Archive by Author

Hunderby Xmas Special – Details

23 Nov
© Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic

Back in February we revealed that Hunderby, the award-winning dark comedy by and starring Julia Davis, had been commissioned for a  Christmas 2-parter. We can now confirm more details about the festive special, including transmission dates!

The first hour-long instalment will air at 10pm on 10th December on Sky Atlantic, with part two hitting our telly box screens 1 week later on 17th December.

We’re delighted to report that Rufus Jones will be reprising his role as Dr Foggerty, and Reece Shearsmith features as the local vicar.

In the first episode local vicar John announces that homosexual men in the area are being identified and hanged (rather worryingly for the pastor), while Foggarty’s estranged wife Hester plots to interfere in his new relationship. In the second episode, Dorothy and Hester join forces to capture the men of their dreams.

If you’re one of the sorrowful few who still doesn’t have access to to Sky Atlantic, here are a few clips from the awesome first series to keep you going…


Sandling The Data Eating Monster

18 Nov

Richard Sandling has appeared in a new TV advert for BT, alongside Hollywood actor, Willem Dafoe.

The ad is the latest in the ‘Behind the Scenes’ films from BT, which have previously featured Rebel Wilson, Ewan McGregor, Gareth Bale and Rio Ferdinand, amongst others. In this new execution, Sandling plays the part of Gary the data eating monster, a role requiring him to don a very fetching motion capture suit. Sadly we never get to see him CGI’d into the final creature:

Sandling’s hilarious performance as Gary is one of the highlights in the next instalment of this painfully self-conscious campaign from the telecoms brand. In addition to the main 40 second commercial, he also appears in the not-entirely-real ‘making of’ footage of the ad, which you can see below. We’re not sure whether the world is ready for a fake behind the scenes film of a fake behind-the-scenes advert, but here you go…

More Smiley On Screen

15 Nov

Michael Smiley‘s been a busy chap, with a fair few of the projects that he’s recently been involved in receiving coverage this week:

Earlier this year we told you about his role in Orthodox, an independent film about an Orthodox Jewish boy, Benjamin, bullied for his faith, and who turns to boxing as a means of self defence. This week the film received its UK premiere at the Phoenix cinema in London, which included a cast Q&A. For more photos from the event and to find out where else the film is showing, follow Orthodox’s Facebook page or twitter feed.

© Zeitgeist

© Zeitgeist

This week were also told that Mr Smiley would be reprising his role of computer whiz Benny Silver in the new series of Luther. Rumour has it that BBC America will screen Luther series 4 as a three-hour special on Thursday the 17th of December, but as yet there’s no information about how the series will be screened for British audiences.

If you like your entertainment to be a bit out there and arty, try to catch the critically-aclaimed movie, The Lobster while it’s still on general release. Michael’s also in that – and here he is talking about it at the premiere:

And finally, don’t forget that he’s also in Belly of The Bulldog, a film by Nick Gillespie about a dramatic horror film about a group of mercenaries and their prisoners, also featuring Tom Meeten. Michael plays a character by the name of Capper and Tom plays Evans in the film. Belly of the Bulldog had its premiere at Frightfest in October – to great reviews, and hopefully more of us will get to see it on the big screen next year. However, we have found it available to download for free from a variety of sites, so have a scout around if you’re interested. For more information, follow the film’s twitter feed.


The Power Of Three: Tom Meeten & Mike Fielding Talk Tours

9 Nov
© Joe Lynn

© Joe Lynn

With Noel Fielding embarking on the next leg of his UK tour, and US/Canada shows in the pipeline, we wanted to do our bit to support An Evening With Noel Fielding. But because we’re The Velvet Onion, and because you lovely lot expect something different from us compared to what you can find in the mainstream media, we wanted to approach it from a fresh angle.

So we asked Noel if he had any ideas. “I’d love to include Tom and Mike” was his reply. It quickly became all about Tom and Mike, rather than just about including them. Noel’s response says a lot about the significance of their roles in the show and the respect that he has for his co-performers. Here then is what Tom Meeten and Mike Fielding told us about the live show and how the three of them work together. A glimpse through the stage curtains from a different angle, as it were:

© Dave Brown/Afrikids

© Dave Brown/Afrikids

I meet Tom in a busy West End pub. Owner of one of the deepest voices in comedy (transcribing the interview uses parts of my inner ear hitherto unknown) and initially quiet, Tom turns out to be terrific fun. Unguarded, candid and possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of our kind of comedy,  spending an hour in his company is a real treat.

