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So Hot Right Now #20

2 Mar

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 take a look below.

MOONE BOY RETURNS

This week sees the long awaited return of Moone Boy to Sky 1 HD, once again starring Chris O’Dowd and David Rawle.

 Sky Corporate

Sky Corporate

For the uninitiated, Moone Boy tells the story of young Martin Moone (Rawle) as he grows up in rural Ireland in the early 1990s, and his best friend Seán Murphy (O’Dowd), who happens to be imaginary.

Semi-autobiographical, the show is the brainchild of O’Dowd and co-writer Nick Vincent Murphy, and has garnered numerous awards and a strong cult following through its first two series in 2012 and 2014 respectively. With none other than Sharon Horgan set to make guest appearances this time around, it’s once more something you’d be mad to miss.

Series Three begins on Monday, 2nd March at 9pm, exclusively on Sky1 HD.  In the first episode, Liam and Debra abandon the kids for a romantic break to celebrate their 20th anniversary, but it all threatens to fall apart after a chance encounter with Liam’s old flame. Meanwhile, Martin and Padraic are in Dublin, where they soon discover new talents.

POMPIDOU ON BBC TWO

The madcap adventures of Matt Lucas magnificent aristocrat nutjob Pompidou continue on Sunday 8th March.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The show stars Lucas as the titular aristocrat, who is as pompous as he is penniless, as loveable as he is tubby and eccentric. He is all of those things in abundance – an elderly oddball who has fallen on hard times, and is forced to live in a knackered old caravan in front of his now crumbling estate, alongside his dog Marion, who is the handywork of former Mongrels puppeteers Andy HeathIestyn Evans and Yvonne Stone.

This week, Pompidou thinks he’s won the lottery, but it turns out that it’s Hove who has actually hit the jackpot and he has no intention of sharing it. With Pompidou evicted from his caravan because he hasn’t been keeping up with his bills, Hove offers him a place to stay – but now it is he who must earn his keep.

You can catch Episode Two on Sunday evening at 6:30pm over on BBC Two.

HOUSE OF FOOLS TEMPORARILY EVICTED

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Due to Let’s Play Darts For Comic Relief taking place this week, House of Fools has been given a week off, and will return on March 9th.  If you haven’t read them yet, you can pass the time by catching up on our trilogy of interviews with the cast of the show: Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White, and Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson.

As a result of this, full blown TVO offerings are a little thin on the ground this week – but you’ll be pleased to know there’s still material of note to savour.  First up, Uncle on BBC Three (Tuesday, 10pm) features the talents of Nicholas Burns and Daniel Lawrence Taylor.  Cockroaches star Tom Davis is making regular appearances in The Keith Lemon Sketch Show (Thursday, 10pm) for ITV2, and Saturday evenings provide a rare repeat for Bellamy’s People on UK Gold (11pm), starring Rhys ThomasLucy Montgomery and Simon Day.

However, this quietness does give us time to pause, reflect, and catch up on a couple of shows we missed recently. Cardinal Burns star Dustin Demri-Burns has been appearing alongside Ben Miller and Kayvan Novak in Asylum - with all three episodes available on iPlayer for the next 12 days.  Elsewhere, the delightful Jessica Hynes and the equally fantastic Rebecca Front have been appearing in Series Two of Up the Women on BBC Two, and most of the series is still available to view on iPlayer as we went to press.

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

So Hot Right Now #19

23 Feb

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 take a look below.

POMPIDOU BEGINS…

This week sees Matt Lucas new show Pompidou, co starring Alex MacQueen and Tony Way, begin its run on BBC Two.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The show stars Lucas as the titular aristocrat, who is as pompous as he is penniless, as loveable as he is tubby and eccentric. He is all of those things in abundance – an elderly oddball who has fallen on hard times, and is forced to live in a knackered old caravan in front of his now crumbling estate.

Episode One airs at 6:30pm on BBC Two, on Sunday, 1st March. You can see a selection of preview images over on our news pages.

HOUSE OF FOOLS CONTINUES…

The delightfully bonkers House of Fools continues its second run at 10pm on Monday 23rd February via BBC Two.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

In this week’s episode, Vic steals some unused botox equipment and decides to test it out on Julie and Bosh, while Bob tries to get into Erik’s good books by making Rachel’s brithday a special day. Elsewhere, Beef’s saucy past catches up with him, as he is forced to hide the consequences of his actions from a very irate butcher – brilliantly played by guest star Johnny Vegas.

As ever, starring Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer alongside Matt BerryDan SkinnerMorgana Robinson, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White, this second episode is a much funnier affair that last week’s admittedly hilarious opener, so if you’ve not checked into the House of Fools yet, now’s as good a time as any.

If you missed us shouting from the rooftops recently, TVO was graciously invited to be one of the few publications to speak to the cast of House of Fools at one of the Salford filming dates late last year. You can read our trilogy of interviews over on our news pages now, but if clicky links are more your thing, you’ll like the highlights over the names ‘Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer‘, ‘Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White‘, and ‘Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson‘.

CATASTROPHE ENDS…

Sadly we say goodbye to Catastrophe this week, with Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney going out on fine form on Monday 23rd March at 10pm on Channel 4.

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

In the series finale, a heavily pregnant Sharon picks Rob up at the airport after a trip to Boston and tells him she has invited an old friend from Ireland to be her maid of honour. Rob decides to ask his fiancee’s brother to be his best man, but Fergal has more important things to worry about – his wife has left him and taken their children. The bride and groom later split up to enjoy their hen and stag nights, both of which spiral out of control.

It’s a great end to a bold and inventive series, which is thankfully returning for a second run in the not too distant future. There’s also an appearance from none other than John Hopkins as Sandy Laybourne, so if you haven’t caught up yet, get on 4oD and savour the magic.

CASUAL VACANCY FILLED…

The star studded mini series The Casual Vacancy concludes on Sunday 1st March, once again featuring Rufus Jones and Richard Glover.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

In this third and final episode, tensions rise as the Pagord parish council election approaches and each side steps up its campaign. It’s another meticulously crafted edition that lets this mini-series go out on a high, and if you enjoyed it, you can pre-order the dvd for £10.50 in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

REPLAY THE GAME…

It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that Game of Thrones is set to return in April. With the fourth season (featuring Tony Way) currently nesting at the top of the dvd and blu-ray charts, Sky Atlantic have started their campaign to prep audiences for Season Five – and this may give us a chance to revisit a couple of TVO faces.

© HBO

© HBO

Not only does Tony Way appear in the second and fourth seasons as Sir Dontos Hollard, but Paul Kaye turned up as Thoros of Myr in the third season (we wonder if the GoT team were Mongrels fans like the guys at Pixar?), and the recurring role of Yara Greyjoy is played by actress Gemma Whelan: who also gigs regularly as a stand-up comedian and appeared in cult TVO smashes Cardinal Burns and The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains.

So in brand new clipshow Game of Thrones: Greatest Moments, there’s every possibility we’ll see these three characters once more, as cast members and celebrity fans count down the 20 most thrilling moments from the fantasy drama. You can see it at various times throughout this week, and the show is also available on SkyGo and Now TV.

TOUCHDOWN IN SOHO…

This week sees Sarah Kendall bring her highly acclaimed stand-up show Touchdown to The Soho Theatre.

© PBJ

© PBJ

The show, which toured the festival circuit last year, features Kendall deconstructing the key joke from her previous stand up show, which focuses on real life experiences back in 1992: a year of broken hearts, broken friendships, and broken orthodontic elastics.

Touchdown is a moving and often hilarious coming-of-age story that explores the clumsiness of adolescents, their awkward relationships, and painful need for friendship and love. If that’s not reason enough to pop along to the run between 24th-28th February, then why not read our interview with Sarah, in which she discusses the show at length, as well as Beehive, women in comedy and her obsession with Jaws 4

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

So Hot Right Now #18

16 Feb

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 take a look below.

COME ON IN…

Monday evening puts out the Welcome mat for the long awaited second series of House of Fools, which airs at 10pm on BBC2.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Vic and Bob’s artily homemade and brilliantly daft take on a sitcom has gone down a storm with both their hardcore audience and casual viewers alike, and it was only natural it would return for a second run. In the first episode of the new series, Bob’s reclusive son, Erik (Daniel Simonsen) emerges from his bedroom long enough to stop dry-retching and go on a blind date, meeting the equally calculated Rachel (Ellie White). Vic and Bob form a band with Beef (Matt Berry) and fall out over the name of their act before their debut gig, while Julie (Morgana Robinson) attempts to teach Bosh (Dan Skinner) the art of waiting tables. Clever, silly, and just as surreal as the first series, this episode also includes the best use of an Owen Wilson photo that you’ll ever come across!

If you missed them last week, TVO was graciously invited to be one of the few publications to speak to the cast of House of Fools at one of the Salford filming dates late last year. You can read our trilogy of interviews over on our news pages now, but if clicky links are more your thing, you’ll like the highlights over the names ‘Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer‘, ‘Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White‘, and ‘Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson‘.

CLOSE THE DOOR…

As one show arrives, another must sadly depart, and this week it’s the turn of both Cockroaches and Count Arthur Strong to say a (we hope short-lived) farewell.

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

At 10pm on Tuesday over on ITV2, the final episode of Cockroaches brings the post-apocalyptic comedy to a close, with dramatic results. This week Tom (Daniel Lawrence Taylor) and Laura (Jessica Emily Rose) are imprisoned by a gang of cannibals led by the villanous Ash (Jaime Winston), and it’s up to Suze and Felix (Esther Smith and Tom Davis) to save them from becoming supper.

With its top notch cast including Dan Skinner, Jack Whitehall, Robert Bathurst, Rich Hall, Nigel Planer and Alexander Armstrong, it does feel strange even in this digital age for Cockroaches to be tucked away on ITV2, but we’re hopeful we haven’t seen the last of Tom and the gang just yet. The full first series is available on dvd from next week.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

We must also say goodbye to Count Arthur Strong, whose second series goes out with a bang at 10:45pm on Tuesday evening over on BBC One. Unless you’re in Northern Ireland or Wales, in which case it does so at 11:10pm. Or if you’re in Scotland, in which case there’ll be a slightly smaller bang (it’ll be more of a bump, really), at 10:40pm on Wednesday evening instead.

Anyway, after years of plugging away, Arthur (Steve Delaney) finally hits the big time this week when he gets a job as a TV psychic – only to let the fame go to his head. Meanwhile, Michael (Rory Kinnear) has a rather unique reaction to a tempting job offer, one that causes his health to suffer. Given Kinnear’s fate in The Casual Vacancy, we’re rooting for him here!

Of course, whilst the Graham Linehan co-penned series is coming to an end (for now), Delaney is current out on tour with the Count, and you can catch a full list of dates over on his website. He’s also recently released a book, which you can get here.

TAKE A SEAT…

Whilst we have new shows to savour and others to say goodbye to, there’s a few others that continue their successful runs this week.

