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

9 Nov
© Joe Lynn

© Joe Lynn

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

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

© Dave Brown/Afrikids

© Dave Brown/Afrikids

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

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

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

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

© Joe Lynn

© Joe Lynn

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

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

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

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

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

© Joe Lynn

© Joe Lynn

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

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

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

© Dave Brown

© Dave Brown

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

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

© Tom Meeten

© Tom Meeten

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

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

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

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

© Joe Lynn

© Joe Lynn

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

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

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

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

Big Fat Quiz Of…Everything

25 Oct
© channel 4

© channel 4

Channel 4’s popular ‘Big Fat Quiz’ series has added a new one – The Big Fat Quiz of Everything!

Most of you will be familiar with the format, but did you know the original Big Fat Quiz of the year was all the way back in 2005? Jimmy Carr, of course, is the host in charge of three teams of celebrities who answer questions about – in this case – everything, although to keep things (slightly more) manageable, it’s split into categories such as history, music, art etc.

The teams this time are Noel Fielding and Richard Ayoade (the fourth time for this particular pairing), Jonathan Ross and Chelsea Peretti (from Brooklyn 99), and Jack Whitehall and Mel Giedroyc. No Goth Detectives this time, but Fielding and Ayoade make a great team, of course.

As Mel was there, you can expect to see cake, not all of it where it should be.

As usual there were plenty of witty and funny answers, although (again, as usual), most of the funniest and filthiest will sadly remain on the cutting room floor. Be prepared for surprise guests and other unexpected visitors, including one from prehistory!

We don’t know when the broadcast date is, but it will be a Friday at 9pm if the trailer idents they recorded are anything to go by.

Out On Mondaaaaaaaah!

17 Oct

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

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

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

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

He Wore Dreams Moves North

8 Oct
© Noel Fielding/Hooligan Art Dealer

© Noel Fielding/Hooligan Art Dealer

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

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

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

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

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

Noel Fielding Tour DVD Release

30 Sep

tumblr_nvi5wzATbn1tip4qxo1_540The DVD of An Evening With Noel Fielding, Noel Fielding‘s 2014/15 live show, will be released on 16th November and is now available to pre-order.

Priced at £12.50, the DVD features a recording of the live show (filmed in Australia), and a behind-the-scenes documentary by Joe Lynn, who accompanied Noel, Mike Fielding and Tom Meeten on the UK leg of the tour.

An Evening With Noel Fielding was applauded by fans and critics alike, so whether you were one of the lucky ones who saw the show and fancy some happy reminiscing, or if you weren’t and you simply want to watch some top drawer, inventive comedy – then get pre-ordering!

There are still a few tickets available for the forthcoming November/December UK dates; details and ticket information can be found here.



29 Sep

© Rook Films

The good folk at Rook Films have released a limited screen print run of the Aaaaaaaah! movie poster.

There are only 100 copies of the five-layer print made to celebrate Steve Oram‘s directorial debut. In case you’ve missed it, the film stars Oram alongside a cavalcade of TVO regulars: Noel FieldingJulian BarrattTom MeetenWaen ShepherdTony WayAlice LoweShelley LongworthWaen ShepherdSean Reynard and John Hopkins.

Also along for the ride are the brilliant Julian Rhind-Tutt, Holli Dempsey and the legendary Toyah Willcox.

We’ve sung the film’s praises, and a lot of you have fallen in love with it already. Now thwack a bit of it on your wall for good measure, while you still can!

Noel & Mike Join The Trailer Park Boys Podcast

26 Sep


Noel and Mike met up with The Trailer Park Boys, who were visiting England for a few days, to chat about life in London, and the best tourist locations to visit.

They also discussed the lack of ice in England and frozen guitar solo’s, along with Margaret Thatcher and Walt Disney. The star of the show is Noel’s outfit, watch it (and the podcast)  here:

Needless to say, as it’s The Trailer Park Boys, the podcast is NSFW.

Onion Talking: Steve Oram Opens Wide & Says AAAAAAAAH!

8 Sep

unnamedIf you’re a regular reader of The Velvet Onion you’ll know that we’ve been getting pretty excited about Steve Oram‘s unique simian comedy horror AAAAAAAAH! for a while now. Thought-provoking, hilarious and frequently downright disgusting, AAAAAAAAH! enjoyed a triumphant World Premier at Frightfest last month and is being screened at a number of festivals over the coming weeks. Trust us when we say that you really need to see it.

Earlier this week Steve kindly found the time to chat to us about the film:

AAAAAAAAH! portrays a world in which humans behave like apes – but how accurate are those ape-like behaviours? Were you down at the zoo, taking notes, Steve?