We discuss most of the projects and creative partnerships he has ever been involved with, including his enduring double act with Steve Oram, his recent appearance in the marvellous monkey movie Aaaaaaaah! and his starring role in a serious new feature film The Ghoul, written and directed by Gareth Tunley. But more of that another time; right now we’re focusing on Tom’s involvement in An Evening With Noel Fielding. Before we begin I mention Noel’s insistence that Tom and Mike are given an interview platform. He laughs: “Noel always wants to make it not just about him, but no one is interested!” Well we are.

As the conversation unfolds and the extent of Tom’s involvement in both the development and the performance of the live show becomes clear, one can only wonder how he could be perceived as anything other than a fundamental part of its story.

Tom and Noel have been friends for years, their first meeting taking place during the early days of their stand up careers. “I would turn up to gigs and people would think I was Noel – we had similar 90’s hair.” Tom remembers. “Lance Dior was based on that kind of thing. When I first met Noel I’d done an advert and his gran thought it was him. He was mildly furious that people thought it was him. It was one of the first conversations we ever had.”

© Joe Lynn

© Joe Lynn

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and they’re now working together on live material. An Evening With… was written by Noel and Tom, with the addition of Nigel Coan (director of Luxury Comedy and long time friend of Noel’s) as the third member. “It was a really good dynamic,” notes Tom, adding that Nigel was, “Amazing, really lovely to work with.”

Much has been written and debated about the significance of the double act in comedy: Morcambe & Wise, Vic & Bob, Barratt & Fielding, Oram & Meeten – there are endless examples of comedy power couples, and as a nation we love them. Famous comedy trios are a tad thinner on the ground; Noel, Tom and Mike all cite The Marx Brothers as their favourite threesome when I ask. I’m keen to understand how working as a three shifts the dynamic. “When you’re creating something, it’s it’s about making choices. If there are three voices you can debate it more, which gives you extra reassurance,” Tom explains. “With a double act it’s much more one person’s opinion versus the other.”

This unique set up allowed the trio to enjoy the best of both worlds: the additional perspective that a third person brings compared to two, and also clearly defined roles between the three of them: “The more people you have, if you don’t have a leader, the more dissipated the material gets. You need a singular vision. But then with this – and I flatter myself that I helped write it – it’s really all about Noel’s ideas. He’s the boss.” Tom says. There’s no hint of anything other than respect and camaraderie.

With Noel at the helm, Tom frequently saw his role as helping to filter ideas: “Noel has the most ideas per minute of anyone I’ve ever worked with,” he laughs. “And sometimes we would spend a whole day discussing one of those brilliant ideas and trying to work out how it would work in the context of the show.”

Tom explains that this sometimes meant killing off ideas which held real promise: “There’s a whole alternative show of weird and beautiful stuff,” he sighs. He mentions a Dondylion sketch (performed twice as part of their warm ups) which sadly didn’t make it to the final cut: “That was me and Noel being left alone without Nigel, creating this weird sadistic sketch. I still think there’s something in it – I’d love to think one day it might resurface in some form, but it just wouldn’t fit into the show. “

© Joe Lynn

© Joe Lynn

The amount of practical planning that goes into the show is surprising; Preparation and sheer hard work is needed to bring those effortless flights of fancy to life on stage. Considerations like allowing time for costume changes, or the need to conceal props for later scenes can end up dictating whether a particular sketch remains in the show or not. It also explains the development of the strong supporting characters: “We had to establish other characters who could cover certain things – mundane practical stuff.  It means the characters have to be strong, so you put work into them,” says Tom.

He places a great deal of significance on his character’s first appearance on stage. “I get thrown to the lions a little bit. I’m the first person the audience sees that isn’t (a) Julian or (b) Mike. Half the people don’t know who the fuck I am!” Tom jokes. “In that moment when I come on, it’s really exciting because it might fail – and sometimes it has. The introduction of my character suddenly shifts it, so you never quite know. You say your first words and there’s a reaction…you feel it. That’s the amazing thing about performing live – you get influenced by the reaction you get. So if you get that reassurance from the audience, you’re away; you’re relaxed and excited. But sometimes I’ve come on and people have been, ‘What’s going on? Hold on – who’s this dude?’.”

