Archive by Author

Toast Book Release

4 Oct

© Channel 4

A new book by Steven Toast will be released later this month, and is now available to per-order.

Toast on Toast is part memoir, part ‘how to act’ manual, with the author drawing on his self-proclaimed vast and varied acting experiences, taking the reader on his journey from school plays to RADA, and from ‘It’s a Right Royal Knockout’ to the Colony Club.

Along the way, the Toast of London thesp reveals the secrets of his success. He discloses how to brush up on and expand your technical and vocal skills, how to nail a professional voiceover, and how to deal with difficult work experience staff in a recording studio. He also reveals the dangers of typecasting, describes the often ruthless struggle for ‘top billing’, and shares many awesome nuggets of advice.

The not-entirely-serious book is written by TV series writers Matt Berry and Arthur Mathews (in character as Toast). It’s available to pre-order here in hardcover (£10.49) and kindle (£8.54) editions, and will be released on 22nd October.

Here’s Toast himself, to explain more about it:

Hot Brew Live!

30 Sep
© Jimmy Crippen

© Jimmy Crippen

We love Hot Brew, so we were particularly excited to hear the news that they’re performing live again, after a brief hiatus.

The vegetable-obsessed prog folk duo will be playing at Stroud Valleys Artspace (4 John Street, Stroud GL5 2HA) on Friday 23rd October. Tickets are £5 in advance from Trading Post or £6 on the door (door at 8pm).

For those of you who haven’t encountered Oona and Crispin Wheatflake yet, we urge you to seek them out; they were one of the highlights of our live show a couple of years ago, and you can see why from the footage of their brilliant set below.

You may also notice that they bear an uncanny similarity to Alice Lowe and Antony Elvin, but rumour has it that this is entirely coincidental. We remain a tad unconvinced, however…

Here’s hoping that this one-off gig in the west country develops into more!

For more information visit the event Facebook page.


Noel Fielding Tour DVD Release

30 Sep

tumblr_nvi5wzATbn1tip4qxo1_540The DVD of An Evening With Noel Fielding, Noel Fielding‘s 2014/15 live show, will be released on 16th November and is now available to pre-order.

Priced at £12.50, the DVD features a recording of the live show (filmed in Australia), and a behind-the-scenes documentary by Joe Lynn, who accompanied Noel, Mike Fielding and Tom Meeten on the UK leg of the tour.

An Evening With Noel Fielding was applauded by fans and critics alike, so whether you were one of the lucky ones who saw the show and fancy some happy reminiscing, or if you weren’t and you simply want to watch some top drawer, inventive comedy – then get pre-ordering!

There are still a few tickets available for the forthcoming November/December UK dates; details and ticket information can be found here.


Blessed To Play Berry’s Dad

29 Sep
© Channel 4 / The Samaritans

© Channel 4 / The Samaritans

Matt Berry is well known for his resonant vocal prowess (amongst his many other talents, of course), so who better to play his father than Brain Blessed, famous for owning the most booming voice in the business!

In an inspired piece of casting, 79 year old Blessed will appear in an episode in the forthcoming new series of Toast – as Steven Toast’s dad. It will be the same episode as Mad Men star Jon Hamm is appearing in (playing himself).

A source on the show told the Radio Times: “We find out where Steven comes from – it’s not a humble background, let’s say, but then there isn’t much about Steven that’s humble.”

Matt has previously said of the new series: “Every actor’s got some horror stories – it’s quite a big world of anguish and upset. There’s a lot more stories of horrible things that happen in this profession than nice things, so running out of material hasn’t been a worry so far.”

Series three of Toast is scheduled to air later this year on Channel 4.


Rave Reviews For Bill

26 Sep
© BBC Films

© BBC Films

Bill, the new feature film about the lost years of William Shakespeare’s life, from the team who brought us Horrible Histories, has been wowing critics. Inspired by her own visit to the cinema to see the film (which boasts a bevy of TVO faces), Velveteer Mog rounds up the recent Bill reviews (and adds a sprinkling of her own opinion for good measure):

Anyone familiar with the likes of Monty Python, Blackadder and Horrible Histories will testify to the fact that mashing together historical facts with the funnies can be a wonderful combination. Bill continues this fine tradition, while wearing its ancestral influences well. Best described as ‘Monty Python for 12 year olds’, the jokes come thick and fast from a strong cast, most of whom play multiple roles.

© BBC Films

© BBC Films

With high production values, tight, inventive story-telling and a phenomenal gag to screen time ratio, the result is hugely entertaining: funny, daft and clever. All the performances are excellent, but a special shout out should go to Simon Farnaby, who is a treat every time he’s on screen. Plus it was a joy to see so many of ‘our lot’ adding to the giggle quota: Rufus Jones, Justin Edwards, Richard Glover and Tom Meeten.

