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A Better You – With Help From Rich

15 Apr

Rich Fulcher stars in a new Life Hack, to help when you have to leave in a hurry! This handy tip is brought to you by the folks at A Better You, a new film project by Upright Citizens Brigade founder and star of Veep, Matt Walsh.

The film is the story of Dr Ron (Matt Walsh), a revolutionary Hypnotherapist, who could solve everyone’s problems but his own, and will be mainly improvised. Some of the team behind the film were also involved with Matt’s 2011 directorial debut High Road featuring Rich Fulcher as a cross-dressing Dad. There’s no information yet about Rich being involved in A Better You.

The video is to publicise that the film is being funded by crowd sourcing through the Indiegogo site. There are lots of goodies on offer for contributors; from a message on Facebook for $2, tickets to exclusive improv performances in New York or Los Angeles for $20 (sadly this does not include travel or hotels), up to the $15,000 package which gives you executive producer credit, and a host of other exclusive rewards! There’s more information about the film and the rewards here.

Watch Rich in action below and maybe you’ll be moved to make a contribution to the making of A Better You.

The Double – Rave Reviews

10 Apr

© Studio Canal

Since The Double was released last week there have been plenty of rave reviews and interviews with Richard Ayoade. Here are a few for you to enjoy:

Digital Spy say “If Richard Ayoade continues in this vein, we could be looking at a director to rival David Cronenberg and David Lynch during their prime”!

The Metro describe the film as “downbeat and tricksy”.

The Radio Times call it “visually arresting and utterly compelling”.

The Independent says “Richard Ayoade’s surreal film makes for twice the fun”.

And of course, not forgetting Mog’s interview with Richard from last week.

The Double is out in the UK now and will be released in the USA on 9th May.

You can now get a copy of the screenplay by Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine from TVO Store, where you can also pick up a film tie-in version of the original story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Bafta Bonanza

8 Apr

© Channel 4

The Bafta nominations are out, and there are many TVO connections to be found.

To begin with; The IT Crowd has 4 nominations, with Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson nominated for Best Male/Female Performance in a Comedy Programme, and Best Situation Comedy, where it shares the nomination with Toast of London and The Count Arthur Strong Television Programme.

Richard III: The King in the Car Park, featuring Simon Farnaby, is nominated for Best Factual Programme.

There are also nominations for Rory Kinnear (Count Arthur Strong), and Doon Mackichan (Toast of London), for other roles.

In the Single Drama category, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: Be Right Back, featuring Claire Keelan (Nathan Barley) and Mark Gatiss’s An Adventure in Space and Time, featuring Reece Shearsmith,  are both nominated.

A full list of nominations is here, where you can also vote for the Radio Times Audience Award.

Matt Berry With Stuart Maconi

5 Apr

© Matt Berry / Acid Jazz

Matt Berry talked to Stuart Maconi on the Radcliffe & Maconi show on 6 Music recently, to talk about Music for Insomniacs and share some tracks.

During their chat we discover that Matt painted the artwork for the album, and he explained about the album being recorded before Kill the Wolf, when suffering from insomnia himself. You can listen to the interview here.

As we mentioned earlier, there will be a limited edition, two track, vinyl record released on 19th April for Record Store Day, and the full album is out on 19th May.

Remember that  Matt is now on tour, see his official site for dates.

Darkplace Live!

4 Apr
© Grimmfest

© Grimmfest

The lovely people over at Den of Geek have compiled a ‘where are they now’ about the cast of Darkplace to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show. You can catch up here.
Of course if you are a regular TVO reader, none of it will come as a surprise to you, as we give you regular updates on what the cast are up to these days.

Fans of Darkplace (and who isn’t?), who can get to Manchester, can treat themselves to a live screening of all 6 episodes followed by a Q&A session with Matt Holness and Alice Lowe! The event is on Sunday May 18th from 3pm to 10pm at Gorilla, Manchester.

Tickets are on sale NOW from Grimmfest, where you can also get more details of the event.