I ask if audiences give any early clues as to what kind of reception he’s going to get. “There are certain parts of the show where you look for signals,” he explains. “During Noel’s stand up I’m backstage, waiting to go on. I know all of his stand up now – it goes around my head for weeks after we’ve finished the tour! There are certain points in it, and if they get a big laugh, you know it’s going to be a really good show. It’s reassurance.” I can only imagine what it must feel like, waiting in the wings for his cue on those nights when the positive signals aren’t forthcoming from the crowd.

© Dave Brown

© Dave Brown

An Evening With… includes some elements from Noel’s TV show Luxury Comedy (like Sergeant Ray Boombox and Joey Ramone), but it doesn’t rely on audiences being familiar with the series. I wonder whether there was any discussion about Tom’s TV character, Andy Warhol, featuring in the live show. “Andy Warhol was in some of the previews, but in the end we cut him out because he changed the dynamic. His status was wrong, because he was subservient and we needed a high status character to try to undermine Noel. You need that bit of friction.” Tom’s reply provides further evidence of the degree of thoughtfulness that’s gone into creating the show. Thrown together it certainly isn’t.

With our conversation drawing to a close, I bring up the third member of their on-stage troupe; how does Mike fits into the equation? “Mike is the enigma.” Tom pauses, as a smile spreads across his face: “Noel and me are doing all this hard work – I’m pouring with sweat and Noel’s just done this full hour of material, really working it. Mike just comes on stage and the house comes down!” Whenever Mike’s mentioned he’s spoken of with genuine fondness. The impression Tom gives of Mike is that he orbits in a slightly different plane to Noel and himself. But it’s clear that the dynamic works – both on stage and off, where his presence is felt very positively. “Mike keeps us going throughout the tour,” Tom observes.

© Tom Meeten

© Tom Meeten

My dialogue with Mike is sadly only fleeting, but no less charming for it; he’s one of the most considerate, polite people I’ve ever spoken to. I catch him at a busy time, during a week when he’s been attending a James Bond-themed party next to the runway at Gatwick airport and also serving drinks to Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman (which is what he does when he’s not on tour). As such, our conversation is limited to a few quick questions and answers.

Mike describes his role in An Evening With… as a lot more developed than the role he played on the Boosh tours, which is something he enjoys. I ask him how the working relationship between Noel, Tom and himself differs from that of the Boosh gang. “Its very different working as a trio,” he says. “Noel, Tom and I get on very well, we never fall out – even when we’re living in each others’ pockets on the road. When you have a bigger group, like the Boosh tour did, there’s too many egos in the pot; always someone trying to outshine the others or be the loudest. There’s great camaraderie in our trio; we call ourselves the Peloton, as we all have each others backs equally.”

I wonder what the highlight of the tour has been for him so far. “My favourite leg has been Australia. I love Australia; I moved there for a year in my teens, so it was amazing to go back and see a lot of my old friends and work colleagues. Australian crowds are very different to UK audiences, they’re very chilled out but still very much up for it – very humble and polite.”

After playing a shaman, an ant eater, the digital Wimbledon umpire and his brother’s wife, what’s next for Mike Fielding? “I’m still writing with my writing partner Max, (Peanut Jones in Luxury Comedy). We’re developing new ideas sand revisiting old scripts to refresh and condense them – and we’ll maybe film some stuff and put it online.” Given how unwittingly hilarious Mike is, this is something we need to see.

© Joe Lynn

© Joe Lynn

In the end I leave it to Tom to provide the final word on the dynamic between the three of them; besides the Marx Brothers, which other trios does he admire? He snorts derisively at my suggestion of sporting threesomes (“What sport do you know that’s played by three people?”), so we agree that it should be another comedy threesome. It takes a moment or two to think of one, then eventually inspiration hits: “The Three Amigos! Noel is Chevy Chase, Mike has to be Martin Short…and I’m Steve Martin.” Tom grins, visibly pleased with his conclusion. “I’ve come out of this very well!”

You lucky people can still get to see An Evening With Noel Fielding – in the UK from now through to December, and then touring the US and Canada in March/April 2016. For more information and to buy tickets visit Noel’s website.

