The once yawning gap between the peerless silliness of Reeves and Mortimer and their obvious antecedents Morecambe and Wise is closing fast: the first episode of Shooting Stars went out fifteen years ago, which is nearly half as long ago as the 28-million viewer everest of the 1977 Christmas Show (if you get a move on you might still catch Paul Merton’s excellent tribute to M&W here). And in those fifteen years they’ve got closer in other ways too.
Even this brand new show—which preserves the format of the original unchanged—now seems as innocent as an Ernie Wise play—in comparison, I suppose, to the rest of contemporary TV comedy—which needs to be ‘edgier’. In this rather melancholy documentary about Shooting Stars it’s clear that the BBC executives who commissioned the show back then really did hope they were investing in the new Eric and Ernie. It didn’t really work out – they’re still a minority taste (and half the population will never sit down to watch the same show ever again). I wonder if it still could.