Julian & Julia In Isolation

3 Apr

© Bafta

Julian Barratt and Julia Davis have made a surprise appearance in a KCRW radio show about American radio artist Joe Frank.

The one off art piece from the legend of monologues, was made in collaboration with Barratt & Davis, and tells the story of a lost man riding the underground in search of companionship, and therapy leading to unexpected places.

It features a sultry Liverpudlian-tinged narration from Julian, and a gentle Nothern Irish twang from Julia, plus a deightful Gainsbourg-style reworking of The Mighty Boosh song Isolation which may or may not be the one recorded for their long-mooted album.

It aired exclusively on Santa Monica based public radio station KCRW on Aprl 1st, where TVO reader Yoshiko Yeto stumbled upon it, and contacted us to let us know!

Thankfully, it’s not been lost into the ether, but is available as a free downloadable podcast from the KCRW website.  Enjoy…

A Gentle Man: Interview With Richard Ayoade

31 Mar

As you’ve probably noticed if you’re a regular reader of The Velvet Onion, we’ve been making quite a fuss about The Double, the new feature film from Richard Ayoade. A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to be invited to meet the man himself, to talk to him about his latest film and to find out why he’s glad that it hasn’t yet been compared to ‘Nutty Profressor 2′. Velveteer Mog reports:

© Michael Leckie

The real Richard Ayoade is something of a surprise. Prettier, younger and slimmer than he looks on TV, the initial impression is more hipster than geek. He’s also quite possibly the best-dressed person I’ve ever been in the same room as; a peeping sliver of lemon sock perfectly matches the colour of a butterfly’s wings in the pattern on his shirt.

His answers to questions are similarly considered. Polite, softly-spoken and humble, the word that probably best describes Richard Ayoade is “careful”. Not the bad sort of careful that implies control freakery, but the decent sort that means “full of care”. The sort of careful that matches socks to butterfly wings.

He’s here to talk about his new film The Double, his wonderfully idiosyncratic adaptation of Dostoevsky’s novella, which stars Jesse Eisenberg in dual roles: as the downtrodden Simon James and the charismatic James Simon. Co-written with Avi Korine, Ayoade was first sent the script in 2007; the film was shot in 2012 and is released in the UK this week, so it’s been a long time in development. What attracted him to the project in the first place? “I thought the premise was really unique and interesting; the idea of a double that no one else notices.” He says.

However, translating a complex story like The Double into celluloid comes with its own challenges; Ayoade notes that films of books can often end up as a diminished version of the original printed form. So how did he compensate for that? “In the book you have a great deal of psychological insight into the characters, so [in the film] you have to create visual moments to bring that to life,” He explains. “You have to think of things that will illustrate their personality, even though those things aren’t in the book, and even though they take the story in a different direction.”

© Studio Canal

This is one of the reasons why he weaved a love story into the spine of the film, feeling that it presented a more believable catalyst for the emotional unraveling of the central character, Simon, than the loss of his status at work (which he experiences in the book) would. “While I relate to him as a character and to his disintegration, I don’t know that anyone feels that way about work.” He pauses, then adds apologetically, “I could be wrong, because I don’t have a proper job, but it doesn’t feel as important as not being recognised by someone who you love.”

Continue reading

TVO Film Review: The Double

24 Mar

Richard Ayaode‘s second feature film, The Double, based on Dostoevsky’s 1846 novella of the same name, will be released in the UK at the end of this month. So what’s it like, and how does it compare to his directorial debut, Submarine? See what our reviewer, Mog, had to say: 

© Studio Canal

From its appearances at various Film Festivals during the past few months, reviews of Richard Ayoade‘s latest feature, The Double, aren’t hard to find. Across the board, they’re consistent in their high praise of Ayoade’s fastidious attention to detail, the richly claustrophobic set design, and the sharp filmic intellect that underpins it.