Many thanks to Tom and Mike for giving their time to The Velvet Onion – and to Noel for suggesting that we badger them. We wish the three of you the best of luck for the rest of the tour!

Look out for Part 2 of our interview with Tom Meeten, coming soon, when he’ll be telling us about his new film The Ghoul, working on Aaaaaaaah!, and his working partnership with Steve Oram.

2015 British Independent Film Awards Nominations

5 Nov
© Rook Films

© Rook Films

The nominations for the Moët 2015 Independent Film awards have been announced, and we’re delighted to note that there are a couple of TVO-connected productions shortlisted!

Steve Oram‘s comedy horror Aaaaaaaah!, which features a cacophony of TVO talent has been nominated for The Disovery Award. It will be competing with Burn Burn Burn, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, The Return and Winter. You can see trailers for all of those shortlisted in this category here.

This isn’t the first time Steve has enjoyed success at the BIFAs; in 2012 Sightseers picked up seven nominations, with Steve, Alice Lowe and Amy Jump picking up the winning gong for Best Screenplay for the film.

Amy Jump also features in this year’s list of nominations, for her screenwriting for High Rise. Directed by Ben Wheatley, High Rise has picked up four mentions overall in the 2015 list.

To see the full list of nominations take a look at this. The winners will be announced on 6 December at a ceremony at Old Billingsgate, London. In the meantime, congratulations to everyone shortlisted – particularly to ‘our lot’!

Cast Of Aaaaaaaah! Ape About In New Video

31 Oct

A new promo film for Aaaaaaaah! has been released, which features members of the cast talking about their the film. As you might expect from Steve Oram, it’s not your run-of-the-mill ‘speaking heads’ promo.

Featuring Julian Barratt (with post-Mindhorn barnet), Sean Reynard, Julian Rind-Tutt, Holli Dempsey and Lucy Honigman, the promo includes short clips of the chicken sequence the Battenburg scene – two of our favourites moments in the film!

You can see it here:

Don’t forget you can watch Aaaaaaaah! in full on VOD via Frightfest here.

A Caravan, A Bear, And Housewife Horror: Alice Lowe Talks To The Velvet Onion

30 Oct
© imdb

© imdb

A few weeks ago we published Part 1 of our interview with Alice Lowe, in which she spoke about the third series of Alice’s Wunderland, which recently aired on Radio 4. In Part 2 of our interview, below, Alice talks to us about her other comedy projects – past, present and future – and the highs and lows of a career in the arts.

Alice and I meet shortly before she is due to stand in front of a cinema full of North London feminists and try to convince them that Glen Close’s character in 1987’s Fatal Attraction is a feminist icon. I wish her luck. Her chosen topic provides us with a few clues about what makes Alice Lowe tick: (1) She sees the world differently to most people; (2) She’s not the type to choose the the easy path; and (3) She has a special place in her heart for female villains.

“You don’t get many female villains,” Alice offers by way of explanation. “Political correctness has made people scared of portraying women negatively, so what you end up with are really boring characters for women, with no personality.” Here here!

© Press Association

© Press Association

One of the most high profile villains which she herself has played is Tina in Sightseers, the 2012 film which was both a critical and box office hit, seeing Alice and co-writer/co-star Steve Oram being courted by the great and good in the world of film. “Even now I’m still surprised – I think ‘did that happen?’ I’m not used to success – I’m used to doing my own stuff and no one giving a shit!” she laughs.

“For me it was a relief. As a comedian, you believe you should be getting a sitcom or your own show off the ground at some point. Both Steve and me were feeling like we hadn’t done our thing. It was a relief to have finally done something where you’ve made your mark.”

Sightseers was a long time in the making, with the characters of Tina and Chris having been developed several years before they were committed to celluloid. Alice describes the final production of the film as “a lot of lucky things coming together”, like the involvement of director Ben Wheatley, who was hot at the time (Mighty Boosh director, Paul King, who was originally linked to the project, was unable to direct the film because of his Paddington movie commitments at the time).

“People are generally looking for reasons not to make films,” Alice explains. “Because there isn’t enough funding for all of them. There needs to be something really special to get a film over that final hurdle and green lit – like a producer who’s had a lot of success or a director who can sweep it along.”