© Tim Bret Day

© Tim Bret Day

Catastrophe - the smash hit show from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney continues apace on Monday evening at 10:05pm, though House of Fools fans may want to catch up via 4+1 at 11:05pm instead!

In this fifth episode, Rob and Sharon plan their wedding, but Rob’s plans to throw a surprise birthday party are scuppered when his Boston bosses fire him during a video call, and his mother (special guest star Carrie Fisher) reveals a big secret of his to Sharon.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

On Sunday evening, part two of The Casual Vacancy airs at 9pm on BBC One. The star-studded adaptation of JK Rowling’s novel of the same name features Richard Glover and Rufus Jones in its ensemble cast, with the former particularly playing against reality as a real nasty piece of work!

Sadly as we went to press on this week’s SHRN, images from this second episode remain under embargo, so stay tuned for those later this week. What we can tell you, however, is that it picks up straight from where the last one left off: with the townsfolk of Pagford left shocked by posts online that are seemingly coming from a dead man.

With the various factions of the town on tenterhooks at one another, a dinner party is scheduled, but things quickly spiral out of control. Elsewhere in the Fields, an addiction appears to be weakening, giving Krystal fresh hope for the future of her family.

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

The new series of Uncle also continues on Tuesday evening at 10pm (again, clashing with Cockroaches – thank gawd for catchup services, eh?) on BBC Three.  Starring Nick Helm and Elliot Spencer Gillot, alongside Nicholas BurnsDaniel Lawrence Taylor and the criminally underrated Daisy Haggard, the show is as puerile yet oddly touching as ever.

This week, Andy (Helm) tries to prove how mature he is to his latest love interest, while Errol (Spencer Gillot) wants to show a girl how cool he is, and Sam (Haggard) is desperate to impress Ben’s girlfriend, Veronica (Burns and special guest star Gemma Whelan of Game of Thrones and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains fame). Unfortunately their efforts do not go well, forcing the trio to resort to deception in order to make a good impression.

ENJOY THE SHOW…

Londoners have it good at the moment! Not only do they have a Kim Noble residency at the Soho Theatre to savour at the moment, but this week sees them get a Rachel Stubbings fronted film night too. And next week brings the return of Richard Sandling‘s live nights, and a mini-residency for Sarah Kendall. For more news on live events, check out news page!

TVO IS FIVE

We’ve been celebrating our fifth anniversary this month, with a couple of reflective articles on our news pages, and a number of our regulars sending us video messages wishing us a very happy birthday. Kind of. The video below features, in order of appearance: Rachel StubbingsColin HoultDave BrownJames CookBob PipeDave McNeillKaty BrandNeil ColePhil WhelansJames WrenSpencer MillmanWaen ShepherdJacqueline WrightHolly Jane ShearsRufus JonesStephen Evans and Tony Way.

Our huge thanks to all involved – and we’ve got a few more messages coming through to give you Part Two very soon, so stay peeled!

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

Onion Talking: Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson on House of Fools

13 Feb

Next week sees the launch of Series Two of House of Fools - the brilliantly surreal sitcom from the minds of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.

L-R: Daniel Simonsen, Dan Skinner, Ellie White © Pett TV / Christopher Baines

L-R: Daniel Simonsen, Dan Skinner, Ellie White © Pett TV / Christopher Baines

To celebrate its return, TVO sat down with the main cast during the filming of Series Two to discuss the show. Yesterday, we spoke to Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White. The day before saw our chat with Vic & Bob themselves unleashed. Today, we bring you our catch-up with Bob’s regular house guests, Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson.

It is fair to say that, to readers of these pages at least, Matt Berry needs no introduction. When The Velvet Onion began five years ago, he was a much loved figurehead of alternative comedy, making waves on the music scene with a succession of tours, and was one of the first people to actively encourage and support the development of TVO.  He’s been good to us, over the years, and we’ve been delighted to continue to support him as his star has risen. Thanks to the runaway success of Toast of London, huge critical acclaim for his Kill the Wolf album, and numerous other projects Berry is edging closer and closer to the mainstream. Matt may not yet be a household name, but he’s certainly more beloved than ever, and his role as randy house visitor Beef in House of Fools has introduced his charms to a whole new audience.

Today, he greets TVO fondly, and in an moment part made of showmanship, part of his natural instincts as a gentlemen, he introduces us in style to his fellow interviewee with a hand flourish, a side step and a powerful rendering of her name: Morgana.  The name may not be familiar to you just yet, particularly for our international readers. But make no mistake about it: this is one formidable comic talent, whose rise to meteoric stardom is surely just around the corner.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Born in Australia and raised in Britain,international awareness of Morgana Robinson at the moment is mostly down to her half-sister being none rock star Brody Dalle, formerly of The Distillers. Dalle’s husband also happens to be Josh Homme – frontman for Queens of the Stone Age and occasional Matt Berry collaborator. Following initial appearances in mainstream comedy fair like The Green Green Grass and My Family, in 2010 Robinson was given her own five-part sketch show on Channel 4: The Morgana Show.

A delightfully bonkers showcase for this unique comic mind, the show also featured Kill List star Neil Maskell and one of today’s guest stars, Tom Davis, in his own big break. While the show did not return for a second run, a Comic Strip Presents appearance and a prominent BBC iPlayer short have bolstered Robinson’s reputation, and her recent work has included a guest slot on Toast of London and her own impressions show: Very Important People.

As you read this, she’ll also appearing as a recurring segment host on Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, spoofing the likes of YouTube bloggers and Russell Brand. It may be early days for her, but it’s clear that she’s going to go far, and much like most of the cast, she’s overjoyed that – as camera-wielding nymphomaniac neighbour turned bistro owner Julie – Reeves & Mortimer are keen to give her a platform.

“They’re amazing like that,” she tells us as we sit down. Matt Berry agrees.

“They can spot good stuff,” he states, before questioning himself. “That’s not for us to say, is it?”

“They put money on good horses,” Morgana adds. “They do love to channel new talent up. I’m extremely grateful for that, you know.”  Matt agrees. “Oh, whatever!” she mocks in return.

“No, I bloody am!” he says with genuine passion. “Of course I am.”

“You’ve been around for donkeys years, haven’t you?” Morgana asks him, at which point TVO reminds her that Matt is, according to the British Comedy Awards 2014, a ‘breakthrough artist’. Matt laughs.

“Nine years…” he shakes his head. “Ten years. Breakthrough. A breakthrough ten years.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

And what a ten years that has been, as anyone who follows his career, or reads TVO, for that matter, as the two are so intertwined, can attest. Following his real breakthrough in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Matt has gone on to star in The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd. He also created legendary one-off AD/BC: A Rock Opera, internationally renowed favourite Snuffbox and the multi-award winning Toast of London - the latter set to return for a third series in 2015. That fact that is still top secret as we meet, yet impossible for Matt not to be understandably keen to tell us in strictest confidence.  He’s also appeared in productions as varied as The Peter Serafinowicz Show, Duncan Jones’ Moon, Portlandia and even Spongebob Squarepants, all whilst carving out a career as an incredible multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter.

Returning to House of Fools for Matt, who is seemingly in demand constantly at present, is in part based on the joy of working with Reeves and Mortimer, but also the positive response to the first series.

“We hit the ground running last year,” he explains. “I don’t think this year has changed much at all. There’s no real difference, it’s a continuation of what we started.”

“I’ve got a bistro!” interjects Morgana. “And a few more lines.”

“The bistro works out,” Matt suggests, “because it’s sort of a community centre. You can do storylines that aren’t in someone’s house. It’s like a town hall, or something.”

“Mmmm,” Morgana nods. “It’s like our Central Perk.”

The Friends comparison is an interesting one, TVO notes, particularly as it feels a world away from what Vic & Bob are doing with House of Fools. For starters, Friends and most other US sitcoms would be written by a huge team of staff writers, with very little room for cast additions to the scripts. Whilst Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) and Bob Mortimer were keen to stress the importance of getting it all on the page before shooting for practical reasons, Dan Skinner spoke of how flexible they were with developing comedic voices within their work, and both Ellie White and Daniel Simonsen revealed they had rewritten their scene together with Bob ten minutes before the afternoon record had started. Clearly, there’s scope for a lot more flexibility when you’ve got a cast of comedy writers and performers, rather than regular actors.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“Yeah, they’re quite cool like that,” Morgana notes. “They’re open to suggestions. If they like a joke, they’ll go: ‘Oh, put that in!’ It’s not exactly sign language but it works.”

Matt agrees. “They’re very generous. They know what’s going to work, and you know what’s going to work, and what wouldn’t be right for this. There’s nothing subtle. There’s nothing underplayed. That’s not what they do.”

Despite the occasional pre-filmed flight of fancy, there’s no denying the lack of subtlety and the vibrant cast would make a potential House of Fools stage show a real delight. As Bob’s already mentioned the possibility in passing, TVO decides to get Matt & Morgana’s feedback on the idea.

“Yeah!” Morgana exclaims, her eyes lighting up at the prospect. “I’d love it!”

“But not like tonight,” Matt notes, referring to the over-running, mistake-laden first run of the day. “We didn’t get the fucking thing finished. That wouldn’t be great live!” He bursts out laughing. “It’d have to be rehearsed, put it that way!”

Aware today’s problematic filming, plagued by the lack of a camera rehearsal due to the complexity of the pre-shoot, had been a worry for the whole cast, TVO can’t help but calmly note that the first shoot of the day was a little ‘fluffy’. “We all were tonight,” Matt suggests, “cos we didn’t get to finish it.”

Perhaps worried he may be appearing negative, he adds: “But it’s not always like that. Don’t get the wrong impression about it. The last one was fucking perfection.”

Morgana nods. “It was pretty perfect,” she reasons. “It’s normally a well-oiled machine. I’d love to take it out on the road.”

“It could totally work in the Wyndham,” suggests Matt, a sprinkling of Steven Toast bubbling to the surface before fading away once more. “Oh, I don’t know,” he adds. “Whatever they want to do, I’m up for it.”

“We just let them do whatever they want,” Morgana states, before drifting off. “I’m sure none of it will make sense.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Sadly due to the over-run on filming, our time with the delightful duo is running out. Poor Matt and Morgana have mere minutes left to get some food and a short break before going back into the studio for another record session. Ever the caring type, TVO elects to cut our pre-arranged interview slot short by a few minutes, so that the pair can talk freely, and make it to the canteen before they head back to work. However, there’s still just enough time for a quick round of our brilliant new game: Rent, Mortgage, Evict – which we have in no way pilfered from the not at all similar game, Snog Marry Avoid. To avoid awkward conversations, given we know the cast are clearly enamoured with one another, we ask Matt and Morgana, as their characters, who would they chose to live with, buy a house with, and ask to leave the premises. Straight away, Matt’s in with a surprisingly blunt answer.

“I’d kick ‘em all out,” he states, firmly, before worrying that sounded worse than it was intended to.

