Archive by Author

Noble’s Dead Squirrel On The News

24 Jan

We tweeted about this one during the week, but it’s so good we had to give the story a post of its own! Plus it features Kim Noble, who’s all kinds of wonderful.

A few days ago, Kim unexpectedly popped up on our TV screens during the ITV news. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment of awesomeness, he walks out from behind the the presenter, holding aloft a dead squirrel.

We love Kim’s ad hoc missions of randomness (you can see a few more of them here – we often wonder who ended up buying his modified Ikea chair…), but to see one of them on the national TV news is quite something!  Kudos to Mr Noble.

And thanks to Rufus Jones for spotting it:

If that’s piqued your interest in Kim’s creative comic output, we recommend you see his show Kim Noble: You’re Not Alone at Soho Theatre, starting 3rd February. Read all about it here. And then go and see it.

Noel Fielding Art Show At The Albert Hall

21 Jan

© Jack agency

An exhibition of Noel Fielding‘s paintings will be taking place at The Royal Albert Hall in London in March.

It will be running from Wednesday 4th March to Tuesday 17th March, and is open to anyone attending a performance at the venue during this time. If you’re not planning to see any events at the Albert Hall, fret not, because you can still see Noel’s art show on the following open days:

Friday 6th March 11am – 4pm
Saturday 7th March 10am – 1pm
Saturday 14th March 10am – 1pm
Sunday 15 March 10am – 1pm

The exhibition is described as including “pieces from Noel’s portfolio which showcase his unique brand of versatility and surrealism. Including portraits of well-known musicians such as The Beatles and Elvis Presley, in addition to more experimental works such as Bubblegum Cat at the Cinema, this is a journey through the absurd and abstract that cannot be missed.”

The show takes place in the Ground Floor Corridor, accessed via Door 12 of the venue. And if you need a flourish of colour in your life, the paintings will be available for sale.

If you can’t get to London to see it for yourself, don’t forget that you can purchase original paintings and prints direct from Noel’s art dealer, Hooligan Art dealer.

We hope to be bringing you more information about the show between now and March, so stay tuned…

Horgan’s Catastrophe Is Anything But

20 Jan

© Channel 4

Hands up if you tuned in for the first episode of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s new show Catastrophe, which aired on Ch4 last night? If you didn’t, you missed out because it was properly bloody funny!

Catastrophe was well-written, darkly sweet and featured two main characters who could (should?) have been hateful, but became something rather wonderful in Horgan and Delaney’s hands.

If you didn’t see it, we strongly urge you to watch it on 4oD. But don’t just take our word for it – here’s our round up of today’s reviews (click on the link to read the review in full):

The Guardian absolutely loved it calling it “depraved, sweet and very, very funny” and saying: “Praise be, after scores of British sitcoms based around the nonspecific, warm, fuzzy feeling generated by people being kind at each other, a half hour of narrative comedy that bursts with jokes. Solid, delicious chunks of funny pudding rather than the funny-flavoured foam we’ve been doused in lately.”

The Times gives the show 4 stars and says, “This new comedy, penned by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, manages to be believable, good-hearted, raw and rude.”

The slightly less superlative Independent describes it as “an enjoyably rude romcom that’s safer than it thinks it is” and The Telegraph calls the show “promising”.

However, The Arts Desk raves about it, describing it thus: “Often filthy, very funny, and occasionally dark, it includes some of the most frank descriptions of childbirth ever heard on TV and a triumph of a scene which relies on seemingly endless repetition of the word “cancer” for laughs.”

So there you have it, empirical evidence that Catastrophe was pretty darned good.

Head over here for some clips from the show and filmed interviews with the two stars. And don’t forget to tune into episode 2 on channel 4 on Monday 26th January at 10pm.


Noel Talks To Noctis Magazine

18 Jan

© Dave Brown/Chloe Monro Pluett

A new Noel Fielding interview hit our laptops this weekend, and although it took place at the same time as the (almost) daily interviews with national and regional press during his 2014 UK tour, this particular one provides some nice extra insights about what makes Noel tick.

As well as the general tour information which you may have heard before, we also learn about Noel’s intended health regime for the tour, the origins of his new character, the dark side of the Moon, the risks of audience interaction, and how his outfits on Buzzcocks act as a bit of a barometer for how he’s feeling.

