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Uncle Matt

2 Jul
© joe.co.uk

© joe.co.uk

Hard working Matt Berry has taken time from his busy schedule of writing, acting and music, to help you with your problems. That’s right, Matt has become an agony uncle for Joe.co.uk, a website for men, with fitness tips, comedy, music, football and other sport. Click on the link to see an interesting interview with Matt, mostly about his recent work.

Matt is also planning more musical appearances. In September he is joining Steven Wilson for one of two unique evenings of music and art, at the Royal Albert Hall,  Matt Berry and the Maypoles will be there on Tuesday 29th September, limited tickets are available here.

Then in December Matt and the Maypoles will be in York, at Fibbers, on the 5th and London at The Forum, on the 10th. Tickets for these are also going fast and can be bought here.

STOP PRESS! Matt has announced a full UK tour for December, the band will be playing Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Brighton, Bristol and Birmingham as well as York and London! Full details available here.

Barratt & Farnaby Team Up For New Film

24 Jun
© Holy Moly

© Holy Moly

Rumours have been circulating for a while about this one, but the details of Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby‘s feature film, Mindhorn, have now been made public.

Written by Julian and Simon, and directed by award-winning theatre director Sean Foley (who will be making his feature debut), Mindhorn is produced in association with production company Baby Cow – who are responsible for many of the shows we write about at TVO. Filming starts on July 27th on the Isle of Man.

The narrative for the film sounds brilliantly bizarre: the story revolves around Bruce Mindhorn, a MI5 Special Operative who was captured in the late 1980s. For reasons not yet entirely clear, at the time of his incarceration Mindhorn’s eye was replaced by a super-advanced optical lie detector, which means he can literally “see the truth.” He subsequently escaped from his captors and fled to the Isle of Man to recuperate in the island’s temperate microclimate, and is now serving as the top performing plain-clothes detective on the island. Oh yes.

There’s still no word yet on casting – although, like you, we’re very much hoping that the two co-writers take a role in front of the camera as well. As soon as we hear any more – including the planned release date, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Edit: We’ve managed to find out a bit more information about the movie: It seems that Mindhorn is actually a fictional detective, who will be played in the film by Julian. His acting career is on the rocks until a real killer killer tells the police that he’ll only speak to the Mindhorn.

We’re not entirely sure how this new narrative ties into the version that’s described in our main article (which is being reported in the wider press)…but at least we now know that Julian will be appearing in the film as well as co-wtiting it.

So Hot Right Now: #36

22 Jun

Welcome to The Velvet Onion – the central hub for an interconnected range of alternative comedy and more. Click through for the latest news, and see what’s so hot right now THIS WEEK below…

SMELL THE HOFF

Hoff The Record, Thursday, 9pm, Dave

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

Tim Downie and Anna Crilly make guest appearances in this week’s edition of Hoff The Record: Dave’s delightful new semi-improvised mockumentary starring David Hasselhoff and Fergus Craig.

For the uninitiated, Hoff the Record focuses on the Knight Rider legend’s attempts at rebuilding his career in the UK. In this fictionalised version of his life, he’s turned to his utterly useless English manager, Max Coleman (Craig), who has surrounded The Hoff with an inexperienced PA, an over-enthusiastic cab driver, and his long-lost illegitimate German son.

This week, The Hoff is in genuinely in demand: as Max has landed him a proposal to use his name on a new, classy aftershave. However, it soon becomes clear that the ad agency isn’t interested in Hoff as a symbol of class, but want to trade off his cheesy image.

Tim Downie – best known for his roles in Toast of London and Paddington guests as the hipster-tastic advertising exec Dylan Turnbull, whilst Anna Crilly – one half of Anna & Katy – turns up as journalist Lucinda Young, who takes issue with comments The Hoff made in confidence.

It’s another dynamite installment of Dave’s bold new show, which is playful with Hasselhoff’s reputation, and willing to make him look dafter than ever before.  And with appearances from Steve Oram (Sightseers, Luxury Comedy), and Simon Greenall (I’m Alan Partridge, Alice’s Wunderland) still to come in this first series, and a second series already confirmed and in pre-production now, this is one you really won’t want to miss.

Catch our exclusive interview with star Fergus Craig over yonder now.

 

A MERCURIAL CAMEO

SunTrap, Wednesday, from 10:35pm, BBC One

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

Paul Kaye joins Kayvan Novak and Bradley Walsh in this week’s edition of BBC One’s crime-caper sitcom Sun Trap.

Directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie, Bad Sugar, Star Stories), Sun Trap features Novak and Walsh as former undercover journalists now solving crimes in an island paradise. Also featuring Jamie Demetriou, Emma Pierson and Keith Allen, the series has previously featured guest appearances from TVO regulars Tracy Ann Oberman, Alex Kirk, Morgana Robinson and Simon Day, with Tony Way and Steve Oram set to appear in the sixth episode next week.

Back to this week, however, and Brutus (Walsh), Zorro (Demetriou) and Melody (Pierson) wake up after a heavy night of drinking to find themselves in a prison cell, with no memory of the previous night. It soon becomes clear the trio have been arrested on suspicion of murdering the brilliantly named Spanish tribute singer Elton Juan (Lee Boardman). With his friends locked up, Woddy must make use of his armoury of disguises to infiltrate the home of casino owner Senor Big (Allen), to find out what really happened.  His investigation brings him into contact with Juan’s bitter rival, Frederico Mercury (Kaye).

As ever, Sun Trap has inherited the Count Arthur Strong Wibbly Wednesday timeslot, which means viewers in England and Wales can see it on Wednesday at 10:35pm, viewers in Northern Ireland get to watch at 11:05pm, and viewers in Scotland have to wait until 11:35pm. Alternatively, everyone can see it on Friday night at 11:25pm after The Graham Norton Show.

DIAMONDS ARE A COP’S BEST FRIEND

Undercover, Tuesday, 9:00pm, Dave

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

Undercover – Dave’s new witty sitcom in disguise as ambitious crime drama returns this week with another top notch episode, once again directed by Dave Lambert (The Mighty Boosh, Common Ground, Alan Partridge).

Starring Daniel Rigby (Eric & ErnieFrom There To Here) and Sarah Alexander (Green Wing, Coupling) as dim-witted detectives Chris Anderson and Zoe Keller investigating an Armenian gangster family, the series also features Yasmine Akrin (Sherlock, Stella) and co-writer Sascha Tarter.

The results are an interesting blend of high-octane police procedural drama and Airplane levels of silly wordplay, with a stunning visual look from Lambert and his team, which he detailed in his exclusive interview with TVO last week.

In this week’s episode, Arno and Ara Sarkissian are due at the wedding of the head of the Margarian family’s daughter and are keen to impress, so Chris has to steal a set of diamonds for a present. Find out how he gets on on Tuesday evening at 9pm, or right after Thursday’s edition of Hoff The Record at 9:40pm.

THE FORCE ISN’T STRONG FOR EWAN

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:10pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

 

After his debut last week, Hollywood heartthrob Ewan McGregor makes another cameo appearance in this week’s edition of the superlative Doll & Em on Sky Atlantic.

As Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer’s alter-egos continue to develop their play, Doll’s film plans threaten to put the project into jeopardy. But when McGregor in unable to commit to the movie, the pair are good to go on their production – if they can break their director’s block.

As wonderfully akward and utterly charming as ever, you can catch this week’s episode at 10:10pm on Wednesday evening via Sky Atlantic, and every episode is available on catch-up services now.

BACK TO THE BULLY FOR DAN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

 

 

Channel 4’s wacky sitcom Man Down continues on Monday evening, as ever starring Greg Davis, Roisin Conaty and Mike Wozniak.

This week, idiotic high school drama teacher Dan (Davis) has organised a trip to the theatre for his pupils, but realises too late the play stars his childhood enemy, Geoff Doogan. Meanwhile, Jo (Conaty) has another new money making scheme, Brian (Wozniak) is determined to be published in the local paper, and Aunt Nesta (the sublime Stephanie Cole) tries her hand at helpful role-play.

Produced by Spencer Millman (The Mighty Boosh, TV Burp, Man to Man with Dean Learner), Man Down continues to delight audiences and critics alike, and this week’s episode also features a cameo appearance by acclaimed actor Ramon Tikaram – who Boosh fans will forever identify as Banoo, the frequently late warrior of Xooberon. Oh, and The Proclaimers. No, really.

ARE WE HUMAN? OR ARE WE ONIONS?

Humans, Sunday, 9:00pm, Channel 4 [UK]
Sunday, 9/8C, AMC [US]

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

Smash hit sci-fi dystopia Humans continues this week on Channel Four, and debuts in America on AMC, with Katherine Parkinson and Rebecca Front part of its impressive ensemble cast.

Set in a world where synthetic human servants are the ‘in’ thing, the lives of a family who buy the latest model begin to unravel, whilst a retired engineer’s paternal relationship with his own Synth is threatened by a malfunction. US audiences have the first episode, featuring a cameo from Dan Tetsell to enjoy this week – with Paul Kaye turning up in Episode Two. US audiences will probably want to skip the next paragraph.

Here in the UK, we’re up to Episode Three, and Laura (Parkinson) tries to get rid of Anita (Gemma Chan), but is forced to reconsider when the synth saves Toby’s (Theo Stevenson) life. Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) begins to share his wife’s suspicions that there is something strange about Anita when he checks her for damage and finds she appears more human than expected. Elsewhere, George (William Hurt) comes up with a plan to escape his joyless new routine under Vera’s (Front) care, and Pete (Neil Maskell) and Karen (Ruth Bradley) investigate a murder at the brothel – but when Pete loses his temper on duty, he finds himself suspended and stuck at home with Simon for company.

If you’re not watching on tv – and you really should – Humans is also available to pre-order for £14 on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

 

FAREWELL TO STRANGE & NORRELL

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sunday, 9:00pm, BBC One [UK]
Saturday, 10/9C, BBC America [US]

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

As US audiences get to savour the third episode of fantasty epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell this week, British viewers must say a fond farewell to the magical duo and their BBC One adaptation, which stars Bertie Carvel, Eddie Marsan, Marc Warren, Paul KayeEdward Hogg and many, many more.

In the final episode, England is plunged into chaos as ancient magical forces are unleashed on the world and the dark prophecy of the Raven King looks to be fulfilled. Norrell (Marsan) flees to the safety of his library, but is pursued by Strange (Carvel), who intends to free Arabella (Charlotte Riley) before the Gentleman’s (Warren) curse consumes him. Childermass (Enzo Cilenti) tries to find a way to break the enchantment on Lady Pole (Alice Englert), as Stephen (Ariyon Bakare) is drawn deeper into the sinister world of the Fairy kingdom.

