After a short break from the TV screens, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer returning with a new comedy drama – Catterick. Elise Harris talked to Vic about it
Catterick is not a sitcom – Vic Reeves is adamant about that. It is, he says, very dark. Vic and Bob Mortimer play long-lost brothers. Bob’s been in the army - or at least he says he’s been in the army - for twenty years.
‘I’ve been at home with our mother, who then died, and I’m living in the house on my own. He comes back and I want him to move in and live there because I want my brother back,’ Vic says.
‘You get the feeling he’s been sitting there since the mother died - watching telly in the dark, eating tomatoes and drinking milk.’
Bob’s character wants to find his son, who he hasn’t seen for twenty years: ‘We go on a journey to find him. We get pursued by a murderer – we meet people along the way,’
The series has many guest stars including Tim Healy, Mark Benton, Morwenna Banks , Reece Shearsmith, Julie T Wallace and regular collaborator Matt Lucas.
‘It’s six people’s journeys, which are metaphysical and physical. They are all looking for love in some way.’
Lucas plays an ‘egocentric, pompous hotel manager. He loses parts of his body – which is the thing he really loves – himself. His girlfriend is sick of him and she wants to get away from him.’
Vic’s character pretends to be a hard man, but is actually quite childlike. During the series he undergoes many changes. ‘He ends up at the end the kind of boss. He takes charge of the thing.’ He also plays a detective who ‘may be gay’.
Catterick was originally conceived as a film, and still has that feel about it. Regular viewers will be rewarded – but it’s not geared towards the casual TV watcher.
‘You get drawn into this world. It’s quite intense. You can’t dip into it in episode three and watch it and know what’s going on. You have to watch it all – the whole thing. If you talk you’ll miss a vital bit.
‘You can watch it over and over again and see something new every time, because there’s lots of twists and little turns in it from start to finish. Some big twists in it as well.’
The series has a bit of a Stephen King vibe about it – comedy notwithstanding.
‘We had that long hot summer it took ages for the leaves to fall off the trees – we’ve got all these fantastic colours everywhere - we’ve got six weeks of perfect weather with all these beautiful leaves and it gives it a kind of American feel.’
This has influenced the incidental music. ‘It’s got banjos on it and jug band sort of music, but not in a light way. We wanted it to be a bit dirty and threatening and have an edge to it.’
It also has Tibetan bells and horns and a contribution from world-renowned guitarist Jeff Beck, a friend of Vic’s.
‘Oh, and we’ve got songs in every week – bit like Pennies From Heaven that the characters mime to.’
He says the songs will not be familiar, but you might have heard some of them. Joni Mitchell, Chris Rea and Flanagan and Allen feature.
Vic and Bob’s first foray into serious acting was Randall and Hopkirk: Deceased. Although it was a big hit, the BBC has not commissioned any more. Vic thinks it may be because of the costs involved in producing drama series.
‘It was good fun doing them. I thought they were good stories – but I don’t know, maybe you get more figures watching somebody having their house cleaned. And it’s cheap.’
He doesn’t rule out the possibility of another series though.
‘Maybe one day – you never know. Or maybe we’ll do The Champions or something like that.’
Whatever future projects he has, they are almost certain to feature Bob Mortimer.
‘We’re best mates so it’s great getting to work with your best mate. We just get in and stick rigidly to our plan for the day – we write and then we go off and film together. But we’ve never had an argument or anything. It’s great.’
Vic and Bob’s production company is also collaborating with Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow Productions to work on a new project, The All-Star Comedy Show.
‘We’ve got anyone who’s ever been involved in comedy doing sketches – Ronnie Corbett, Harry Hill, everyone right across the board.
‘One of the ideas we’ve had is to get people like the Goodies back together for one little sketch in one week – or Little and Large maybe – get a couple of Pythons back together. Everyone has said yes up until now. There’s no pressure and it’s a nice easy thing to do. Hopefully it’ll be great for Saturday night TV.’
That’s likely to be on the screens around Easter – but in the meantime comedy lovers, and aficionados of the absurd can sate themselves with Catterick.
The feedback from the BBC has been very positive, Vic says. ‘I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done – it’s a great story. It’s actually very straight, and when it’s funny it makes it stand out more - it’s like a Mike Leigh film, in that respect.’
Only a lot darker.
Catterick was shown on BBC Three starting February 15, 2004 at 9pm