The interview appears in issue 13 of Noctis Magazine. To read it in full click here and scroll down to page 82 (just before half way down). Clue: it’s well past the article which offers helpful tips on etiquette for threesomes!

Don’t forget that you can still book tickets for Noel’s Australian and New Zealand tour in April 2015 and for the further UK dates at the end of this year.

Vote For Your Comedy Favourites

18 Jan

Each year The British Comedy Guide runs what must surely be the most comprehensive comedy awards out there. And that time is now, with the voting just opened for the 2014 Awards!

So if your favourite comedy shows haven’t yet been presented with the trophies that you think they deserve, it’s time to put the record straight. To get voting click here – and make sure you have a wee bit of time on your hands, because there’s a lot of choice.

It includes Doll & Em, The Trip, Toast, House of Fools, This Is Jinsey, Man Down, Moone Boy, Count Arthur Strong, Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, Psychobitches, Horrible Histories, Alice’s Wunderland, Kevin Eldon will See you Now, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Big Fat Quiz of the Year, Crackanory – plus many others besides. Phew!

Voting closes this coming Friday, 23rd January, and the winners will be announced on Monday 26th via their homepage and other social platforms. Get voting!

Inside No. 9 – Cast For New Series Announced

17 Jan


Production has started on the second series of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith‘s darkly comic Inside No. 9 –  and a whole host of new faces are being welcomed in, including a couple of TVO-connected folk!

Alice Lowe and Paul Kaye will be appearing in the show, along with Sheridan Smith, Jack Whitehall, Alison Steadman, Claire Skinner, Jane Horrocks, David Warner, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Mark Benton, Tom Riley, Jim Howick and Michele Doctrice.

The first series featured performances from TVO-ers, Katherine Parkinson and Julia Davis.

As with series one, Pemberton and Shearsmith will star, and each episode will follow a different story set in a No.9 location, “where the ordinary and mundane rub shoulders with the extraordinary and macabre,” according to the producers. Series two will include episodes set in a sleeping car on a French train, a seance in a grand Victorian Villa, a 17th century village and a volunteer call centre.

Pemberton and Shearsmith have said of the new series: “We are delighted to be handing over the keys to six new No. 9’s; we hope they will amuse, shock, horrify and surprise… but not necessarily in that order. “Once again we have enjoyed working with some of the best comic talent in the country. Now we are getting old, it’s nice not to have to play all the parts.”

The new series will air later this year.

The Thinking Eye: An Interview With Idil Sukan

15 Jan

© Idil Sukan

Idil Sukan knows comedy. Although arguably best known for her photographs of comedians, she has also produced comedy shows, designed visual marketing for live comedy and written/performed stand up herself. It gives her a unique multi-layered perspective on what it takes to be funny, and what it takes to capture ‘funny’ in a piece of visual design. Velveteer Mog caught up with her as she prepared for her forthcoming exhibition and comedy show:

Idil Sukan is a bundle of fascinating contradictions. On the surface of it, what she does seems to be the embodiment of superficial pop culture: she photographs famous people from the world of entertainment. However, her approach and attitude to what she does displays a degree of focus and contemplation more typically found in academia.

A conversation with Idil is less an interview and more a lecture in the philosophy and ethics of the captured image. And it’s all the more interesting for it!

She’s quietly well-spoken and intensely thoughtful – but she has a fire in her belly that ignites quickly whenever the conversation touches a nerve, be it feminism (which she feels very strongly about), the responsibilities of being a photographer, or the joyful geekery of space photography.

© Idil Sukan

Idil discovered photography by accident when she was designing posters for comedy shows, and realised that taking her own pictures would provide a more efficient approach to finding the right images for her designs. Even now, having shot the great and good from the worlds of film, music and comedy, she’s not sure that she would describe herself as a photographer.

“Technically, I’m a creative director, because we take on visual marketing projects; we develop a coherent design and photography solution – the entire creative direction,” she says. “I have a team of stylists, make up artists, hair people; we develop a creative idea and direction, then we do the photographs. It’s a team game.”

