Tech Lives: Vic Reeves

The Brainiac host chats to us about life, tech and apple corers

In a new, regular series, T3 interviews the stars about their lives, their tech and whatever it is they happen to be plugging and are hence available for interview

We wanted to start with a true tech expert, so we naturally picked Vic Reeves. Aside from being hilarious, and contributing more than most to British comedy in the last couple of decades, Vic was also the host of Sky 1's scientific entertainment show 'Brainiac'.

More recently, Vic has designed a limited edition F1-inspired Sky+ HD box to celebrate the season of Formula 1 coverage on the Sky Sports F1 HD channel, and very nice it is too. You can check out and buy more of these limited edition Sky+ HD boxes at:

T3: What are you plugging and why?
VIC: I did a Formula 1 car on a Sky Box.

T3: And how did that come about?
VIC: Because I paint a lot. I paint all the time. I suppose they asked me because I paint. I don’t know.

T3: Are you a car person?
VIC: I’ve got two cars: a Land Rover and a Porsche.

T3: Are you a fan of Formula 1?
VIC: Not really, I used to watch it. But I don’t really have the time to be honest at the moment. I like to see it when I can. I mean it’s on a Saturday and I’ve got kids to contend with. I don’t get time to sit down and watch television on a Saturday.

T3: Do you still work for Sky? You used to do the Brainiacs show…
VIC: I was up at Sky last week actually, because I might do a new series. I just had a meeting with them. Nothing’s confirmed yet. I might be working there again yeah.

T3: The tech you invented on The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer – Quack Quack the Homebrew Duck, for instance – was quite fantastical. Do you find yourself disappointed by real-life gadgets?
VIC: I’m not much of a techie… I mean when we were doing Brainiac I was just reading from scripts and I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about most of the time. There was a lot of quotes that I would invariably get the pronunciation wrong. In terms of gadgets I like things like apple corers and egg timers. I think kitchen gadgets are about the limits of technology for me. Although my Sky+ box, I’m brilliant at “Sky-plussing” things. I’ve got about 90% on there at the moment.

T3: You feel comfortable painting it because you’re familiar with the gadget?
VIC: Well no, it was just a painting, but I am very familiar with the Sky+ box and the Sky+ hand machine.

T3: The remote control?
VIC: Oh yeah, it’s a remote control! Not a hand machine!

T3: A PalmPilot was another kind of hand machine.
VIC: A what?

T3: A PalmPilot, are you familiar with those?
VIC: I’ve never heard of a PalmPilot. What does he do?

T3: There’s quite a funny clip online of Brian Blessed being bemused by a PalmPilot and booming “It sounds like some sort of wanking machine!”
VIC: Well I have to admit, that was my original thought, but I have no idea what a PalmPilot is.

T3: You are on Twitter, we noticed.
VIC: You’re kind of forced to do it now, because if you’ve got a programme they tend not to bother trailing it or advertising, so you’re kind of forced into Twitter. I don’t really correspond with people on it, I just send out little messages into wherever they go. If I have a thought, I just do it, I press tweet and write it in and just send it. There it goes. I’m never really bothered about looking for a response.

T3: Have you ever bullied anyone on Twitter, or been bullied by Twitter bullies?
VIC: Well I never read. All I do is write things and send it off. I never really look at anything to be honest. I don’t know if I’ve been bullied because I’ve never looked at what people have said.

T3: And you’ve never bullied anyone else by Twitter? We need to be sure about this.
VIC: If you’ve seen what I send on Twitter, that’s it. I don’t bother writing about anyone really. People do bully on there don’t they though?

T3: There was somebody called Charles who you claimed to have hidden drugs under his seat? We weren’t sure if that was Twitter bullying as such or if we just misunderstood it.
VIC: I don’t think you could call that bullying.

T3: Well now we’ve got that clear… Did you get the questions that we emailed you the other day?
VIC: No, I haven’t got an email.

T3: What really?
VIC: No.

T3: Do you have a computer?
VIC: Yes, but I don’t really look at it very often. There is one in the house. My wife looks at it. I think she uses it occasionally, to look at the prices of shoes.

T3: Well technology is useful for that. Communication and shoes: that’s its two main functions. So, what was the first gadget you ever bought, or were given?
VIC: A shoe horn probably. A shoehorn is probably one of the greatest gadgets ever. If you wear constrictive shoes, then it’s a great boon to the shoe wearer. I think I probably had that for my ninth birthday, when I was wearing white leather shoes that were particularly uncomfortable. Even though they had another gadget which was animal prints on the bottom of the sole.

T3: So you could pretend to be a fox in snow and mud?
VIC: No, so you put your shoe into the dirt and mud and it had like a reference for several animals on it. So I could tell whether that print was a roe deer. It had a compass in the heel.

T3: Did you find as a result that hunters kept turning up at your house, thinking that you were a roe deer?
VIC: No, they were only tiny! This is going back to the 60s, and they were only about a quarter of the size of an actual print and there were about 16 on the bottom of the sole and it was just a recognition thing. But it did have a compass in the heel which invariably filled with sweat in the first wearing of the shoe. You could never tell where you were. You had to take your shoe off and then try and dry it out with the aid of the sun to see where you were on earth. An early GPS I guess – your shoe.

T3: Do you remember what the first electronic gadget you bought was?
VIC: Does Scalextrix count? Well, I didn’t have one of those, I had the Matchbox Motorised Motorway which was a cheap version of the Scalextric. It looked the same but it had springs in the grooves which got jammed up and then set on fire. It was the poor man’s Scalextric and it was terrible.