If there weren’t enough TVO faces on screen, we were lucky enough to see two more in the audience at our local cinema, in the form of James Cook and Julian Barratt. I’m delighted to report that they seemed to enjoy Bill as much as we did.

But don’t just take our word for it; here’s what the critics have had to say about Bill (click on the links to read the review in full):

The Guardian awards Bill 4 stars, describing it as exhibiting “hints of the Carry Ons, Blackadder and especially Python.” The Observer also gives 4 stars, saying, “Nicely balancing its historically literate gags with broad knockabout slapstick, Bill is a crowd-pleasing treat that should tickle audiences young and old alike.”

4 more stars from Time Out, who say, “Mathew Baynton’s plucky Bill, Jim Howick’s grumpy Marlowe and Ben Willbond’s testosterone-fuelled Philip II of Spain are all up there with vintage ‘Blackadder’.” Den of Geek also loved it, noting that “fans of the team’s previous work will not be disappointed here,” adding, “their speciality lies in combining the grandeur of the historical or the fantastical with pure silliness, creating a bathos which is amplified in Bill by the cinematic ambition of the project.”

Even the FT gave Bill a big thumbs up, saying, “This is a comedy. And a puckish, inventive, funny one.” And The Express called it “daft fun for all the family”. A very good thing in our book.

But the final word goes to one of my notoriously difficult-to-impress kids, who summarised the film as: “Very good, funny and a bit cheeky.” High praise indeed!

Bill is currently on general release in cinemas across the UK; check local listings for details.

© BBC Films

© BBC Films

Wunderful Alice: An Interview With Alice Lowe

20 Sep


A wee while ago Velveteer Mog was lucky enough to spend time with the lady we refer to as TVO’s fairy godmother, Alice Lowe. They met to talk about Alice’s various creative projects – past, present and future, and the wider world of comedy in general. Here we bring you Part 1 of the interview, which looks at Alice’s fantasy comedy radio series, Alice’s Wunderland, currently airing on Radio 4:

Alice Lowe is marvellously multifaceted, both in terms of her professional creative output and her general persona. When you first meet Alice, her friendly girl-next-door-ness immediately lulls you into thinking she’s the type of person you’d take home to meet your Mum; someone you might have gone to school with. As the conversation progresses, however, little bubbles of naughty rebelliousness start to emerge from her butter-wouldn’t-melt smile, occasionally punctured by moments of genuinely sinister oddball-ness. If you spend more than a few minutes with her, you begin to see the shadowy shapes of the darkly comic off-kilter characters and story lines that she dreams up. Alice’s Wunderland is one such project, an audio-based fantasy world, “a place in the Nether Regions, the manky Poundland of magical realms”.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

I ask Alice how she approached the leap from stage, TV and film to radio. “I was worried when I did the pilot, because I thought I was a totally visual comedian. It was always about my facial expressions and my physicality. But this made me think in a different way. I love music, so I took that as my start point.” she explains. “A lot of people who do something for radio think it needs to be about words. While words are important, I wanted this to have a poetic quality to it; I wanted it to be about rhythm and music and soundscapes and atmosphere.”

Alice taps into her live performance experience in order to help her imagine the worlds that her characters inhabit: “I can see the environment that I’m in. If I’m acting on stage I’m imagining a setting, and this is the same thing. It’s what I love about radio shows; you can transport people to strange places. You can say ‘we’re on the moon now’ and we’re on the moon. Aural comedy is visual comedy.”

For the new series, Alice considered whether she should make any major changes to the Wunderland concept. In the end she chose to evolve it slightly, rather than fundamentally shift gear. “I know this show and I knew what I wanted to do with it next.” she says. “We’ve made it a bit more narrative this time: each episode is a story in its own right, with one main character – and each episode has a different main character. It was really good fun, because each one is like a silly little adventure.”

Now in its third series, how does Alice feel about its success? “A third series! I never thoughts I’d be saying that, ” she laughs. “People find it hard to believe I have a radio series on Radio 4!”

© Jules Heath

Behind the scenes on Sightseers © Jules Heath

Although said entirely un-selfconsciously, it’s a comment that carries meaning. Alice is one of many artists that we write about at TVO who continually innovate, entertain and inspire with their talent and creativity. Like the others, she has enjoyed periodic mainstream success, but deserves much more.

I ask her why this is and what she thinks binds the group together: “I think it’s because we’re this weird inter-generation.” She explains. “There was a point when BBC3 stopped being about alternative comedy and became more about youth comedy. But none of us were quite young enough to fit into that category! We weren’t the hot young things, but we weren’t comedy establishment either.”

With BBC3 focusing on the younger end of Gen Y and Channel 4 no longer the proud home of alternative comedy, many of the group were left without a TV springboard for their output, still the primary channel for mainstream comedy success.

