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TVO Radio

6 Apr
© bbc.co.uk

© bbc.co.uk

A couple of TVO favourites have been on BBC Radio 4 this week.

First off, Katy Brand was a guest on The News Quiz on Friday, with Sandi Toksvig. The topical news quiz takes a satirical look at the latest news. You can catch-up on the show on BBC iPlayer.

On Saturday, Tony Law was a guest of Clive Anderson on Loose Ends, joining Jo Whiley, Paul McGann, Scarlet Page and Danny Wallace. You can also catch Loose Ends on BBC iPlayer,

Tony appears at 35 minutes, talking about his childhood in Canada and how he didn’t start his comedy career until he came to London.

Onion Land Catch Up

11 Mar

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

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

© BBC

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

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

© BBC

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

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

© BBC / Des Willie

© BBC / Des Willie

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

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

© BBC / Colin Hutton

© BBC / Colin Hutton

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

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

© Baby Cow

© Baby Cow

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

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

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

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

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

Sky Arts Presents Kevin Eldon

5 Mar
© bbc.co.uk

© bbc.co.uk

Playhouse Presents..., the series of one-off comedies and dramas on Sky Arts is returning for 2014.

The channel has announced the series line-up, which includes Damned, a comedy written by Jo Brand and Morwenna Banks, set in a social services department and starring Ms Brand and Kevin Eldon, to be broadcast on 1st May.

The series will also feature the UK TV debut of Friends star Matthew Perry alongside Tim Key in The Dog Thrower, to be shown on 12th June.

Previous series of Playhouse Presents have featured many TVO favourites, including the debut short film from Matt Holness: A Gun for George, and Paul Kaye starring with Kylie Minogue in Hey Diddly Dee.

The last series also led to a full series of Psychobitches, featuring Katy Brand, Sharon Horgan and Julia Davis.

To read more about all the drama’s in the series pop over to the British Comedy Guide.

BBC Bans All Male Panel Shows

9 Feb

© BBC/Talkback/Brian Ritchie

The BBC has made a stand against the male domination of quiz panel shows that pepper our TV schedules by banning all male line ups.

Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of TV has said: “We’re not going to have panel shows on any more with no women on them. You can’t do that. It’s not acceptable.” The news has been warmly greeted by the likes of Katy Brand on twitter

In the past, current affairs-based comedy panel shows like Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You have been criticised for their male-dominated line-ups. Today’s Observer noted that all the regular comedians on the most recent series of Mock the Week were men and only five of the 38 guest panellists were women. Arts and entertainment-based shows like Never Mind the Buzzccoks tend to have a more balanced line-up.

A BBC spokesman said panel shows that had already been recorded but not yet been broadcast may feature all-male teams, but all those filmed in the future would include at least one female participant.

In 2012, writer Caitlin Moran said she had been asked to appear on, “All the big panel shows” but turned them down because “I refuse to be the token woman. “I think that’s a boys’ game that works for boys,” she said. “It’s not like they built it to screw women over, it’s just that boys built it so they made it to work for boys. If I go on there as a token woman, it’s not going to work for me.”

The BBC’s decision has led to a fair amount of debate over our Sunday roast at TVO Towers: Should panelists be selected purely on their own merit or should gender enter into it? What do you think?

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman 1967-2014

3 Feb

© Universal Pictures

The Velvet Onion would like to extend its sympathies to the family and friends of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who passed away this weekend aged 46.

An acting powerhouse whose glittering career has led to so many different ‘Top Ten Performances’ lists, Hoffman’s sole connection to TVO came with his central role as The Count in Richard Cutis’ 2009 comedy The Boat That Rocked alongside our very own Chris O’DowdKatherine Parkinson, and in a deleted sequence, Rich Fulcher.

Yet his legacy left a resounding impact on our regulars, and the team here, with masterful performances in productions as diverse as The SavagesSynecdoche New York, Boogie Nights, Mary And Max, A Late Quartet, The Hunger Games and The Big Lebowski.

In 2010, he also directed the feature film Jack Goes Boating, in which he also starred, and frequently directed theatre productions even in the later years of his life.  He had almost completed shooting on the final Hunger Games movie at the time of his death, has two other movies in the can for release this year and was about to start work on a new television comedy Happyish following a pilot episode filmed last year with Hedwig & The Angry Inch director John Cameron Mitchell.

Naturally, his work has inspired generations of performers and will continue to do so for decades to come.  This includes a number of TVO regulars who publicly expressed their shock and grief at his untimely passing.

Steve Coogan led public tributes at the London Critics’ Circle Awards last night, stating: “There are actors and there are movie stars and sometimes they’re both but he was an actor first and a movie star second. He did some tremendous work. People have different opinions about actors but you wouldn’t find anybody who would have a bad word to say about any of his performances – they were all incredibly nuanced.”

In the Twittersphere, more TVO regulars shared their views, which we have collated below.