“Not as people!” he adds. “I’d kick all the characters out. But I think they’d all answer like that, and just want a house of their own.”

“I’ve no idea,” admits Morgana. “I’d live with all of them. It’s like a jungle out there. They all work very well together, like a very strange family. I couldn’t throw them all out, could you?”

“Probably no, no,” Matt considers. “She’s right. They’re all real fuckwits on their own. They can’t do anything.”

“You’d be bored shitless with just one of them,” Morgana concludes. “It’s a bit like a circus.”

And with that, they must be on their way once more. T-minus 15-minutes until the second record begins, and like the rest of the circus, Matt and Morgana have to go and put on a damn good show. But first tea and cake. There’s always time for cake before the madness begins once more.

House of Fools returns on Monday 16th February at 10pm on BBC2. The first series is available on dvd from 23rd February.

Onion Talking: Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White on House of Fools

12 Feb

Next week sees the launch of Series Two of House of Fools - the brilliantly surreal sitcom from the minds of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.

L-R: Daniel Simonsen, Dan Skinner, Ellie White © Pett TV / Christopher Baines

L-R: Daniel Simonsen, Dan Skinner, Ellie White © Pett TV / Christopher Baines

To celebrate its return, TVO sat down with the main cast during the filming of Series Two to discuss the show. Yesterday, we gave our chat with Vic & Bob themselves. Today, we bring you our catch-up with Bob’s regular house guests, Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White.

“Has Bob left his dinner?” Dan Skinner asks, incredulously, pointing at the remains of Bob Mortimer‘s potato-based dish in a polystyrene tray on the table in front of him. “Jim’s left his fags as well!” he adds, prodding Vic Reeves‘ packet on the table as he sits down to chat with TVO, alongside co-stars Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White. TVO explains that the pair were in a bit of a hurry, on a shortened lunch-break slash press-junket after an over-running shoot. “Nah,” Dan grins. “They leave things everywhere they go.”

Like the figureheads at the helm of House of Fools, time is short for Skinner, Simonsen and White this evening. A problematic afternoon shoot would soon be followed by a swift and smooth second run, nailing another episode of the superbly ridiculous sitcom. Now, as they tuck into their rather unappetising looking lunches, they’re happy to discuss what’s new this year for their characters.

“I’ve changed my character, completely,” states Skinner, chuckling. Completely, TVO asks. “Yeah. The twats are still there, though.”

“I talk about diarrhoea a lot,” chips in Daniel, before scooping some of the canteen slop into his mouth – mere seconds before his co-star is about to inhale a forkful of sickly brown curry. “Thank you mate. Just as I’m about to tuck into this! Oh – and Erik’s got a girlfriend!”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

He points at Ellie with a big grin, who grins right back at him. A relative newcomer, both to the show and to comedy in general, White made her Fringe debut alongside Oscar Jenkyn-Jones in 2013, before returning with her debut solo show, Humans, as part of last year’s Free Fringe. The show garnered rave reviews from The Independent and Time Out, and the doors opened: taking part in Newsjack on Radio 4, developing her own sketch shows for tv and radio, and then the House of Fools came a-knocking.

In comparison, her nearest countpart in the show, Daniel Simonsen, may only recently be gaining traction in England, but he’s been performing stand-up in his native Norway since 2004. TVO knows, of course, that the entire cast of House of Fools are warm-hearted, wonderful people, but playing devil’s advocate somewhat, we ask how Ellie feels fitting herself into their already established world for this second run.

“It’s really scary,” she admits. “Very intimidating, and very daunting! But everyone is incredibly nice, and I’m learning a lot. It’s nice to be with Daniel, really. I just sort of based myself on him. He’s given me loads of tips.”

“She’s learning, yeah,” states Daniel, in full on deadpan mode. “It’s really hard to be as cold as you are, isn’t it?” asks Dan. “It is,” he replies. TVO tries to confirm this isn’t all just an act, and Daniel stares into our soul, replying: “I’m very damaged.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Moving on – half for time, half for fear of possession by the Norwegian wonderboy, conversation turns to Vic & Bob’s role in providing a platform for new and emerging talents. The duo took Dan Skinner under their wing when he was still part of sketch troop Dutch Elm Conservatoire alongside Rufus Jones (set to appear in House of Fools this series), Stephen Evans, Jim Field Smith and Jordan Long. His character Angelos Epithemou, first brought to life as part of DEC, became a regular guest on Shooting Stars, before taking over point-scoring duties following the departure of Matt Lucas.  This in turn led to his own show, a hugely successful podcast with ‘Barry from Watford’, and Dan becoming one of the most in-demand comic actors around.

“Jim [Moir – Vic’s real name] and Bob have their own audience,” Dan explains. “They’re very, very loyal. And anyone that they add to their world is accepted pretty much straight away by their audience. But they’re usually right, too. They find really interesting people.”

“I swear, I’ve spoken to so many people,” Ellie adds, “who say the first thing they ever did was Vic and Bob. Esther Coles, who played Mrs Moody today – she was a serious actor, and the first comedy she did was with Bob.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

It’s true: Coles, a former Peak Practise regular, turned up in several episodes of TVO favourite Tittybangbang. For those who don’t quite recall, that show starred Lucy Montgomery, Debbie Chazen, Tony Way, Katy Brand and loads more – and it was in part, written and directed by Bob Mortimer, as well as being made by Pett Productions: the company Reeves and Mortimer set up with Lisa Clark to make their own shows, and the ones they wanted to see made. That same company is behind House of Fools now, and Esther is back working with Bob all these years later.

“Bob’s really, really good at sending the lift back down,” Dan states. “He goes to find other people and brings them to Vic. Then when executive producers chip in and ask: ‘Are you sure?’, they’ll both go: ‘Yeah’.”

“Like Romesh [Ranganathan] today,” suggests Daniel. “And Tom Davis. They’re also quite new. It’s just what they do.”

They’re also keen to allow these new talents the chance to experiment and develop within their own world. As one of those who has had prime opportunity to do exactly that, Skinner is perhaps best placed to summarise their outlook.

“They’re pretty confident with what they do,” he tells TVO. “They’re got their own brand, and if they like you and think you’re funny, they’ll let you swing it any way that you like. They’re artists, essentially.”

Simonsen is quick to back this up. “I think it’s a very seldom thing to do,” he confirms. “It’s rare. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but today I didn’t even know my lines.”

Ellie chips in. “We rewrote out scene ten minutes before we went on,” she reveals. Dan is pragmatic about the situation.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“That’s the good thing about Jim and Bob,” he states. “They’ll let you do that, you know? They’ll invite you onto their show, and then go: Do what you want. Within reason, obviously. If it’s not funny, they’ll say you can’t do it, but as long as you make it work, they’re happy for you to do what you want. It’s a nice freedom.”

TVO is sensing that time is running short. Like Vic & Bob before them, the trio have a show to get back to, and could really do with getting a bit of a break beforehand. So, we figure there’s just enough time for a round of our brand new game: Rent/Mortgage/Evict. As we explain the rules, and the uncanny similarity to Snog/Marry/Avoid, Dan, Daniel and Ellie’s eyes light up at this most glorious of concepts.

“Wow!” Daniel exclaims as they take a moment to think about the sheer magnificence of the game at hand.

“Well,” Dan begins, cautiously. “I think I’d rent with Vic, cos he’s my brother in the show, though I don’t think we ever mention it in the second series! So, you know, he would have to forgive everything. What’s the next one?” TVO reminds him it’s Mortgage, which Ellie notes is for a serious relationship, and Dan changes his tactics.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“Can I just say then,” he asks, pointing at Daniel, “that I would rent with this one? I reckon I could manipulate him. Mortgage with Vic, and avoid probably living with Beef. Loose cannon that man. Loose cannon.”

As laughs erupt around the table, attention turns to Daniel’s thoughts on the matter. “With Rachel, of course,” he says, smiling. Ellie smiles back. “So loyal…” she whispers.

“Oh yeah,” Daniel confirms. “That’s the mortgage.”

“Hang on,” interrupts Ellie. “It might be a bit early to mortgage.” Daniel considers this for a moment.

“Yeah,” he decides. “Probably Vic.”

“Oh yeah,” Dan chips in. “You like him don’t you?”

“I like him a lot,” Daniel confirms. “Seems like he has a lot of money. He’s got his stuff together.”

“Who would you avoid, Dan?” asks Dan to Daniel, confusing our name situation a little.

He replies with rapid fire precision.

“Beef. It’s a risk.”

“You’d avoid Bob, surely,” suggests Ellie, “cos you hate him?”

Daniel turns to her, and with his deadpan style intact, looks her in the eye and says with no degree of uncertainty: “I could probably use him, though.” Queue huge laughs from Dan, Ellie and TVO, while Daniel turns back to us, still straight-faced and adds: “I’m his child, so… You can’t expect a child to pay a mortgage.”

“How old are you meant to be?” asks Ellie, the thought seemingly crossing her mind for the first time. Daniel doesn’t know, but the table agrees he’s probably about 29, before we move onto Ellie’s turn.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“Er…” she thinks. “I would rent with Eric.” Dan approves. “I don’t really know,” she adds. “I haven’t really established any kind of relationships, yet.”

“Well, this is going to be much harder for you, then!” Dan exclaims, laughing.

“I’d evict Bob,” Ellie considers. “Cos I hate him. And maybe mortgage with Vic.”

Dan is surprised. “Everyone wants to mortgage with Vic,” he notes, before adopting a Mockney accent. “He’s got somethink anhe?”

“It’s a kind of stability, I suppose,” Ellie opines. “I’d feel safe with Vic. He’d be like a father figure to me.”

Dan grins, and in full on Bosh-mode, sums up: “He’s a good lad, is our Vic.”

And with that, it’s time for the trio to go back to work for the evening’s record session. As both incredible talents and genuinely good people, TVO can’t help but be sad to see them go, but after a few quick words on what they’re up to next so we can keep our usual tabs on events, we’re sure that we haven’t heard the last of them yet.

House of Fools returns on Monday 16th February at 10pm on BBC2. The first series isavailable on dvd from 23rd February.

A Wild Valentine’s Night: iPlayer Previews

11 Feb

With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, the BBC have announced a new set of nine iPlayer comedy shorts, based around the theme of love, for our delectation. TVO took a sneak peak, as Becca Moody reports…

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

If you watched the BBC iPlayer shorts from June 2014, you’ll have seen for yourself how these miniature comedy installations really do open up a new style of viewing. Last year’s six hilarious bitesize programmes allowed us to sample a whole range of funny creations from the likes of Matt Berry, Reece Shearsmith, Micky Flanagan and Meera Syal, and it’s no surprise that the news of a brand new set this month was more than welcome.

