TV review: Vic & Bob's Big Night Out, BBC Four (3 stars)

TV review: Vic & Bob's Big Night Out, BBC Four

Reeves and Mortimer return for typically madcap yet largely laugh-free malarkey

They wouldn't let it lie. An obvious start to any review of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, admittedly, but such predictability is sadly fitting when set against every daft gag, visual buffoonery and mad gurning in the opening episodes of their latest endeavour. After the one-off resurrection of Big Night Out last Christmas, the right people thought that Vic and Bob had done enough to warrant four more half-hour slabs of silliness.

But the majority of the time here is spent grasping at old glories in front of a studio audience obediently bending over backwards to have a great time (the assembled demographic seems distinctly less senior than the crowds who piled in to see their 25th year anniversary tour in 2016). A mock fight goes on way too long while their ghost hunting spoof within a haunted toilet defies categorisation within the realm of comedy.

There are glimpses of the old magic: Vic's impersonation of David Walliams is so hilariously misjudged as to warrant several repeat viewings, while Bob's take on Andrew Neil going on a Benidorm Bender verges on the delirious. Then again, the mocking of hip-hip aristocrats Drake, Jay Z and Kanye feels like a potentially weird update of their Otis Redding / Marvin Gaye Punch & Judy routines, though thankfully they represent the trio via cardboard cut-outs rather than through blacking up.

Some old favourites have re-emerged with Mulligan & O'Hare and Novelty Island's irritable loser Graham Lister back in the frame, and their presence alone is enough to feed that nostalgic craving. In a world that might be permanently teetering on the verge of catastrophe, a little bit of agenda-free stupidity might well be the tonic we all need. These paragons of nonsense would normally be the go-to guys for that job, but the spot is rarely hit with this revamp.

Episodes watched: 1 & 2 of 4

Vic & Bob's Big Night Out starts on BBC Four, Wednesday 28 November, 10pm.

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