“We all had to find our own way instead,” Alice explains, “And the way we did that was working with each other and helping each other out [indeed, Alice’s Wunderland features fellow TVO folk Richard Glover and Rachel Stubbings]. All of those people are so creative, but you can get put in a little box on TV. It can hamper the creativity of what you do.”

TV’s loss is radio’s gain, as Alice’s Wunderland continues to weave its wonderful web of the bizarre and bonkers on our airwaves. The first episode of four, featuring the gloriously silly Lady Bowie, is available on iPlayer here (for a further 25 days). Episode 2, which features “the ghost of a child who died in the 1970s” will air on Radio 4 at 11pm on Tuesday 22nd September. So tune in (and drop out).

© Jimmy Crippen

© Jimmy Crippen

Many thanks to Alice for taking the time to chat to us about he new radio series. Look out for Part 2 of our interview, coming soon, in which she talks about Sightseers, the joy of playing baddies, and her other new projects.

See Coogan In Conversation With Iannucci

16 Sep
© Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

© Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Next month The Guardian will be hosting an event which features two eye-wateringly iconic comedy pioneers ON STAGE TOGETHER, in the form of Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci. Yes, seriously.

Iannucci has been a long-term friend, colleague and collaborator of Steve’s, and their joint credits include On The Hour/The Day Today, the Alan Partridge film, and various Partridge TV shows.

The Guardian Live event has been organised to mark the publication of Steve’s memoir Easily Distracted, the two of them will be joining forces on stage to discuss comedy and their (spectacular) comedy careers.

The event takes place on Thursday 15th October, 7pm–8.30pm at Central Hall Westminster, London, SW1H 9NH, and tickets are £20 each.

Tickets are already on sale to Guardian Patrons and Partners, and they go on general on sale from 10am on Friday 18 September. Demand for the event is likely to be high, so for your best chance to get tickets it’s recommended that  you become a Patron or Partner (then you can nab some before they go on general sale). The cheapest way of doing this is to pay a single monthly subscription of £15; all the details are here.

For more information about the event take a look at this. And good luck bagging those tickets!

A Round Up Of Doll & Em

13 Sep


The second series of the awesome Doll & Em, co-written by and featuring Dolly Wells, will be premiering in the US tonight at 10.30pm on HBO. In its honour, we thought we’d gee you a round-up of recent interview and coverage about the show. We’re nice like that.

Just click on the links to read the articles in full:

First up, Emily Mortimer spoke to The Dinner Party Download and HuffPost Live in a filmed interview. She was also on Watch What Happens Live (various clips are available to view, but sadly not for those of us outside the US) and on NBC New York and  AOL Build (which we can all watch, wherever we are. Hurrah!).

Then, both Dolly and Emily spoke to Indiewire about how their friendship led to the creation of the show. We also chanced upon an article about Doll & Em from Indiewire too.

If that little lot doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about Doll & Em, don’t despair! There’s still time to ask Emily a question about the show, via this HBO Q&A; and if dual-screening is more your thing, Dolly will be live-tweeting during the first episode, so don’t forget to follow her if you’re not already.

Remember to tune in tonight, US folks. For the rest of us, here are a couple of trailers and a few clips from the second series – so no one feels left-out:

If you’d prefer to have the opportunity to meet one of the ladies face to face, tickets are still available to be part of the audience at A Conversation With Emily Mortimer with Wie in New York, on Wednesday September 30th at 6:30pm (EDT). Tickets are available here.




Lowe & Stubbings In New Short

10 Sep

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 22.10.25Two TVO faces, in the shape of Alice Lowe and Rachel Stubbings, feature in a new short film called Mosquito.

The narrative tells the bizarre story of a man whose life is transformed as a result of a mosquito bite. Experimental in tone and content, the film includes some nicely nuanced, deeply dark comedy performances.

The short was directed by BAFTA-nominated Ben Mallaby and written by Writer Michael Spicer, who also acts in the film. The collaboration came about after Ben saw Michael in Rec.601, a sketch with Rachel which we covered on The Velvet Onion a while back.

Michael spoke to us about working with the two comedians: “Working with Alice was surreal but brilliant. Surreal because I’ve seen and heard just about everything she’s been in, and brilliant because her performance was effortless and pitch-perfect. Rachel, as usual, was extremely good and great fun to be around; she gave the whole crew a lift – something that all crews need once in a while. She’s destined for greatness, that one.”

Ben and Michael’s ultimate goal is to develop Mosquito into a feature length film. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer below. The 10-minute short will be screened in full at comedy film night Shooting the Breeze (hosted by Rachel) at Shortwave Cinema on 17th September; tickets and information here.

You can see more of Ben Mallaby’s work here, and more of Michael Spicer’s work there. Enjoy!