Matt Berry‘s Wild Love is certainly wild, shockingly funny and crude. In the sequel to last year’s Lone Wolf, Berry narrates the mating antics of various creatures ranging from golden frogs to “colonial hopping dogs”. This undiscovered world is absolutely crazy, and even our beloved narrator himself seems to get carried away by the absurdity of it all, which makes for hilarious listening. Writer, Bob Mortimer, and Berry have come together yet again, to create something fantastic, and it’s not too difficult to visualise this becoming a series one day. Watch out David Attenborough!

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

Aisling Bea also stars in Romesh Ranganathan’s Valentine’s-related comedy short, Rom Com, as one half of the world’s seemingly most awkward ever first date. The episode follows Romesh as he is rigorously prepared for the evening by his very own verbally abusive relationship guru, who also happens to be a figment of his own imagination. Rom Com is a dark and oppressive comedy, and is made bitterly funny thanks to both of its stars.

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

Katy Wix‘s Dear Jean Pierre is a silly story of a quaint French romance, as it reaches its emotional final moments. In this remarkable tale, Wix relives the moments where the relationship began to decline, and brings her wonderfully childish humour along for the ride. With her trademark hopeful and innocent nature, and a knack for surprising us with various twists and turns along the way, Dear Jean Pierre is a complete comedy delight.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, there’ll be a whole array of episodes available as well as these TVO related ones (featuring the likes of Bill Bailey, Sara Pascoe, Nick Helm, Esther Smith, Emma Thompson and Russ Abbot) which will be on BBC iPlayer as of February 13th.

Onion Talking: Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer on House of Fools

11 Feb
© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Next week sees the launch of Series Two of House of Fools - the brilliantly surreal sitcom from the minds of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.

Co-starring Dan Skinner, Matt Berry, Morgana Robinson, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White, the show also features cameo appearances from  Reece Shearsmith, Rufus Jones, Tony Way, Tom Davis and many more.

To celebrate its return, TVO sat down with the main cast during the filming of Series Two to discuss the show. Today, we bring you our catch-up with the legendary duo at the centre of it all: Reeves and Mortimer.

Television listings describe House of Fools as a sitcom. Which, by definition it is, but there’s far more to the multi-camera, studio-audience enhanced end product. In today’s climate, even mainstream fair like Mrs Brown’s Boys breaks down the fourth wall, slyly winking to the viewers at home as well as those in the studio just how absurd the traditional sitcom format is.

So when the mainstream is doing exactly what the alternative was doing twenty years ago, it falls to the alternative to do something, well… ‘Alternative’ once more. Thankfully, Vic Reeves (real name Jim Moir) and Bob Mortimer have grafted for over 25 years doing exactly that, and their long-awaited move into sitcom territory is as utterly unique as it is delightful. It was only natural, then, that it’s superb first series would be followed by a second run.

Of course, the tropes of sitcom are there, but the duo have always taken the traditional and run with it in their own inimitable style: their natural chemistry and love of the hyper-surreal carving out a legacy of incredible programming. Big Night Out, The Smell Of Reeves & Mortimer, Bang Bang It’s Reeves & Mortimer, Shooting Stars, Catterick… even their underrated turn at drama in short lived fantasy series Randall & Hopkirk {deceased} has a charm quite unlike anything else seen on British television in the last few decades. Truly, they stand apart from their peers, even as they rub shoulders with them, and inject everything they do with a high standard of professionalism beneath the on-screen madness.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

That said, today’s House of Fools recording, isn’t going too well. The sheer complexity of the show requires for a number of shots to be pre-filmed before the audience arrive: and the more of them there are, the more it cuts into camera-rehearsal. Filming in Salford, but rehearsing in London, the camera-rehearsal is crucial to locking down the show as it will eventually appear on screen, and the lack of one causes (the admittedly still hilarious) filming to overrun – the entire end sequence left unfilmed as the cast and crew take a break before the day’s second recording block has to get the job done.

“Were you down there watching?” asks Bob Mortimer nervously, as he and Jim Moir, the man behind the public persona of Vic Reeves, settle down to talk and grab a well-deserved bite to eat in a somewhat condensed lunch hour, less than five minutes after shooting was forced to wrap up. TVO assures him we were, and in spite of the problems, what we saw was still working really well. “We ran out of time,” he continues. Jim chips in. “We had so many things on the pre-record, and there’s lots of camera moves.”

“It is weird, when you haven’t done it in front of the cameras, isn’t it, Jim?” asks Bob. “Yeah,” Jim replies. “We’ll see how the second run goes.”

Bob continues: “The thing is we’ve got so many props and pre-records,” he states, “you’ve got to be ahead of it. You can’t come in on the day and say: ‘Can we have this prop?’ There’s no time to do anything new. Rehearsals change what, Jim? Twenty or thirty percent?”

“We do change little bits here and there,” Jim adds. “But it’s all there in the script. If you can’t do your lines, someone jumps in front of you and you’re in trouble.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

With the option to stay and watch the second studio record later that day, TVO sticks around, and the transformation is incredible.  What was a hilarious, if somewhat jumbled first run has been replaced by a smooth, well-oiled production, which, although overrunning due to only one chance to film the complex end sequence, ably demonstrates the skill with which the pair, and all of those around them, craft these episodes. They may have had a tough afternoon, but it’s a fun evening ahead of them.

Not that Jim and Bob are aware of this as we talk, and fearing we have perhaps dwelled on the negatives for too long, TVO decides to lighten the mood.  First off, who amongst the cast is most likely to fluff their lines, we ponder.

“Fucking me,” Bob blurts out, laughing. “Shit,” he adds… “You can take that answer and run with it!”

With the vibe improving, we suggest a quick game of Snog, Marry, Avoid, reworked in keeping with the House of Fools theme by asking who the pair would Rent with, get a Mortgage with, and Evict. We’re sure you’ll all be playing this by Easter, especially as the thought gets the approval of ‘Reeves & Mortimer’.

“I wouldn’t wanna live with Beef,” considers Bob. “I’d throw Beef out. Dirty man.”

“Vic Reeves is mentally inefficient,” states the man himself, firmly removed from his stage persona. “I think you’d probably want Bob to rent with.”

So, no mortgage for the duo?

“You’re asking if we got a house,” Bob clarifies, “would we get a joint mortgage?” He bursts out laughing as Jim props his chin up and grins that mischievous grin that only ‘Vic Reeves’ can. “Great question,” he adds, and pauses for a moment. “Yeah, we probably would. We’d probably get interest only as well.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Perhaps, TVO opines, they could open a bistro of their own, just like their neighbour Julie has in the new series. Bob decides it could be called Vicky Manhattans, before Jim fires back the suggestion of George Bensons. Bob immediately changes this to Benson and Hedges, as they start giggling to themselves: that natural chemistry that has fuelled over two decades together in full force.  Some things never change, even when the ideas around them do.

House of Fools for example, was a first for the pair. Though they had dabbled in the sitcom world with their dark comic drama Catterick back in 2004, the closest they had ever come to a studio sitcom was the running Slade in Residence sketch from The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer.  In recent years, the studio-sitcom has been somewhat dismissed by alternative comedy, with only The IT Crowd really shining as an example outside of the mainstream. Jim and Bob’s reasoning for doing one now is surprisingly pragmatic.

“I think it’s something we always wanted to do,” states Moir. “I think the days when you’re kinda forced into doing a quiz show went away, so we said: ‘This is what we want to do.’ We spent a long time thinking about it, and working it out. It was quick to start with, and we had a lot of advice, so we knew it was going to work. If you put enough work into something, it’ll work out in the end.”

“In a practical sense,” Mortimer adds, “we bumped into someone from the Beeb, and told them we were going to write a sitcom. And they said: ‘Alright, if you do, give it to us and we’ll have a look’. That was quite quick, wasn’t it? We wrote one in a couple of days, did a pilot. The procedure’s never really that grand, is it, Jim? It’s more like bumping into the right person at the right time.”

One of the more interesting aspects of the initial set-up, however, was the casting of the supporting roles. While ‘Vic’ and Bob play heightened versions of themselves, they are ably backed up by regular collaborator Dan Skinner as hapless Bosh, as well as new collaborators Matt Berry as randy randomer Beef, Morgana Robinson as frankly bonkers neighbour Julie, and Norwegian stand-up Daniel Simonsen as Bob’s reclusive son Erik. This year, they are also joined by Erik’s girlfriend, Rachel – played by relative newcomer character comedian Ellie White.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Then there’s the guest roles, filled across the series by the likes of Reece Shearsmith, Sally Philips, Rufus Jones, Tim Healey, Tom Davies, Romesh Ranganathan and Tony Way, to name but a few, with the latter three filming today’s episode as a dance gang. It’s that combination of established names that Jim & Bob know so well, and the encouragement of up and coming talent that has traced its way through their career ever since they were established enough to call the shots somewhat. Let’s not forget, it was through Reeves & Mortimer shows that the likes of Matt Lucas, Rhys Thomas and Tony Way got their big breaks.

“Tony was like sixteen or seventeen on The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer,” remembers Moir. “And then he was in The Club [a running sketch in Bang Bang] as well.” And dancing with you both in the studio, TVO points out. “Yeah,” Mortimer laughs, “with a firework up his arse!”

With a track record in providing a platform for new talents, TVO wonders if the pair consciously elect to nurture fresh faces. “I think we give them a chance,” Jim begins. “Then it’s up to you…”

We’re suddenly cut off, by loudspeaker announcement, as the audience for the evening session is about to be let into the studio. “Attention please,” it says, drowning out Jim in mid-thought. “Ladies and gentlemen for House of Fools. We will be going into studio in approximately ten minutes. We will call you in by the colour…”

“Of your skin!” yells ‘Vic’, gleefully, and the pair erupt with back and forth banter once more, before Bob straightens up.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“The thing with Daniel [Simonsen] is…” he trails off, trying to find the right words to say. “We’ve been wanting to do something with him for ages. And Ellie was just a friend of a friend to come in and read lines during rehearsal, but she was great.”

“These things kind of evolve a bit,” Jim adds. “They have to evolve naturally, and then you work on it after that.”

“It’s brilliant,” Bob states, smiling. “When you use Dan, and you use Daniel, and you use Matt and Morgana, you just know they’re comfortable with the way we work, and they’re comfortable with us. So they’ll lob their own stuff in and bring it to life. We knew what to write for them, and what would work because of that shorthand. But it’s more about the story than anything.”

After all of this time, it would be easy for Reeves & Mortimer to fall into a generic pattern, relying on old gags and goodwill to get by. Instead, they’re pushing the limitations of what can be done in a studio sitcom, with a cast who get what they do and strive to help them make the best show they can. Three episodes into recording the second series, the pair are confident they’re onto a winner.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“Last week’s was fucking great!” Bob enthuses.

“And Christmas was good as well,” chips in Jim. “They’ve all been really good, I think. Better than the last series, up to now.”

“I’ve no idea what this one is like, though,” adds Bob, seemingly with the worry of the looming record drifting back into his mind.  TVO can’t help but hope there’s more to come, and perhaps a slightly stripped back version of the show could be taken on the road, too?