Adapted from Susanna Clarke’s best-selling novel by screenwriter Peter Harness (Wallander, Doctor Who), producer Nick Hirschkorn (Five Children and It) and director Toby Haynes (Doctor Who, Sherlock), JS&MN has been a delightful Sunday night excursion into the otherworldly realm of magic and mystery, and those who stuck with it for seven weeks have fallen in love with its charms.

If you’re one of them, and haven’t yet ordered the series to own, you can pick it up on on dvd and blu-ray now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. You can also revisit our recent interview with Paul Kaye about the show, over yonder.

A LITTLE MORE REFORMATION

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

The new series of Horrible Histories continues this week, with a special guest appearance by Rowan Atkinson as Henry VIII.

Atkinson’s role as the portly king was revealed earlier this year, with his Elvis-tastic musical number released on YouTube to promote the new run.  He joins a number of big name guest stars appearing in this run, alongside Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kathryn Drysdale, Lorna Watson and The Actor, Kevin Eldon.

Also featuring Horrible Histories veterans Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick, as well as the new regulars Jalaal Hartley, Naz Osmanoglu, Jessica Ransom, Adam Riches and Murder in Successville star Tom Stourton, this week’s episode not only tells us all about the English monarch, but we get to learn about Ottoman leader Suleiman the Magnificent in Turkey, and Emperor Zhengde in China.

GO GO GADGET MAN!

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

It’s the final edition of Gadget Man this week, as Richard Ayoade‘s tech-loving show takes on the various gizmos available for protection and security.

First off, Richard kits the Gadget Man house out with a smartphone-activated lock, scanning visitors with a portable metal detector and putting a robot on patrol. He is also joined by actor Keith Allen to test a wallet tracker, a vest that makes the wearer look more muscular and a bulletproof bag. Finally, he meets up with Bill Bailey at a Cold War era nuclear bunker in Essex to try out a post-apocalyptic survival kit – much of which can also be used for camping holidays or festivals.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Whilst it’s a quiet week ahead, here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Lou Sanders

© Lou Sanders

Monday 22nd June

Lou Sanders and Ed Aczel
Aces and Eights Saloon Bar, London
7:30pm, Free but ticketed
TICKETS

Sarah Kendall, Matt Kirshen, Nish Kumar, Tom Craine, Tom O’Connor & Tiff Stevenson
Old Rope @ The Pheonix, London
7:30pm, £6.60
TICKETS

Thursday 25th June

Lou Sanders and Tania Edwards
The Oval Tavern, Croyden
7:30pm, £4.20
TICKETS

Friday 26th June

Neil Cole, Rudi Lickwood, Bryan Lacey, Francis Foster and Morgan Berry
West Cliff Theatre, Clacton On Sea
7:30pm, £14
TICKETS

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on within the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by.

British Muslim Comedy

18 Jun
© BBC

© BBC

To celebrate the start of Ramadan, BBC iPlayer has released five comedy shorts, written by and starring British Muslim comedians. They explore the highs and lows of modern Muslim life, including personal struggles around Ramadan.

All the shorts are directed by Dave Lambert, with costumes by Suzy Evelyn-Hall of DeadDogInBlackBag. Eid Mubarak is written by and stars Asim Chaudry who stars in Hoff The Record.

The mixture of stories and styles means there is something for everyone, and not just for Muslims.  You can see them all here on BBC iPlayer, where they are available for 29 days.

While you are there, don’t forget Matt Berry‘s moving tribute to UK Father’s – Father’s Day, which also features Bob Mortimer.

Onion Talking: Dave Lambert goes Undercover

16 Jun
© UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

This week sees the launch of Undercover – the new sitcom starring Daniel Rigby and Sarah Alexander. In it, Rigby plays hapless detective Chris Anderson, who goes undercover within the Sarkissian crime syndicate in an attempt to nail the head honcho Ara, and Alexander is his uncompromising boss, Zoe Keller.

One of a string of new, original comedy commissions by freeview channel Dave, the show is directed by none other than Boosh veteran and Common Ground director Dave Lambert.

In the middle of his hectic schedule, we caught up with Lambo to ask him a few undercover questions of our own.

Every now and then on wonderfully named freeview channel Dave, they’ll replay an episode of Mock the Week, which will make a big joke out of the fact that their last joke was going to feel so out of date for the people watching on Dave all those years later. Because, in fairness, that’s exactly what Dave has been known for in recent years: wall to wall Top Gear by day, wall to wall Mock The Week/Russell Howard’s Good News/Red Dwarf by night.

However, that last show brought about a sea of change in the channel’s fortunes. When BBC Two passed on making more Red Dwarf in 2009, ten years after the last series aired, Dave – who were already having lots of success with their repeats of the Crimson Short One’s adventures – stumped up the cash. The result was a record breaking audience. Another full series followed suit in 2012, with two more filming back to back at the end of this year. Suddenly, Dave found they could have just as much success making their own shows as they could repeating the same old shows for all eternity, if not more so.

The upshot of that has been felt across the last few years with a string of occasional commissions, including the sublime Crackanory, but this week sees the channel stick two new flagpoles in the ground and hope the wind doesn’t knock them over. There’s mockumentary Hoff the Record, in which David Hasselhoff rips his persona to shreds in the name of comedy, and then there’s Undercover – which, if you don’t count the hilarious pilot to their aborted Zimbani in 2010, is the channel’s first actual original sitcom about a policeman in deep surveillance as he tries to take down an Armenian crime syndicate from the inside.

© Baby Cow / UKTV

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

At the helm is Dave Lambert: a director who cut his teeth making behind the scenes features for The Mighty Boosh and Gavin & Stacey before taking on Alan Partridge in Welcome to the Places of My Life, and helming Sky Atlantic’s brilliant series of shorts, Common Ground. With Undercover, he shares the channel’s sitcom virginity, in spite of a long legacy of great comedic output.

“I knew I always wanted to be a director,” he tells TVO as we grab a moment of his time after a preview of the first two episodes. “But I was never sure of the route to get there. There are so many ways you can do it. My personal ethos was to learn as much as possible from everyone involved in the production of a tv show, and then I would understand where everyone is coming from when I was directing.”

Judging by the evidence of Undercover‘s opening installments, he learnt a lot. The show is visually impressive, with Lambert working with Director of Photography Si Bell, and production designer Jim Holloyway to create a look that is playful with the format of ‘cop-shows’ and has a truly cinematic feel. This contrasts nicely with the Zucker-esque broad gags whilst supporting the considered, often gritty plots. “The jokes were there when I came on board,” Lambert explains. “I had to work out how to accommodate them and the reality of the plots. I always thought it had to look authentic to the genre to succeed and to play the whole thing as straight as possible, as that’s when the silly moments really sing.”

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

“I always wanted it to have a cinematic feel,” he continues, “and the faded colour scheme was really important to make it feel real. We watched a lot of clips of Scorsese films. Jim has worked on so many comedies over the years, and is fantastic. We found an empty rundown restaurant in the heart of Newcastle that he converted into Vartan’s, the Sarkissian restaurant that acts as a front for their operation. It looks stunning and just has such great texture to it. Totally authentic.”

Indeed, the viewer is thrust straight into the dangerous situations that Chris Anderson, our titular undercover cop in disguise as Christapour Gergorian, is placed in. The screen is filled with close-ups and tight angles, the cameras handheld to give a natural unsteadiness that puts audiences right in the thick of it.

“I always felt we needed to do that from the off,” Lambert confirms. “To see the world through Chris’ eyes. The viewers need to feel they are in his shoes, scared when he’s scared, or laughing when he does something ridiculous or idiotic. The one line pitch for the show was: Imagine Woody Allen in The Sopranos. He’s a guy who is terrified of being killed, whilst trying to have sex.”

Put like that, the comedy angle becomes a lot clearer. Because let’s face it: an undercover cop investigating Armenian gangsters is not your typical basis for a comedy. “Anything different or out of the ordinary is always good in my book,” Lambert enthuses when this suggestion is put to him. “I was sent the scripts and I just loved them. I read them all in one sitting, and instantly knew I had to do the job. I really liked the idea of making a cop-show, gangster film and comedy hybrid but within a culture that isn’t really represented on TV.”

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

Undercover was a long time coming. A pilot was shot two years ago, with another director, though parts of it survive in the opening episode. However, there was still a lot of scope for Lambo to add his own touches across the production, right down to finer details: indeed, the first joke to truly hit its target comes not from the script, but when the director has fun playing with the format. As Chris walks down the street, the generic cop-show music soars: he steps into a cafe, the door bleeps open, and the music cuts out. Simple, but effective.

“With that moment,” Lambert explains, “it wasn’t in the script, but I wanted the audience to have a moment up front where we show them what you would expect to hear in the genre, straight to the normality. The audience gets the tone early on, and we had more beats like that written in, or added while shooting. It’s my job to serve the script and bring anything else I can to the table to enhance that blueprint. We found over the course of shooting the series that new things come up. You tweak lines here and there, question whether characters would do what they are doing. The scripts were really solid from the off, so nothing major, but things do develop and change when you have all this great talent on set.”

Naturally, that paves the way for improvisation in the right situations. “Dan Rigby is great at coming up with extra Chris-isms that he would throw in on the day,” says Lambert, filled with enthusiasm for his star. “That man is incredible,” he continues. “He really prepares and arrives on set with a delivery of a line that I never saw coming. If there’s time on the day and the atmosphere is right then it’s always great to have a play with the scene and have a fun run take. It’s really based on the schedule for me, and getting through the day with all the material you need.”

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

When Lambert came on board Undercover, Rigby had already been cast as Chris, but he stresses he honestly cannot see anyone else playing the part. However, it took a while for them to find the right person to play his boss, Zoe, until Green Wing veteran Sarah Alexander came along. “We saw a lot of people,” Lambert reveals. “They’d come in and do great things, but it wasn’t until Sarah came in that we saw the complete character. Her first read was incredible, and there was instant chemistry with Daniel. I just knew we had found our Zoe.”

The duo are ably supported by some great talent filling out the cast, with the opening episodes including the likes of Being Human‘s Michael Socha, Sherlock‘s Yasmine Akram, Up The Women‘s Ryan Sampson and a preview for Episode Three revealing Comic Strip veteran Keith Allan crops up as a hardcase ex-con. Natuarlly, Lambert is full of admiration for his cast.

“Everyone you mentioned,” he insists, “makes directing this show a joy. Mark Heap also appears later in the series and is hilarious. It was a great highlight to direct him, as I’ve been a fan for many years. Ivan Kaye, who plays Ara’s right hand man Garabad is fantatic, both visually and comically. he is such a scary and commanding presence on screen, but plays the comic moments so brilliantly.”

The cast helped Lambert acclimatise to his first long-form narrative: five weeks of filming with them allowing the building of a shorthand and complete investment in the work. In retrospect, whilst the end result is a different form, this is no different to Lambert’s previous work filming behind the scenes on all three series of The Mighty Boosh. The director insists he simply wanted to tell stories, and that they ended up being documentaries at first owes more to circumstance than any original intent: the first series of Boosh shared a producer, Alison MacPhail, with Baby Cow’s Cruise of the Gods, which he had previously worked on, and therefore he was a logical choice for the job, as we’ve previously discussed.