Onion Talking: Steve Oram Opens Wide & Says AAAAAAAAH!

8 Sep

unnamedIf you’re a regular reader of The Velvet Onion you’ll know that we’ve been getting pretty excited about Steve Oram‘s unique simian comedy horror AAAAAAAAH! for a while now. Thought-provoking, hilarious and frequently downright disgusting, AAAAAAAAH! enjoyed a triumphant World Premier at Frightfest last month and is being screened at a number of festivals over the coming weeks. Trust us when we say that you really need to see it.

Earlier this week Steve kindly found the time to chat to us about the film:

AAAAAAAAH! portrays a world in which humans behave like apes – but how accurate are those ape-like behaviours? Were you down at the zoo, taking notes, Steve?

The idea of them behaving like apes isn’t strictly what I was intending – they’re actually more like cavemen. I was creating a world where language, in particular, isn’t so advanced in evolutionary terms. So they don’t have all of the things that language gives us, and those subtleties are played out in different ways.

I think AAAAAAAAH! a very open thing that exists in its own world, but we decided to describe it as “behaving like apes” because it’s a concise and easy way of describing it. It’s for everyone to interpret how they wish.

We see some pretty out there behaviours on screen. If your intention wasn’t to directly mimic the ape world, how did you come up with them?

There’s a strong internal logic to it – they’re all slightly-skewed social rituals. For example, the fact that they use their hands to eat [instead of cutlery] is about etiquette; that’s just what they do in their world, it’s a custom. And when Toyah and Lucy [the mother and daughter of the family] poo on the floor, that’s just something that mothers and daughters do; it’s social ritual bonding thing that they do when they’re cooking.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 22.20.27

With AAAAAAAAH!, are you trying to say something significant about modern society, or is the construct simply an idea that you liked?

It’s just something I found funny; I didn’t set out to make something that was a satire or a commentary. I just really enjoyed creating an intricate world, and creating the interactions and the characters – making them do silly, extreme things.

10291146_10152555044887673_1890467153980958974_nYou’ve worked with many of the cast members multiple times before, but how did you decide on which new faces to bring on board, like Toyah and Julian Rhind-Tutt? 

With Toyah, I loved her work in Jubilee and Quadraphenia – I’ve been a massive fan of hers for years. I was trying to cast a lady in her 50s who wouldn’t mind having to do embarrassing sex scenes and have blancmange thrown at her face. There’s not that many of them! I didn’t know her before, but I sent her the script and she loved it.

I was working with Julian on a TV film called Wipers Times over in Northern Ireland, coincidentally while I was writing AAAAAAAAH! on my days off.

I started thinking about him for the film, and he was one of the first people I attached to the script. He was keen to play against type – as a horrible washing machine repair man!

The dynamic between you and Tom, who plays your beta male, is pretty special. Do you think anyone else could have played that role apart from Tom?

Absolutely not, and not just because of his balls – although that is always a consideration [Tom’s familiar testicles have a supporting role in the film]. I was so pleased to work with Tom on this, and it was so much fun doing it with him. There’s a shorthand for the things we do and have done for years; when we started the film it made me feel really confident and happy that he was in it and that we were doing something together.

10418463_10152143892116526_4047534245763507909_nThere’s no actual speaking in the film, but you wrote a script for the actors to follow. How did that work?

The script was all written out in English. The scenes had English dialogue in them for the actors, so that they got a sense of what each scene was about and what they were trying to do and say. On the day we read it through with the dialogue, and then we ‘went ape’. We threw the scripts away and instead of speaking everyone went “Ughhhhh”. No one will ever know what that script contained because it is full of filth!

Did your experience on Sightseers influence how you approached AAAAAAAAH!?

In terms of writing, I got better at it with this film; I did it very quickly and spontaneously. We had a long drawn-out development period with Sightseers, and this was a chance for me to do something very quickly and to do it myself.

I learned a lot from Ben Wheatley about being quick. With Sightseers we moved about a lot, so we had to do the scenes very quickly. That really influenced me, and I started making more short films after that which incorporated a fastness of movement. If you’re not standing around repeating everything fifty-million times, but you’re shooting scenes in one or two takes, it gives the film energy.

10479132_10152143890811526_7908757513103856445_nWhat do you prefer doing: directing, writing, acting, stand-up?

I love them all! At its heart it all stems from writing – that’s probably the single thing that links it all together. As an actor you need to understand writing and interpret scripts…they all feed into the same thing.

So what’s next for Steve Oram?

I’m writing the next one, which we’ll hopefully film next year. It’s another weird, dystopian comedy sci-fi…believe it or not!

I’m really driven by people saying “You can’t do that, it’s too strange”. I just go “Of course you can,” and do it. Film is just a collection of sound and images – you can do whatever you want. It’s sad that we’re so paralysed and narrow in the way we make films, and art generally. If someone says you can’t do it, just do it.