One point that all the reviewers seem to agree on is the extensive list of high-end cinematic influences discernible in the finished film. It’s this final point that would irk me if I was in Ayoade’s shoes. The Double has been variously described in terms of its stylistic closeness to Gilliam, Gondry, the Coen brothers, Welles, Godard, Lynch, Andersson and Kaurismaki. All fine directors, but it’s a shame to define a film as interesting as The Double by the other films it reminds the critic of.

In case the early murmurings about Ayoade’s latest project have passed you by, here’s what you need to know about the story:

The action revolves around a meek and downtrodden  office clerk whose life is turned upside down by the surprise appearance of his confident, aggressive doppelgänger (both parts are played, brilliantly, by Jesse Eisenberg in the film). It’s an odd premise which plays out peculiarly across its 93 minutes – particularly for audiences who are more used to neat narrative conclusions.

Ayoade’s film leaves as many questions unanswered as the book on which it’s based does: we’re never too sure what’s real and what’s not, a sensation underscored by the fantasy netherworld in which it’s set: part sci-fi/part retro, it establishes a version of (un)reality in which one doesn’t question the bizarre goings-on as much as you would if it inhabited a world you recognised.

© Studio Canal

Furthermore, the beautifully nuanced performances of the main cast, in the form of Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska, help to lend authenticity and humanity to a story at risk of caricature in less capable acting hands. In fact it’s the dynamic between these two (three?) characters that gives The Double its heart, something which seems to have been overlooked by many of the reviewers out there. This is a love story first and foremost; Simon’s actions towards his neighbour and co-worker, Hannah, are achingly and heart-breakingly romantic.

© Studio Canal

The Double is a very different beast to Ayoade’s debut feature Submarine, which was airily joyful from start to finish. If I’m honest, I probably didn’t enjoy The Double as much as I did Submarine, which is not to say that it’s a less good or less interesting film. It certainly tumbles around the brain for longer.

I’m not sure that The Double is a film to enjoy – it’s too uncomfortable. There are moments of genuine humour – this is Ayoade afterall (scenes with Chris Morris and Sally Hawkins are particularly funny), but for the most part we perceive what’s going on through Simon’s experiences, and we feel his pain acutely.

The Double is a fascinating and clever film. It’s also beautifully-shot and well-acted. But it’s not an easy film to watch; it’s awkward, dark and ultimately inconclusive. Well worth subjecting yourself to.

The Double is on general release in UK cinemas from 31st March, with selected preview screenings on 27th March. Here, for your perusal, is the latest trailer and a short clip from the film (below). And look out for our interview with director, Richard Ayoade, next week!

Unnatural Comedy Online

24 Mar

© Unnatural Acts

All decent proper fans of Boosh will be aware of Unnatural Acts, the late 90′s sketch show featuring a few Boosh members that was something of a precursor to the Mighty one.

What you may not be aware of, however, is the existence of a new Unnatural Acts youtube channel, which claims to be the “Home of some of the most subversive and innovative comedy acts in Britain…showcasing exclusive never-before-seen footage of comics and material considered too edgy for television.”

They premier a new sketch every Monday at 3pm that shows established acts (like members of The Mighty Boosh) as you’ve never seen them before.

Every Wednesday at 3pm they bring you extreme hidden camera stunts and experimental formats that push the limits of what television can show.

Although the content isn’t exclusively TVO-connected, a lot of it is. For instance, this afternoon’s sketch featured a youthful Noel Fielding snogging a deer (not a goat), and last week he could be found looking at Julian Barratt‘s balls:

There are also videos on there from Rich Fulcher (as Eleanor) and Kim Noble (doing fabulous things to Ikea furniture). To see more, visit Unnatural Acts’ youtube channel or follow them on twitter.

House of Fools to Return!

20 Mar
© BBC

© BBC

It has been announced that Vic and Bob’s madcap sitcom House of Fools will be returning to BBC Two for a second series.

The first series starred Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer who were joined by Matt Berry, Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Morgana Robinson. Set in Bob’s house, the series produced new and ridiculous stories each week and captured the hearts of many of its viewers.