“I knew they were great,” he states when it is noted he was there to chart the rise of the Boosh from television newbies to international superstars. “But I didn’t ever imagine I’d be filming them performing live at the Roxy in LA, with Robin Williams in the audience!”

His work on the Boosh then led to work with one of big bosses of Baby Cow: Steve Coogan. After editing Mid Morning Matters, Lambert was asked to direct and produce the one-off special Welcome to the Places in My Life, and he is filled with praise for the megastar turned studio head honcho. “Steve is great to work with,” he tells TVO, “as he has an attention to detail that is second to none. I’ve learnt so much from him and Henry Normal [the other half of Baby Cow’s top tier], and the environment they foster is very creative. There’s no change whether you are on set together or having a meeting in the office.”

Up next for Lambert is editing a Channel 4 Comedy Blap he’s directed entitled High and Dry starring Mark Wootten (La La Land), Harry Peacock, Jessie Cave and Asim Chauhdry, which he says was great to shoot. This week also sees the launch of a series of iPlayer shorts he’s directed to tie in with Ramadan featuring five up and coming Muslim comedic talents.  But of course, Undercover is still on the agenda, and should Dave the channel want Dave the director to return for a second run, there’s still lots of scope for fresh ideas to add to the mix.

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

“As much as we hit the ground running on the very first day of the shoot,” he insists, “by the end we really felt we nailed the DNA of the show. When it airs, I think viewers will enjoy the journey over the six episodes. There’s a real build, twists and turns, surprises and lots of laughs. I would love to return to do more, as I think we’re only at the start of Chris and Zoe’s story, and there is so much left to do and see. Andrew Milligan (co-writer/co-creator) and I speak at least twice a week at the moment about possible scenarios, scenes and even shots if we get a second series.”

Here is, of course, hoping. Undercover is broad and wears its influences on its sleeve, but it’s also great fun, is stylishly shot and edited, and demonstrates that there is far more to Dave the channel than repeats of old panel shows. As their first true original sitcom, they couldn’t have been bolder, and alongside Hoff the Record, TVO hopes they demonstrate a channel willing to buck the trend and find an audience willing to take them to heart. And if, for any reason, these six episodes are all we’re gonna get, Lambert has made a show to be proud of.

“By the time you get to Episode Five,” he enthuses when pushed for a favourite moment, “everything I mentioned is in place, but you’re so invested in the characters and know their world, I think it just flies and sets up a thrilling finale that…”

He pauses, and thinks for a moment. “I have to stop myself now as I’m getting excited and might reveal something big!” Guess we’ll just have to stay tuned, then!

Undercover airs at 9pm on Tuesday 16th June 2015, exclusively on Dave. The show is also repeated in a double bill with ‘Hoff the Record’ on Thursday evening at 9:40pm. Thanks to Dave Lambert for talking to us, and UKTV for their behind the scenes imagery!

So Hot Right Now: #35

15 Jun

Welcome to The Velvet Onion – the central hub for an interconnected range of alternative comedy and more. Click through for the latest news, and see what’s so hot right now THIS WEEK below…

GET HOFFED

Hoff The Record, Thursday, 9pm, Dave

© UKTV

© Me And You Productions / UKTV

This week sees the launch of two new comedy shows on Dave, both with TVO connections.  The first of these is Hoff The Record – a semi-improvised mockumentary based on the surreal life of Knight Rider and Baywatch legend David Hasselhoff.

Fergus Craig – formerly of Star Stories and Colin & Fergus fame – plays The Hoff’s utterly useless English manager, Max Coleman, who brings the out-of-work actor to the UK in an attempt to kick-star his flagging career.

Alongside an inexperienced PA and a superfan mini-cab driver, Max attempts to bolster The Hoff’s profile with a series of increasingly wonky schemes. In this debut episode, Max has signed off the rights to The Hoff’s life story to a hotshot young movie director (played by the magnificent Craig Roberts of Submarine fame), but finds he has no control over the casting decisions. Or the script. Or just about anything.

Hasselhoff is more than game for a laugh, even if most of them come at his expense, and where Life’s Too Short perhaps dwelled too much on that famous Gervais cringe-factor, Hoff the Record is sillier, more playful and all the more enjoyable as a result.

Watching The Hoff battle for the role of himself against a dwarf actor and an LA luvvie who thinks Michael Knight would be using Kit’s internet access to do a spot of tweeting at the wheel, is a joy from start to finish. And with later episodes also featuring guest appearances by Tim Downie (Toast of London, Paddington), Anna Crilly (Anna & Katy, Dead Boss), Steve Oram (Sightseers, Luxury Comedy), and Simon Greenall (I’m Alan Partridge, Alice’s Wunderland) and a second series already confirmed and in pre-production now, this is one you really won’t want to miss.

Keep your eyes peeled for our exclusive chat with Fergus Craig later this week, and catch Episode One on Dave this Thursday at 9pm. Series One is also available to pre-order on dvd already via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

GO UNDERCOVER

Undercover, Tuesday, 9pm, Dave

© Baby Cow / UKTV

© Baby Cow / UKTV

The second of two new comedy commissions from Dave this week is the ambitious sitcom Undercover – which features Daniel Rigby (Eric & Ernie, From There To Here) as Chris: a detective deep inside the Armenian Mafia, trying to impress his new ‘family’ whilst staying out of trouble until he can ‘bring em in’.

Directed by Dave Lambert (The Mighty Boosh, Common Ground, Alan Partridge), the show also features comedy legend Sarah Alexander of Green Wing, Coupling and Smack The Pony fame, as Chris’ equally dim-witted boss, Zoe Keller.

Also along for the ride is Yasmine Akrin (SherlockStella) as a femme fatale member of the Armenian family with a bit of a thing for hapless Chris, and there are guest appearances across the run from the likes of Being Human‘s Michael Socha, Horrible Histories star Jim Howick and Comic Strip veteran Keith Allen.

Co-written by one of the show’s co-stars, Sacha Tarter alongside Scallywagger scribe Andrew Milligan, the series is an interesting blend of high-octane police procedural drama and Airplane levels of silly wordplay. And with Lambo at the helm, it looks stunning. Check it out for yourselves on Tuesday evening at 9pm, only on Dave, or right after Thursday’s first edition of Hoff The Record at 9:40pm. Now that’s what we call a double bill of Onion goodness…

VELVET (ONION) GOLDMINE FOR DOLL & EM

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:10pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

Hollywood heartthrob Ewan McGregor cameos in this week’s edition of the superlative Doll & Em on Sky Atlantic.

As Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer’s alter-egos continue to develop their play, the former meets a rather sleazy version of the Scottish superstar in a bar and finds he’s as smitten with her as she is of him, until, that is, he begins reader her his poetry.

Elsewhere, the closeness between Doll & Em falls into question, as Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood: the two actresses hired to play them in their off-Broadway play, reveal their portrayals are a lot more than platonic.

It’s all as wonderfully akward and utterly charming as ever, and another fine way to spend twenty-five minutes in the company of two extremely talented individuals who are not afraid to make themselves look ridiculous to get the laughs. Catch it at the slightly later than usual time of 10:10pm on Wednesday evening via Sky Atlantic, and both series are available on catch-up services now.

DIVERSITY DAN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

The second series of Man Down starring Greg Davis and Stephanie Cole continues this week, with some very impressive guest stars cropping up.

The show about a childish schoolteacher who refuses to grow up, is produced by Boosh veteran Spencer Millman and happens to be one of Channel 4’s most enjoyable traditional sitcoms in years. This week, Dan has been caught playing Camp Aisle while invigilated the science exam, and is sent on a diversity awareness course for good measure.

Elsewhere, Jo (Roisin Conaty) has hit on the idea of cobining two celebrity looks into one genuinely incredible makeover: the Halle-Lulu. Madness, as always, and this week sees Daniel Lawrence Taylor (Cockroaches, How Not To Live Your Life) make a guest appearance, alongside Ricky Grover (Murder in Successville) and Annette Badland (Doctor Who).

Catch the latest episode on Monday evening at 10pm, or previous editions online now via All 4.

MAKE WAY FOR THE HOMOSUPERIOR

Humans, Sunday, 9:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

Things are hotting up in Channel 4’s dystopian sci-fi drama Humans this week, including a guest appearance from one Paul Kaye, no less.

In this second episode, George (William Hurt) is assigned a new Synth, Vera (an eerie Rebecca Front) whom he cannot stand, and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) feels threatened by Anita’s presence in her home. Elsewhere Fred (Sope Dirisu) is held captive by Hobb (Danny Webb), which leads him to fear for the future of the human race, and Leo (Colin Morgan) finds himself on a dangerous path in the search for information.

If you’re not watching on tv – and you really should – Humans is also available to pre-order for £14 on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. US audiences will be able to see the show on AMC later this year.

MADNESS & MAGIC

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sunday, 9:00pm, BBC One

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

The curious case of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is almost at an end, and we’ll be incredibly sorry to say goodbye to it’s magical realm next week.

Until then, we can rejoin the glorious ensemble cast as Strange (Bertie Carvel) seeks a way to drive himself insane so as to access the fairy world and restore Arabella (Charlotte Riley), and Norrell (Eddie Marsan) continues his grim determination to maintain control of all magic in England.

The two men face dire consequences as the government turns against Norrell, and the Gentlemen (Marc Warren) unleashes a terrible curse to stop Strange in his tracks. Elsewhere, Stephen is still in the Gentlemen’s clutches, but Vinculus (Paul Kaye) offers him a means of escape.

If, like us, you’ve been enjoying JS&MN, you can pick it up on on dvd and blu-ray now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store, and US audiences can see now the show on BBC America on Saturday evenings at 10pm (9pm central). Our recent interview with Paul Kaye about the show, can be read over yonder.

AN ISLAND GAMBLE

Sun Trap, Wednesday, 10:35pm, BBC One
(BBC One Wales: 11:10pm, BBC One Northern Ireland: 11.35pm)

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

Brutus and Woody’s adventures in the Sun Trap continue this week with guest appearances from Keith Allen, Michelle Collins and Martin Marquez.

Allen makes his debut as recurring character Senor Big: an unscrupulous gangster and owner of the island’s Casino Gamberos. Barman Zorro (Jamie Demetriou) has just emerged from a three-day gambling binge there, in which he’s foolishly gone and lost Brutus’ (Bradley Walsh) bar. It’s up to Woody (Kayvan Novak) and his masterful disguises to catch an elusive thief and win a handsome enough reward to get back the watering hole before it’s too late.

Directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie, Bad Sugar, Star Stories) once more, Sun Trap may have divided critics, but it’s won itself a loyal audience – thanks in no small part to the Friday night repeats after The Graham Norton Show and inheriting Wednesday’s wobbly Count Arthur slot with its regional variances.

Previous episodes have featured the likes of Tracy Ann Oberman, Alex Kirk, Morgana Robinson and Simon Day, and we’ve still got appearances from Paul Kaye and Tony Way to come in future weeks, so if you’ve not checked out Sun Trap yet, there’s no better time to get on iPlayer, or hit pre-order in our store.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR FOR THE GADGET MAN

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Richard Ayoade investigates dating gadgets this week in the third installment of Gadget Man Series 4, and as usual, he’s got a couple of helping hands on board. Comics Katherine Ryan and Tom Rosenthal try out a £1,500 handbag that displays messages, and a carbon dioxide cooling vest to make sure the wearer remains ice cold, however hot things get.

For those already in a relationship, there’s hope too, as Goodness Gracious Me star Sanjeev Bhaskar joins Richard to investigate 3D chocolate printing, virtual flowers and a new system that teaches people how to play romantic music on the piano.

NAUGHTY NAPOLEON

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

There’s a double dose of Sanjeev Bhaskar on our screens on Monday, as a few hours before his Gadget Man appearance, he pops up in this week’s Horrible Histories as the Indian traveller who brought shampoo to the world.

The main focus of this week’s special, however, is French military leader and rule Napoleon Bonaparte, and we follow his rise from humble beginnings to being crowned emperor of France, with Horrible Histories veterans Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick in tow.

If the 5pm start time is just a little bit awkward for you big kids in work, all of the previous episodes of this series are available now on iPlayer, alongside a selection of vintage episodes with the original cast.

YOO-KAY DADDIES

Matt Berry Does… Father’s Day, Available on iPlayer

© Pett TV

© Pett TV

It can’t have escaped your attention that it’s Father’s Day in the UK on Sunday, and in typical fashion, Matt Berry has taken the occasion as an excuse to chart the development of Dads in the UK since the days of Neanderthal Man.

We also get to look at the animal kingdom, in which Yoo-Kay Daddies are keen jazz admirers, genital tweakers and lovers of a cheeky Nandos. Made once again with Bob Mortimer, and executively produced by House of Fools producer Lisa Clark for Pett TV, this is another stone-cold Berry classic, that’s more than deserving of your attention. Check it out now!

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Whilst it’s a quiet week ahead, here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Joey Page

© Joey Page

Wednesday 17th June

Joey Page & Yve Blake
Komedia, Bath
7:30pm, £8.00
TICKETS

Thursday 18th June

Sarah Kendall & Bridget Christie
The Tommyfield, London
8:00pm, £6.60
TICKETS

Cariad Lloyd in Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel
Udderbelly, London
9:00pm, £21.50
TICKETS

Sunday 21st June

Aisling Bea, Mae Martin and Lolly Adefope
Aces and Eights Saloon Bar, London
7:30pm, £3.00
TICKETS

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on within the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by.

An Early Catastrophe for Comedy On 4

14 Jun
© Newstalk

© Newstalk

Channel 4 has announced its top comedy shows for their all-important Autumn schedule, and it involves accelerating the production of series 2 of Catastrophe.

The second series of the critically-aclaimed show, co-written by and co-starring Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney as a couple on a transatlantic fling who find themselves pregnant, was originally scheduled for early 2016. But the popularity of Catastrophe has been such Channel 4 are bringing it forwards to October 2015. A source from the channel has said, “Viewers have told us they can’t wait a year for the show so they won’t have to.”

US comedian Delaney has now made the move over to the UK, so hopefully writing and producing series 2 will be a a little easier – and quicker.

Catastrophe will be joined on the schedule by a third series of Matt Berry‘s award-winning Toast of London, as well as the final series of both Peep Show and Fresh Meat. Channel 4 is looking to “own” the Autumn season of comedy, according to the channel.

Holness Gets Tangoed

13 Jun

© Matthew Holness

The latest Tango promotional campaign has been directed by none other than Matthew Holness.

The star of Garth Marenghi’s DarkplaceMan to Man with Dean Learner and Life’s Too Short made the switch to directing in recent years, with his debut short 2011’s A Gun for George followed by 2012’s Playhouse Presents special The Snipist starring Douglas Henshall and John Hurt.

Holness, who last appeared on our screens in the second series of Toast of London has made an eight-minute advert purporting to be footage from a shopping channel. In it, a Tango rep explains the Five Stages of Tang to the host, and reveals their new product: the Ring Pullinator 6000.

Made in collaboration with advert agency 101 and The Day Today legend David Schneider’s production company That Lot, the ad has already generated a lot of interest for the soft-drinks team, and will be followed by future adverts in the series across the summer. You can see it for yourselves below.

Weird Al Crimps!

9 Jun
A_Yankovic_RT13_Propaganda6_046

© Al Yankovic

There’s something inherently familiar about the latest “Weird Al” track, and Boosh fans around the world will no doubt be going crazy when they hear it.

Make no mistake about it: TVO loves “Weird Al” Yankovic. It is still one of our proudest achievements to have been quoted on the back of the US release of Snuffbox on dvd, which featured Al discussing his love of the show in the US-exclusive documentary retrospective on the series.

As it transpires, Al’s also been watching The Mighty Boosh – as his recent recording trip to Jack White’s Third Man Records reveals.

Al and his long-standing bandmates, Stephen Jay, Jim Kimo West and Rubén Valtierra took to Third Man’s vintage 1947 Voice-O-Graph recording booth to commit a short acapella track to vinyl.

Inspired mostly by the work the band have been doing during the Yoda section of their live tour over the years, it features a rather familiar section towards the end of the piece, which you can see and hear below.

Yes, that’s right. “Weird Al” Yankovic just sang part of the legendary Four Way Crimp, performed by Vince, Howard, Naboo and Bollo in the fictional Velvet Onion club in The Mighty Boosh episode The Power of the Crimp. Wow.

© Baby Cow Productions

© Baby Cow Productions

You can see Al and the gang on tour across the world this Summer and Autumn, including a selection of UK tour dates for only the second time in their long career. Perhaps we’ll see you there, and if TVO hears of a release for this recording from the vinyl loving Third Man Records, we’ll give you a shout, so stay peeled!

So Hot Right Now: #34

8 Jun

Welcome to The Velvet Onion – the central hub for an interconnected range of alternative comedy and more. Click through for the latest news, and see what’s so hot right now THIS WEEK below…

FAREWELL TO SUCCESSVILLE

Murder in Successville, Wednesday, 10:00pm, BBC Three

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

It’s been a fun ride, but all good things must come to an end as we say a fond farewell to Murder in Successville this week – and it’s another corker to go out on.

Joining Tom Davis gumshoe maverick DI Sleet this week is Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, after phramacist Lindsay Lohan turns up spray-tanned to death. With the help of forensic pathologist Richard Hammond (a spot-on Tom Meeten), the duo must determine the culprit and fast. Was it local gym owner Vladamir Putin (Tom Stourton), convicted psychopath Kim Kardashian (Marie Lawrence) or local bric-a-brac salesman Russell Brand (Luke Kempner).

Also featuring Jess Robinson and Liam Hourican, this is a delightful finale for the smash-hit show, which over the last six weeks has also featured the likes of Colin Hoult, Cariad Lloyd, Tony Way, Harry Peacock, Dan Skinner, Gemma Whelan, Frances Barber, Nico Tatarowicz and Ricky Grover. A dynamite cast indeed, and we hope we’ve not seen the last of DI Sleet yet.

You can catch up with previous episodes on iPlayer now, and see an exclusive preview clip featuring the two Toms below.

DOLL & EM’S DINNER PARTY

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:00pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer return in the charmingly off-kilter UK/US hybrid comedy Doll & Em once again this week, as the second episode of Series Two airs on Sky Atlantic.

Now casting their dream off-Broadway play, Doll’s bluntness and Em’s over-compensating almost lose them their two leading ladies: Hollywood actresses Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood. Keen to win them over, they plan a dinner party for the four of them, but with this being the world of Doll & Em nothing quite goes to plan.

After a slighted muted opening episode, this second instalment is delightfully funny: from Em trying to have two phone-calls at once while her hungry young son gripes at her, to Doll meeting a man with a mirror and a pack of playing cards. Unafraid to send themselves up to oblivion, this is dynamite television you’d be mad to miss.

You can read our preview of the first two episodes over yonder, and both series are available via catch-up services Sky Go and Now TV if you need to get up to speed.

A SLEEP IN THE SUN

Sun Trap, Wednesday, 10:45pm (regional times vary), BBC ONE

© Happy Tramp / BBC

© Happy Tramp / BBC

The adventures of Brutus and Woody on their Spanish island paradise continue in this week’s edition of SunTrap, and just like last week, there are two bonus TVO stars turning up for good measure.

In this third episode of the Bradley Walsh & Kayvan Novak vehicle, the island’s annual hypnotism convention sends mesmerists from all over the world to the resort. But when a hypnotised member of the audience develops a murderous streak and flees the venue, Woody must use his skills as a master of disguise to hunt for the missing man.

Simon Day guests as the punter and would-be-killer ‘Handlebar’, whilst Morgana Robinson plays Janice, wife to the troubled hypnotist The Fabulous Mark (Pulling and Dead Set star Cavan Clarkin). There’s also a great guest appearance from the criminally underrated Martin Trenaman (Luxury Comedy, The Mighty Boosh and lots of other things). Check it out.

THE HUMANS ARE COMING

Humans, Sunday, 9pm, CHANNEL 4

humansKPRF

© Channel 4

 

Sunday evening sees the launch of new dystopian sci-fi drama Humans featuring Katherine Parkinson and Rebecca Front in its ensemble cast.

Set in a world where synthetic human servants are the ‘in’ thing, the lives of a family who buy the latest model begin to unravel, whilst a retired engineer’s paternal relationship with his own Synth is threatened by a malfunction.

The first episode also features a cameo from Dan Tetsell as a synth salesman, and you read our interview with the marketing team behind the impressive Humans campaign over yonder.

STRANGE DAYS INDEED

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sunday, 9pm, BBC ONE

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – the riveting fantasy drama from from the makers of Doctor Who, Sherlock and Wallander continues apace on Sunday evenings, as we approach the climax of the seven-part series with the fifth episode.

This week, Strange (Bertie Carvel) and Norrell (Eddie Marsan) are at opposing ends of the spectrum. The former has returned home a war hero, and to the horror of the latter, resolves to write a book on ancient magic. But a sudden tragedy and a confrontation with Norrell force Strange to flee the country, determined to learn the truth about the fairy world, even if doing so costs him his sanity.

The impeccable ensemble cast, also featuring Marc Warren, Enzo Cilenti, Paul Kaye and Edward Hogg are on fine form once more, and if you’re not already watching the series, you really should catch up pronto. And if you are, and you’re enjoying it, you can pre-order the dvd and blu-ray release now from The Velvet Onion Amazon UK Store.

