Families at War



Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer


Alice Beer


Channel X for BBC One, 29 August 1998 to 29 May 1999 (pilot + 8 episodes in 1 series)


People are divided as to whether this is any good or not. Vic and Bob are strange people. They 'do' surreality but rarely ever mention fish. Mightily impressive.

And the idea of this show is that two families battle each other to see who is more talented. Each of the three members face off against each other to show off their talent except when Vic or Bob ring their 'Challenge Hats' when the member of the other team has a special challenge to do (for example, a butcher has to identify five different types of meat by touch alone or a dancer might have to dance to the music of the News at Ten). Each face-off is judged by a jury of twelve people who each do the same job (in the pilot, it was shoemakers), and for each vote their team gets they win a point.

The terrible trio: Bob Mortimer, Alice Beer and Vic Reeves (from left to right)

After the three rounds, the family with the highest score go on to The Cubiscus. Here, Bob, dressed in a spider outfit and connected to a crane is 'The Grabbing Spider' and Vic (who is scared of heights incidentally) is the Spider's keyboard player, 'The Water Boatman'. The family controls the crane, one up and down, one horizontally and the other vertically. The idea is for the family to guide the spider to the prizes and then get him to throw them down the chute in the side.

The final bit makes the show worth watching. It's just the funniest thing with Vic shouting "I'M THE SPIDER" and Bob shouting things like "I'M THE WATER BOATMAN! I LIVE IN YOUR DRAINS" every couple of seconds is quite hilarious, as is when the family doesn't control the crane very well and Vic knocks everything off the pedestals. Good stuff.

However, the main bit of the show doesn't seem to gel. Do you really want to watch 45 minutes of sort-of-alright-ish to watch the 5 minutes of good?

Key moments

In a fit of excellent forward planning, we actually mentioned The Cubiscus up there a bit.

Leo Sayer disappearing off a treadmill at high speed.


"I am the spider!"


Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer

Theme music

Pete Baikie


Mainly due to poor scheduling, it was one of the BBC's worst ever debut programmes, mustering a lowly 3.43m viewers.


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