I wonder if there are differences between the people she photographs, depending on which field in the arts they come from. She sees only similarities: “Everyone has their hang ups and everyone has a way that they want to portray themselves. People who go into entertainment to express themselves exhibit this paradoxical combination of being incredibly confident and drawn to the limelight, alongside this crippling sense of self-doubt. Maybe that’s what drives people in the arts? Maybe things are never quite good enough.” she says.

© Idil Sukan

Idil recognises the power that she wields for a group of people for whom image is so important, explaining. “When you have a photograph taken of yourself for publicity reasons, you’re basically defining yourself as an artist. You’re committing to that definition of yourself, you’re publicly declaring that you’re moving forwards with this for at least the next 6 months. I’ve always found that really interesting and inspiring.”

She prepares thoroughly for every portrait that she takes, because it helps her understand exactly what it is that she’s looking for in the images she takes: “It’s like comedy – the more you plan and research, the more confident you are in the craft and the more open you are to improvisation. Then you can get excited and creative…and you know when something’s hit. It’s why people will laugh at one joke and not the previous joke, even though it’s all coming from the same person. It’s the same with photography: one frame is 95% the same as another one, but the other one is the killer frame, and this one you’ll delete and never see again.”

© Idil Sukan

She places a huge amount of responsibility on being a photographer, noting that anyone who produces images for a living has the potential to influence societal attitudes. She’s particularly angry about how women are often portrayed in visual media: “These photographs go on the front covers of magazines, so it’s a bit cowardly and lazy to not take responsibility.”

“I’m a constant ball of fury about it! You can’t say ‘but the magazine wanted that kind of image’ or ‘but that’s how the comedian wanted to be portrayed’. You should take responsibility for the photographs you take. Refuse to be a part of the system! If all the photographers today refused to take misogynistic, sexist or reductive images then the problem would be solved.”

I wonder if what Idil’s suggesting borders on censorship? Visibly annoyed, she animatedly explains: “It has nothing to do with censorship! It’s illegal to be sexist, it’s illegal to be racist. So why are we creating sexist and racist images? It’s not censorship, it’s taking responsibility for not being an asshole.” It’s a strongly held and refreshingly clear point of view that she tirelessly expresses through her social media channels whenever the need arises.

© Idil Sukan

Idil’s portfolio of photographic work includes studio-based portraiture and live photography. Being familiar with the logistical limitations of the latter myself, I ask her about her approach to live photography.

She explains that the main challenge of shooting live action is that it takes place in 4-dimensions (3 spatial dimensions + time, in case you were wondering), while you’re trying to capture the experience in only 2 dimensions. “You’re trying to interpret the show, not just trying to photograph it. A lot of live gig and live theatre photographers make the fundamental mistake that they’re simply documenting it, like anyone with an iPhone sitting in the stalls could have done themselves. But understanding the show is crucial.”

Idil’s passion for live performance has crystallised in a new stage show, This Comedian: LIVE which takes place later this month on 26th January (see below for details). It features regular TV comedy faces Robin Ince, Sara Pascoe, Katherine Ryan, James Acaster, Romesh Ranganathan, Simon Evans and MC Michael Legge, who will be making us laugh with stories and anecdotes about comedy and being a stand up comedian. Arthur Darvill will also be performing the short long lost Beckett play ‘Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire’ as part of the evening – as directed by Robin Ince and Michael Legge. It has the potential to be a fascinating evening for anyone with a passing interest in comedy. Thoroughly recommended!

The intention is to make it a regular night, expanding the list of comedians involved over time to create a community. If we’re lucky we may even get to see Idil on stage at some point in the future; she enjoys performing stand up, but can only squeeze in one live show every 6 months due to the writing and planning it needs. This is a person who takes preparation very seriously indeed.

Idil’s list of accolades are impressive; she’s been the official photographer at both the Edinburgh Festival’s Fringe and the British Independent Film Awards, and her work has also recently been recognised by the National Portrait Gallery, which has acquired a print of her portrait of actor Celia Imrie for permanent acquisition. She’s even photographed the Muppets! So what’s next for her? She’s interested in making the step into moving pictures and is currently teaching herself about film. Based on the thoroughness of her approach to photography, I’m guessing that she’ll enter the film industry with more knowledge than some of the people who have worked in it for years!