MARDY MARY

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

The new series of Horrible Histories continues on Monday afternoons, and this week’s big guest star is Doc Martin and Our Zoo actress Jessica Ransom.

Random plays Mary, Queen of Scots – the would-be ruler terrifying Tudor England with her romantic and political schemes. Following her as she stumbles from being a young girl in Scotland to a Queen in France, back to a Queen in Scotland, and finally to Elizabeth I’s arch enemy.

Away from Mary, we meet silver-nosed Danish scientist Tycho Brahe, and Mr H looks at more of History’s Craziest Fools. As ever, Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick are on hand, alongside Murder in Successville‘s Tom Stourton repeating his spot-on Brian Cox impression (last seen overlooking the corpse of Reese Witherspoon), in a more child-friendly environment.

WORK, REST AND PLAY WITH AYOADE

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Richard Ayoade is back as the Gadget Man in another instalment of the technology fun show.

This week, he tests out devices to improve life at work: including a solar briefcase that recharges your gadgets; a hand massager for soothing tired fingers; and a portable hammock for the feet.

He’s not alone, either. Comedian and presenter Dara O Briain helps investigate a giant interactive touchscreen, a zero gravity desk and a virtual reality office assistant, while journalist Grace Dent looks at gadgets designed for exercising in the office.

COMMUNITY KINDNESS FOR DAN & CO

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

Kindness, they say, is a virtue, but nobody told Dan, as the second series of Greg Davies vehicle Man Down continues on Monday evening.

Another teacher, and rival for Miss Lipsey’s affections delivers a smash-hit school assembly as part of Community Week, so child-like Dan naturally conspires to top it all with a brilliant one of his own involving his drama class and a war veteran.

Meanwhile Jo (Roisin Conaty) is exploring her artistic side, while Aunt Nesta (Stephanie Cole) favours an upset Brian (Mike Wozniak) over her idiotic nephew. Oh, and there’s a cameo apperance by The Proclaimers for good measure.

Written by Greg Davis alongside Stephen Morrison (Anna and Katy, Good News) and Sian Harries (Here Be Dragons, Never Mind The Buzzcocks), further TVO pedigree of course, lies with producer Spencer Millman of The Mighty Boosh fame, but also with director Al Campbell (It’s Kevin, The Midnight Beast, Fit and Charlie Brooker’s various Wipe series). It’s also seriously bloody funny, so give it a watch, and pick up Series One if you haven’t already from our store.

POTENTIAL (GREY)JOY IN WESTEROS

Game of Thrones, Sunday, 2:00am & 9:00pm, Sky Atlantic

© Home Box Office Inc.

© Home Box Office Inc.

It’s the biggest show on television, and if you’re not yet watching Game of Thrones, there are a huge number of reasons for you to do so: not least of which are the appearances of a handful of TVO regulars in the show.

For a start, there’s Tony Way appearing as Ser Dontos Hollard in the second and fourth seasons. And whilst his character won’t be returning, there’s currently unused plot from George RRR Martin’s expansive novels which features Paul Kaye‘s character Thoros of Myr, and the show’s creators are remaining tight-lipped on whether that particular strand will be featured in their adaptation.

Far more likely to return, however, is Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy: the commanding officer of the Greyjoy fleet, and tortured soul Theon’s closest relative. She was last seen (spoiler alert) trying to free her captured brother during last year’s run, but as fansite Winter Is Coming found out, Whelan’s agent suggested she would return in the fifth season. If that’s the case, with only two episodes left, you can expect to see her in Episodes Nine and/or Ten.

Of course, chances are if you’re reading this, you’re either going to be watching, or not, but if you aren’t yet, we firmly recommend you do as soon as possible. Sometimes, just sometimes, the hype is worth it, and there’s a box-set of the first four seasons on dvd and blu-ray in our store now.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Adam Kay

© Adam Kay

Monday 8th June

Adam Kay, The Petting Zoo, LadyProv and Viv Groskop
The Alexandra, London
7:30pm, £11.00
TICKETS

Aisling Bea, Joe Lycett and Bridget Christie – Work in Progress
Aces and Eights, London
7pm, FREE
FULLY BOOKED

Tuesday 9th June

Adam Kay, Mark Watson and Maff Brown
Hampton Hill Playhouse, London
7:30pm, £13.20
TICKETS

Wednesday 10th June

The Comedy Store Players: Cariad Lloyd, Richard Vranch, Andy Smart, Ian Coppinger and Stephen Frost
The Comedy Store, London
6:30pm, £19.15
TICKETS

Friday 12th June

Ellie White, Harry Hill, John Kearns and Natasia Demetriou
Union Chapel, London
6:45pm, £22.00
TICKETS

Paul Foot
Baltic Square, Gateshead
7:15pm, £10.60
TICKETS

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on within the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by.

Gadget Man Returns

26 May

As we mourn the sad demise of a much-loved BBC TV series (sob!), the return of  a channel 4 favourite next week is helping to soften the blow.

Gadget Man is back for series 4 on Monday night, with Richard Ayoade reprising his role as host.

The first episode looks at how technology can be used to make the most of a weekend – from helping with chores and assisting with a workout, to a night out and the journey home. TV presenter Steve Jones joins Richard to review the tech, before Al Murray and Sara Pascoe arrive to test out gadgets in the pub.

It all kicks off at 8.30am on Monday 1st June on Ch4. And here’s a trailer to whet your appetite…

Buzzcocks Binned

26 May
© Talkback / Joel Anderson

© Talkback / Joel Anderson

Long running panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks – featuring Noel Fielding as a regular team captain – has been axed by BBC Two.

A BBC spokesperson told BBC News: “After 28 series we’ve decided not to bring Never Mind the Buzzcocks back to the BBC,” said a spokesperson. “This will create space for new entertainment formats in the future.

“We’d like to thank the team at Talkback, Rhod Gilbert, all the brilliant hosts over the years and of course Noel and Phill for the years of enjoyment they’ve given BBC Two viewers.”

The series, which has been on air since 1996, aired its final regular episode in December, with a series compilation back in January.

It’s 28th run last Autumn had seen the show relaunch with Rhod Gilbert as the new regular host, joined by captains Phill Jupitus and Noel Fielding, following five seasons of guest hosts following in the footsteps of Mark Lamarr (1996-2005) and Simon Amstell (2006-2008).

Jupitus was team captain for all but one episode, with Noel having been preceeded by Sean Hughes (1996-2002) and Bill Bailey (2003-2008). Fielding’s first involvement with the show came as a panellist in early 2007, and he proved so popular that he later filled in for Bill Bailey when the comedian was unavailable for three weeks of the run later that year. Following a run of guest captains, Noel took over the role in 2009, and stayed with the show for the last six series.

Sadly, flagging ratings were not reignited by the pitch-perfect recruitment of Gilbert to the regular team, and now the plug has been pulled. It remains to be seen if producers Talkback will offer the series to a rival channel, but if this is the end for Buzzcocks, it leaves behind 270 episodes and almost two decades of memories to savour.

BAFTA’s for Berry & Hynes as both win for Comedy Performance

11 May

Matt Berry and Jessica Hynes celebrated wins at the 2015 British Academy Television Awards this weekend, for their roles in Toast of London and W1A respectively.

© BBC

© BBC

The duo were the real toast of London on Sunday evening, alongside other winnners including Jason Watkins (Being Human, Psychoville, Trollied) for his performance in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries, and Mackenzie Crook (Game of Thrones, The Office, Ant Muzak), who wrote, directed and starred in winning sitcom Detectorists.

Up for Male Performance in a Comedy Programme, Matt Berry was up against stiff competition in the form of Hugh Bonneville (for W1A), Tom Hollander (for Rev) and Brendan O’Carroll (for Mrs Brown’s Boys), but the award went to the great man himself, currently knee deep in preparation for the third series of his runaway smash hit.

Collecting his award, Matt’s surprise was and constant humility was apparent. “Good god,” he began. “I certainly didn’t expect this to happen. I’ve got to pay tribute to the other nominees, who are all fantastic. I sort of came in through the back door, so this is kinda something else. But I was also very, very lucky in that I got to work with the best. I worked with Graham Linehan, Arthur Matthews, Vic and Bob. I’ve been very lucky there.”

Berry went on to thank Channel 4 for making the show, and above all else, his mum and dad, Charlie and Pauline, who he explained “have had a roughish time, this year”, and dedicated the award to them. Ever the gentleman, and we’re naturally chuffed about this most deserved award.

© BBC / BAFTA

© BBC / BAFTA

Jessica Hynes, winner of Female Performance in a Comedy Programme, had even tougher competition: Olivia Colman (for Rev), Tamsin Grieg (for Episodes) and Catherine Tate (for Nan). All incredible talents, of course, but Hynes was triumphant, and as well as praising her fellow nominees and thanking the W1A team, took the opportunity to tackle the austerity cuts facing the arts.

Collecting her award, she stated: “I am from a single-parent family, and my mum was a full-time worker to support me and my sister. I’m really worried about the cuts that are coming to state education for people in low-income families. Because I don’t think low-income means low talent or low education or low intelligence. Without organisations like [mentoring scheme Arts Emergency], people who have supported me all the way through my career – thank you, everyone, this is for you – without them, I wouldn’t be here.” Right on.

Elsewhere, TVO had a good innings in the Situation Comedy catagory, with all four nominations having links to our pages. However, Chris O’Dowd‘s Moone Boy, action-comedy The Wrong Mans (directed by Jim Field Smith and starring Matt Baynton & James Corden alongside Rebecca Front and a host of TVO regulars making guest appearances), and Harry & Paul’s Story of the Twos (featuring Justin EdwardsKevin Eldon and Lucy Montgomery) all came home empty handed. The winner was Mackenzie Crook’s brilliant Detectorists, which also starred Toby Jones, Lucy Benjamin and Simon Farnaby, and currently has a second season expected to air later this year.

Other winners on the night included The Lost Honor of Christopher Jeffries, which won the Mini-Series BAFTA, and Leading Actor for Jason Watkins; Marvellous, which won both Supporting Actress for Gemma Jones and Single Drama. Also winning two awards was Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, whilst The Graham Norton Show beat Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, Would I Lie To You and Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle (which featured Chris Morris in a rare TV appearance) to the prize of Comedy & Comedy Entertainment Programme.

For a full list of winners, check out the BAFTA website. And check out their YouTube channel for a series of videos from the event, such as this one featuring Chris O’Dowd, below.

Berry All Above Board

27 Apr
© Acid Jazz

© Acid Jazz

We love listening to vinyl at TVO Towers – which is why we get excited about Record Store Day every year. What we don’t love is mean people taking advantage of real music fans by cynically selling on their Record Store Day booty at massively inflated prices. Boo!