Right now she’s busy with a fast-turnaround film project, her directorial debut feature, provisionally titled Prevenge. The part-improvised film is best described as a ‘post-feminist revenge movie’ and features Alice as a pregnant woman on a killing spree (Alice herself is currently seven and a half months pregnant, so thankfully there will be no need for anatomically suspect padding). The mystery at the centre of the film is who she’s killing, and why.

Shooting starts imminently in Cardiff with a Welsh crew, who Alice describes as “a great team”, with her pregnancy providing the extra impetus to make quick progress. I ask whether any TVO-connected artists will be part of the project. “There will be a good few familiar faces on the film,” she says.  Watch this space…

Not one to put her feet up, Alice is also working on another film project, which she describes as “a dark comedy horror about a housewife”, inspired by the likes of Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining, films in which domestic situations become the premise for horror. She’s been working on it for a couple of years, hacking her way through the funding jungle which surrounds independent film making.

© Toy Drum

© Toy Drum

As she is for Prevenge, Alice will be taking writing, acting and directing credits. I ask her how she manages to juggle so many different,  significant roles within one production. “To me it doesn’t feel weird to be doing all of them,” she replies. “You wouldn’t say to a songwriter ‘Are you also going to sing this song? Are you also going to play the guitar?’ It’s just the way I approach what I do – it’s a more holistic thing; I’ve been lucky to be able to work in that way.”

“The people I tend to admire have a similar holistic approach to everything they do – people like Kate Bush and Bjork. I don’t think it’s that weird and I don’t think it’s that difficult – it’s hard work but not impossible.” She adds.

In fact, taking on several key roles on a project like this has its advantages, as Alice explains: “I could have put another actress in it, but it would have meant finding another person, making sure they understood what I was trying to do, making sure they were available. Then I thought hold on, I’m available! And I’ll be there on set every day, because I’m directing it.”

Alice in Sherlock © BBC

Alice in Sherlock © BBC

She notes that another benefit of writing, directing and acting is the confidence that it gives her as a performer: “When I’m acting other people’s stuff I can have huge doubts about my performance. But when I’ve written it I know exactly what it is, heart and soul. I understand it inside out. It’s something that’s not about words – it’s about a feeling. Getting someone else to that level of understanding is much harder.”

Furthermore, using non-comedy writers, directors and actors in comedy films can sometimes negatively impact on the humour quota. “People need to understand that they can trust comic talent to put laughs on the screen,” Alice notes. Indeed, we can all recall ‘comedy’ films which have failed for exactly this reason – because the studio chose household names over the people who know how to generate proper laughs.

Success and failure in comedy is a hot topic at the moment, with a number of unique, innovative projects from the wider world of comedy failing to land or being cut off in their prime. With ratings now the be-all and end-all for TV shows, the relationship between creative talent and commercial success can be hazy at best. It’s a situation that irks Alice: “In the past you would do a series, win some awards and your ratings would naturally go up. But one ‘trophy series’ isn’t enough any more – the second series has to get more. If your ratings stay the same or go down, they (the TV & film execs) think ‘what’s the point?’ So if you’ve done one film that isn’t huge you might never get to make a film again.”

We talk about one of the biggest recent movie successes from a TVO-connected talent – Paul King’s Paddington movie. A phenomenal critical and commercial success story, Paddington followed Paul’s low key first feature, Bunny & The Bull. Although loved by many critics and adored by fans of our kind of comedy, BATB failed to make its mark at the box office. It could have meant the end of Paul’s feature film career, but then Paddington came along; and the rest (as they say) is history. It would be a shame if second opportunities like this aren’t available to film makers in the future.

© Studio Canal

Alice in Paddington © Studio Canal

Paddington features a long list of TVO artists, including Alice herself. “It was a really nice thing that he did,” she explains, referring to Paul’s approach to making the film. “He got in a lot of his old theatre and comedy buddies to do read throughs. So before all these huge stars were attached to it I was reading Nicole Kidman’s part! Then he kept us on for all the small parts, even though he could have cast bigger names, or used the usual suspects, but he didn’t – he cast us lot!” Alice is full of praise for the final film, noting how Paul’s production flourishes raise it several notches above standard Hollywood blockbuster fayre. “It’s so good it feels effortless, but I know how much work Paul put into it.” She seems genuinely proud of him.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

Club Fantastico © Mog/The Velvet Onion

Although Alice is focusing on film projects at the moment, I ask her whether she has plans to take to the live circuit again in the future. “Whenever I do it I’m absolutely terrified, until I do it again – and then I love it.” she says. “And I go ‘why don’t I do this all the time?’…then I don’t do it for a while and I get the fear about doing it again!”