“I think it’s great fun to do,” Jim sums up. “If people want it, we’ll keep doing ‘em.”

“Everyone involved in it, would like to do a run in a theatre, wouldn’t they, Jim?” asks Bob, as his partner in crime nods. “I don’t know whether that will happen, but we’d all like to do it.”

TVO is sure it would work, and notes that the chemistry between the gang, and between Reeves & Mortimer themselves, feels so natural it would be a shame for it not to happen.

“Well,” notes Jim, with a knowing wink in his eye, “That’s acting!”

And with that, they’re off to do more of it. That episode won’t record itself.

House of Fools returns on Monday 16th February at 10pm on BBC2. The first series is available on dvd from 23rd February.

RIP Charlie Philips

6 Feb
© Charlie Philips

© Charlie Philips

The Velvet Onion would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Charlie Philips, who died earlier this week.

A BAFTA winning editor for his work on Sherlock, Charlie’s editing career began in 1996, with the Ben Elton penned sitcom The Thin Blue Line starring Rowan Atkinson, Mark Addy and Mina Anwar.

Philips was, however, perhaps defined by his work with director Matt Lipsey on a string of the most widely acclaimed comedies of the last fifteen years, which amongst them manage to include a huge number of the names we feature on these pages.

First working together on The Armstrong and Miller Show, the duo then worked on Lenny Henry in Pieces before being charged with bringing the twisted world of Julia Davis and Rob Brydon’s superlative Human Remains to life in 2000.

The following year, the pair began their first collaboration in the form of Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible - a comedy horror anthology in the style of Hammer and Amicus movies of yesteryear, which featured an appearance by Julia Davis alongside Mark Gatiss, Honor Blackman, Warwick Davis and Armstrong & Miller.

This was followed by Catterick - the seminal comedy drama from Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, which co-starred Matt Lucas and Reece Shearsmith amongst others. They then joined this creative team, alongside Steve Coogan once more for sketch show Monkey Trousers, followed by a sitcom for Coogan’s new character, Saxondale, co-starring James Bachman.

© BBC

© BBC

After short-lived sitcoms The Cup and Lunch Monkeys, came Psychoville - the sublime comedy mystery saga from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, which ran for two series featuring Lipsey & Philips at the helm.

The duo then worked on Chris Brann & Justin Chubb’s bonkers treat, This is Jinsey - co-starring Alice Lowe, no less, across two series either side of Psychoville‘s second run, as well as helming the first series of Greg Davis & Rik Mayall vehicle Man Down - produced by another TVO regular, Spencer Millman.  Sadly, these would mark their final collaborations.

Away from Lipsey, Philips also worked on Tittybangbang and the sixth series of Shooting Stars , as well as editions of Rev and Russell Tovey vehicle Him & Her, as well as the pilot episode of Psychobitches.

© BAFTA

© BAFTA

He moved into drama with mini-series Vexed, and followed that with work on Monroe and five episodes of Sherlock: the latter of which won him a BAFTA Craft Award in 2011.

Details of Charlie Philips outside of his work are limited, and it’s currently unknown exactly how he died. However, he has left behind an extraordinary body of work that has shaped the British Comedy scene for almost two decades, and will no doubt continue to do so in the years to come. He will be missed.

Matt Berry’s Lone Wolf Sequel

24 Jan
Matt Berry

© BBC

Matt Berry will be starring in a follow-up wildlife ‘documentary’ to last year’s iPlayer comedy short, Lone Wolf, in which he talks us through the courtships and mating rituals of creatures in the wild – in typical Berry-style of course.

With Lone Wolf having been nominated for Best Internet Comedy Short in the British Comedy Awards 2014, the sequel Wild Love is set to be a comedy delight.

It will be part of a new batch of nine online comedy shorts, which will be available on BBC iPlayer. Other stars who will feature in the shorts include TVO regular Katy Wix, as well as the likes of Bill Bailey, Russ Abbot, Sara Pascoe and Nick Helm. Aisling Bea will also be starring in Romesh Ranganathan’s short, A Tale of Two Roms.

The previous batch of comedy shorts, from June 2014, is still available on iPlayer here. This new set, written around the theme of Valentine’s Day, will be available from the 13th of February.

50 Comedians

14 Jan
© Matt Crockett

© Matt Crockett

A new book of photography featuring a bevy of TVO regulars is available for order.

50 Comedians is the work of portrait photographer Matt Crockett, and features over 50 portraits of comedic legends and fresher faces across 108 pages.

This includes Matt BerryPaul FootTony LawReece Shearsmith and the stars of House of Fools, Vic Reeves & Morgana Robinson, as well as Matt Lucas, Matt Horne, Mark Gatiss, Richard Herring, Stephen Fry and many, many more.

With just 1000 copies available of the first edition, each signed on the inside, you’d better act fast if you want a copy of your own. It can be picked up for £14.95 (plus p&p) from Matt Crockett’s website now.

Comedy fans in Edinburgh who popped into Playhouse Theatre recently may have seen a selection of images from 50 Comedians on their walls. The rest of us can console ourselves with the handy gallery over yonder.

So Hot Right Now #11

22 Dec

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 below.

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY FOR TVO TELLY FANS!

As Noddy Holder once sang: IT’S CHRIIIIIIISSSTTTTMAAAAAAASSSSS!!!!!! Which means there’s a sudden glut of top notch telly to be savoured, and that naturally includes a bevy of TVO regulars on our screens once again.  We’ve got more news to share with you below this epic round-up, but first off, we’ve got to celebrate just how much we can enjoy this week!

Monday 22nd December

© Sky

© Sky

The crux of that comes on Monday 22nd December, with six new shows and a vintage repeat to savour across the evening. First up at 5:30pm on Sky 1 is Katy Brand‘s Little Cracker getting a welcome re-airing.

First shown in 2012, the episode – like the rest of the Little Cracker series which inspired Moone Boy – focuses on a key event from it’s writer’s childhood Christmasses dramatised and exaggerated for comedic value.  Katy Brand’s edition centres on the moment ten-year-old Katy made an earth-shattering discovery on Christmas Eve, and in one fell swoop the magic and sparkle of the festive season vanished. All is not lost when an unlikely opportunity to save Christmas presents itself.

Stick with Sky1 at 8:30pm for the last in the current series of Trollied featuring Aisling Bea. In tonight’s episode, it’s Charity Day at Valco supermarket, with a big prize draw called into question, a sponsored bike ride, shaved legs and a giant pain-relief tablet costume. Mad as ever.

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Over on Channel 4 at 8pm is the Gadget Man’s Guide To Christmas in which Richard Ayoade presents a gadget-packed guide to the festive season, joined by techno-loving celebrity friends including Jonathan Ross, Stephen Merchant, Robert Webb, Jessica Hynes and Reece Shearsmith.

In this hour long special, Richard and his guests reveal new ways of doing the Christmas shopping, surviving the winter weather, cooking Christmas dinner, wrapping gifts, dealing with snow, handling fog and getting through long nights. They also look at a smartphone breathalyser, a pitch-shifting karaoke machine and Richard makes a festive feast. Bring it on!

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

After Gadget Man, we heartily recommend you switch over to BBC Two, where the new series of The Wrong Mans begins at 9pm. The show featuring writers James Corden and Matthew Baynton as two idiots accidentally caught up in a huge espionage plot, was a smash hit last year, and featured a huge array of incredible guest stars, including our very own Rufus Jones and Dan Skinner amongst them.

This year, Baynton and Corden are again joined by a top notch cast including Dawn French and Rebecca Front, and the show is directed by once more by Jim Field-Smith - formerly a member of criminally underrated sketch troup Dutch Elm Conservatoire alongside Rufus Jones, Dan Skinner, Stephen Evans and Jordan Long, who you may recognise from Junglophilia, World of Wrestling, Mongrels and the first series of The Wrong Mans!

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

The first two episodes are being shown in a double bill on Monday 22nd from 9pm, with Episodes Three and Four – featuring a guest appearance from Fergus Craig as a pilot – airing tomorrow evening at the same time. American fans shouldn’t fret either – The Wrong Mans is a co-production with Hulu, so should be on your screens over there in the New Year.

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

Stick with BBC Two at 10pm for a double bill of musical mayhem. First up is Never Mind The Buzzcocks Christmas special to round off the series in style.  As you can see, the festive edition got everyone in the spirit of Christmas, and you’ll probably never look at turkey the same way again.

Joining host Rhod Gilbert and team captains Noel Fielding and Phill Jupitus for the madness are legendary Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, his polar opposite Louis ‘X-Factor’ Walsh, singer Melissa Steel and comedian Lloyd Langford. There’s even a guest appearance by the actual Snowman. A must see!

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Straight after Buzzcocks is the final episode of Brian Pern: A Life in Rock - the madcap mockumentary from Rhys Thomas and Simon Day which features a massive ensemble cast of real life celebrities and great comic talents.  Michael Kitchen, Paul Whitehouse, Nigel Havers Lucy Montgomery and Tony Way are joined this week by Mel C, Chrissie Hynde, Roy Wood, Roger Allum and loads more as Brian tries to record a Christmas album.

There’s a glorious set of pastiches of past pop favourites on offer in this week’s episode, including Simon and Lucy’s homage to Barcelona, the Thotch lads getting all Chas N Dave on us, and the glorious Black Christmas.  Mel C and Pepita get to fight it out over the microphone, Roy Wood’s producer wants to put a till on everything, and the best is saved till last as Peter Gabriel makes another appearance.

As we bid Brian a fond farewell, don’t forget to catch up on our interview with him, as well as series creators Rhys Thomas and Simon Day, and we hope he’s back for more soon!

Both Buzzcocks and Brian Pern happen to clash with another TVO favourite, but thanks to the wonders of 4+1, that’s not necessarily a problem. At 10pm on Channel 4 (or 11pm on 4+1), is the special final episode of Derek starring Ricky Gervais.

© Channel 4 / Ray Burmiston

© Channel 4 / Ray Burmiston

The second series introduced characters played by Tony Way and Colin Hoult, and Colin features in this grande finale, in which Broadhill regulars are busy planning the wedding of the year.  However, Kev’s behaviour proves too much for Hannah, while Vicky prepares to fill her boss’s shoes, and Derek is just trying to hold everything together.

Previous finales from Gervais have tended to tackle surprisingly weighty issues in brilliant dramatic form – whatever anyone thought of Extras or Life’s Too Short, for example, there’s no denying they went out with a bang, so we’d definitely recommend you give this one a chance.

Tuesday 23rd December

If you’ve caught everything from Monday 22nd live, or you’re fully up to date from catchup services, then stick near your remote, cos there’s more to savour throughout the week. On Tuesday 23rd, at 9:30pm, we have the final episode of Psychobitches Series Two to savour over on Sky Arts HD, and it’s set to be as magnificent as the rest.