© Idil Sukan

In the more immediate future, however, she’s holding an exhibition of her comedy photography and design from over the last decade at the Embassy Tea Gallery, Southwark, London. It consists of several hundred photos (including a fair few TVO-connected faces) – and entry is absolutely free. The exhibition runs from 19th February to 2nd March 2015, and for more information click here. You can also purchase limited edition prints of Idil’s work here; seriously, take a look – there are some truly stunning images.

Tickets are also available for Idil’s big launch and fundraiser gig This Comedian: LIVE (mentioned in the main article above), which takes place on 26th January 2015 at the Duchess Theatre, Aldwych. For more information about the live show and to purchase tickets click here.

The Velvet Onion would like to thank Idil Sukan for taking the time to talk to us, and we wish her every success for her forthcoming exhibition and live show.

BAFTA Nominations For Boosh (& Paddington) Director

11 Jan

© HeyUGuys

Paul King has received two BAFTA nominations for Paddington, the movie.

The film has been shortlisted in the ‘Outstanding British Film’ category, and Paul himself has picked up a nomination for ‘Best adapted Screenplay’, also for Paddington. The data junkies amongst you may recall that Paul was previously awarded a BAFTA nomination in 2005 for Best New Director (Fiction) for Series 2 of the Mighty Boosh.

The winners of the 2015 Film Awards will be announced at a ceremony hosted by Stephen Fry in London on 8 February.

To see the full list of nominations click here. We wish Paul and the rest of the Paddington team the best of luck!

Mongrels Men at FurCon

9 Jan

© FurCon

FurCon (Further Confusion) is one of the world’s largest anthropomorphic (or “furry”) conventions, and is now in its fifteenth year. This year, two of the puppeteers from Mongrels will be appearing at the event!

Warrick Brownlow-Pike (Marion) and Andy J. Heath (Nelson) worked together on the BBC3 show, and their appearance at the convention later this month seems to be causing a fair amount of excitement amongst the organisers.

Many of you will be familiar with their recent puppeteering on Mongrels, but if you’ve ever wondered what else they’ve done, here’s a brief potted history, courtesy of the helpful folk at FurCon:

Andy began his career as swing performer on Doctor Dolittle – The Musical (1998). Since then , he has performed Kit on Play With Me Sesame UK (2004) and has also puppeteered guest spots on Jim Henson’s Mopatop’s Shop, as well as assisting on The Hoobs. He performed a Penguin with The Muppets on their UK spot on The X Factor, and then puppeteered various characters on Muppets Most Wanted (2013). Later in the same year, he was also involved in The Robbie Williams Holiday Special on BBC1. His other film credits include The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2004) , Tales of the Riverbank (2008) , Harry Hill – The Movie (2013) and Frankenstein (2014).

During 2009-2011, Andy co-designed, built and operated the puppets for BBC3′s adult sitcom Mongrels with his business partner, Iestyn Evans. Together, they run Talk to the Hand Puppets.

Warrick has performed puppetry on some of Britain’s best loved and most watched children’s shows, most recently in Sesame Street’s The Furchester series. He was also a principal puppeteer in The Muppets last feature film Muppets Most Wanted. He has also been a writer, director and consultant for various projects, including the Jim Henson company. He worked with The Muppets in their most recent movie, and with Sesame Workshop.


FurCon is being held in the San Jose Convention Center, San Jose Marriott, and San Jose Hilton. It takes place from January 15th – 19th, and the organisers promises eminent guests, educational panels, a dealer’s room with comics, artwork, collectibles and clothing, an art show, gaming, nightly dances and world-class costuming. Wowsers!

For more information and to register for the event visit the convention website. Pre-registrations closes at 11.59pm on 10th January (local time), so make sure to get in there quick!

Kim Noble Back At Soho Theatre

5 Jan

© Soho Theatre

If you don’t know much about Kim Noble, we recommend that 2015 is the year you find out more. And his forthcoming performances at Soho Theatre will provide you with the perfect opportunity!

Following its critically acclaimed and 2014 Total Theatre Judges Award winning preview run during the final week of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, his live show Kim Noble: You’re Not Alone will have its much anticipated London premiere season at the London theatre, from 3rd February.