The idea of them behaving like apes isn’t strictly what I was intending – they’re actually more like cavemen. I was creating a world where language, in particular, isn’t so advanced in evolutionary terms. So they don’t have all of the things that language gives us, and those subtleties are played out in different ways.

I think AAAAAAAAH! a very open thing that exists in its own world, but we decided to describe it as “behaving like apes” because it’s a concise and easy way of describing it. It’s for everyone to interpret how they wish.

We see some pretty out there behaviours on screen. If your intention wasn’t to directly mimic the ape world, how did you come up with them?

There’s a strong internal logic to it – they’re all slightly-skewed social rituals. For example, the fact that they use their hands to eat [instead of cutlery] is about etiquette; that’s just what they do in their world, it’s a custom. And when Toyah and Lucy [the mother and daughter of the family] poo on the floor, that’s just something that mothers and daughters do; it’s social ritual bonding thing that they do when they’re cooking.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 22.20.27

With AAAAAAAAH!, are you trying to say something significant about modern society, or is the construct simply an idea that you liked?

It’s just something I found funny; I didn’t set out to make something that was a satire or a commentary. I just really enjoyed creating an intricate world, and creating the interactions and the characters – making them do silly, extreme things.

10291146_10152555044887673_1890467153980958974_nYou’ve worked with many of the cast members multiple times before, but how did you decide on which new faces to bring on board, like Toyah and Julian Rhind-Tutt? 

With Toyah, I loved her work in Jubilee and Quadraphenia – I’ve been a massive fan of hers for years. I was trying to cast a lady in her 50s who wouldn’t mind having to do embarrassing sex scenes and have blancmange thrown at her face. There’s not that many of them! I didn’t know her before, but I sent her the script and she loved it.

I was working with Julian on a TV film called Wipers Times over in Northern Ireland, coincidentally while I was writing AAAAAAAAH! on my days off.

I started thinking about him for the film, and he was one of the first people I attached to the script. He was keen to play against type – as a horrible washing machine repair man!

The dynamic between you and Tom, who plays your beta male, is pretty special. Do you think anyone else could have played that role apart from Tom?

Absolutely not, and not just because of his balls – although that is always a consideration [Tom’s familiar testicles have a supporting role in the film]. I was so pleased to work with Tom on this, and it was so much fun doing it with him. There’s a shorthand for the things we do and have done for years; when we started the film it made me feel really confident and happy that he was in it and that we were doing something together.

10418463_10152143892116526_4047534245763507909_nThere’s no actual speaking in the film, but you wrote a script for the actors to follow. How did that work?

The script was all written out in English. The scenes had English dialogue in them for the actors, so that they got a sense of what each scene was about and what they were trying to do and say. On the day we read it through with the dialogue, and then we ‘went ape’. We threw the scripts away and instead of speaking everyone went “Ughhhhh”. No one will ever know what that script contained because it is full of filth!

Did your experience on Sightseers influence how you approached AAAAAAAAH!?

In terms of writing, I got better at it with this film; I did it very quickly and spontaneously. We had a long drawn-out development period with Sightseers, and this was a chance for me to do something very quickly and to do it myself.

I learned a lot from Ben Wheatley about being quick. With Sightseers we moved about a lot, so we had to do the scenes very quickly. That really influenced me, and I started making more short films after that which incorporated a fastness of movement. If you’re not standing around repeating everything fifty-million times, but you’re shooting scenes in one or two takes, it gives the film energy.

10479132_10152143890811526_7908757513103856445_nWhat do you prefer doing: directing, writing, acting, stand-up?

I love them all! At its heart it all stems from writing – that’s probably the single thing that links it all together. As an actor you need to understand writing and interpret scripts…they all feed into the same thing.

So what’s next for Steve Oram?

I’m writing the next one, which we’ll hopefully film next year. It’s another weird, dystopian comedy sci-fi…believe it or not!

I’m really driven by people saying “You can’t do that, it’s too strange”. I just go “Of course you can,” and do it. Film is just a collection of sound and images – you can do whatever you want. It’s sad that we’re so paralysed and narrow in the way we make films, and art generally. If someone says you can’t do it, just do it.

Here here. A big thank you to Steve for taking the time to talk to us about AAAAAAAAH!

You can catch the film at various festivals and screenings over the coming weeks – including dates in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Los Angeles, Belfast, Dorset, Leeds and Nottingham. They’ve even had a Paris screening this week! To find out where and when you can see it and for further updates, check out Lincoln Studios website. 

AAAAAAAAH! will also be available on VOD via Icon Film Distribution and FrightFest from 19th October. 