© Sky Arts

© Sky Arts

The highlight of the show looks set to be Richard E Grant’s guest appearance as Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as he interrupts a psychiatric session for grotesque witches played by Matthew Baynton, Kevin Eldon and Cardinal Burns star Dustrin Demri-Burns.  Also visiting Rebecca Front’s psychoanalyst this week are Gracie Fields (The IT Crowd guest star Frances Barber), Fanny Cradock (the other half of Cardinal Burns, Seb Cardinal), Hildegard of Bingen (Doctor Who’s Michelle Gomez), the Statue of Liberty (Toast of London‘s Doon Mackichan), Shirley Temple (Benidorm’s Sheila Reid), Daphne du Maurier (House of Fools star Morgana Robinson), Zeus’s wife Hera (Goodness Gracious Me legend Mera Syal) and Hindu goddess Kali (La La Land‘s Marc Wootton). Phew!

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

That’s not all, either, as 10pm brings us the festive special of Man Down on Channel 4.  The show, starring Greg Davies as idiotic teacher Dan, is produced by Spencer Millman (of The Mighty BooshMan to Man and The Inbetweeners fame), and the first series was hugely popular on its initial airing late in 2013.

However, the show suffered a near-fatal blow earlier this year, with the tragic death of co-star Rik Mayall - who injected so much life into proceedings (as always) taunting Dan as his vindictive father in a pitch-perfect casting choice.  Nevertheless, the show must go on, and this special – ahead of a second series – is the first chance we have to see the show without him.

Stephanie Cole guest stars as Aunt Nesta, and there are a few familiar faces for TVO fans on board too: with Justin Edwards making an appearance as a solicitor, and the excellent Ramon Tikaram (star of This Life, brother of singer Tanita Tikaram, and Mighty Boosh guest star as Banoo) also involved.  Al Campbell – aka Barry Shitpeas – is directing once again, and it looks set to be another fine addition to the festive canon.

Also on telly that evening are the aforementioned third and fourth episodes of The Wrong Mans, plus Sky 1 are repeating Treasure Island across Tuesday and Wednesday at 5pm each day. This adaptation starring Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood and Donald Sutherland from 2012 also featured a cavalcade of British telly talent, including Philip Glennister, Daniel Mays, Shaun Parkes, Nathan Barley star Nina Sosyana and our very own Julian Barratt as Thomas Redruth.

Christmas Eve

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

Speaking of Wednesday, Christmas Eve brings us the Not Going Out Christmas Special, in which the will-they-won’t-they tension between Lee (Boosh radio series star Lee Mack) and Lucy (Sally Bretton) reaches unseen new highs, and Lee’s pint-sized dad Frank (Bobby Ball) takes him for a night on the tiles.

As ever Katy Wix co-stars, and there’s a guest appearance from Phil Cornwell as a police officer (only a week and a bit after his role as a police officer in Brian Pern, actually!). Lee Mack has indicated this may be the final ever episode, so expect it to go out on a happy note, just in case.

One last treat for Wednesday – if you happen to be watching Film Four’s repeat of Saint Trinians - see if you can spot Richard Glover as a put upon telly bod. Nice little cameo, there…

Christmas Day

©  BBC / David Venni

© BBC / David Venni

Christmas Day itself is a little short on treats, but like the rest of the country (we hope), we’ll be settling down to watch Nick Frost as Father Christmas in the Doctor Who special, Last Christmas.  Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman return as The Doctor and Clara, alongside guest stars Michael Troughton (of The New Statesmen fame), Faye Marsey and Natalie Gumede (who appeared in sitcom flop The Persuasionists with Simon Farnaby).

There’s currently no word on whether Ben Wheatley will be returning to direct further episodes of Doctor Who in the new year, but with filming set to begin in January, we’re sure to know soon enough. Last Christmas, which has been getting rave reviews so far, will air at 6:15pm on BBC One.

Over on Channel 4 in the early hours – midnight to be exact – is the Father Ted Christmas Special, A Christmassy Ted. This festive classic, written by Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews sees Ted and his fellow priests trapped in the lingerie section of a major department store, and Ted’s quick thinking resulting in him staging an award-winning rescue.  The episode is also shown on More4 across the festive season, so keep your eyes peeled if you miss it, or catch it on 4od. And really, you should own the dvd by now!

Boxing Day

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

Boxing Day brings with it another Big Fat Quiz of the Year - and whilst Noel Fielding is absent this year, his old cohort Richard Ayoade is on hand to add a bit of Onion into the mix.  He joins David Mitchell, Mel B, Sarah Millican, Kevin Bridges and Micky Flanagan as well as regular host Jimmy Carr.

There’s also guest appearances from Michael Palin, Rio Ferdinand, Lily Allen and the stars of The Inbetweeners, plus some surprises in store, so check in to Channel 4 from 9pm.

Sunday 28th December

© Pett Productions / Chris Baines

© Pett Productions / Chris Baines

Lastly, but by no means leastly, Sunday 28th December brings us the Christmas Special of House of Fools on BBC Two at 10:05pm.  This special episode of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s sublime sitcom is set on Christmas Eve, but when Bob’s present for Erik is unexpectedly engulfed in flames, the housemates go on an underground boat journey to Phil Collins’ mansion.

It’s typically glorious madness from the team, which features Matt BerryDan Skinner, Morgana Robinson and Daniel Simonsen, as well as a guest appearance once more by Reece Shearsmith – as Santa no, less. We’ll have a full preview of the episode later this week, and interviews with the cast (and new regular Ellie White) ahead of Series Two launching early next year.

SECRET SANTA SHOCKER FOR NEIL COLE

Of course, we’re celebrating all this telly, but it’s too late for Christmas. Neil Cole has exposed him, as we revealed over yonder.  Kris Kringle himself is launches his revealing autobigoraphy Secret Santa, but Neil wouldn’t take no for an answer…

Absolutely scandalous.

COLIN KEEPS ON COLLAB-ING

Another week goes by, and Colin Hoult continues his five-times-a-week quest to vlog in character.  Last week saw Anna Mann discuss credit card debt, Andy Parker tackle the Twilight saga, Eddie Cartizean dance his way into some beetroot, Thwor suffer from Season Affective Disorder, and Dom Fez tell us all about the girls that make him go CWOR!

With more videos uploaded every weekday, there’s a treat in store every day. Visit Colin’s YouTube channel now to subscribe.

AND THE REST…

There’s so much going on, a lot of which is featured on our News Page, but here’s some of what you may have missed in the last seven days.

We’ll see you throughout this week – and hope you have a very, very, Merry Christmas. Peace and love and all that jazz. Keep on peelin’.

TVO @ The British Comedy Awards 2014… Sort Of.

19 Dec

Earlier this week, The British Comedy Awards 2014 took place in Wembley, with a number of TVO regulars winning awards, including Aisling Bea, Katherine Parkinson, Moone Boy and Toast of London.

TVO had been graciously invited to attend the event, but couldn’t make it on the night, so we sent musician, actor and presenter Nigel Thomas (formerly of criminally underrated band The Foxes, now a solo artist) along to report in our place.  This is the result…

Our huge thanks to Nigel and collaborator Louie Christie for attending the event, and standing around for hours whilst the vast majority of stars ignored the ‘blue carpet’ to savour the delights of the main room. Thanks also to Matt Berry and Sandi Toksvig for agreeing to speak to us, and Seann Walsh and Paul Chowdhry for bringing their comedic game to the table.

For the full list of winners, see below.

Best TV Comedy Actress - Katherine Parkinson | Best Male TV Comic - Lee Mack | Best Sketch Show - Harry And Paul’s Story of the 2s | Best Female TV Comic - Aisling Bea | Lifetime Achievement Award - Monty Python | Best TV Comedy Actor - Harry Enfield | Best Comedy Drama - Rev | Best New Comedy Programme Toast of London | Best Comedy Entertainment Personality - Graham Norton | Best Comedy Panel Show - Would I Lie To You? | Best Sitcom - Moone Boy | Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist - Nick Helm | Best Comedy Entertainment Programme - The Graham Norton Show | Writer’s Guild Award - Brendan O’Carroll | Best International Comedy Programme - Modern Family | Best Internet Comedy Short - Carpark | Best Comedy Film - The Inbetweeners 2 | Best Comedy Moment 2014 - Harry And Paul’s Story Of The 2s | King / Queen of Comedy - Jack Whitehall

For more details, visit our friends at British Comedy Guide.

The British Comedy Awards – Tonight!

16 Dec

Tonight sees the 2014 British Comedy Awards take place in Wembley, with broadcast taking place on Channel 4 tomorrow evening – and as ever, there’s a huge chunk of TVO nominees.

© Kuba Wieczorek

© Kuba Wieczorek

As we’ve mentioned previously, Matt Berry is up for a bevvy of awards – with a whopping six direct nominations for him, Toast of London and his one-off BBC sketch Lone Wolf. His Toast co-star, Harry Peacock, is also nominated for his role in the show, as is House of Fools in which he co-stars alongside Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Dan Skinner. We’re expecting big wins for Matt tonight!

Also up for nominations are Aisling BeaSpencer Millman (via The Inbetweeners 2 and Man Down), Katherine ParkinsonHarry and Paul’s Story of the Two’s (which featured Justin Edwards), Inside No. 9 (from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton), Cardinal Burns (featuring Rufus Jones and Fergus Craig), Moone BoyThe Trip to ItalyHorrible Histories - we could go on!

© BBC

© BBC

In fact, every nomination for Best Sitcom, and three out of four nominations for Best Sketch Show have direct links back to our regulars, so we’re almost certainly in for a celebratory night!

TVO will be cramming ourselves into the press pit to talk to the talent on camera, for a video report we hope to bring you very soon. Good luck to all the nominees, especially those we feature and that we – and you, dear readers – love.

For the full list of nominees, see below. Anyone with a direct TVO connection is highlighted, so you know who to cheer for most!