Rest in peace, Mr Hoffman. You will be missed.

Brand & Bachman In International Waters

19 Jan

© International Waters

Not a story about sailing the seven seas – no, this week Katy Brand and James Bachman were guests on pop culture comedy quiz show International Waters.

The pair join host Dave Holmes and competing teams of comedians from the US and UK in a lively test of pop culture knowledge. Imagine a more random version of Buzzcocks and you’re loosely there (-ish). It’s part panel show, part trivia quiz – with large dollops of comedy in-between.

Brand and Bachman represent Team UK on Episode 18 of the show, while and Wham Bam Pow’s Ricky Carmona and Rhea Butcher hold up Team USA. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.  And if you enjoy it, why not check out International Waters’ Facebook page?

TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Four

4 Jan

Hello and a warm welcome to the final part of our Review of 2013. Although October to December may feel like it only just happened, prepare to be amazed by how much you’ve forgotten. We were, but then we’re getting on a  bit.

So here are the best bits from the fourth quarter of the year – cherry-picked from news stories about both our regulars and a few new faces too. Enjoy.

OCTOBER

October was the month that Booshmania returned.  Just as the fantastic Behind the Boosh exhibition started its run at Proud Camden, showcasing the history of that most Mighty of comedic troops via the majesty of Dave Brown‘s photography, the boys were back in town.  Or rather, on the pier, as The Mighty Boosh went from the Soho Theatre to Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme in LA. A final (chaotic) UK warm-up show and a further run through at The Comedy Store, almost halted by a Visa saga, paved the way for a live performance that turned out to be one of the Festival’s highlights. Fan forums and social media platforms were buzzing with photos, footage and reviews of the show.

Another announcement that got us more than a bit over-excited in October was the news that Ben Wheatley is to direct the first 2 episodes of the next series of Doctor Who, starring the new Time Lord, Peter Capaldi. How good is that!?  We’re itching to see what happens when you combine one of the UK’s finest directors with its biggest export, now in the capable hands of an Oscar-winning acting legend to boot.  You can see the moment Capaldi became the Doctor in the 2013 Xmas special below…

More telly stuff, with the launch of Matt Berry’s new series, Toast Of London.  We’d been itching to see it since the pilot back in 2012, and it did not disappoint…

Elsewhere, Richard Ayoade established himself as a permanent fixture on prime time panel shows with a stint as team captain on Was It Something I Said? on Channel 4. Ayoade’s intellectual sparring with host David Mitchell certainly made our Sunday evenings feel a bit more highbrow!

What else?  Well, in movie news, there was an update on the cast for Paul King‘s long-awaited Paddington Bear feature film, which included mention of Rufus Jones and James Bachman. To end the month, TVO artists offered us a veritable smorgasbord of comedy options for Halloween night’s out, with special spooky performances from Colin Hoult and Richard Sandling.  And we were sad to lose the talented comedy actor Felix Dexter, who died at the too-young age of 52. He left behind an incredible legacy of great TV performances on shows like Bellamy’s PeopleAbsolutely Fabulous, The Fast ShowKnowing Me Knowing You… With Alan Partridge, Mongrels and Alexei Sayle’s Merry Go Round to name but a few. He will be much misse, and would typically hate all this fuss about him, so let’s remember him with one of his silliest moments – dancing for Sport Relief alongside Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery.  What a dude.

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TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Two

2 Jan

Yesterday we brought you a round-up of the first quarter of 2013, as we’d probably forgotten half of it ourselves, let alone you lovely lot out there.  The second quarter provided loads more great things to celebrate, so we’ve been ploughing through TVO’s archives to pluck out the best bits from over 700 news stories across 2013. This second instalment of our round-up covers April-June, and is jam packed with forgotten treasures and instant classics alike.  Enjoy.

APRIL

April, or Ape-ril as it was renamed by the Sumatran Orangutan Society, began with a plea from TVO regulars Dave Brown and Tony Law to grow your beard as large as possible.  This was, of course, in aid of ape conservation: we are all 96.4% Orangutan after all…

The facial hair theme continued apace, with some of Onion Land’s most mighty beard-wearers being active this month.  First up, Paul Kaye hosted a short exhibition of his art, with TVO attended the star-studded press night to admire his work and have a quick chat to the man himself, though sadly his hectic schedule postponed our latest catch-up… we’re gonna get ya in the new year, mate! Kaye also became the latest big name to join the cast of hugely acclaimed fantasy show Game Of Thrones, as warrior Thoros of Myr.