Here here. A big thank you to Steve for taking the time to talk to us about AAAAAAAAH!

You can catch the film at various festivals and screenings over the coming weeks – including dates in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Los Angeles, Belfast, Dorset, Leeds and Nottingham. They’ve even had a Paris screening this week! To find out where and when you can see it and for further updates, check out Lincoln Studios website. 

AAAAAAAAH! will also be available on VOD via Icon Film Distribution and FrightFest from 19th October. 

More About Dangermouse

7 Sep
© Freemantle Media / CBBC

© Freemantle Media / CBBC

We’ve mentioned the new series of Dangermouse a few times before, given that it features a TVO-connected artist as one of the main characters: the very wonderful Kevin Eldon will be starring as the voice of Penfold. Today, however, we discovered that two more of the people we get excited about will be in the Dangermouse reboot!

Richard Ayoade will be voicing the part of The Snowman, who we understand is a secondary character (possibly featuring in the Christmas episode, which also includes Brian Blessed as Santa). And Kayvan Novak will be bringing to life a host of different characters throughout the series.

A new interview with Kevin Eldon has recently been released, in which he talks about taking on the role of Penfold. Of his approach to voicing the nervous rodent, Kevin said: “When I was auditioning for it, the brief was, ‘you needn’t go along the lines of Terry Scott who played the original Penfold’. I tried a few voices at home and the neighbours think I’m insane. But I just kept on going back to what Terry Scott did, and nothing in the lower register works because he’s a little guy and he’s nervous. I thought that Terry Scott had it right. I guess – if anything –because Terry put a bit of a poshness into Penfold’s voice. But yes, it’s up in the upper register and I have to have plenty of honey before I do the job and after.” To read the interview win full click here.

There’s also a new trailer for the show – as you can see below:

Dangermouse launches on CBBC later this month, although an exact date hasn’t yet been confirmed.

Of Mice & Men Finally Hits UK Cinemas

6 Sep

Nearly a whole year ago we announced that the Broadway production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice & Men would be showing on cinema screens around the world in the forthcoming months. Everywhere that is, except the UK.  Well, now we Brits need wait no more!

The filmed version of the award-winning, critically-acclaimed theatre production, starring Chris O’Dowd as Lennie and James Franco as George, will be screened by National Theatre Live from 19th November at various cinemas around the UK. To find out exactly where and when you can see it, take yourself over here.

For a flavour of what to expect, have a look at the trailer below:


Brit Comedy Convenience Gets A UK Release

5 Sep

The BAFTA CYMRU winning film Convenience, which features Tony Way amongst its cast, will be released in UK cinemas from 2nd October and on demand DVD on 5th October.

The British comedy stars Vicky McClure, Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions and Utopia), Ray Panthaki, Anthony Head and Verne Troyer. The story follows two convenience store robbers who bungle the heist.

Ajay and Shaan are  two hapless friends who need to find money to pay a debt inadvertently owed to some Russian strip club owners. Unfortunately after taking the staff hostage, they realise the safe won’t open until 6am. Desperate, and with their lives on the line, they decide they’ll have to work there all night to avoid anyone raising the alarm before they get their money.

Producer/actor Ray Panthaki has said of the film: “We are hugely proud to be releasing Convenience in the UK on the back of such great buzz having won a BAFTA Cymru. We always set out to make a fresh, edgy and very different kind of British comedy that could hold it’s own internationally and we feel we’ve achieved that with real indie spirit.”

Tony Way’s role is via a cameo appearance, as ‘Stoner’. You can catch a brief glimpse of him in the trailer  below (which looks pretty bloody funny):

For more information about Convenience, follow the film on twitter or facebook.


Coogan In New Comedy Documentary

31 Aug

346MLC_CooganA new feature-length comedy documentary, which includes a bevy of top drawer comedy faces – including our very own Steve Coogan, will be hitting UK cinemas on Friday 4th September.

The UK release of Misery Loves Comedy follows the film’s US release earlier this year and its premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June.

Directed by Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects, Casino), it features more than 50 (primarily American) comedy legends – including Tom Hanks, Matthew Perry, Judd Apatow, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Favreau, Lisa Kudrow, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Merchant, Martin Short and Larry David, who candidly explore the motivations and inspirations behind their comedy careers. From a TVO perspective, in addition to an appearance from Coogan, the film also features Catastrophe’s Rob Delaney.

Misery Loves Comedy provides an opportunity to hear comedy icons dissect the art of stand-up and explore how a joke can operate as a blunt tool, a social weapon, or even as a personal elixir.