Moone Boy S2

Best Sitcom

House of FoolsMoone Boy The Trip to Italy | Toast of London

Best Comedy Panel Programme

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Have I Got News For You QI | Would I Lie To You

© Channel 4 / Jules Heath

 Best Sketch Show

Cardinal Burns | Harry & Paul Story of the Two’s | Horrible Histories Monty Python Live (mostly) – One Down Five to Go
 

Best Comedy Entertainment Programme

Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe | Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle The Graham Norton Show | The Last Leg
© BBC

© BBC

Best Comedy Drama

Inside No. 9 Rev | The Wrong MansUncle

Best New Comedy Programme

Inside No. 9 | Man Down The Wrong Mans | Toast of London

Best International Comedy Programme

Girls Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Modern Family | Veep

© BBC

Best Internet Comedy Short

Brand New Morph | Carpark | How To Make A Hit Pop Song | Matt Berry: Lone Wolf

Best Comedy Film

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues | Pride | The Inbetweeners 2 | The Lego Movie

Best Comedy Entertainment Personality

Adam Hills Alan Carr Ant & Dec  Graham Norton
© Balloon (50 Year Special) Limited / Mark Johnson

© Balloon (50 Year Special) Limited / Mark Johnson

Best TV Comedy Actor

Harry Enfield Matt Berry Matthew Baynton Paul Whitehouse

Best TV Comedy Actress

Doon Mackichan Jessica Hynes Katherine Parkinson Zawe Ashton
©  Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

Best Male Television Comic

David Mitchell Lee Mack Sean Lock Stewart Lee

Best Female Television Comic

Aisling Bea Bridget Christie Isy Suttie Nina Conti
©  Objective / Channel 4

© Objective / Channel 4

 Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist

Harry Peacock | Joe Wilkinson Matt Berry Nick Helm

Best Comedy Moment of 2014

8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown | Harry & Paul’s Story Of The Two’s | Monty Python Live | Toast of London | Would I Lie To You

The British Comedy Awards 2014 take place tonight in Wembley, and will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Wednesday, 17th December from 9pm.

So Hot Right Now #10

15 Dec

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 below.

TVO ON TELLY

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

This week sees a drop in the number of TVO related shows on our screens, as both Toast of London finished its latest runs last week.  However, with Psychobitches (Sky Arts, Tuesdays, 9pm) and Trollied (Sky One, Mondays, 8:30pm) still going strong, there’s life in the Onion yet.

Most excitingly, we’ve still got the mighty Brian Pern: A Life in Rock to savour – with Episode Two (airing on Tuesday 16th) featuring the titular prog-rock legend (played by Simon Day) trying to bring his long-mooted adaptation of The Day of the Triffids to life on stage.

© BBC / Neil Barnes

© BBC / Neil Barnes

Once again featuring co-creator Rhys Thomas alongside Michael Kitchen, Paul Whitehouse, Nigel Havers, Lucy MontgomeryTony Way and Steve Burge, this episode also features a truly hilarious cameo from Sir Roger Moore, and is one you’d be mad to miss.

Last week, TVO spoke not only to Brian Pern via an exclusive email catch-up, but also to Simon Day and Rhys Thomas. You can catch up on our interview with those fine gentlemen over yonder.

Those of you who set your DVRs way in advance should take note – Episode Three next week airs on Monday, right after Never Mind the Buzzcocks, rather than the usual Tuesday slot. You have been forewarned.

Speaking of Buzzcocks, this week’s edition features Irish actress Yasmine Akram, American musician and producer Steve Aoki, Canadian stand-up comedian Bobby Mair and singer-songwriter Rumer – and for those uncertain of who any of those people are: this is the one with the lads covered in cake, as seen on all those pictures doing the rounds with the Tumblr crowds. Enjoy.

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

CATCH UP WITH COL

Last week saw the launch of Colin Hoult‘s new YouTube channel, featuring a brand new in-character vlog five days a week.  Anna Mann, Andy Parker, Eddie Cartezian and Thwor bring us weekly updates Monday through Thursday, with a special treat each Friday.

If you missed any of last week’s editions, you can catch up now over yonder, and we’ve included this week’s first video, in which Anna Mann discusses credit card debt, below.

PADDINGTON STILL TOPS

Paul King‘s delightful Paddington is still sat atop the UK box office, having taken £10.33m in just ten days. Figures for last weekend have yet to be revealed, but we’re sure the film, which features a bevvy of TVO cameos alongside its big name cast, will still be firing on all cylinders – and rightly so!

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

Elsewhere, Chris O’Dowd can be seen in St Vincent and Michael Smiley pops up in Black Sea - both of which opened fairly modestly last week, so do get out to see them if you haven’t already!

TWEETS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

A Third Round of Toast

9 Dec

© Kuba Wieczorek

Toast of London - the bonkers but brilliant sitcom from Matt Berry and Arthur Matthews, is to return for a third series.

The confirmation was made some time ago, following the show (and Matt’s) numerous nominations in this year’s British Comedy Awards (set to take place next week), but made public yesterday as the second series came to an end.

Featuring Matt as a successful television and stage actor who also happens to be a blustering buffoon, the show also features Doon Machkichan, Robert Bathurst and Harry Peacock, and has featured guest appearances from TVO regulars Matt Holness and Rufus Jones, as well as Snuffbox veteran Alan Ford.

Despite debuting to low audience figures, Toast has developed a cult following and its stock has risen considerably with its second series, after winning the Rose D’Or for Sitcom in September, and gaining six British Comedy Award Nominations.

TVO would like to extend our huge congratulations to Matt and the team at Objective, and can’t wait to see more of Steven Toast very soon.

So Hot Right Now #9

8 Dec

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 below.

THE RETURN OF BRIAN PERN

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

This week sees the long awaited return of Brian Pern to our screens, in the brand new series Brian Pern: A Life in Rock.  As always, the show is the brainchild of Fast Show veterans Rhys Thomas and Simon Day, the latter of whom plays the titular prog-rock legend turned hapless world music pioneer and obscure charity fundraiser.

Whilst the first series, The Life of Rock with Brian Pern focused more on telling the story of rock across the generations in documentary format, the second shifts its tone to be more of a candid look at the life of Brian, and those around him.  This includes his luxury yacht loving manager John Farrow (brilliantly brought to life by Michael Kitchen), world music goddess Pepita (TVO regular Lucy Montgomery), Brian’s former bandmates in Thotch (including Paul Whitehouse and Nigel Havers as Pat Quid and Tony Pebble) and his driver Ned (Tony Way).

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Also along for the ride this series are big name guest stars Martin Freeman, Jack Whitehall, Kathy Burke, Roger Allum, Kevin Eldon, Chrissie Hynde, Mel C, Roger Taylor, Roy Wood, Rick Parfitt and more. TVO devoured all three episodes in one sitting, and can confirm this is a joyous continuation of a much loved character, with a wonderful set of supporting characters filling out his world, and once more – some glorious tunes (courtesy of Steve Burge) in the mix.

You’d be mad to miss it. And if you tune in to BBC Two on Tuesday evening at 10pm, you won’t.  Stay peeled this week for an exclusive interview with creators Simon Day & Rhys Thomas, and maybe a word or two from Brian Pern himself…

COMEDY COLLAB

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

If you haven’t caught up with Colin Hoult‘s unique blend of dark humour and outright silliness yet, you’ve probably not been reading TVO properly. First coming to our attention via his work with Julian Barratt & Dave McNeill on Zimbani, the character comedian has crafted numerous sell out live shows and appeared on our screens in shows as varied as House of RoomsDerekLife’s Too Short and Being Human.

Now he’s back with some of his most beloved live favourites, preparing for an onslaught of sheer characterness on his own YouTube channel.  Five days a week, Colin will be posting a new vlog from one of the strange people in his mindtank, starting today!

Mondays will bring us a new video from the delightful (if failed) actress Anna Mann, whilst Tuesdays are a chance to get some expert tips on survival, scriptwriting and what movies you must all watch on pain of a poke in the eye, from Ninja Turtle fan Andy Parker.

On Wednesdays, everything will be coming up Saint Germain, as we get a little jazzy with our favourite beret wearer, Eddie Cartizian. And on Thursdays, its time for care in the community, as the Mighty God Thwor weilds his powerful hammer in our direction. Bang, bang.

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

Finally, each Friday will bring us a surprise guest from Colin’s oeuvre, including new characters and old favourites – some of whom you may remember from his excellent radio series Carnival of Monsters, which is due back on Radio 4 soon. You can see the first episode, featuring Anna Mann discussing her old actress friend Miriam Crotch below, and don’t forget to subscribe to see more!

ONIONS AIRING

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

As we’re keen to keep reminding you, there’s a large bevvy of shows currently airing with TVO connections.  Monday nights see not one, not two, but three new shows to savour beaming into your homes: Trollied on Sky One at 8:30pm featuring Aisling BeaNever Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC Two at 10pm, featuring Noel Fielding alongside Phill Jupitus and Rhod Gilbert; and Toast of London on Channel 4 at 10:35pm, featuring Matt Berry.

©  Sky

© Sky

But wait – there’s more on telly this week! Psychobitches continues on Sky Arts every Tuesday evening, featuring Sharon Horgan, Katy BrandReece Shearsmith and many many more, whilst Not Going Out featuring Katy Wix returns to BBC One on Friday evening. It’s a good time to be an Onioner, eh?

HOOKED TO THE SILVER SCREEN

Don’t forget that Paddington - directed by Paul King and featuring a host of TVO cameos amongst is big-name cast – is currently wowing the crowds in UK cinemas, having taken a whopping £5.1 million in its opening weekend alone!

© Studio Canal

Alongside Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman et al, are little sneaky guest appearances by Alice LoweSteve OramTom MeetenJames BachmanSimon Farnaby and Justin Edwards – so you’d be mad to miss it.

Also out at the moment are Bill Murray vehicle Saint Vincent, featuring Chris O’Dowd, and a film which almost sneaked past our radar – submarine-based action thriller Black Sea starring Jude Law, Tobias Menzies, David Threlfall and Michael Smiley. US readers can see the film, alongside Paddington in January. Check out the US trailer below.

THE BRAIN SUCKING CONTINUES

Finally this week, the campaign to get a movie version of The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains off the ground needs your help to reach its goal, and we’ll leave you with this clip of TVO regular Stephen Evans to explain why.

DONATE HERE!

Keep on peeling, and we’ll see you back here soon!

TWEETS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

So Hot Right Now #7

24 Nov

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 below.

PADDINGTON ARRIVES

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

The British media has gone absolutely potty for the new Paddington movie, which is released this week – and it’s not hard to see why.  The live-action adaptation of Michael Bond’s iconic tale of a bear from Peru features a top-notch cast including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent and former Nathan Barley actor turned Bond movie star Ben Wishaw as the voice of the marmalade guzzler himself.

©   Nils Jorgensen/REX

© Nils Jorgensen/REX

Of course, we’re remind you about it because – whilst the posters and the trailers seem to ignore this fact – the film is directed by none other than Paul King, the man behind all three series of The Mighty Boosh as well as his incredible debut feature, Bunny and the Bull.

Paul also directed the live runs of Garth Marenghi, before becoming Assistant Director on Darkplace prior to his run with the Boosh, which also featured both their mammoth UK live tours.

He’s been silent since directing Come Fly With Me back in 2011, which shows just how long he’s been working on Paddington and we can’t wait to see the results.

Paddington is on general release in the UK this Friday, with the rest of the world following soon. Oh, and watch out for Steve Oram and Tom Meeten as a pair of lazy guards, too!

LE STRANGE RETURNS!

This week’s other big news is the return of Gary Le Strange - the iconic glam-tinged New Romantic pop god wot looks an awful lot like Waen Shepherd in silly clothes and makeup.