And neither does Acid Jazz, it would appear.

Today the record label that represents Matt Berry put out the following statement: “Please don’t over pay for the Record Store Day single on eBay as we will be shipping them from our webstore from May 4th.” So now the real fans can get their hands on the record for a sensible price. Yay!

The Record Store Day special 7″ features Matt covering the Mark Morriss track ‘This is the Lie’ and Mark covering Matt’s track ‘October Sun’. Originally 500 copies were pressed; it’s not clear whether those which will be available from Acid Jazz next week are extra copies or form part of the original run.

Acid Jazz have also announced that from May 18th people will be able to purchase Matt’s album ‪Opium‬ on CD direct from the label. Previously these were available at Matt’s live shows, but there have also been a number of illegal copies doing the rounds. So if you want a legit CD, now’s your chance!

You can get your mitts on the music by visiting Acid Jazz’s Facebook store after the dates on which the releases have been scheduled.

So Hot Right Now #28

27 Apr

Welcome to The Velvet Onion – the central hub for an interconnected range of alternative comedy and more. Click through for the latest news, and see what’s so hot right now THIS WEEK below…

A SEANCE WITH LOWE & LLOYD FOR INSIDE NO. 9

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The superlative creativity of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton seemingly knows no bounds, as demonstrated perfectly by the second series of Inside No. 9, which concludes its eclectic run of six one-off tales this week, with special guest appearances by Downtown Abbey star Sophie McShera and Mike Leigh veteran Alison Steadman in the macabre Seance Time.

Tina (McShera) has never consulted the spirit world before, and isn’t quite sure what to expect on her visit to psychic Madam Talbot (Steadman). The medium’s assistant Hives (Shearsmith) seems quite helpful, but there’s already something waiting for Tina on the ‘other side’ and he knows all about it.

To say more would, as ever, ruin the subtle surprises on offer, but we will add that there’s the added bonus of guest appearances by TVO regulars Alice Lowe and Cariad Lloyd, as well as Doctor Who‘s resident Sontaran, Dan Starkey (last seen in Ben Wheatley’s Deep Breath in August, and occasional improv artist alongside Phil Whelans).

For one week only, the show shifts from its usual Thursday night slot to WEDNESDAY at 10pm on BBC Two. We’ll be sorry to see Inside No. 9 go, as this second run has proved to be a telly highlight this year. The campaign for a third run begins here…

STRICTLY LAUGHS AT W1A

© BBC / Jack Barnes

© BBC / Jack Barnes

Spoof documentary series W1A moves to Inside No 9‘s old slot of Thursday at 10pm this week, as Hugh Bonneville and team meet to discuss the troubling rumours that Newsnight presenter Evan Davis is to compete in the next series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Elsewhere, there’s a new Pilates initiative as Anna (the ever magnificent Sarah Parish) puts herself forward for the newly advertised role of Head of Better, and ever put upon Lucy (the inimitable Nina Sosanya) faces yet more tinkering with her as-yet-uncommissioned drama project.

As ever, Rufus Jones and Jessica Hynes are part of the impeccable ensemble cast, and the results are yet more must-see telly.

DELIVERY FOR BEA & MCQUEEN

© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

New ITV sitcom The Delivery Man continues on Wednesday, once again featuring Aisling Bea and Alex MacQueen alongside Darren Boyd, Paddy McGuiness and Faye Ripley.

This week in the maternity ward comedy, a prisoner arrives on release to give birth, but the police need some crucial information, so Ian (McGuiness) tries underhand interrogation tactics on the expectant mother. Elsewhere, Ryan (Joe De Costa) discovers Lisa (Bea) has been lending money to Matthew (Boyd), and heads to the hospital in a rage.

You can catch this latest episode at 9:30pm on Wednesday evening, over on ITV1. Previous episodes are available on ITV Player now.

TVO SQUARED

© Kieron McCarron / September Films / GME / ITV

© Kieron McCarron / September Films / GME / ITV

Okay – we have to admit: this one perhaps understandably slipped by us… but ITV’s latest incarnation of gameshow Celebrity Squares returned recently, with Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short, The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains) at the helm.

The Harry Potter star is now two episodes into the run, which airs on Sunday evenings at 7:15pm on ITV1, and both installments to date have featured TVO regulars or connected artists, so they’re well worth catching up with on ITV Player.

The first show, which aired on 19th April, featured none other than cult duo Anna Crilly Katy Wix amongst its star line-up, whilst the second, which aired yesterday (25th April), featured Jessica Hynes and House of Fools stars Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer.

The third show, which will air on Sunday 3rd May, will feature comedy legend Doon Mackichan – best known for her work on shows such as The Day Today, Smack the Pony and most recently, Toast of London. And we will never rule out ITV gameshows for potential connections ever again.

EXTRA ONION

© BBC

There’s a whole lot more TVO goodness to savour this week if you know where to look on tv and radio, thanks to a healthy dose of repeats – and a sneaky little spot of guest starring here and there.

BBC Two repeats Noel Fielding‘s 2013 appearance on QI XL on Saturday 2nd May at 11pm, whilst over on Channel 4 an hour earlier, there’s another chance to see the excellent British sci-fi action movie Dredd, which memorably features heavy usage of Matt Berry‘s theme for Snuffbox.

On radio, duo Max and Ivan continue their series The Casebook of Max and Ivan with a guest appearance from Reece Shearsmith this Tuesday evening at 6:30pm on Radio 4. Last week, they sneaked in an appearance from Jessica Hynes, whilst Matt Lucas joined them the previous week. You can catch up with the whole run on iPlayer now.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4 Extra are revisiting a firm TVO favourite in the form of Lucy Montgomery’s Variety Pack – which also features Waen Shepherd and was written by Montgomery with Steven Burge and Dan Tetsell. The first two episodes of Series 1 are on iPlayer now, with Episode 3 airing again on Wednesday evening at 11:30pm.

If you’re in the US, and feeling left out, don’t forget that Steve Coogan continues his run in Happyish on Sunday evenings exclusively on Showtime at 9:30 pm ET/PT.

MAY I HELP YOU?

As we reported last week, this Friday sees the relaunch of Rachel Stubbings web series, Stubbing Out Problems

The stand-up comic’s first run of S.O.P. videos began in May 2011, and featured Rachel’s disinterested alter-ego (Dr Stubbings, that is, not Rachel from Friends) trying – and failing – to help a series of clients sort out their issues, all played by fellow comedians. TVO regulars Stephen Evans, Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, Alex Kirk and Aisling Bea joined the likes of Luke McQueen, Brett Goldstein, Katherine Ryan and Margaret Cabourn-Smith as clients across the series.

Following Rachel’s debut Edinburgh run with a show based on Stubbing out Problems in 2012, the concept was retired except for a handful of rare live revivals – but now at long last, it’s back with a bang! For the whole of May 2015, Dr Stubbings has pledged to heal at least one problem per day (except weekends), which is really impressive. The results will be uploaded to Vimeo every day* throughout May, and will feature a whole host of new clients – some of whom you can see in the teaser above.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

© Tony Law

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on the London stage, and whilst this week is a bit of a quiet one, there’s still a few chances to see great people this week.

27/04/15 – Joey Page with Craig Murray – The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 8pm, £8

29/04/15 – Richard Sandling with Bec Hill, Brett Goldstein, Chris Coltrane, Howard Read, Tiernan Douieb (new material night) – Betsey Trostswood, 8:00pm, £3.50-£5

30/04/15 – Tony Law with Sara Pascoe, Zoe Lyons and Brett Goldstein – 99 Club, Leicester Square, 8:30pm, £9-£12

30/04/15 – James Cook: Outsiders Alternative Pop Cabaret with special guests – Aces and Eights, 8:00pm, £5

01/05/15 – SPANK! featuring James Wren and Leon Fleury, plus special guests Abandoman, Marcel Lucont, David Morgan and In Cahoots – Udderbelly, 10:45pm, £15.50

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on at the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by. Until next time, keep on peeling!

So Hot Right Now #27

20 Apr

Welcome to The Velvet Onion – the central hub for an interconnected range of alternative comedy and more. Click through for the latest news, and see what’s so hot right now THIS WEEK below…

W1A RETURNS

Smash hit mockumentary W1A returns on Thursday for its second series, with an extended opening episode.

© BBC/Jack Barnes

© BBC/Jack Barnes

Currently making headlines due to a subplot about a certain ejected presenter (as writer/director John Morton has chosen to bleep out the name of the person in question), the show reunites stars Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes with the incredible supporting cast, which includes Rufus Jones, Monica Dolan (Sightseers), Sarah Parish, Nina Sosanya (Nathan Barley), Jason Watkins (Psychoville, Trollied) and David Westhead, alongside narrator David Tennant.

One year since Ian Fletcher (Bonneville) became Head of Values at BBC Broadcasting House, and he has finally got his own office, and an impending visit from Prince Charles to contend with. Meanwhile, Siobhan (Hynes) has been charged with updating the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon, and format producer David (Jones) has a great new title for a show, if only he can think of a concept to go with it.

A typically witty and ever so slightly scary treat, this is a show which pulls no punches, yet still finds a lot to love about dear ol’ Aunty, even amongst the sheer frustration of corporate nonsense. And in Siobhan Sharpe, Hynes has found an utter monster to throw herself into with sheer gusto. A must-see. You can see the first episode of Series Two at 9pm on Thursday evening via BBC Two, just before Inside No. 9 – and it is also repeated on Sunday.

SHUT YER GOB, MUM!

The almighty Gary Le Strange returns this week with his brand new single, Shut Up Mum, which launches on Tuesday.

© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd

For those who are unaware, Le Strange is the much-loved alter-ego of Waen Shepherd, who famously won the 2003 Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe for debut show Polaroid Suitcase, before going on to make return appearances in Face Academy and Beef Scarecrow until Shepherd chose to mothball the character.

Revived in 2012 for a handful of live dates, including The Velvet Onion Live, no less, Le Strange’s back catalogue was reissued digitally in recent years, and was followed by the Glamoronica EP and last year’s Norman (I’ve Dropped My Cup Of Tea) single.

The new track is an instant Le Strange classic – all pulsing synths, funky bass, thwacking great percussion, and lyrics that are hilariously punk intact. It comes with a brand new, and rather fantastic music video, which should be available on Tuesday when the track will be up for purchase via iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Spotify. We can’t think of a better thing to spend 79p on this week, so go get it!

HERE’S TO YOU, MRS ROBINSON…

© Tracy Ann Oberman

© Tracy Ann Oberman

Tracy Ann Oberman‘s new radio play, Mrs Robinson, I Presume airs on Friday afternoon.