The deeply personal show blends and pushes the boundaries of performance, comedy and film into a theatre piece that starts long before audiences enter the theatre and will continue long after they’ve left. It chronicles one man’s very personal attempt at human connection. Through friendship, love, sex, family, community and employment, Kim takes audiences on a journey through tower blocks, supermarkets, service stations, Facebook and B&Q, as he tries to forge closer relationships in order to escape the loneliness of modern society.

Here’s what other reviewers have said about Kim’s performances:

“Noble’s guerrilla theatre piece runs the gamut from unethical and troubling to random acts of kindness and real tenderness.” ★★★★ Guardian

 “One of the most hypnotically involving pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen” ★★★★ Telegraph

“This is not a depressing show. There are moments where the audience laughs a laugh that rocks them into the row in front like a comedy Mexican Wave, but it is a show so profoundly moving you want to stay in its depths as long as you can.” ★★★★★ Scotsman

The show runs Tuesday 3rd February to Saturday 7th March, and tickets cost £10 – £20. Click here for more information and to buy tickets. Prepare to have your thoughts provoked..

Space Ark Pilot Commissioned

28 Dec


Channel 4 has commissioned a non-broadcast pilot of Space Ark, a sci-fi sitcom starring Justin Edwards and Nico Tatarowicz (former Mongrels writer).

The show, from Hatrick Productions, is set 6 months, 1 week, and 4 days since the earth was destroyed by an asteroid. 200 humans are surviving on board a huge ‘Space Ark’, trying to find a new planet where the human race can be re-established. The Space Ark is populated by the finest minds the earth had to offer, plus an inept crew, an android-bear pilot and a member of the public who won his place by lottery.

In the pilot episode the crew encounter a seemingly friendly alien race, whose space craft has broken down.

The main cast also features Georgia King, Tom Stourton, Alex Beckett and Ricky Grover. If we hear any more about plans to transmit the pilot, or if a full series is commissioned, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Seekers Returns To Radio 4

23 Dec


A second series of Seekers, the BBC Radio 4 sitcom set in an Essex job centre, is being recorded.

The first six part series aired in Autumn 2013, and revolved around a set of characters who frequented the local job centre, some desperate to get back to work, some trying their best to never have to work at all.

The series 2 cast coincides with that of the first series: Steve Oram and Tony Way feature, and Matthew Horne stars. As per series 1, it was written by Steven Burge.

As yet, there’s no news about when the new series will air. In the meantime, you can feast your comedy ears on these clips from previous episodes.

(Mc)Neil The Hippy

22 Dec

© Edinburgh Fringe

Filming has just finished on a new low-budget comedy film, which features character comedian David McNeil, amongst others.

The Great Unwashed revolves around Charlie, a man who’s forced to seek refuge amongst hippies in a wood in Wales after he stumbles across a gang of “vicious, criminal hairdressers” in his home town of London. It was filmed over four weeks near Abergavenny and in Kentish Town.

Most of the cast has been drawn from the comedy circuit, and along with McNeil it features Kathryn Bond and Lorna Shaw from That Pair, Nina Ludovica Smith and Libby Northedge from Twisted Loaf, Ed Eales-White and Will Hartley from Clever Peter.

Co-writer of the film, Louis Fonseca has said of the project: “We hope to have the final cut by March/April and then start our festival campaign. Our plan – or hope – is to acquire distribution through the festival circuit next year.”

As we get to know more about the project, so will  you.

Whelans: Pushing Not Kicking

21 Dec

© Phil Whelans

Phil Whelans has created a new online platform by the name of Pushstarter. As the name suggests, it shares a few basic principles with Kickstarter – but this one is very, very different.

If we tell you that the initial projects for which Pushstarter is trying to raise financial backing include Noah’s Ark, the Bake’s 7 season finale, and the building of Stone Henge, you’ll get the general idea: Pushstarter is a parody of Kickstarter, brought to you by the comedy brain of Phil Whelans.

It’s pretty darned accurate, with the ‘rewards’ that are offered to backers also brilliantly pastiched. Our particular favourite is offered to anyone contributing 50p and over to the production of the Blake’s 7 finale: ‘No thanks and a chance to be in the Studio audience at Top of the Pops when Dave Lee Travis isn’t hosting’.

