Review: Only Artists – Tony Pitts & Jim Moir/Vic Reeves, R4

I’ve usually found Vic Reeves to be a pretty elusive interviewee, always opting for a gag when you want some insight, but he was unusually open in this interview with actor/director Tony Pitts about his formative years.

Maybe it was because the series was all about artists and, as Reeves/Moir admitted, he always saw Vic Reeves as an art project from the very first time he stuck on a cardboard Sylvester Stallone mask and made his debut at Winston’s Wine Bar in Deptford in the 1980s.

He was particularly candid about wanting to be famous. Or at least wanting to stick out. There was a familiar story about pretending to have a brass hand back in his native Darlington and a less often told one about freaking out Billy Idol by grinning at him outside two Generation X gigs, giving the blond-quiffed vocalist an attack of deja vu.

If some stories were familiar others had a freshness to them. I hadn’t heard the one about the punk rock-era Moir wearing a plastic bag as a vest, which made his skin wrinkly and sweaty. Or the one about him pretending to be a member of UB40 during a camping holiday on the Isle of Wight. And maybe there was another clue to why he is a comedian when he explained why he used to fake the autographs on pop stars on album sleeves when he worked in a record shop: “I like to see people happy.”

Not everyone has appreciated the humour, he admitted. At a gig in Richmond he and Bob Mortimer had to do a runner after the rugby players in the audience didn’t get him walking on with a yoghurt pot and being chased by Bob who was holding a spoon. 

Available on iPlayer here.

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