Telling the real life story behind the 1967 movie The Graduate, the production features a star-studded cast including John Simm (Life on Mars, Doctor Who) as director Mike Nichols, Paul Kaye as producer Lawrence Turman, Kevin Bishop (Star Stories) as Dustin Hoffman, Terry Mynott (The Morgana Show) as Gene Hackman, Steve Furst(Little Britain, Catterick) as Mel Brooks and Lorelei King (Chef, Bob the Builder) as Ava Gardner.

Also featuring Oberman herself as Anne Bancroft, the play tells of the struggle that Nichols and Turman faced convincing Hollywood that Hoffman was a suitable Benjamin Braddock, and how their classic movie went on to define a generation and change Hollywood forever.

The play can be heard on Friday 24th April at 2:15pm, and will be available on iPlayer worldwide shortly after transmission.

HAPPYISH ARRIVES STATESIDE

© Showtime

 

Too often our US readers are left in the lurch, particularly when it comes to So Hot Right Now events… so it’s great that they’ve got a rare one up on us this week, as Steve Coogan‘s new show Happyish premières on Sunday 26th April.

As you may be aware, the show was initially piloted back in 2013 with the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman in the leading role, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell on directing duties. However, the series – fully commissioned for a run of ten episodes – was thrown into turmoil by Hoffman’s untimely demise in February 2014.

Enter Steve Coogan, who we reported last year was to replace Hoffman for a second pilot. Following that, Showtime confirmed in January that it was picking up the show for a full series once more, though they remain tight-lipped on whether Hoffman’s version of the pilot will ever be released.

With Coogan stars as a 44-year-old man whose world is thrown into disarray by the arrival of new 25-year-old boss with buzzwords on the brain, the New York set show begins its run on Showtime this Sunday, at 9:30 pm ET/PT. US audiences can see the first episode for free online now.

There’s currently no word of a UK tx date, or even a broadcaster picking up the show, but as soon as we hear anything, we’ll let you know.

WIN STUFF!

© Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd,

© Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd,

Over on our news page, we have a competition to win tickets to see Stephen Merchant and Steffan Rhodri in new West End play The Mentalists. The competition closes on Sunday evening, so get in while you can!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE COMPETITION

The Mentalists is a comic two-hander from Richard Bean, the writer of smash hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, and sees Merchant (Life’s Too Short, The Office) make his West End debut alongside Rhodri, who you may recognise from his appearances in Submarine, Gavin & Stacey, A Touch of Cloth or most recently, Cucumber.

Holed up in a faceless Finsbury Park hotel room, long-standing friends Ted (Merchant), and Morrie (Rhodri) are forced to confront the darker side of their unique relationship. Things unravel as the pressure mounts in this hilarious and touching tale of friendship and utopian visions gone awry.

Directed by rising star Abbey Wright, the production runs for a strictly limited season at the Wyndham’s Theatre from Friday 3 July to Saturday 26 September.

INSIDE NO. 9 (to) FIVE

Episode five of Inside No 9‘s second series airs on Thursday evening, and it’s another stone cold classic from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton.

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

Written and directed by the duo, Nana’s Party guest-stars Claire Skinner (Outnumbered) and Elise Kelly (Benidorm) as caring but OCD-ridden Angela and her excited mother Maggie – the titular Nana. On the latter’s 79th birthday, the whole family gather for the celebrations, but events take an unexpected turn thanks to practical jokers Pat and Jim (Shearsmith and Pemberton).

Less out and out madness than some editions of the show, more Mike Leigh drama in cosy suburbia, the results are typically enthralling, and will no doubt delight critics and audiences alike. You can make an assessment of your own at 10pm on Thursday evening over on BBC Two, right after W1A.

LATE DELIVERY

© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

In last week’s So Hot Right Now, we unfortunately failed to alert you to the start of a new ITV sitcom which is worthy of your attention. Probably because in over five years of Velvet Onioning, we’ve never really had to draw much attention to ITV, who so rarely ventured into comedy until very recently.

However, look closely at new hospital based sitcom The Delivery Man which airs on Wednesday evenings, and you’ll see a few familiar faces. Fronted by Darren Boyd (Spy, Mid Morning Matters, Saxondale), the show also co-stars Aisling Bea and Alex MacQueen, the latter of whom is no stranger to telly hospitals having held a long running stint on Holby City many moons ago.

The show is written by Robert Harley and James Henry, who previously both wrote for Smack the Pony and Green Wing. The signs are there with The Delivery Man, which feels a little too bonkers to be on a mainstream chanel, and as such might be just the kind of thing for all you alternative comedy lovers out there. The first episodes have divided critics, but you can make up your own mind at 9:30pm on Wednesday evening.

SIGNING OFF THIS WEEK

As new shows arrive, and loom on the horizon, we must also say farewell to others, with both Travel Man and Chat Show Roulette rounding out their first series this week.

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Travel Man is the first to bid us farewell, with the fourth and final episode seeing Richard Ayoade joined by Green Wing star Stephen Mangan for a weekend in Marrakesh on Monday evening at 8:30pm over on Channel 4.

Wanting to experience its famous street food, the pair sample steamed sheep’s head, before taking a hot-air balloon flight over the Atlas Mountains, watch a traditional story-telling performanve, visit the historic Saadian tombs and ancient tanneries, before heading into the desert for a contemplative camel ride.

Ayoade is, as ever, a charming host, and bounces off Mangan so well, they could almost be a double act. So if you’re reading this, commissioners, we want 10%…

© BBC

 

Over on BBC Radio 4, Chat Show Roulette ends its long awaited first run, and this week Justin Edwards is joined on the improvisation led chat-show by Matt Lucas, Robert Popper, Pippa Evans and Hugh Denis.

It’s another corker, and you can hear it on Thursday evening at 11pm. Previous episodes are still available on iPlayer, but not for very much longer, so dive in and enjoy.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

©  Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

While a lot of our regular touring lot are on their way back from the Melbourne International Comedy Fesival, which wrapped up last weekend, there’s still a number of other chances to see TVO regulars this week. Ok, so we admit, this week mostly belongs to the ever resilient Aisling Bea, flying the flag in a most-deserved manner, but nevertheless, here’s where you can see TVO types this week…

20/04/15 – Aisling Bea opening for Dave Hill – Aces and Eights, 7:15pm, £6-£8

23/04/15 – Aisling Bea Lou Sanders with Issy Suttie, Brett Goldstein, Grainne Maguire, John Robins & Mae Martin – Bloomsbury Theatre, 8pm, £12-£15

24/04/15 – Aisling Bea with Andrew Maxwell, Sara Pascoe & Reginald D Hunter – Bush Hall8pm, £17.50 {sold out}

24/04/15 – Tony Law with Tina T’urner Tea Lady & Spencer Jones – Old Nun’s Head, 7pm, £10-£15

24/04/15 – Phil Whelans as part of MONKEY TOAST with special guest Brett Goldstein – The Proud Archivist, 7:30pm, £7

26/04/15 – Aisling Bea with Tom Craine, Ali Brice and James Ross – The Lion Stoke Newington, 7pm, £3-£4

A WOMAN AND HER DOG

Finally this week, we leave you with a short film from Rachel Stubbings and Jon Drever about a woman and her dog, which you can download over yonder. You’re welcome.

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on at the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by. Until next time, keep on peeling!

Mighty Laughs In Melbourne – Reviews Round Up

19 Apr

If you follow what we do, you’ll be aware that a few of ‘our lot’ are currently gigging in Australia. So how are they being received by the critics?

To find out, take a look at our round up of reviews for Noel Fielding, Paul Foot, Tony Law and Sarah Kendall below (click on the links to read the full review). We’ve also come across a few new interviews on our travels around the World Wide Web, so we’ve included those too. Don’t say we don’t look after you…

© PaulpanfergramsNoel Fielding

Noel’s show has been getting as much praise from the critics as it has from his super-enthusiastic Antipodean fans. Across the board, reviews of An Evening With Noel Fielding have been superlatively positive:

The Music awarded the show 4 stars saying, “Highly recommended, and a strong contender for comedy gig of the year.” Noel received 4.5 stars from the Herald Sun, who said, “He owns the stage as if it is his loungeroom and we have somehow sneaked in via the kitchen.”

Then another writer at The Music awarded him the top 5 stars score, stating that, “Fielding is one of our improv greats, often just launching off on tangents left and right from the script and making them work.” And finally, The Sydney Morning Herald gave the show 4 stars, noting, “It’s pleasing to report that, over the course of two hours (plus interval) Fielding delivered.”

Go Fielding (x2) + Meeten!

If you haven’t got a ticket yet for one of Noel’s shows, there are a handful left for some of the dates. Take a look here to see what’s left – but be quick! UK folk can still get tickets for his tour later this year too – via the same link.

While you’re at it, why not have a listen to Noel in this new-ish radio interview too:

 

Paul Foot

Paul Foot has also been wowing the critics, with consistently positive reviews of his show Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major.

The Age gave him 4 stars, describing the show as, “an exquisite symphony of jubilant madness as Foot conducts the crowd, cuing the audience’s laughter and silence to amplify his offbeat delivery and timing.” And Time Out also awarded him 4 stars, noting: “It’s utterly outlandish, but beneath layers of absurdity is Foot’s sharp eye for satire, laser-pointed at British suburbia.”

Paul will be in Melbourne until tonight (Sunday), before moving on to festivals in Sydney and Perth (then returning to Blighty for shows in May). For information about the gigs and to buy tickets, visit his show diary.

Tony Law

© Tony Law

© Tony Law

There haven’t been as many reviews of Tony’s show Enter The Tone Zone available online, but we’ve uncovered a couple of new interviews, by way of compensation:

Review-wise, however, The Herald Sun gave him 3.5 stars, describing the show as, “An antidote to the predictable, the overly slick and the highly polished….Enter the Tonezone is the perfect tonic.” Sounds good to us.

Interview-wise, Liza Dezfoulo from The Beat spoke to Tony about his approach to comedy – which you can read in full here, and he was also interviewed on film by Dan Watt, which you can see there.

His final Melboune show is tonight – at 8.45pm. A few tickets are still available, which can be procured here.

Sarah Kendall

We’ve uncovered a nicely considered and thoughtful review of Sarah’s current show A Day in October.  The reviewer says of her performance: “A story like this one needs to be detailed to be effective, and Kendall has a natural ability to be incredibly descriptive but still maintain a clear and succinct structure. Everything interconnects nicely, and makes for a compelling sixty minutes.” To read the review in full check out Squirrel Comedy.

Sarah’s final Melbourne date is also this evening – at 7.15pm. To nab one click on this.

You can also read a short interview with The Herald Sun, which you can read here.

© Eugene Hyland

© Eugene Hyland

Congratulations to all of the artists for garnering such positive reviews. We hope more than a few of you managed to get to see the shows yourselves (jealous, us?).

Fulcher On Midnight

17 Apr
© Comedy Central

© Comedy Central

As per our retweet from earlier this week. Rich Fulcher appeared on yesterday’s episode of Midnight – along with Tim Minchin and Rhys Darby.