“But I’m in my element on stage,” she explains. “You get the immediate impact and you have to think on your feet. If something’s not working you push it until it does, until you get that laugh – and I really enjoy that.” She pauses for a moment, then adds. “When people find out I do comedy they ask if I do stand up and I start to wonder if maybe I should. But stand up is a bit like chatting – and I can just do that anyway with my friends. My friends are really funny.”

Having spent an hour in Alice’s company discussing the vagaries of the world of entertainment, it’s clear how frustrating the rules of the game can seem to her. She has a natural tendency to question and challenge the status quo, and her place within it. She never comes across as grumpy, although she worries that she does; instead, hers is the drive to keep asking why?, or sometimes why not? It’s an attitude that seeps into her comedy and that of her peers; artists who subvert the norm and show us a different way of looking at the world, a different way of doing things.

“The people who are doing weird stuff seem to be older,” Alice observes. “The hot young things aren’t allowed to do surreal comedy. We had this natural punk ethos…” She checks herself and laughs, “Oh dear – I’m making myself sound really cool, and I’m not! It’s just the era that we grew up in; you naturally rebelled against it. And now you look at youtube and there’s someone talking about lipstick or cake. That’s what people want to watch now.”

As a fellow Generation X-er, I’m inclined to agree. And with that Alice bravely heads off to persuade a room full of Crouch End feminists to rethink everything they previously believed about 1980’s cinema.

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

The Velvet Onion would like to thanks Alice for her time. We wish her the best of luck with her many forthcoming projects!

Halloween Horror From Barratt

27 Oct


Julian Barratt will be pouring into our ear holes on Halloween night in a spooky radio drama for BBC Radio 4.

The Stone Tape is adapted from the 1972 TV movie of the same name, originally written by the creator of the Quatermass series, Nigel Kneale. The story revolves around a team of scientists who move into a new facility in an old Victorian mansion that’s supposedly haunted. When one of the scientists hears a disembodied scream, the team discover what appears to be a psychic impression trapped in the wall. They realise that their work has disturbed something ancient hidden beneath the stone.

Julian plays the part of Terry Briscoe, and will be joined by Romola Garai, Julian Rhind-Tutt (with whom he recently starred in Aaaaaaaah!), Dean Andrews, Tom Bennett, Jane Asher (who was in the original version) and Eugenia Caruso – as the disembodied scream.

The hour long programme will air at 10pm as part of Radio 4’s Fright Night on 31st October.

A special enhanced version will be available online here and for download after the Halloween airdate. It utilises pioneering sound technology from BBC Research and Development to create a 3D binaural mix designed for headphones. Binaural sound gives a unique immersive listening experience which is perfect for a horror drama – but only for the brave!

So tune in, but keep the lights on…




This remake has been conceived by Peter Strickland in collaboration with writer Matthew Graham (Life On Mars). It features new music from James Cargill (of the band Broadcast) and sound design from Andrew Liles (Current 93, Nurse With Wound). A stellar cast includes Romola Garai (The Hour, Atonement), Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing), and Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh), with a special cameo by the star of the original version, Jane Asher.

A special enhanced version of The Stone Tape is also available online and for download from BBC iPlayer Radio. Pioneering sound technology from BBC Research and Development has been used to create a 3D binaural mix designed for headphones. Binaural sound gives a unique immersive listening experience, perfect for a horror drama – but only for those who dare.

Iannucci Interviews Coogan

25 Oct

A few weeks ago we told you about an event which was being run by The Guardian to mark the publication of Steve Cogan’s memoir Easily Distracted. The event featured Steve in conversation with long-time collaborator and fellow comedy legend, Armando Iannucci.

Tickets were notoriously difficult to come by, so we’re delighted to report that the full interview from the event on 15th October has been posted youtube for everyone to enjoy. Hurrah!

You can watch the pair discussing their comedy careers and their approach to working together below:

Linehans Speak Up For Amnesty

24 Oct

Graham Linehan and his wife Helen have taken the brave step of putting their private life in the public spotlight in support of Amnesty International.