The Ape Man Cometh: AAAAAAAAH! Review

28 Aug

unnamedOne of the things that distinguishes the artists that we write about at The Velvet Onion is their ability to think differently and to make waves in a sea of entertainment mediocrity. At their best, they conjure up ideas and dream of worlds so creatively vibrant that they force us, the audience, into a different headspace ourselves. In this respect, Steve Oram‘s AAAAAAAAH! (always written with eight ‘A’s) totally nails it.

The premise of the film is simple: it shows us what human beings would be like if we conformed to the natural behaviour patterns of apes. AAAAAAAAH! presents us with an everyday world that looks like ours but where society has been reduced to little more than factions of fighting, fucking, shitting beasts.

Although I’m no primatologist, I’m fairly sure David Attenborough has said that our simian relatives are more complex than this. But given that the impact of AAAAAAAAH! comes, in large part, from the consistent and gaping absence of anything recognisably ‘human’ in the behaviour of the human forms on screen, let’s embrace the film’s freewheeling approach to natural history.

First things first: the idea upon which the film is built is strange, brave, funny and thought-provoking (more of that later). Conceptually, it’s one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in a long while. The cast are astonishingly good – within minutes you forget that nobody is actually speaking; their grunts, whoops and gestures tell you everything that you need to know about the film’s narrative (as an aside, Tom Meeten told us that the cast were actually given scripts to follow. Wonderful stuff!). Of particular note is the perfectly-observed unspoken camaraderie between Steve Oram and Tom Meeten, the boorish mateyness of Julian Rhind-Tutt and Sean Reynard, and the emotional fragility of a garden-bound Julian Barratt.

It’s also a real pleasure seeing so many of ‘our lot’ working together on a project like this. Proof, if any were needed, that they are a group bound by a shared love of what can best be described as creatively out there. And thank goodness for that!

unnamedBe warned though, it’s not all comedic complexity and anthropological insight. AAAAAAAAH! makes for pretty visceral viewing, sometimes bordering on the gratuitously gross – although it’s generally done for humorous effect, not to offend. The screen is frequently awash with body fluids and body parts, chunks of half-eaten food and unpredictable bloody violence. Within moments of the film starting two key characters defecate in their kitchen, and aggressive, often uninvited sex is never more than a couple of scenes away. Let’s just say it’s probably not a film to take your Mum to.

unnamed-3The overall sense of visual unpleasantness is reinforced by the depiction of a shabby, urban working class existence (I don’t know why, but I suspect that a rural middle-class monkey life might be easier on the eye), and the general look of the film, which is raw and ungraded.

With movie audiences now more used to the anaesthetising effect of Insta filters, it’s actually quite unnerving to watch a film which looks like it might have been shot on video tape.

Perhaps this was a decision born out of budgetary necessity, but by looking less cinematic AAAAAAAAH! feels more real, more immediate. This realism nudges it away from being an artistic concept on a cinema screen, towards a depiction of an authentic world that any of us could easily be part of.

And this is where the film gets really interesting: after watching it I half-expected violent chaos and beastial shrieks to erupt on my tube journey home. The fact that it didn’t, and that every day we unconsciously navigate our way around other people, mindful even of the rights of the strangers in our midst, suddenly seemed astonishing. AAAAAAAAH! provides a fascinating glimpse into what our society could be like if we didn’t follow the intricate set of social rules that have been defined and refined by several millennia of cultural evolution.

unnamed-1Watching people (like us) behave like apes has the effect of re-setting one’s internal gauge of what a ‘normal’ society should be like. We share 99% of our DNA with apes; how incredible it is then that we live in such close proximity to each other, but we rarely fall back on our basic animal instincts to deal with those around us.

AAAAAAAAH! makes you question the validity of the cultural codes by which we live. It forces you to acknowledge how strangely unnatural, transient and man-made our modern lives are. If we were to strip away these superficial social conceits, then really we’re no different to the apes that preceded us. We too are horny, violent, disgusting creatures. It’s no wonder that the news is full of bloodshed and war.

And that’s why I relished AAAAAAAAH so much: it made my brain whirr. It isn’t necessarily lovely to look at and it’s not perfect – indeed, it seems to flaunts its flaws with a strange sense of pride, but it really makes you think – for long after the end credits have rolled – and for that it deserves to be applauded. With the lions’ share of ‘entertainment’ served up for our online/on-screen pleasure these days unlikely to create the smallest cognitive ripple, anything that forces us to sit up and take notice should be celebrated. AAAAAAAAH! is punk cinema at its best: crude, rude and brain fizzingly provocative. Go see!

