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Luxury Gallery, Ooh-Yeah!

1 Aug

Suck my beans! Luxury Comedy officially launched last night, and with Episode Two now on 4oD, there’s still lots we have to share with you as the series progresses.

© Dave Brown / Channel 4

© Dave Brown / Channel 4

For starters, there’s our making of featurette: a rough-n-ready rumble-tumble through the madness of filming Luxury Comedy.  TVO hung around for four very different days on set and highlights from the organised chaos will be seen very soon.

There’s also a competition coming later today, and a few more surprises to come – including our own behind the scenes photo galleries.  But it’s only right and proper that we begin such proceedings with the official photography, lovingly crafted by the incredible Dave Brown and the genius that is Nigel Coan. Enjoy, and keep coming back for more!

Obviously, we’re aware that, given TVO is read in 161 different countries at last count, that a large number of you have no access to Channel 4.  In that case, we heartily recommend you order Series 1 and Series 2 on dvd from The Velvet Onion Amazon Store now!

Luxury Archives

29 Jul

As we excitedly skip towards the official launch of the new series of Luxury Comedy, we’ve come over all nostalgic at TVO and  we thought it might be nice to have a look back at some of the exclusive interviews, reviews and content that we created for your delectation for series 1. Here then is a trawl through our Luxury archives from back in the day:

First off, a biggie! Noel Fielding and Channel 4 were kind enough to invite us along to the filming of  the first series. Here’s what went on when we were there (and there are a few teasers that you can watch while you’re in a viewing mood too – just click on the links in this sentence):

Next up, we got all intellectual as our in-house art expert, Lozzy Taylor, wrote this article about the myriad of artistic inspirations contained within the show. On the subject of art, some of you will remember our call for you to send us your Luxury-inspired artistic output. We were deluged with an incredible range of colour and creativity, which we collated into a gallery of fan-generated awesomeness. Take a look at it here; did you make it into the gallery?

© Lozzy Taylor

We were lucky enough to get the chance to talk to the very lovely Dolly Wells and Mike Fielding (in what is, by his own admission, Mike’s most honest and revealing interview) about their role in Luxury series 1. Plus we managed to persuade the interview-shy co-creater and director of the show, Nigel Coan, to talk to us about working with Noel.

We also ran profiles on Nigel and Tom Meeten, in case they and their work needed a proper introduction to their new army of fans.

Finally, we’ll leave you with this interview with Noel from Spring 2013, which we filmed while he was writing series 2. He talks about the reaction to the first series and his plans for the new one. It’s interesting to see just how much of what he said developed into the new shows:

Stay peeling, as we hope to bring you more exclusives for series 2!…

An Early Look At Luxury 2

24 Jul

© Channel 4

Last week we were lucky enough to get a sneaky peek at the new series of Luxury Comedy. So without giving away any spoilers, what can we expect when it finally hits our screens on 31st July?

In interviews about the new series, Noel Fielding has been pretty open about his decision to move away from the sketch show format of series 1, towards a more narrative programme structure with a beginning, middle and an end to each episode. He says it’s because he’s a story-teller at heart, and it’s what he does best. This change of structure is certainly one of the most noticeable differences between the two series. So does it work?

Luxury Comedy is Noel’s stand up in visual form. That’s not to do it down; the fact that anyone has managed to capture the fantastical mayhem that goes on inside Fielding’s mind is impressive enough. Noel’s stand up material is at its best when allowed to slowly weave its shapes, layer upon layer, over a period of time. Stories unfold, characters evolve and concepts crystallise through repetition. By contrast, on the occasions I’ve seen him perform short slots on crowded comedy bills, his ideas don’t always have time to develop. This is not a man for the rat-tat-tat of machine-gun punchlines.

In the same way, expanding his TV ideas into 30-minute stories gives them proper form, allowing the viewer to step inside, appreciate their complexities and get carried along with the narrative. These are ideas rich enough for full episodes; and to reduce each of them to a sketch of a few minutes would underplay them. For me, then, the new format isn’t just about telling stories – it’s about telling strange stories much better.

© Channel 4

The different characters whom we encounter across the series are now part of each week’s story, which gives them purpose and makes the interaction between them feel genuine. The relationships between the characters are one of the aspects of the new series that gives the show its heart. This is no longer a disjointed collection of strange misfits; they’re friends, neighbours, and occasional enemies – as the story requires.

The friendship between the main four – Noel, Dolly, Andy and Smooth, allows for a solid dynamic at the centre of the action. The series 2 versions of the core team feel more ‘human’ and rounded, and as a result more sympathetic than before. Noel, in particular, presents a very different on-screen persona to anything we’ve seen from him previously: awkward, eager to please and uncool, he’s the Howard to Dolly’s preening Vince. Devoid of Howard Moon’s pomposity, however, this Noel is a character with whom we empathise, not just the one we laugh at.