Shortly after they were married in 2004 the couple were delighted to find out that they were expecting their first child. They happily told everyone, only to discover at their first scan that there was something fatally wrong with the foetus; it had a condition known as ‘acrania’, which meant that its skull had not closed over the brain. Helen was advised to have an immediate termination, because doctors knew that the baby wouldn’t be able to survive longer than an hour after birth.

The termination took place shortly afterwards in London. “It was terribly sad and devastating, but it was handled well,” Helen said.

A few months later, they moved back to Ireland, and discovered that if they had been living there at the time, Helen would not legally have been able to have had an abortion. She could have faced 14 years in prison, had she gone ahead. Abortion is illegal in Ireland, even in cases where there is no chance for the foetus to survive.

Their experience has prompted the couple to speak out as part of a campaign by Amnesty International calling for decriminalisation of abortion in Ireland. “In Ireland Helen would be a criminal to have undergone the termination.” said Graham. “She would have had to carry the child knowing it would die in great pain shortly after she had given birth to it. I have always been very proud to be Irish but I am embarrassed by Ireland’s abortion laws. This is just something you can’t be proud of. It’s barbaric.”

Graham and Helen have collaborated with Amnesty on a short campaign film calling on the Irish government to repeal the eighth amendment of the constitution, which puts the foetus’s right to life on the same footing as a woman’s.

You can see their interview below, along with the campaign film beneath. To find out more about Amnesty International and to support their causes please visit their website.

Out On Mondaaaaaaaah!

17 Oct

If you’re a regular reader of The Velvet Onion, you’ll know that we’ve been getting more than a bit excited about Aaaaaaaah!, the comedy horror from Steve Oram, which stars a bevy of TVO faces. And now we can get excited again – because from Monday everyone will get the chance to see what all the fuss is about.

The film is available to pre-order from iTunes here for £9.99, and from Monday 19th you’ll be able to find it on a variety of other VOD platforms from FrightFest Presents, including Virgin Movies, Blinkbox, Google Play, Amazon, Xbox Video, Wuaki, Talk Talk and Volta. Thoroughly recommended!

In the meantime, why not occupy yourself with this podcast interview with Steve about the film:

If you’re a fan of Aaaaaaaah! and you haven’t wandered down these parts for a while, why not read our interview with Steve himself and our review of the film. And keep an eye out for our profile about one of the film’s stars too, which will be coming your way very soon…!

See Gemma Whelan Live In Soho

16 Oct

Gemma Whelan will be bringing her upper class character Chastity Butterworth (“named after the belt”) to Soho Theatre in the guise of a chat show host.

The show is a trial run through, with refreshments provided (sounds intriguing!). Two shows were sheduled but one is already sold out – so hurry if you want to bag a ticket for the remaining one. It takes place at 1.30pm on 27th October.

Posh toff Chastity will be joined by by Mike Wozniak and a celebrity guest for an afternoon of chat and entertainment, as she invites members of the public to have a good old chin wag.

If you haven’t come across Chastity before, you can see her in action below:

You can apply for tickets here (not via Soho Theatre’s website; the show isn’t listed there). Use the promo code CBSPROMO for priority tickets.

Eldon Live At Fylm School

10 Oct

© Unknown

Kevin Eldon will be one of the acts at Simon Munnery’s Fylm School on 2nd November.

Following a sell-out monthly residency at Soho Theatre and successful stints in Canada, Australia and the Edinburgh Festival, Munnery is opening up Fylm school for a special one-off at Rich Mix in East London.

Described as “clever, imaginative and thrilling” by Metro and “a playful, artful take on stand-up — the lovechild of goofy, gauche comedy and programmes like Blue Peter and Art Attack” by Londonist, the clip below will give you a (vague!) idea what it’s about:

Looks EXACTLY like our cup of tea – and hopefully yours! Eldon will be joined on the bill by James Acaster, and the Musical Comedy Awards winner David Elms.

The show starts at 8pm and tickets cost £12 (£9 concs) + £1 booking fee – available to book here.

New Matt Berry Live Album

10 Oct

The new Matt Berry & The Maypoles live LP is now available to pre-order, and it comes in a variety of formats – including blue vinyl.