©  Andy Hollingworth

© Andy Hollingworth

Le Strange was a huge cult smash with his debut Edinburgh show Polaroid Suitcase in 2003, and followed that success with further shows Face Academy in 2004 and Beef Scarecrow in 2006, before disappearing without a trace.

He resurfaced on the live scene six years later, including a rare appearance at The Velvet Onion Live, and last year, following digital reissues of his audio masterpieces, a ‘Lost EP’ featuring works from Waen’s abandoned second album surfaced online, by the name of Glamoronica.

© Lauren Taylor / The Velvet Onion

Now Le Strange is back with his first brand new material proper – and it’s a suitably stonking slice of Numan-esque, Bowie-scented pop rock.

Norman (I’ve Dropped My Cup of Tea) is available on Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes and Spotify this week, with the former going live on Tuesday, 25th November. Click on the links below to buy the song from Amazon – we’ll add iTunes links when we have them!

Download the original, explicit mix here.

Download the original, explicit mix here.

Download the radio edit here.

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TVO ON AIR

The current runs of TVO favourites continue apace this week, with Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Toast of London, Trollied and Not Going Out all airing new episodes throughout the week – and available via catchup services after transmission.

This weekend also sees the debut of a new CBBC pilot, The Muckers - which is directed and edited by Ealing Live veteran (and IT Crowd postman) John ‘Willie’ Hopkins.  It airs at 10am on CBBC this Saturday, 29th November, so get your young ‘uns watching!  There’s a preview clip to be had below.

Also this weekend marks a celebration of Chris Morris on Radio 4 Extra, presented by Mary Ann Hobbs, as detailed in our news post over yonder, which you’d be mad to miss!

© cookdandbombd

But the big broadcast news this week comes with the long awaited return of Pyschobitches to Sky Arts HD.

The show features former Chris Morris illumni Rebecca Front as a psychiatrist to the stars: or more specifically, dead, female personalities.  Each episode sees the likes of Sharon HorganKaty Brand, Frances Barber, Samatha Spiro and Selina Griffiths bring famous faces back to life, and this series they are joined by House of Fools star Morgana Robinson, as well as Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns of Cardinal Burns fame.

©  Sky

© Sky

Also game for a laugh this year are Andy Nyman, Liza Tarbuck, Mark Benton, Miranda Richardson, Kathy Burke, Sheridan Smith, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Jack Whitehall and Reece Shearsmith.

With direction from League of Gentlemen star Jeremy Dyson, and a top notch writing team that includes Lucy Montgomery, we’re overjoyed to see the show return, and you can see the results from Tuesday 25th November at 9pm, with the episodes staying on demand afterwards for any SkyGo and NowTV customers. There’s two fantastic preview clips featuring Sharon Horgan shaking her booty, and Reece Shearsmith feeling unloved below.

For more on the show, visit the Sky Arts website now.

AND THE REST!

As always, there’s so much going on, that we’re using Twitter to keep you informed quicker these days. Join the other 11,900+ of our regular readers by following us there, and get regular updates such as these:

Toast On Your Wall

22 Nov

© Smart Giant Media

Fans of Matt Berry‘s Toast of London can now express their love of the show on their vertical household surfaces. Graphic designer, Mick, of Smart Giant Media, has created a series of bold designs featuring key characters from the show.

There are 4 designs in total featuring: Steven Toast, Jane Plough, Clem Fandango and Ray Purchase. They vary in cost depending on the size of the print – from £20 for A4 to £60 for A1.  Or you can get the full set of four designs at A5 size for £50.

To buy one click here. And while you’re at it, why not take a look around? Smart Giant Media also has designs for Inside No. 9, another of the shows that we cover.

Don’t forget that you can see episode 4 of the new series of Toast on Channel 4 on Monday night. Or if you can’t wait that long, it’s on 4oD now!

So Hot Right Now #6

17 Nov

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 below.

TELLY VELVETS CONTINUE

We’re knee deep into the current series of several TVO related shows at present, with Monday nights continuing to bring a triple whammy via Trollied (8:30pm on Sky One, featuring Aisling Bea), Never Mind The Buzzcocks (10:00pm on BBC Two, featuring Noel Fielding) and Toast of London (10:50pm on Channel 4, featuring Matt Berry).

© Avalon Television

© Avalon Television

Friday sees the return of Not Going Out after a week off for Children in Need, with Lee and Daisy (former Boosh radio series star Lee Mack and TVO regular Katy Wix) appearing on cult gameshow Pointless, as seen above. You can catch it at 9:30pm, and it will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

Next week, they’ll be joined by Psychobitches (starting Nov 25th), and with current repeats for The IT Crowd and Graham Linehan‘s latest project, The Walshes, it’s a great time to have your telly primed to catch a TVO favourite on air.

THE DAY THEY CAME TO SUCK OUT YOUR WALLETS

Campaigning for the movie version of The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains continues apace – with Bob Pipe and James Wren‘s magnificent web-series the catalyst for much of the fundraising.  With a star-studded cast including Warwick Davis, Chris Kendall, Gemma Whelan, Nick Helm, Thomas Nelstrop, Ricky Grover and TVO regulars Richard GloverColin HoultWaen Shepherd and Neil Cole, this is a project we at TVO would love you to get behind – and they really need your cash to make it a reality!

PLEDGE HERE

If you’ve never seen the web series, you can catch up below, and see more fun videos from Bob over yonder.

TOUR TIMES

UK tours are well underway now for three of our most popular regulars.  An Audience With Noel Fielding (featuring Noel alongside Mike Fielding and Tom Meeten), reaches Hammersmith, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff this week, whilst Paul Foot visits Brighton, Southend and Milton Keynes, and Tony Law can be seen in Colchester, Liverpool, Cranleigh and Newcastle.

Manchester also plays host to Richard Sandling MCing a fundraising night of comedy, which also features Buzzcocks legend Phill Jupitus this coming Sunday. For further live show details, visit our listings page… which we’ll be updating very soon!

AND THE REST!

As always, there’s so much going on, that we’re using Twitter to keep you informed quicker these days. Join the other 11,900+ of our regular readers by following us there, and get regular updates such as these:

So Hot Right Now #5

10 Nov

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 below.

TVO ON TELLY

This week sees the continuing adventures of Trollied (featuring Aisling Bea) on Sky One, and Toast of London (written by and starring Matt Berry) on Channel 4, whilst Not Going Out - the BBC One sticom featuring Katy Wix alongside Lee Mack, takes a break for Children In Need, returning next Friday (Nov 21st).

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

Miss Bea also makes an appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks alongside pop veterans Lisa Stansfield and Ana Matronic, and fellow comedian Joe Lycett, and the regulars Rhod Gilbert, Phill Jupitus and Noel Fielding.

If you missed it last week, there’s also the opportunity to catch up with Richard Ayoade joining David WalliamsCatherine Tate, Dame Shirley Bassey and Annie Lennox on The Graham Norton Show via iPlayer, which is available until Friday evening.

© BBC / So Television

© BBC / So Television

There’s one other little treat for TVO fans out there this week, with a round of popular quiz show Pointless featuring Cult Sitcoms, which aired on Tuesday, November 4th.  The question asked 100 people to name actors who appeared in two or more episodes of SpacedThe Mighty Boosh and French & Saunders oft-neglected 80s sitcom Girls On Top.  Surprisingly, those polled were clearly not regular readers of The Velvet Onion – as quite a number of our regulars came up as pointless answers! Check it out, 36 minutes in, over yonder.

TVO TOASTS

The nominations for this year’s British Comedy Awards were announced this weekend, with a huge number of shows having TVO connections.  As we noted in our news post, the nominations include a whopping – and totally deserved – eight nods for Matt Berry via Toast of London and his recent short The Lone Wolf.

© Kuba Wieczorek

© Kuba Wieczorek

With Toast currently in the midsts of its second series, as mentioned above, there’s no better time to check out what all the fuss is about!

In fact, the nominations go a long way to proving what we’ve been telling you all for almost half a decade now: that Onion Land is a talented place indeed.  All four nominations for Best Sitcom and three of the four for Best New Comedy Programme have TVO connections, as do fellow nominees, The Inbetweeners 2, Harry and Paul’s Story of the Twos and How To Make A Hit Pop Song.  It’s a glorious time for British Comedy indeed.

Our huge congratulations go to all the nominees, but especially our regulars Matt BerryAisling BeaKatherine ParkinsonReece ShearsmithDan Skinner, Spencer MillmanSimon FarnabyChris O’Dowd and Steve Coogan.  Good luck to you all!

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE VIRAL

Three stories caught the public’s imagination this week in ways we didn’t quite expect.  First up, Paul King‘s forthcoming Paddington movie – featuring cameos from Steve Oram and Tom Meeten amongst its star studded cast – began the biggest part of its publicity campaign, with a series of statues of the titular bear being erected across London.

© John Furniss / Studio Canal

© John Furniss / Studio Canal

The full blown Paddington Trail, detailed on the official Visit London website, features a whole host of Paddingtons designed by celebrities: with the likes of Peter Capaldi, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Sheen, John Hurt, Emma Watson and Julie Walters amongst those making their mark on the famous bear.

The film itself is due out on November 28th, and there’s a new trailer for it below.

On the subject of all things film related, the bad news this week was the closure of Teddington Studios, which will be demolished to make way for a series of luxury homes, as reported here by The Express.

Starting life as a film studio in the 1910s, Teddington was at one time a home for Warner Brothers productions of quota-quickies, before being taken over by ABC, and later Thames Television – in that time making shows as diverse as THe Avengers and Morcambe & Wise.  It became an independent studio in the mid 90s, and was leased to Pinewood for the last decade or so – but with the expiry of their lease, time is up for the legendary studio.

© Talkback

© Talkback

In recent years, Teddington has housed The IT CrowdHarry Hill’s TV BurpBlack BooksMan To Man With Dean LearnerBrass EyeNot Going OutStarlings and Dick And Dom’s Funny Business - all featuring a bevvy of TVO regulars.  It will be missed by the industry, but its legacy will live on.

Whilst Teddington leaves behind a positive legacy, the one ITV2 are making at the moment has been the source of much concern over the weekend, with friend of TVO (and cult comedian) Nathaniel Tapley being on the receiving end of abuse – alongside his collaborator Abi Wilkinson – after they dared to criticise ITV2 star Dapper Laughs for his remarks about women and the homeless.  The furore shows no signs of slowing down, but if you’ve missed it all, we recommend you start catching up here, then read the follow up pieces from BBC News and Huffington Post.  We’re firmly on Team AbiTap, here…

THE BRAINS! THE BRAINS!

The campaign for The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains fundraising continues apace – and you can help make the movie happen! Join the campaign over yonder, and watch the splendid Neil Cole make a tit of himself in the name of moviemaking below.

AND THE REST!

As always, there’s so much going on, that we’re using Twitter to keep you informed quicker these days. Join the other 11,900+ of our regular readers by following us there, and get regular updates such as these:

See you next week… until then, keep on peeling!

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