Reviews of the film on its US-release were a tad mixed, but if you have an interest in comedy it’s sure to contain at least a few gems. Check out the trailer below for a flavour of what to expect. And if you don’t get to see it on the big screen, Misery Loves Comedy will be available to purchase on DVD from Amazon in October.

For more information about the movie, check out the film’s Facebook page.

The Ape Man Cometh: AAAAAAAAH! Review

28 Aug

unnamedOne of the things that distinguishes the artists that we write about at The Velvet Onion is their ability to think differently and to make waves in a sea of entertainment mediocrity. At their best, they conjure up ideas and dream of worlds so creatively vibrant that they force us, the audience, into a different headspace ourselves. In this respect, Steve Oram‘s AAAAAAAAH! (always written with eight ‘A’s) totally nails it.

The premise of the film is simple: it shows us what human beings would be like if we conformed to the natural behaviour patterns of apes. AAAAAAAAH! presents us with an everyday world that looks like ours but where society has been reduced to little more than factions of fighting, fucking, shitting beasts.

Although I’m no primatologist, I’m fairly sure David Attenborough has said that our simian relatives are more complex than this. But given that the impact of AAAAAAAAH! comes, in large part, from the consistent and gaping absence of anything recognisably ‘human’ in the behaviour of the human forms on screen, let’s embrace the film’s freewheeling approach to natural history.

First things first: the idea upon which the film is built is strange, brave, funny and thought-provoking (more of that later). Conceptually, it’s one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in a long while. The cast are astonishingly good – within minutes you forget that nobody is actually speaking; their grunts, whoops and gestures tell you everything that you need to know about the film’s narrative (as an aside, Tom Meeten told us that the cast were actually given scripts to follow. Wonderful stuff!). Of particular note is the perfectly-observed unspoken camaraderie between Steve Oram and Tom Meeten, the boorish mateyness of Julian Rhind-Tutt and Sean Reynard, and the emotional fragility of a garden-bound Julian Barratt.

It’s also a real pleasure seeing so many of ‘our lot’ working together on a project like this. Proof, if any were needed, that they are a group bound by a shared love of what can best be described as creatively out there. And thank goodness for that!

unnamedBe warned though, it’s not all comedic complexity and anthropological insight. AAAAAAAAH! makes for pretty visceral viewing, sometimes bordering on the gratuitously gross – although it’s generally done for humorous effect, not to offend. The screen is frequently awash with body fluids and body parts, chunks of half-eaten food and unpredictable bloody violence. Within moments of the film starting two key characters defecate in their kitchen, and aggressive, often uninvited sex is never more than a couple of scenes away. Let’s just say it’s probably not a film to take your Mum to.

unnamed-3The overall sense of visual unpleasantness is reinforced by the depiction of a shabby, urban working class existence (I don’t know why, but I suspect that a rural middle-class monkey life might be easier on the eye), and the general look of the film, which is raw and ungraded.

With movie audiences now more used to the anaesthetising effect of Insta filters, it’s actually quite unnerving to watch a film which looks like it might have been shot on video tape.

Perhaps this was a decision born out of budgetary necessity, but by looking less cinematic AAAAAAAAH! feels more real, more immediate. This realism nudges it away from being an artistic concept on a cinema screen, towards a depiction of an authentic world that any of us could easily be part of.

And this is where the film gets really interesting: after watching it I half-expected violent chaos and beastial shrieks to erupt on my tube journey home. The fact that it didn’t, and that every day we unconsciously navigate our way around other people, mindful even of the rights of the strangers in our midst, suddenly seemed astonishing. AAAAAAAAH! provides a fascinating glimpse into what our society could be like if we didn’t follow the intricate set of social rules that have been defined and refined by several millennia of cultural evolution.

unnamed-1Watching people (like us) behave like apes has the effect of re-setting one’s internal gauge of what a ‘normal’ society should be like. We share 99% of our DNA with apes; how incredible it is then that we live in such close proximity to each other, but we rarely fall back on our basic animal instincts to deal with those around us.

AAAAAAAAH! makes you question the validity of the cultural codes by which we live. It forces you to acknowledge how strangely unnatural, transient and man-made our modern lives are. If we were to strip away these superficial social conceits, then really we’re no different to the apes that preceded us. We too are horny, violent, disgusting creatures. It’s no wonder that the news is full of bloodshed and war.

And that’s why I relished AAAAAAAAH so much: it made my brain whirr. It isn’t necessarily lovely to look at and it’s not perfect – indeed, it seems to flaunts its flaws with a strange sense of pride, but it really makes you think – for long after the end credits have rolled – and for that it deserves to be applauded. With the lions’ share of ‘entertainment’ served up for our online/on-screen pleasure these days unlikely to create the smallest cognitive ripple, anything that forces us to sit up and take notice should be celebrated. AAAAAAAAH! is punk cinema at its best: crude, rude and brain fizzingly provocative. Go see!