T3: Wouldn’t that mean more realistic crashes?
VIC: Well not really, because the springs used to buckle in the grooves so it would just get all jammed up. The mechanism, the cogs and all that, kept whirring round grinding against the spring which would then cause smoke to rise from the pack usually within the first two hours of opening the box.

T3: So it’s more of a car breakdown simulator than racing.
VIC: It was just a really depressing Christmas present.

T3: What is the most recent gadget you have purchased (or been given)?
VIC: We’ve got a coffee making device. I’ll go have a look at it know. It’s Nescafe Dolce Gusto Cruz. It involves a little sort of dish of coffee that you put into the slot and then you press a button and a cappuccino comes out of it. It’s so you can pretend to be posh for a moment.

T3: George Clooney advertises those doesn’t he?
VIC: Oh, does he? Doesn’t he do the other ones? A posher one? We did have that one but it was too much of a palaver to get the little pods. So we went back to the Dolce Gusto one. It’s the easiest to use, and you can buy the little pod things in Sainsbury’s, so you don’t have to get them off a computer.

T3: What’s your favourite type of coffee for it?
VIC: You know what, they come in various coloured pods and I don’t know what they are. I suppose if I looked on the box I would know, but I just stick whatever’s nearest to hand in. I prefer a cup of tea anyway.

T3: Classic. Elegant. Does it froth the milk for you or is it in the pod?
VIC: No that’s the best thing about it. It froths the milk for you. It’s like the sort of thing you see at a railway station.

T3: What is your favourite gadget?
VIC: I do like an apple corer. I like lots of cooking things. I’ve got a Kenwood Mini Mixer that I particularly like and use. If I was going to make, say for instance, a paste for a Thai green curry I would get my mini mixer out. Chuck the ingredients in and hey presto, there you are. Paste. That would probably cost me about 30 pence to make. If you buy a jar of it in the supermarket it would cost you £1.65. It’s a lot easier.

T3: So you’re saving anything up to £1.35 every time you use it…
VIC: You soon get your money back. Many a time.

T3: What is it about the apple corer that you like? Is it both a corer and a peeler or is it just a corer?
VIC: It’s just a corer. What I do want is an apple corer and peeler. I saw them, you can get them in Lakeland and you stick your apple on a prong, wind a winder and the chisel moves around the apple and completely peels the apple for you. That would be good in an old folks home of something.

T3: Or you could use it like a fruit lathe
VIC: Yeah, exactly that. What more pleasure could a man have than having a fruit lathe?

T3: Have you seen those ones where it like punches out the core using a mechanism?
VIC: Yeah that’s it! It punches out the core and dices your apple into 12 easy pieces. You can also get one that gets that massive thing out the middle of a mango. The stone. You can get a mango device that cuts a mango in half and gets rid of the stone.

T3: That’s pretty high precision, because a mango a lot of time is more stone than fruit. VIC: The mango device makes life a lot easier for the mango eater.

T3: The mango aficionado
VIC: The mango man. Yeah.

T3: Which games console is best?
VIC: I haven’t got one. I had an Xbox but I never used it. I’m not the one to talk about games consoles. I mean I’ve played games, but I tend to get really frustrated because I really just realised I’ve just wasted time. I tend to keep clear of them. The nearest I get to a game is Scrabble.

T3: You could play that online. That would be the technological way of playing it.
VIC: Well I like to play that with my wife and the kids in the kitchen with a bottle of wine.

T3: You could make it more high tech by playing it in the kitchen but both on a computer. It would be a bit like battleships, both playing on a laptop without seeing the other’s computer.
VIC: Well it would be of no surprise to you that I haven’t got a laptop either.

T3: Well in that case that wouldn’t work either... Do your kids have games consoles or are they not of a games age?
VIC: No they don’t. they have reams and reams of paper and boxes full of pens. They write books. If they get to a point where they want consoles, then I’ll think about it, but at the moment they haven’t made any enquiries.

T3: iPhone or Android?
VIC: I only recently found out what an Android is because I’ve got an iPhone. So I would say iPhone. I’ve got an app on it that tells me what times the trains come, when they’re going to turn up and where they are on the track. I like to see where trains are going even if I’m not getting on them. We’ve got a railway track at the end of our garden, so I can have a look on my train app, see what time the train’s going past, open the window and see if it’s accurate.

T3: Then write a letter to the developers if there’s any discrepancies.
VIC: Yeah, because I’ll know if it’s 30 seconds out.

*Someone comes to Vic’s door*

VIC: That was someone from World Vision. I don’t even know what that is. He had an orange vest on with World Vision printed on the front.

T3: Could be like Scientology or something?
VIC: I suspect it probably is. He was a very nice looking boy with a smile. I think he was probably going to try and sell me a new cult.

T3: What lurks behind that smile? A vision for the world: that’s the question they ask would-be psychopaths, “do you have a plan for this world? Or a vision?”
VIC: So if you have a plan, then you’re a psychopath? I guess that would be Mussolini, Hitler. They had plans for the world didn’t they? I have a plan to… make tea.

T3: And finally, if you could make a new gadget, what would you make?
VIC: On the Reeves and Mortimer show we came up with a lot of gadgets, including Licky Kicky the Home Security Dog. One of my favourites was a toothbrush. You had a toothbrush on a stick and another toothbrush on the other end, so you could, with your partner, clean your teeth at the same time. Or, as Bob pointed out, you could clean your arse at the same time.

T3: Well only if your arse was round the front of your body
VIC: With a bit of judicial modelling it is possible. With more of a walking stick shape, with a toothbrush coming out the walking stick handle end and a toothbrush on the other end, that is actually very possible.