Noel has said that he and Nigel spent longer writing the second series, and this comes across. I loved the first series, but there are more funnier moments in series 2 (based on the two episodes we saw). The writing’s sharp, the physical comedy is hilarious, and the characters are beautifully honed and gloriously wonky at the same time. Look out for star turns throughout from a whole host of TVO faces, including Richard Ayoade, Steve Oram, Dave Brown, Rich Fulcher, Arnab Chanda, Tania Wade, Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Stuart Silver, Simon Farnaby and others.

© Channel 4

This series is arguably the most self-aware output that we’ve ever seen from Fielding, with a number of knowing references to the public reaction that series 1 generated. He’s said that it’s a natural reaction to criticism – you try to get in there first before anyone else does. And it works well in this context, tethering the strange Luxury world to our own experience from time to time (thereby making it more relateable), and imbuing the series with a large helping of humility which, one hopes, the cynics out there will respond positively to.

Added to all of that, Luxury Comedy is still a fabulous feast for the eyes: the distinctive day-glo sets, wardrobe, make-up and animation all combine to create a uniquely visual world. Huge credit to Nigel Coan and his production team for putting it all together; you can see that it’s a labour of love in every single scene.

So will the rest of the world like it? I hope so. If people enjoyed the Boosh and the naysayers can get over their disproportionately extreme reaction to series 1, they would like this. Genuinely funny, beautifully magical and full of heart – what’s not to love?

Don’t forget to tune in: Luxury Comedy series 2 airs at 10pm on E4 on 31st July. For the less patient amongst you, episode 1 is available to view from TODAY –  a whole week early, on 4oD here.

Ayoade On Ayoade

7 Jul

© Larry Busacca / Getty Images North America

Richard Ayoade has confirmed he is to release a book… about himself.

Ayoade on Ayoade is part autobiography, part self-depreciating, self-aggrandising satire.  As the man himself puts it:  Would it be too much to say that my somewhat-wry prose has changed the way the film community thinks about itself (and indeed how it thinks about the concept of community)?

No. It wouldn’t. In fact, it’s actually pretty insulting that this so-called ‘Community’ hasn’t done more to acknowledge (or even begin to repay) its undoubted debt to me.”

Captures the director, writer and comedian in his own words: pompous, vain, angry and very, very funny – Ayoade on Ayoade will be released in October, and is available to pre-order via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store now.

As per usual, buying from the TVO store helps keep the site afloat, so get your pre-orders in pronto! We’ll bring you more details as soon as we can, so stay peeled.

Ayoade Returns As Gadget Man

8 Jun

© Channel 4

He may have become one of the premiere indie film directors since the first series of Gadget Man, but that hasn’t stopped Richard Ayoade stepping up for a second series!

Last month a section for the show was recorded in a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Chingford, where Richard tried out a rather clever-sounding lambent shopping handle (you can read all about that here).

The new series is likely to air this Autumn; as soon as we can find out an actual transmission date, we’ll let you know. It remains to be see whether he’ll be inviting his TVO-connected buddies to accompany him in this series. We hope so!

In the meantime, you can feed your Gadget Man hunger by visiting Channel 4 here, where you can watch clips galore. There’s even an entire episode on youtube if watching short clips makes your brain dizzy.

And finally, while we’re talking about Mr Ayoade’s audiovisual output, why not take a look at this recent interview with him and Jesse Eisenberg (published last week), in which they discuss working together on The Double with Jian Ghomeshi. Admittedly it’s got nothing to do with Gadget Man, but we like to mix things up around here occasionally:

Wee Paper People

1 Jun

Regular readers of TVO might remember Paper People – cut out and keep paper models of your favourite TVO folk. We’ve just revisited the site and there are many, many more characters for you to cut out and keep. How many do you recognise from the pictures below?

If you can’t wait to get your hands on your own Wee Paper People, all you have to do is click on the website, download your favourites then print and assemble. Assembly instructions are on the site.

If you want something more personal, the creator of all these fantastic models, Sally Grosart, can make personalised little people of your friends and family, or personalised cards or banners. To contact Sally and see the rest of her creations click here.

BAFTA Wins For Ayoade & Parkinson

19 May

This weekend saw Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson pick up BAFTA TV Awards for their roles in The IT Crowd.

The duo were nominated for Best Performance In A Comedy Programme, in the Male/Female categories respectively.  Parkinson faced off stiff competition from Doon Mackichan (Plebs), Kerry Howard (Him & Her) and Frances De La Tour (Vicious) to collect her gong, which you can see below.

Things were even more heated in Ayoade’s category – especially as he was up against his co-star Chris O’Dowd, no less, as well as comedy heavyweights James Corden and Matthew Baynton for their roles in The Wrong Mans. You can see his typically self-dismissive speech filled with gags and praise for his collaborators below.