For the uninitiated, Midnight is an American late night internet-based improv panel game show on Comedy Central – which is (apparently) also syndicated in Australia on SBS2 and Canada on MuchMusic. So now you know.

The episode that includes Rich on the panel aired on 16th April and is now available to view – in its uncensored whole – here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be available for us Brits to view, however. Boo! Thankfully, we can almost console ourself with a short trailer of the episode.

If you’re able to watch the show in full from your country of residence, we enviously salute you!

So Hot Right Now #26

13 Apr

Welcome to The Velvet Onion – the central hub for an interconnected range of alternative comedy and more. Click through for the latest news, and see what’s so hot right now THIS WEEK below…

TRAILAAAAAAAAH!

Late last week, TVO recieved the first teaser trailer for Aaaaaaaah! – the directorial feature debut of Steve Oram which features a cavalcade of TVO regulars in its impressive cast list.

The film features Oram alongside Tom MeetenJulian BarrattNoel FieldingAlice Lowe, Waen ShepherdShelly Longworth, Tony WayJohn Hopkins and Sean Reynard, as well as Julian Rhind-Tutt (A Touch of Cloth, Green Wing), Holli Dempsey (Derek, Doctor Who), Lucy Honigman (Mr & Mrs Murder) and post-punk legend Toyah Willcox.

With music from King Crimson Projekts (Robert Fripp) and David Westlake (Sneakerpimps), and no real dialogue to speak of, the teaser is certainly whetting appetites – and we can’t wait to tell you more. Stay peeled, and we’ll let you know what we can, when we can!

DO YOU COME FROM A LAND DOWN UNDER?

With the Melbourne International Comedy Festival now in full swing, the arrival of An Audience With Noel Fielding down under has led to a sizable chunk of TVO regulars entertaining audiences on the other side of the world to their normal location for an extended period of time.

© News.com

© News.com

MICF kicks off the Australian tour for AAWNF this week, as Noel FieldingTom Meeten and Mike Fielding bring their full length live mayhem to Oz. If you’ve not paid attention so far, the show features Noel’s long-form standup storytelling and a series of characters from Luxury Comedy and beyond… plus the Moon makes regular interjections on the action!

This week’s Melbourne dates are sold out, but Saturday’s second show in Adelaide and a return to Melbourne on Sunday are both still on sale, and some of the later dates are also up for grabs for the time being too. Next week, dates in Canberra, Sydney and Perth follow (all bar the second Perth date sold out), and the show will visit Brisbane, Syndey (again), Melbourne (again), Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch before wrapping up on 14th May. For tickets, go over yonder.

© Sarah Kendall

MICF is also hosting a series of TVO flavoured gigs from some of our favourite standups until it all comes to an end on Sunday 19th April. Most excitingly, this includes the première of Sarah Kendall‘s brand new show, A Day in October.

The storytelling stand-up follows her work on previous shows by exploring another tale from her childhood: this time focusing on a pool party in 1989 that was so disastrous, the ramifications are still being felt today. It was a bad pool party. Book tickets here.

© Paul Foot

Elsewhere at the festival, the mighty Paul Foot brings his 2014 Edinburgh show, Hovercraft Syphony in Gammon # Major, to Aussie audiences.

Paul has become a cult favourite in Australia, and returns after rave reviews to stimulate minds with his brief case full of new rants and tall tales. Book tickets here.

© Tony Law

Also there for one more week is Tony Law, who is bringing his 2014 Edinburgh show Enter the ToneZone to Australia for one final run. Following a huge UK tour and a Soho Theatre residency, Tone offers magical shapes, an original song, some truly heart-breaking nonsense and brief tackling of world issues through the medium of dance.

There’s tons of other great shows on offer, so we suggest maybe hitting the list here and booking as many as you can, but whilst we’re here, we’d also like to give a shout out to up and coming comic Alexis Simmonds, whose show Mist-Conceptions is taking place at The Tuxedo Cat.  A long-standing friend of TVO and a big fan of our regulars now forging her own comedic path, she’s one of us, and one of you, and it’d be great if you could go along and say hello from us.

TRAVELLING JESS

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Back on our tellyboxes, the truly incredible Jessica Hynes joins Richard Ayoade for the latest edition of Travel Man this Monday evening at 8:30pm on Channel 4.

The delightful duo take a whirlwind weekend trip to Iceland, visiting the most famous waterfalls, glaciers and geysers of the Nordic island by helicopter, go in search of whales and chill-out at the Blue Lagoon geothermic pool. But it’s not all rosy, with a meal of rotten shark and Breavin (mashed potato spirit) on the agenda, and a mandatory attendance of Elf School. Magnificent.

TONY VISITS NUMBER NINE

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The sublime Inside No. 9 continues on Thursday evening at 10pm on BBC Two, and this week, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton are joined by Ab Fab legend Jane Horrocks, Luther star Nikki Amuka-Bird and TVO regular Tony Way in Cold Comfort.

This week focuses on Booth Nine in the Comfort Support Line’s call centre, which offers the lonely and desperate a chance to talk about their problems. Each of the CSL counsellors have their own ways of dealing with clients, the stress of the job and killing time between calls, but newcommer Andy (Pemberton) really isn’t prepared for what is to come.

Inside No. 9 continues to innovate and push the boundaries of its format, and this episode is no exception. Shot almost entirely via a fixed camera in the booth, other angles of CCTV footage are displayed down the side of the screen, and become increasingly important as the story unfolds. It’s clever television that also manages to remember to be gripping, thoughtful and creepy in good measure, and above all else, it’s a comedy that’s downright hilarious. A must-see.

ROULETTE FOR SIMON DAY

© BBC

© BBC

If you’ve not tuned in to Chat Show Roulette yet, it’s really time you did – as the improvisation led chat-show in which famous names pretend to be fictional guests on the spur of the moment to host Justin Edwards only has two episodes left in this long-awaited first series.

This week, he is joined by Brian Pern himself: the legendary Simon Day, as well as friend of TVO, David Reed. Also along for the ride are Luisa Omielan, Beardyman and regular musical accompanier James Sherwood. You can hear it on Radio 4 on Thursday evening at 11pm, and previous episodes, including appearances from Kevin Eldon, Matt Lucas, Charlie Higson, Cariad Lloyd and many more can be heard over yonder.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

©Stubbings

© Rachel Stubbings

While a lot of our regular touring lot are down under as listed above, there’s also a number of other chances to see TVO regulars this week. Here’s where you can see them…

13/04/15 – Rachel Stubbings and Lou Sanders with Jessica Forteskew – Aces and Eights, 7:30pm, FREE.

15/04/15 – Aisling Bea with  Ed Caruna, Joe Lycett, Matthew Crosby and Stuart Goldsmith – Bar FM, 8pm, £10.

15/04/15 – Richard Sandling with Alexis Dubus, Sarah Bennetto, Syd Moor, Spencer Jones and Elf Lyons – Betsey Trotwood, 8pm, £5.

15/04/15 – Cariad Lloyd with Josie Lawrence, Niall Ashdown, Richard Vranch, Andy Smart and Lee Simpson – The Comedy Store, 8pm, £17.

16/04/15 – Joey Page, Julian Deane, Michael Fabbri, Richard Todd, Nathan Cassidy, Laurence Owen, Faye Treacy and Luke Capasso – Camden Comedy Club, 8pm, £4.

17/04/15 – Aisling Bea with Mae Martin, Mike Wozniak, Tim Key – The Bloomsbury Theatre, 7:30pm, £20. {in aid of The Lullaby Trust}

Please note – there are listings out there suggesting Tony Law is appearing at Laughing Boy Comedy this Thursday in Brixton, but as he’s currently in Melbourne, we’re not sure how that’s possible, even for the ToneZone.

IN OUR PERIPHERAL VISION

© HBO

© HBO

We’d be remiss not to mention the long-awaited return of Game of Thrones this weekend, which is just about the biggest show in the world right about now. As you may remember, Tony Way played Ser Dontos Hollard in Seasons Two and Four, while Paul Kaye was Thoros of Myr in Season Three and comedian Gemma Whelan (The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains, Cardinal Burns) has been appearing as Yara Greyjoy since the second season.

Whilst we’ve seen the last of Hollard, Thoros and Yara are still out there with stories to unfold, and the show’s international cast draws on a wide range of incredibly talented actors and actresses, so we’ll never rule out another TVO regular making an appearance until the show reaches its conclusion. And either way, it’s generally awesome, so it’s well worth your attention.

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on at the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by. Until next time, keep on peeling!

Noel Fielding’s Down Under Round Up

12 Apr
© News.com

© News.com

Anyone with a passing interest in Noel Fielding will probably be aware that he’s currently on the other side of the world in readiness for the start of his Australian and New Zealand tour this coming week. However, only the complete nutjobs amongst us* will be keeping track of all of the interviews he’s been doing while he’s over there – and there have been a fair few of them.

That’s just one of the reasons why we’re here: to save you time by seeking out stuff for you. So, in no particular order, here’s a handy catalogue of the conversations that Noel’s been having over there this past week…

At the beginning of the week, he spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald about how conservative young folk are, News.com about how he’s calmed down a lot in recent years, and The Music about how his next project might be set in the real world. Then there’s this here interview with Stuff and another one with Rolling Stone. Still with us? Good.

If moving pictures are more your thing, Noel also appeared on The Project (which you can see below):

…and he was on Sunrise this morning/yesterday morning (the time difference has confused us, so we’re not entirely sure what day it was!). They even included a small clip of one of our old interviews. Nice.

Noel was on Veronica and Lewis on TripleJ. The interview has very kindly been captured for our aural pleasure by yeahwehadatime (Parts 1, 2 and 3). And if that wasn’t enough, Noel gave Veronica a haircut while he was there:

He was also interviewed by Tommy Little on the Meshel & Tommy show on Nova 100 (which you can listen to via Soundcloud below) – and had a short filmed chat while he was there. Well, why not?

…then Noel spent time with Dan & Maz on 2DayFM. He also talked to Double J Radio, which you can listen to here:

If that little lot wasn’t enough, Noel’s instagram activity has also stepped up a notch while he’s been in Australia – so it’s worth keeping an eye on that for regular pictorial updates.

If you’re in the relevant hemisphere, do make sure you have a ticket for one of his live shows. It’s what it’s all about afterall! Many of the gigs have sold out already, but there are a few dates still available. Details and bookings here.

If we’ve missed anything, please let us know – and we’ll add it in if we can. And if you’re going to one of the shows this week – enjoy!

UPDATE: In the past 24 hours we’ve also had…

an interview with the Australian Guardian, in which Noel discusses the likelihood of the long-awaited Boosh film and the dangers of shaving foam, and a short video of him on Today’s Entertainment News.

Then finally, here’s a filmed bit of chat with Dan & Maz:

 

* that’s pretty much everyone then

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