)
Jack Dee (2008–2011)
Regular Panellists
Johnny Vegas (2002)
Angelos Epithemiou (2009)
Matt Lucas as George Dawes (1995–2009)
Angelos Epithemiou (2010–2011)
Voices of Graham Skidmore (1993–2002)
Nico Tatrowicz (2008–2011)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 8
No. of episodes 72 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) Alan Marke (1995–1997)
Lisa Clark (2002–2011)
Running time 30 minutes
Original network BBC Two (1993–1997, 2008–2011)
BBC Choice (2002)
Picture format 4:3 576i (Series 1–3)
16:9 576i (Series 4–5)
1080i (HD) (Series 6–8)
Original release 27 December 1993 (1993-12-27) – 12 September 2011 (2011-09-12)
Related shows Lucky Sexy Winners

Shooting Stars is a British television comedy panel game broadcast on BBC Two as a pilot in 1993, then as three full series from 1995 to 1997, then on BBC Choice from January to December 2002 with two series before returning to BBC Two for another three 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.


The basic format of the show is that of a conventional panel game. The hosts (Reeves and Mortimer) ask questions of the two teams with points awarded for "correct" answers; however, scoring is largely arbitrary. Each episode is produced by editing together excerpts of a longer session.

Rounds include "true or false", the film clip round, the impressions round and "The Dove from Above" In the impressions round, contestants have to guess what song Vic Reeves is singing (incomprehensibly) "in the club style".

Dove from Above

"The Dove from Above" is a large prop animal 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. Alternatives to the dove in various series included "The Blue Suitcase" in the pilot, "The Crow From Below", "The Vest From the West", "George Dawes from the Upper Floors," "The Wonderful, Wonderful Car," "Donald Cox – The Sweaty Fox," "The Fly From Upon High" and "The Beast From The East."

In the "Dove From Above" round, and subsequent versions of the same round, if a contestant answers incorrectly, Vic shouts "UVAVU" /ˈvɑːv/ and pulls a silly face. If the contestant chooses a certain, prize-winning option, Vic will pull another silly face and yell "ERANU" /ɪəˈrɑːn/ The prize is invariably a bizarre and practically useless device.

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.

Impressions round

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.

Film clip round

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 the Sainsburys 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 lot of chips in his motorcycle crash helmet.

Final round

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 at the opening song (singing "let's start Shooting Stars"), Vic and Bob are holding shotguns and fire these into the stars.


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 Lucas' character, George Dawes, replaced by Angelos Epithemiou, a creation of comedian Renton Skinner. Contestants are often addressed by their surnames, in reference to University 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.[1]

Until the 2010 series, the "score" was kept by George Dawes, an 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[2] and the role of scorekeeper was taken over by Angelos Epithemiou.

Most appearances

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.



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.[4]

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.[5] It began on BBC Two and BBC HD on 26 August 2009.[6]

The relaunched series altered the format in a number of ways:

Shooting Stars returned in July 2010 for a seventh series. This series made the following further changes:


Original series

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


Date Entitle
29 December 1995
Christmas Special
27 December 1996
Christmas Special
22 December 1997
Christmas Special
6 October 2002
One-hour Special
22 December 2002
Christmas Special
30 December 2008
Anniversary Special
30 December 2010
Christmas Special


  1. Banks-Smith, Nancy (31 December 2008). "Michael Palin's return to India involved old friends, spanked pants and a close shave". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 January 2009.
  2. "Matt Lucas quits Shooting Stars | Unreality TV". 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  3. "Shooting Stars 2009 [DVD]: Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer: Film & TV". Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  4. "Two Programmes - All New Shooting Stars". BBC. Retrieved 3 April 2009.
  5. "Press Office - Shooting Stars returns to BBC Two". BBC. Retrieved 3 April 2009.
  6. "Press Office - Network TV Programme Information BBC Week 34". BBC. 10 February 2004. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  7. "'Shooting Stars' axed by BBC - TV News". Digital Spy. 2011-11-15. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  8. "Shooting Stars panel show axed by BBC". BBC News. 16 November 2011.
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