The next screening of AAAAAAAAH! Takes place at Picturehouse Central in London on 4th September, and includes a cast Q&A. For tickets for this and for updates on other screenings please visit the Lincoln Studios website.


Noel Fielding XFM Charity Gig

25 Aug

Noel-Fielding-On-StageNoel Fielding will be performing alongside a smorgasbord of XFM favourites at a stand up comedy event for the radio station’s charity, Global’s Make Some Noise. The night’s compere will be John Robins and other acts on the bill include Crims star Elis James, Nish Kumar and James Acaster, with Fielding headlining this evening of fantastic comedy and fundraising.

The charity Make Some Noise is one that aims to give a voice to disadvantaged children and young people in the UK by providing personal and financial support as well as promoting projects that deliver life-changing work to young people and their families in their communities.

The gig will be taking place on Sunday 27th September at The Pleasance Theatre in Islington. Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at 8am and are amazingly only £10 each, with all proceeds of course going to the Make Some Noise charity. More information and a link to buy tickets are available over on XFM’s website.

Andy Hollingworth’s Exhibition Opens Next Week

6 Aug


If you’re a comedy fan, chances are you will be familiar with many of photographer, Andy Hollingworth’s images. Indeed, some of the most iconic images of the artists who we write about at TVO have been taken by him.

From 13th August you can see a selection of Andy’s photographs of comedians in his first ever London Exhibition, Running From Greenbaum. The show will feature images from Andy’s huge archive complied over nearly two decades visually documenting the careers of some of our best-loved and infamous laughter-making acts.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 23.20.50The show will run until 19th September at Snap Galleries at 12 Piccadilly Arcade SW1Y, which is famous for exhibitions by photographers specialising in rock music.

Andy has said of the venue, “I’m incredibly excited to be displaying my work in the same building that has featured shows by my heroes: Gered Mankowitz, Chalkie Davies, Pennie Smith, Art Kane, Barry Feinstein… the list goes on!”

Yesterday, friend of TVO, Bruce Dessau, published a piece that told the story behind Andy’s photos of Rik Mayall and Rowan Atkinson, which you can read here. Wonderful stuff!

In case you’re still in any doubt whether this exhibition is going to ring your bell (seriously??), take a look at just a few of images from Andy’s archive which feature ‘our lot’ that we’ve included here: Matt Berry, Noel Fielding, Waen ShepherdJohn HopkinsRichard Glover, Dave Brown and Stuart Silver & Kim Noble.

There’s no guarantee that these will feature in the show itself, but many of the artists that we’ve included here will be up on the wall somewhere! Recommended.


Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 23.23.20


Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 23.23.33





30 Jul

unnamedThe excitement is mounting…. As we’ve mentioned previously, AAAAAAAAH!, the new film by Steve Oram, which features a bevy of TVO faces, will be getting its world premiere next month at Film 4 FrightFest at Leicester Square! But for those of you who can’t make it there, don’t despair – because the film may be coming to a screen near you!

Additional screenings of AAAAAAAAH! include:

Picture House Central in London’s West End on 4th September (+ cast Q&A)
End of the Road Festival (Dorset), 4th-6th September
Mayhem in Nottingham, 15-18 October

Plus more dates to be announced soon. Sign up or check here for screening updates and general AAAAAAAAH! news.

Rook Films

Rook Films

For anyone out there who isn’t familiar with AAAAAAAAH! (how??), Steve’s debut features the entire cast behaving as apes – speaking in grunts and gibberish, in an anarchic, disturbing and touching look at the human condition. It stars Julian Barratt, Toyah Willcox, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Steve Oram, Lucy Honigman, Tom Meeten and Sean Reynard. The supporting cast includes Noel Fielding, Holli Dempsey, Shelley Longworth, Alice Lowe, Tony Way and Waen ShepherdBen Wheatley is also executive producer.

What’s more, AAAAAAAAH! is already receiving rave reviews; here are a few choice comments from the critics:

“Terrifyingly funny, hilariously sick and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Easily the cult movie of the decade” – Alan Jones Film4 FrightFest

“Steve Oram’s AAAAAAAAH! made me question humanity.” – Adam Woodward, LWL’s

“Deeply offensive in all the right ways. Marks its strange, humorous territory with originality and style.” – Phelim O’Neill

Excited yet?

The Mighty Lifesavers

20 Jul

Here’s a story you don’t see every day, via the good folk at The Bristol Post: an episode of The Mighty Boosh has been credited with saving a young man’s life.