Sadly, The IT Crowd itself lost out on the title of Best Situation Comedy, as did Graham Linehan‘s more recent Count Arthur Strong and Matt Berry‘s star vehicle Toast of London - with all three being snubbed in favour of Him & Her: The WeddingNo, we didn’t see that coming, either… but well done to the team behind the BBC Three smash, and to all the winners on the night – which you can see in full here.

Hidden Comedy Gems

12 May

© BBC2

BBC2’s 50th anniversary celebrations have been bringing us moments of unexpected delight for the past couple of weeks.

It’s been an opportunity to look back on classic BBC2 comedy shows, some of which provided a launch pad for the artists that we write about – and last night was no exception, with BBC2’s Hidden Treasures.

The hour-long show featured early turns from Steve Coogan, Julia Davis, Matthew Holness, Richard Ayoade, Paul Kaye and Kevin Eldon. Just as excitingly, however, it gave us 60 glorious minutes of (mostly) the best surreal/bonkers/off-kilter comedy from the past 50 years. Milligan, Pete & Dud and early Fry & Laurie – wonderful stuff!

The programne is available to watch for 6 more days on iPlayer. If you like the type of comedy we write about (and if you’re reading this, let’s assume you do), it’s well worth a watch.

Ayoade Asked

9 May

This week Richard Ayoade guested on Reddit’s ‘Ask Me Anything’.

The questions asked and answered via the online forum meandered from the sensible to the silly, with queries that encompassed everything from his TV work to whether he hides objects in his hair. To read about his “erotic, intense, salty” relationship with Chris O’Dowd and why he believes that a film of his life would be “more like a screensaver” – with lots more in between, click on this.

However, if you’re the kind of person that prefers their interviews in video form rather than typed, why not check out this interview from Late Night With Seth Meyers with Mr Ayoade, which aired earlier in the week?

© NBC

The Double – Rave Reviews

10 Apr

© Studio Canal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bafta Bonanza

8 Apr

© Channel 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darkplace Live!

4 Apr
© Grimmfest

© Grimmfest

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

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

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

A Gentle Man: Interview With Richard Ayoade

31 Mar

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

© Michael Leckie

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

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

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

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

© Studio Canal

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

Continue reading

TVO Film Review: The Double

24 Mar

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

© Studio Canal

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

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

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

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

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

© Studio Canal

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

© Studio Canal

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

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

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

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

Double Time

19 Mar

© Studio Canal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Berry Observer Interview

17 Mar
© Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian

© Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian

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

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

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

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

Ayoade’s Last Leg

8 Mar

© Channel 4

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

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

Boxtrolls Trailer Unpacked

7 Mar

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

© Focus Features

© Focus Features

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

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

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

The Boxtrolls is due for release on 26th September.

Ayoade Signs 3 Book Deal

4 Mar

Richard Ayoade has signed a three book deal with publishing house, Faber & Faber.

© Victoria Will

The first of the books will be called Ayoade On Ayoade, and is scheduled for publication in November 2014. The book is described as being about “a film-maker exploring himself, respectfully, insightfully, and sometimes by surprise….it is both a celebration and a slap: a call to arms for those without weapons. It is a eulogy; it is a rebirth; it is both recognition and re-ignition of this flickering myth we call film.” Blimey.

Faber & Faber have said of the partnership: “We’re thrilled to announce a three-book deal with Richard Ayoade. The books will combine Ayoade’s furious obsession with film with his innate sense of life’s ridiculousness.”

Ever humble, Ayoade responded by saying: “Faber & Faber has long been one of the most respected and prestigious publishing houses in the country. It is with great pleasure that I can be present at the start of its decline.”

With regards to the other strings to Ayoade’s bow, don’t forget that his second feature film, a modern adaptation of Dostoevsky’s The Double, will be released this April too.

Darkplace Double Act!

16 Jan

© Avalon

For a wee while now we’ve been getting rather excited about an event that’s taking place this Saturday in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. And now we’ve heard some news that’s tipped us over into being dangerously overjoyed.

As we’ve previously mentioned, on Saturday 18th January all 6 episodes of the iconic comedy series created by Matthew Holness and Richard Ayoade will be shown at the 250-seater Ciné Lumière in London, as part of Totally Serialized TV Festival. Holness’s short A Gun for George will be shown afterwards, and the man himself will be there to answer questions afterwards in a Q&A session.

The new news is that Matt will be joined at the Q&A by none other than Alice Lowe, who played Madeleine Wool/Dr. Liz Asher in the series. How good is that??

Tickets are £12 (£10 conc) and the event runs 6-9pm (although you can stay and watch scary films until dawn if you fancy it!). For more information and to buy tickets visit the event website.

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