The full core cast are expected to return for the second series, the BBC announced on Tuesday.

Vic and Bob said “We are overjoyed and thankful to our great corporation for their diligence in this matter.” Bob also revealed the news via Twitter:

Here at TVO, we can’t wait to see what the next series will bring!

Kim Noble, Euro Rover

20 Mar

© Kim Noble

Back in the dawn of 2014 we were excited to report that Kim Noble would be performing his one man show You Are Not Alone in a handful of European cities in January and February. Now he has extended his mini-tour to a few more locations!

You can now catch Kim in Geneva on 26/27th April at Theatre de L’Usine, in Bern on 11/12th May at Theatertreffen and his Manheim date at Theatre De Welt has now been confirmed for 29/30th May. For more information and/or to purchase tickets (if available) click on the relevant link in the previous sentence. Easy!

If you’re not able to gad about anywhere as exotic as that, you can still see Mr Noble’s short film Pigeon at the FlatPack Film Festival in Birmingham on 30th March.

 

Double Time

19 Mar

© Studio Canal

As the cinematic release of the hotly anticipated Richard Ayoade directorial venture The Double fast approaches, we share news of where you can see it first.

With Ayoade at the helm and Chris Morris, Stuart Silver, Kim Noble  and Chris O’Dowd among the extended cast, we can’t wait for the release. The film tells the story of office worker, Simon James (played brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg) as his exact doppelgänger, James Simon (also played by Eisenberg, of course), joins the company and starts to take over his life.

The film will be released in cinemas across the UK and Ireland on 4th April and limited releases are planned  for the USA, France, Denmark and The Netherlands later in the year.

However, before the official release, preview screenings will be held at Picturehouse cinemas across the UK on March 27th.

What’s more, the Hackney Picturehouse screening will host a Q&A with Richard Ayoade in conversation with Jonathan Ross. Although this screening is sadly sold out, you don’t have to miss out as the Q&A will be broadcast live, via satellite, to all of the other Picturehouse cinemas.

To find a showing near you, and to book, head on over to the Picturehouse website.

And this won’t be the last you here from us about The Double – look out for our review and interview with Richard Ayoade as the release approaches!

Matt Berry Observer Interview

17 Mar
© Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian

© Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian

Matt Berry was interviewed by The Observer this weekend and spoke about his varied career, some hints on what is in store for the next series of Toast of London, and how he’s inspired by things that frighten him.

Matt told John Plunkett that he got into comedy ‘by the back door’, through his friendship with Matt Holness and Richard Ayoade, who he met while doing warm-ups at Mighty Boosh gigs, and working at the London Dungeon.

We also find out that Toast of London is nominated for tomorrow’s Royal Television Society Awards – along with Psychobitches and  also a Broadcasting Press Guild Award, where it is up against Ambassadors.

Click here to read the full article and listen to the interview.

Original Comedy Shorts

16 Mar
© bbc.co.uk

© bbc.co.uk

To celebrate the launch of the new iPlayer, the BBC have announced a series of seven original comedy shorts created by and starring some of Britain’s best comedians, who were invited to create ‘something they’ve always wanted to write or perform’.

There was no specified length for the works, as the BBC Media Centre announced:’the comedies are as long, as they are funny’, so it sounds like we will be in for some unusual entertainment.

Of course there is the TVO connection as Matt Berry has contributed The Lone Wolf, with others from our extended family – Reece Shearsmith with Sally Phillips, in an Austro-German medical caper set in the 1940s, Bob Mortimer joined by Frankie Boyle in a ‘demented interactive cookery show’ and Stewart Lee with Boom Boom Out Go The Lights .

The shorts will be available on BBC iPlayer from May 2014.

The titles of all seven comedies are:

Micky Flanagan’s Foxageddon, Frankie Boyle and Bob Mortimer’s Cookery Show, Reece Shearsmith ‘The Case Of The High Foot’, Channel Morgana, Matt Berry: The Lone Wolf, Stewart Lee: Boom Boom Out Go The Lights and Meera Syal’s Bollywood Fights.