The album, due out on 20th November, is a recording of tracks from Matt’s greatest live performances. It’s available as a CD for £10, on blue vinyl in a specially-designed double gatefold sleeve (with free download code) for £20, and on white cassette tape in a white cassette case for £7.50 (this latter format is exclusively available on the Acid Jazz Store only, and will also be made available on the bands’ 2015 December tour).

© Acid Jazz

© Acid Jazz

The track listing for the live album is as follows:

1. The Innkeeper’s Song
2. So Low
3. October Sun
4. Take My Hand
5. Sorry (Theme From)
6. Solstice
7. Snuff Box
8. Song For Rosie
9. Medicine
10. Devil Inside Me
12. The Pheasant

You can pre-order the all formats from Acid Jazz here. Your order will be shipped to you several days ahead of the official release date.

He Wore Dreams Moves North

8 Oct
© Noel Fielding/Hooligan Art Dealer

© Noel Fielding/Hooligan Art Dealer

Following successful shows at the Royal Albert Hall and Gallery Maison Bertaux earlier this year, an exhibition of Noel Fielding‘s watercolours will be taking place in Harrogate from this weekend.

The exhibition starts this weekend at Harrogate Theatre’s Circle Bar and will be open to the public on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October from 10am to 9pm each day. After this special opening weekend, due to public demand, the exhibition will move to RedHouse Originals Gallery, where it will continue until the 31st October.

He Wore Dreams Around Unkind Faces is Noel’s first foray into the medium of watercolour painting, and the result is vivid, bright and bold – both in terms of the canvases themselves and the ideas that they contain. As with his previous art collections, this show brings to life the point at which his love of comedy and art collide, so it provides a fascinating insight into his creative processes.

The painting reproduced here, Leonara Carrington’s Pencil Case, is one that we particularly covet at TVO Towers…

For more information about Noel’s art and to purchase a painting, contact his art dealer, Hooligan Art Dealer.

Oram & Meeten Live Later This Month

8 Oct
© Pull the Other One

© Pull the Other One

Sadly, for us lovers of top notch comedy, Oram & Meeten‘s live shows are relatively rare. But now we can all rejoice, because the legendary duo are performing later this month!

Fresh from their starring roles in simian comedy horror AAAAAAAAH!, Steve and Tom will be live on stage at The Old Nuns Head Pub (15 Nunhead Green, London SE15) on Friday 30th October at 8:30pm.

They’re headlining the next ‘Pull the Other One’ bill, which also includes Louise Reay, Darren Maskell, Michael Lightyear and Lewis Blomfield (host).

If you haven’t seen Oram & Meeten live before, we implore you to go. It’s a Friday night, they’re stupendously good – and the opportunity to see them perform really doesn’t happen often enough.

Tickets cost £10 (+£1 booking fee) are are available here. Do it.

Friends Star Joins Julia Davis Show

5 Oct
© Guardian /Alan Yorick

© Guardian /Alan Yorick

Friends actor David Schwimmer will co-star in Julia Davis‘ new sitcom Morning Has Broken.

As we’ve mentioned previously, the series follows the story of Gail Sinclair (Davis), the star of daily television programme Good Morning… with Gail Sinclair. After eight years of high ratings and awards ‘The Queen of Daytime’ starts to lose viewers and tensions build within the production team, leading to Gail’s breakdown.

Schwimmer has been cast as an American producer who is brought in by channel executives to refresh and boost viewing figures for the ailing show.

© Dan Clark

© Dan Clark

We’re particularly excited about the project, because it’s directed by another friend of TVO, Dan Clark. The series is also co-written (and co-stars) Nick Mohammed (Murder in Successville, How Not to Live your Life, amongst others). Julia has said that she is, “looking forward to experimenting with friends whose work I love”.

David Schwimmer has said of his involvement in the show: “I’ve been a massive fan of Julia’s for years, and I’m thrilled to be able to finally work with her and Nick on this fantastic comedy.”

Rachel Springett, Commissioning Editor for Comedy at Channel 4 added: “Julia is undoubtedly one of our most talented comedic writers and actresses and it’s a testament to the quality of her writing that she can attract such a big star. We are thrilled to have David Schwimmer star alongside Julia in this exciting new series for the channel.”

Given how willing Matt Le Blanc has been to poke fun at his Friends’ character Joey in Episodes, we’re looking forwards to see what Julia has in store for good old Ross.


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.



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