The next screening of AAAAAAAAH! Takes place at Picturehouse Central in London on 4th September, and includes a cast Q&A. For tickets for this and for updates on other screenings please visit the Lincoln Studios website.


Onion Talking: Messing With Colin Hoult

8 Aug


If any of you are lucky enough to have experienced Colin Hoult live, you’ll know why we’re getting a bit over-excited that he has a new show starting next week at Soho Theatre. Messing about with Ouija Boards is described by the theatre as “the terrifying true tale of what happened when Colin Hoult’s mum made contact with the spirit world.” 

Sounds pretty intriguing, huh? Indeed, our curiosity was sufficiently piqued that we simply had to ask Colin all about it. Here’s what he had to say:

Some of your previous live shows have taken audiences to fantastical nether-worlds, while others are semi-autobriogaphical. Where does ‘Messing with Ouija Boards’ sit on the spectrum?

It’s a ‘ha-ha-bonk’ exploration of my family and background. Sort of Colin Hoult – year one, an origin tale! It’s loads of little stories that revolve around the time we all did a Ouija Board on Christmas Day and something genuinely weird happened. (Spoiler: we didn’t get Jesus).

It’s also about Nottingham where I’m from, and loads of bits about horror movies and spooky stuff that I love. Its also about dealing with illnesses of the mind and hopefully gives a bit of courage and comfort for that.

It’s my first proper stand up show. Having flirted with it in the past – I’m going the whole hog as myself (with Anna Mann popping out in the event of hecklers), but fear not, I use a lot of characternesses as well.

What was your inspiration behind the show?

Mainly my family and brain for the actual stories, but in terms of this type of show probably a few different stand ups: Greg Davies’ amazing story-telling, also Rhod Gilbert and others. Richard Pryor for his jumping in and out of character, and Dave Allen for his calm relaxed manner. Not that I’m like any of these greats, just I think they’ve filtered in a bit.

Visually, I’m sort of going back to my first show, Carnival of Monsters, and embracing a bit of that Victoriana spooky, but in a more subtle way – Buster Keaton, and all that lovely silent world.

Do you have any plans to take the show on tour, given your fan base extends well beyond zone 1?

I’m not sure yet – it’s a bit different doing it this way, as in the past I’ve done Soho Theatre after an Edinburgh run. I’m really proud and excited about the show, so I’d definitely want to take it further – whether I’ll be able to do Edinburgh next year I’m not sure.

Who creates your props and costumes?

My amazing wife, Kat, always helps to design my shows, She’s actually responsible for a lot of what made my first shows do well. I’ve been lucky to have some great help from arty friends in the past; I think it’s a lot more interesting to use people from outside the comedy world. This show is going to be very much stripped back, so won’t use much design – but might develop that way later.



You have many strings to your bow: you write and perform live comedy, you’re a successful TV comedy actor and a stage actor; what do you prefer doing?

That’s a tricky one! I love the thrill of live comedy probably better than anything – I think the moment when I’m connecting with an audience and conveying something funny or interesting, and they get it, is the sweetest of joys!

That said, this year I’ve been doing a lot of different things – I’ve just finished doing a run of the Seagull by Chekhov – and it’s been great to really go back to acting, which is where I started. But I don’t think I’d ever want to give up live comedy.

The last time we chatted you told us that your latest ambition was learning to dance. Has it changed?

No I still want to do more dancing! My biggest dream is to do Shakespeare. This may seem an odd way to go about it, but I swear to you you will see my Dane!

How difficult is it for a comedian to break through to the mainstream, and do you think it’s the big deal that it’s made out to be?

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

I don’t know really – it’s probably all a bit of an illusion. I think I’ve had lots of little breakthroughs that have eventually amounted to me being able to do what I love and survive on it.

It’s the kind of thing you can waste years worrying about – as I have in the past. Nowadays I try to be more philosophical about it all; I think as long as you are really enjoying and believing in what you do then you’re luckier than a lot of people.

There’s no point thinking ‘is this my breakthrough?’ It’s all about a lot of factors you can’t control, so just make sure your own work is saying what you want to say, how you want to say it.

Thanks, Colin. Before we finish, is there anything else you’d like to tell us that we haven’t asked?

Yes. Life is Beautiful. Also check out a man called Dave Edwards in Edinburgh this year – he’s a living legend.

You can see Colin’s new show Messing about with Ouija Boards from Thursday 13th – Saturday 15th August at Soho Theatre, with performances starting at 9.15pm. Tickets are £10 (Thurs), £12.50 (Fri – Sat). Further information and tickets are available here.

Many thanks to Colin for taking the time to answer our questions, and we wish him the best of luck for the Soho Theatre run!