The executive producer is Lisa Clark for Pett Television

Dave Brown & The Porcelain Panther

14 Mar

© Newten’s Porcelain Panther

Dave Brown has appeared on Episode 9 of Newten’s Porcelain Panther podcast.

Newten’s Porcelain Panther is a series of podcasts Hosted by Jim Stoten and Ben Newman, in conversation with a bevy of creative people.

Eagle-eyed trivia fans may have spotted that Jim Stoten is the illustrator who created the colourful background of bonkers on Noel Fielding’s 2014 tour poster.

They talk about what they do and their passion for music, with each guest selecting three of their favourite songs. A “relaxed, alcohol induced environment”(according to the presenters)  is created to facilitate the flow of interesting conversation.

Dave’s podcast was recorded back in January and you can hear all 48 minutes of it by clicking here.

If you scroll down the page a wee bit you can also here the TVO-connected illustrator, all round good chap (and mate of Dave), Mr Bingo on podcast 6 from 2013.

Onion Land Catch Up

11 Mar

The past week has seen a smattering of TVO regulars make appearances across television and radio we didn’t have chance to warn you about ahead of transmission, plus a couple of shows you should already be watching have been airing too.

As such, we thought it prudent to give you a quick catch-up, starting with the incredibly popular detective comedy drama Jonathan Creek. The show, starring Alan Davies as the titular sleuth, returned for it’s fifth series recently, with Davies now accompanied by his new co-star (and comedy legend) Sarah Alexander.

© BBC

Episode two, The Sinner And The Sandman, featured James Bachman as Rev Hugh Chater, whose vicarage is being plagued by tales of a strange hump-backed beast that has been seen prowling in the garden by night.  You can see the episode for yourselves via iPlayer now, and it’s also available to pre-order on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store for release next week!

Elsewhere, another veteran of Ealing Live cropped up on topical discussion show Loose Ends on Radio Four.  The show’s usual presenter, Clive Anderson, was absent, but in his place were Nikki Bedi and Emma Freud – who pronounced over a panel of very talented women.

© BBC

Film director Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham), actress Imelda Staunton (Pyschoville) and artist Victoria Melody joined our very own Katy Brand on the panel. Brand was discussing her long awaited crowd-sourced novel, Brenda Monk Is Funny, which can still be ordered over yonder. If you want to jump straight to Katy, you can find her 39 minutes, 40 seconds in on iPlayer now.

Sticking with the Beeb for a moment, let’s not forget that Inside No. 9 - the latest stroke of genius from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton – is almost at an end, with Episode Six airing this Wednesday (12th March).  Previous episodes – including appearances by Katherine Parkinson and Julia Davies amongst others, can be seen again via iPlayer now.

© BBC / Des Willie

© BBC / Des Willie

Inside No. 9 is also available on dvd as of next Monday, with pre-orders possible now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.  Shearsmith & Pemberton are also undertaking a dvd signing at HMV Oxford Street on March 20th, so if you want a chance to tell them how great the show is, and get a squiggle on your box, that’s as good a time as any.

That’s not the only BBC2 comedy of the moment to have TVO connections. The glorious Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle returned recently, and the inimitable comic genius is regularly grilled each week by Chris Morris in-between chunks of his stand-up routines.  Regular collaborators Kevin Eldon and Paul Putner are also involved, appearing in sketches at the end of every episode.

© BBC / Colin Hutton

© BBC / Colin Hutton

The first two – focusing on Shillbottle and a certain “political” party – are available to watch on iPlayer now, and we’ll keep you posted on an eventual dvd release.

Finally, for now, whilst we recently bid goodbye to House Of Fools, The Life Of Rock and The Midnight Beast, there are two other very fine shows featuring TVO regulars still underway on Sky channels.