Lets’ hope the folk at Kickstarter have a sense of humour; as Phil says on the site: “If Kickstarter try to sue for copyright infringement, we hope you’ll contribute to our legal fighting fund through our Kickstarter campaign.”

To take a look for yourself, click on this.


Noel Fielding UK Tour Dates Postponed

19 Dec

© Paulpanfergrams/Joe Lynne

We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings this close to Christmas, but the second leg of Noel Fielding‘s UK tour has been postponed.

The 2015 shows were originally scheduled to kick off on 29th January. The dates have now been rescheduled to Autumn 2015 (with the exception of Norwich, Basingstoke and Milton Keynes which have been cancelled), due to unforeseen filming commitments in the New Year.

All tickets for the January / February dates will be valid for the corresponding re-scheduled date EXCEPT for SALFORD LOWRY. For Salford Lowry show please contact Salford Lowry Box Office for refunds or replacement tickets.

Fans unable to attend on the revised dates or who have tickets at venues that were unable to reschedule a date should return to their point of purchase for a full refund. For the full list of new dates, please see below:

We know that many of you will be disappointed. Rest assured, this isn’t something that Noel and his team take lightly, and they’ve extended their sincerest apologies to anyone who has been affected.

For those of you who can’t wait until the Autumn, and who have a wanderlust burning  in your hearts, you could head over to the other side of the world to see the show, featuring Noel, Mike Fielding and Tom Meeten, in Australia and New Zealand. Tickets for these dates are available from Ticketek Australia and New Zealand.

Reviews of the show’s initial UK run have been unanimously positive (like this one), so if you don’t have a ticket yet, get in there quick! Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

The Count On Tour

18 Dec

© Count Arthur Strong

We’ve been getting so giddy about everyone’s tours and tour announcements lately, it’s been difficult to keep up with it all.  And now there’s another one to tell you about!

Count Arthur Strong will be touring his stage show ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ around the UK from February to May 2015, and tickets are already on sale. The man himself has said of the show: “Miss this wonderful event at your peril. If you only buy one ticket for something this year buy a ticket for this one twice and bring a friend. I promise you you won’t regret it. And if you do there must be something wrong with you. No refunds!”

The run of shows is vast; to find out where he’s performing and when click here. And to purchase tickets head on over there.

To stay on top of Count Arthur Strong news, why not check out his Facebook page or follow him on twitter? As pensioners go, he’s pretty active on social media!

Paul Foot – Extra Xmas Secret Show

13 Dec

Paul Foot has added an extra Christmas Secret Show to his end of year schedule.

The extra show takes place on the evening of Monday 22nd December and tickets can be purchased via the Guild Lodge. (The password is “hobbyhorse”). There are also a few tickets left for his Secret Shows on 20th (afternoon), and 21st December.

Tickets can be procured with PayPal for the oddball price of £12.12. Of course.

To get you in the mood, here’s a new Video Log from the man himself, fresh out of the shower, and filmed in a hotel in Oslo:

This Comedian – In Pictures & On Stage

13 Dec

© Idil Sukan

Photographer and designer, Idil Sukan, is holding an exhibition of her work in comedy from the last decade. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s also organising a fundraising live show.

© Idil Sukan

The exhibition offers a large scale retrospective of Idil’s design and photography from the UK comedy industry, and consists several hundred photos, including a few TVO faces, as you can see here. Entry is free and it takes place 19th February to 2nd March 2015, at the Embassy Tea Gallery, Southwark, London. For more information about the exhibition click here.

Meanwhile tickets have just gone on sale for Idil’s big launch and fundraiser This Comedian: LIVE. It’s a brand new concept: top talent from TV, radio and live comedy has been handpicked to share what it’s like to actually be a comedian.

They’ll reveal what it’s really like to have to stand on stage and bare your soul to judgemental comedy fans; stories and anecdotes from the backwaters of comedy turned into stand-up. Getting laughs from getting laughs – awesome stuff for comedy fans.

The show features Robin Ince, Sara Pascoe, Katherine Ryan, James Acaster & MC Michael Legge, and takes place on 26th January 2015 at the Duchess Theatre, Aldwych. Tickets are £20; for more information about the live show click here.