© Baby Cow Productions

© Baby Cow Productions

Chances are the majority of our readers are familiar with Journey to the Centre of the Punk, the 2007 episode in which Howard Moon is shrunk down to minuscule proportions and injected into Vince Noir, who is infected with the blood of jazz freak Howlin’ Jimmy Jefferson after biting Howard’s beloved new record.

To set the scene, Lester Corncrake tells everyone the story of Howlin’ Jimmy, and this animated cutaway has made a lasting impression on 21-year old filmmaker Joe Melarky from Kingswood, Bristol.

After describing the swamp fever that took Howlin’ Jimmy away, and the methods local voodoo priest Tiny Roberts used to create a record his spirit could live in, Corncrake sums up: “Jimmy died, and Tiny Robert got ball cancer, but spotted it early and got it removed, and it was all fine. Here’s a lesson in that for everyone: Check Your Balls (twice a week!).”

© Baby Cow Productions

© Baby Cow Productions

And that, is exactly what Joe did, and at Christmas he identified a lump, went to the doctors, and discovered he did have testicular cancer. Thankfully, his checking caught the disease early, and he was able to undergo immediate treatment and was given the all clear last month!

© The Bristol Post / Joe Melarky

© The Bristol Post / Joe Melarky

Joe told The Bristol Post: “I laugh when I say it, because it does sound ridiculous, but The Mighty Boosh may well have saved my life. There was this silly skit about checking your balls and it stayed with me, so I did actually check regularly. Who knows, if I hadn’t caught it to early I may not be here.”

Following an 84-day treatment plan with chemotherapy for five days every two weeks at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, Joe is now healthy once more, and is setting up his own film business, The Reel Melarky.

He recently made a film of his sailing trip around the Isle of Wight with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, which you can see, alongside more about Joe’s story, on the Bristol Post website. Nice one, Joe.

And remember everyone: Check Your Balls.

Fielding In Just For Laughs 2014

13 Jul

At the weekend our friends in Canada were treated to a TV broadcast of last year’s Montreal Just For Laughs festival, featuring Noel Fielding. And now, thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web, we can all enjoy it!

Noel’s stage performance, plus a brief pre- and post-behind the scenes can be viewed below. The wonders of modern technology…


World Premiere & Q&A For Aaaaaaah!

5 Jul

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 12.47.33As our regular readers will be aware, we’ve been getting more than a little over-excited about Aaaaaaah! for some time – and now the details of the World Premiere have been announced.

Steve Oram‘s directorial debut comedy horror, about a world inhabited by apes in human form, will star a cavalcade of comedic TVO-connected talent (and post-punk icon Toyah Wilcox), including Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding (or “Noah Fielding” according to this site), Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, Steve Oram, Sean ReynardWaen Shepherd, John Hopkins and Tony Way.

The film premieres at Film 4 FrightFest at Leicester Square – and you can be there to experience it on the big screen in person! What’s more, the event will feature a Q&A with some of the cast. Steve and Toyah are confirmed for this, but there’s on news yet as to which other cast members will be there.

The film will be screened at 18:35 on Friday 28th August on the Discovery 1 screen. A festival pass costs £185 (eek) and day passes for the Friday are £60 (still eek) – these are available here. Single tickets at £13.25 per film will go on sale on 25th July, but unfortunately there are no guarantees what will be available then. Festival and day passes went on sale yesterday and it looks like demand so far has been very high.

In the meantime, to remind yourself how flipping exciting this is (and it really is!), take another look at the Aaaaaaah! trailer below:

Weird Al Crimps!

9 Jun

© Al Yankovic

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Baby Cow Productions

© Baby Cow Productions

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

Buzzcocks Binned

26 May
© Talkback / Joel Anderson

© Talkback / Joel Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Hot Right Now #28

27 Apr

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


© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

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

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

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

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


© BBC / Jack Barnes

© BBC / Jack Barnes

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

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

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


© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

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

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

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


© Kieron McCarron / September Films / GME / ITV

© Kieron McCarron / September Films / GME / ITV

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


© Tony Law

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Mighty Laughs In Melbourne – Reviews Round Up

19 Apr

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

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

© PaulpanfergramsNoel Fielding

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

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

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

Go Fielding (x2) + Meeten!

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

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


Paul Foot

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

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

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

Tony Law

© Tony Law

© Tony Law

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

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

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

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

Sarah Kendall

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

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

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

© Eugene Hyland

© Eugene Hyland

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

So Hot Right Now #26

13 Apr

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


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

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

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


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



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

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

© Sarah Kendall

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

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

© Paul Foot

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

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

© Tony Law

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

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


© Channel 4

© Channel 4

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

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


© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

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

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

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




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

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



© Rachel Stubbings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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


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


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