© Baby Cow

© Baby Cow

Moone Boy is currently airing on Sky One, and features co-creator/writer Chris O’Dowd as the imaginary friend of a young boy in early 90s Ireland. A delightful little gem, this show has quite rightly won almost every award thrown at it, and if you can’t catch up via Sky Go, you can at least pre-order the dvd release, due out on March 31st.

Whilst it hasn’t yet won any awards, it would be criminal if the critically acclaimed Doll And Em doesn’t pick some up before the year is out.

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

Currently airing on Sky Atlantic, the show features Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer as hyper-exaggerated versions of themselves, and features cameo appearances from big name Hollywood stars as well as Tom Meeten, Laura Patch and Noel Fielding.

Again, the show is available on Sky Go, but there’s sadly no sign of a dvd release yet. It’s due to air on HBO shortly, so perhaps we’ll hear more then. Stay peeled… and if you see any shows with our regulars we miss, do get in touch so we can spread the word!

Ape-ril Tee For The Boys

10 Mar
© SOS

© SOS

Dave Brown and Mr Bingo have designed this limited edition t-shirt for the Sumatran Orangutan Society to publicise their  Ape-ril campaign.

The campaign is to sponsor men to grow beards and ‘release your inner ape’  during April in solidarity with our red-haired cousins, to raise money for the work – helping to protect critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans and their rainforest homes.

The fundraising pack can be found here – featuring Bill Bailey, who is a patron of the charity.

Get your Ape-ril T-shirt now for the special price of £24 from their online shop, where you can find other t-shirts, books, cute toy Orangutans and DVD’s, or if you raise over £150, they will send you one free as a thank you, so why not ditch the razor in April and make a difference to our orange friends?

And who knows… maybe TVO will go a little bit Ape to celebrate the campaign next month. Stay peeled for more info.

Ayoade’s Last Leg

8 Mar

© Channel 4

Richard Ayoade guested on yesterday’s Last Leg, Channel 4′s topical comedy show presented by Adam Hills and co-hosted by Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker.

Yesterday’s show was episode 6 in the 3rd series of The Last Leg, and you can watch it on 4oD by clicking here. Ayoade appears (in a wheelchair to the tune of ‘Inspector Gadget’…) at 16:30 minutes in.

Boxtrolls Trailer Unpacked

7 Mar

The trailer and theatrical poster for forthcoming animated movie The Boxtrolls have been released.

© Focus Features

© Focus Features

The adaptation of children’s fantasy novel Here Be Monsters! is stop motion 3-D adventure, set in the town of Cheesebridge, where the wealthy inhabitants are seemingly under siege from sewer dwelling monsters who lurk the town at night stealing their children and their cheeses.

Of course, the reality is that the Boxtrolls are quirky and loveable creatures who wear recycled cardboard boxes as shells, and live in an underground cavern.  Targeted by a villainous pest controller, the creatures turn to their adopted human orphan, Eggs to save them from destruction.

The top notch cast including Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and our very own Richard Ayoade, and the theatrical trailer can be seen below.

The Boxtrolls is due for release on 26th September.

Digital Field

7 Mar

© Rook Films Ltd

The soundtrack to A Field In England is to be released digitally later this month.

The film, directed by Ben Wheatley and starring Michael Smiley, Richard Glover, Julian Barratt and Reece Shearsmith as part of its small ensemble cast – was released in cinemas, on television, on demand and via physical media last Summer.

Scored by Jim Williams, who was also responsible for the Sightseers score previously, the soundtrack has already seen release as limited edition vinyl and cassette editions, but until now the only track available digitally was the Glover-sung Baloo My Boy, which was released for a limited time only via The Velvet Onion at Christmas.

The fifteen track album is available for pre-order via Amazon UK for just £7.49, and at this moment in time, it seems they’re the only place “stocking” it for its March 24th release date, so get in whilst you can! We’re crossing everything that the equally non-digital Sightseers score follows suit.

If you don’t yet own the film, you can pick it up on dvd and blu-ray via our store now.

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