Ooh Arrr! John Hopkins Tells Us About The Muckers

8 Dec

© John Hopkins

Forget comedy TV shows for grown ups – because kids’ TV is where it’s at now. Hot on the heels of the multi-award winning Horrible Histories and the awesome Pythonesque Yonderland, comes CBBC’s The Muckers.

The show, about a family of teenagers who live on a farm in Cornwall, is directed and edited by the highly TVO-connected John ‘Willie’ Hopkins, one of the original Ealing Live gang, and features music by Dave Westlake of Boosh Band fame. John very kindly allowed us to wake him up a bit early one morning, so that we could chat about The Muckers. Mog reports:

Described by John as “The Rural Monkees”, The Muckers features a fresh-faced, likeable cast of 14 and 15-year olds who live on a Cornish Farm. But these are no stage-school luvvies, they’re a bona fide country-dwelling brother, sister, cousin and best friend. They started out creating their own youtube videos under the ‘Purely Cornish’ moniker, filmed by Sam (one of the featured siblings). Then, with the involvement of producer, Kate O’Drsicoll, comedy writer/actor, Ben Moor, and John to oversee the filming, The Muckers was born.

© John Hopkins

John was keen that his approach to filming suited the age and lifestyle of the cast: “I can’t big up those kids enough – they’re really lovely, sweet kids.” he says. “I wanted Sam to feel empowered by it all, rather than some bossy director hanging around and telling them what to do. I went down there for a recce for a few days and ended up spending two weeks with them. I just followed them around with a camera, to see what they did; we’d just talk and stop in places around the farm, and ideas would come out of them being naturally funny.”

The show has a lovely naive charm to it, driven in part by its beautiful rural setting, and also by the natural performances from the kids. The intention was to make it feel “homespun”. John explains: “It should feel like it’s them making it. It’s the alternative to the city urban life that we see so much of. These kids are sitting by a lake, or sitting on a gate and having a chat; it’s their equivalent of sitting at a bus stop eating Quavers and gobbing.”

That’s not to say that The Muckers harks back to those hard-to-relate to idyllic US kids’ TV shows of the 1970s, like Little House on the Prairie. With John as director, it was never going to be like that. The Muckers features large helpings of modern silliness and some impressive farting cows which, as everyone knows, is essential content for a successful kids’ TV show. “Kids’ comedy suits me…I’m quite puerile!” John says.

So what’s next for Mr Hopkins? He’s currently working on what sound like a very exciting project with another TVO artist, Joey Page through Wildseed Studios (an innovative production company that operates via a new funding model, in order to bring fresh creativity to our screens). The pair are creating an online sitcom set some time in the future, which goes under the working title of ‘Intergalactic Sausage’. From what John’s told us, it sounds pretty epic, so we’ll be bringing you updates as/when they’re available.

In the meantime, why not get a load of The Muckers – even if you think you’re a fully-fledged adult? It’s currently part of the CBBC Labs project, but the more people who like it, the more likely it is that the BBC will commission a full series. You can watch the pilot in full here, or take a look at the Pasty Song below. We promise you’ll be singing it tomorrow:

Many thanks to John for allowing us to wake him up to talk to us, and then being so utterly charming with it.

Tedfest 2015!

5 Dec

© Independent

If you’re a bit mad about Father Ted, and you fancy a trip to ‘Craggy Island’ with a bunch of fellow Ted nutters, Tedfest 2015 will be right up your street.

Every year a group of Father Ted fans gather on an island north of Galway called Inis Mor for several days of silly competitions, drinking and general tomfoolery in honour of Father Ted. This next one will be the ninth Tedfest (seriously) and it’ll take place from Thursday 26th February to Sunday 1st March 2015.

You can read more about it here, where you’ll also find videos and photos aplenty from previous years’ events. Just in case you didn’t believe it was an actual thing.

Weekend Tickets for Tedfest cost €150 and can be procured here. The ticket includes entry to all the Tedfest venues and events, none of which are open to the general public, and if you book, you’ll receive a list of accommodation on the Island and the PIN Number required to book. According to the Tedfest website, the ticket does not include: “Transport, accommodation, food, drink, drugs…but you get a cup of tea when you get there!”



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