Andy Hollingworth’s Exhibition Opens Next Week

6 Aug


If you’re a comedy fan, chances are you will be familiar with many of photographer, Andy Hollingworth’s images. Indeed, some of the most iconic images of the artists who we write about at TVO have been taken by him.

From 13th August you can see a selection of Andy’s photographs of comedians in his first ever London Exhibition, Running From Greenbaum. The show will feature images from Andy’s huge archive complied over nearly two decades visually documenting the careers of some of our best-loved and infamous laughter-making acts.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 23.20.50The show will run until 19th September at Snap Galleries at 12 Piccadilly Arcade SW1Y, which is famous for exhibitions by photographers specialising in rock music.

Andy has said of the venue, “I’m incredibly excited to be displaying my work in the same building that has featured shows by my heroes: Gered Mankowitz, Chalkie Davies, Pennie Smith, Art Kane, Barry Feinstein… the list goes on!”

Yesterday, friend of TVO, Bruce Dessau, published a piece that told the story behind Andy’s photos of Rik Mayall and Rowan Atkinson, which you can read here. Wonderful stuff!

In case you’re still in any doubt whether this exhibition is going to ring your bell (seriously??), take a look at just a few of images from Andy’s archive which feature ‘our lot’ that we’ve included here: Matt Berry, Noel Fielding, Waen ShepherdJohn HopkinsRichard Glover, Dave Brown and Stuart Silver & Kim Noble.

There’s no guarantee that these will feature in the show itself, but many of the artists that we’ve included here will be up on the wall somewhere! Recommended.


Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 23.23.20


Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 23.23.33





30 Jul

unnamedThe excitement is mounting…. As we’ve mentioned previously, AAAAAAAAH!, the new film by Steve Oram, which features a bevy of TVO faces, will be getting its world premiere next month at Film 4 FrightFest at Leicester Square! But for those of you who can’t make it there, don’t despair – because the film may be coming to a screen near you!

Additional screenings of AAAAAAAAH! include:

Picture House Central in London’s West End on 4th September (+ cast Q&A)
End of the Road Festival (Dorset), 4th-6th September
Mayhem in Nottingham, 15-18 October

Plus more dates to be announced soon. Sign up or check here for screening updates and general AAAAAAAAH! news.

Rook Films

Rook Films

For anyone out there who isn’t familiar with AAAAAAAAH! (how??), Steve’s debut features the entire cast behaving as apes – speaking in grunts and gibberish, in an anarchic, disturbing and touching look at the human condition. It stars Julian Barratt, Toyah Willcox, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Steve Oram, Lucy Honigman, Tom Meeten and Sean Reynard. The supporting cast includes Noel Fielding, Holli Dempsey, Shelley Longworth, Alice Lowe, Tony Way and Waen ShepherdBen Wheatley is also executive producer.

What’s more, AAAAAAAAH! is already receiving rave reviews; here are a few choice comments from the critics:

“Terrifyingly funny, hilariously sick and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Easily the cult movie of the decade” – Alan Jones Film4 FrightFest

“Steve Oram’s AAAAAAAAH! made me question humanity.” – Adam Woodward, LWL’s

“Deeply offensive in all the right ways. Marks its strange, humorous territory with originality and style.” – Phelim O’Neill

Excited yet?

Dolly In Zombie Literary Classic

26 Jul
© Quirk Books

© Quirk Books

Dolly Wells will be part of the cast in the forthcoming Zombie movie Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

The horror-comedy is based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 fanfic of the Jane Austen classic. In the alternative version a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton, and the dead are returning to life. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of Mr. Darcy.  Expect romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses…

So far it’s not clear what role Dolly will be playing, but we’ll let you know as soon as we know. The film stars Lily James, Sam Riley, Matt Smith, Lena Headey and Charles Dance and will be released on February 5, 2016.

Hate Mail & The Art of Perfect Fundraising

13 Jul

44dfcd736fe44aedb130fe55ea223ff4_originalWe’ve been writing in superlatives about Mr Bingo‘s inspired Hate Mail art project since its inception. Heck, one of us is lucky enough to own one of his abusive illustrated postcards. But he has just surpassed himself with his new Kickstarter project.

My Bingo is funding the publication of his forthcoming Hate Mail book, The Definitive Collection, via the crowd funding site. And because he’s taken the trouble of making his Kickstarter campaign absolutely blooming brilliant – from the perfectly awesome promotional video to the rewards he’s offering to supporters, he reached his target amount in just a few hours.

With 19 days to go, he’s more than doubled his original £35K target, and many of the rewards available have been snapped up. However, you can still pay for a Wetherspoons date with him (a snip at £150), meet him for a pint in 5 years’ time (only one out of four left at £200) or for £5,000, you can even be his friend.

If you haven’t read his Kickstarter page in full, we urge you to take a look. It’s brilliantly funny! And then back the book.


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