He wasn’t the only one, either. Whilst the world got increasingly excited about his (then) forthcoming film A Field In EnglandBen Wheatley did the last thing critics expected, and made a string of commercials for Go Compare, further proving he works on his own terms ahead of one of the oddest films of 2013…

Another beardy Onion layer up to good things this month was Matt Berry, who was quietly preparing to unleash his new album, Kill The Wolf. May and June would see an awful lot of Berry activity, but April was no push-over, either.  First off, his radio series I, Regress… returned to the airwaves, and he went on to release the first snippet of his new album with a track called The Devil Inside Me

He wasn’t the only one returning, either. Rhys Thomas brought back his incredibly popular Radio 4 show Down The Line for a fifth run – the sixth if you include short-lived tv spin-off Bellamy’s People. Once again it featured Thomas’ fellow Fast Show veterans Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day and the late, great Felix Dexter. Also along for the ride were Look Around You star Robert Popper, Big Train(and It’s Kevin) actress Amelia Bullmore, Citizen Khanwriter Adil Ray, and another TVO regular (and Rhys’ wife), Lucy Montgomery.

Also back this month were Boosh veterans and indie-folk legends The Ralfe Band, who released the single Come On Go Wild from their new album, Son Be Wise, and toured as support to Manchester’s finest ever band, I Am Kloot.  A video for the single followed on 1st May, which can be seen below.

This month also saw us bid farewell to Life’s Too Short, which returned for a one-off special at Easter. Sadly lacking in Matt Holness magic (Matt was a regular in the show’s first and only series), it nevertheless found the time to bring back Colin Hoult as Warwick Davis‘ useless psychic, Brian. Also along for the ride were telly veterans, Les Dennis, Keith Chegwin and Shaun Williamson, as well as former Batman star Val Kilmer. A fine send-off, then, for a show that ended way too soon.

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TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part One

1 Jan

2013 has been a funny old year in Onion Land. We’ve seen our regulars scoop bucketloads of awards, from Best British Film at the Empire Awards to International Emmy Awards and everything in-between. Some names on our roster have reached new heights of success, becoming household names to people who have no idea of their cult origins. Others have just continued being quietly amazing, but all of them have been worthy of your attention.

As a result, we’ve been ploughing through the 12 months of TVO, to pluck out the best bits from over 700 news stories across 2013. This first instalment of our round-up covers January-March, and is jam packed with forgotten treasures and instant classics alike.  Enjoy.

JANUARY

The year began quietly, with the only key new show on the box being, on the surface, designed for kids. FIT was a sports-based sketch show on CBBC from the team behind Sorry, I’ve Got No Head, and featured TVO regulars Tony WayRufus Jones and Aisling Bea in its ensemble cast. For the most part, however, it was the involvement of Peter Serafinowicz - reprising his beloved cult character Brian Butterfield – which got everyone’s attention…

On the other end of the spectrum, Michael SmileyDan Tetsell and Simon Farnaby turned up in the very-much-for-grown-ups cyber-thiller Utopia on Channel 4. The show concerned itself with attempts to trace the only known copy of a graphic novel which left a trail of bloody carnage in its wake. With Four Lions star Adeel Akhtar part of its ensemble cast, as well as Kill List actor Neil Maskell as a creepy hitman, and The Thick Of It‘s Paul Higgins as a blackmailed civil servant, the show became an instant cult hit, and will be returning for a second series in 2014.

Closer to home, and the good folk of Onion Land seemed keen to dish out advice. Comedic agony aunt Rachel Stubbings was offering specially crafted miniature versions of herself for sale to anyone in need of a friendly ear. Or, to be more exact, a bit of unemotional plastic which happened to look a bit like her, in a variety of costumes. The Stubby Buddy was a quick sell out, though something tells me we won’t be seeing them in the shops next year…

Elsewhere, conceptual artist and Luxury Comedy star Kim Noble was offering handy tips on how to buy an oven

And as Bowie-fever gripped the world, James Cook released his own, haunting interpretation of Mr Jones’ classic track, Ashes To Ashes

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Really Really Really Really Really (Repeat To Fade) Jinsy

21 Dec

A new clip from the forthcoming second series of This Is Jinsy has appeared online – and be warned: it could try your patience (the clue is in the name)!

The short musical performance can be seen below:

If that’s still not enough musical Jinsy for you, you can download the track from iTunes for 79p by clicking here. And while you’re at it, there are a whole host of other downloadable delights from the show here.

Here at TVO Towers, we tend to get a bit grumpy about This Is Jinsy, because we don’t have Sky Atlantic – and we really want to watch it! For the rest of you lucky buggers don’t forget that the new series, featuring Alice Lowe and Katy Brand amongst its cast, starts on January 8th at 10pm.

Jinsy Returns

17 Dec
© Sky

© Sky Atlantic

Sky’s surreal sitcom, This Is Jinsy, will return to our screens in January with Alice Lowe and Katy Brand among the cast.

The new eight part series will continue to follow Arbiter Maven (Justin Chubb) and Sporall (Chris Bran) as they struggle to control the knitwear-loving residents of Jinsy, combining colourful adventures, musical madness and surreal invention.

Once again, the wonderful Alice Lowe is part of the regular cast of the series and there is an impressive list of guest stars. New guests making their way to Jinsy this series include Katy Brand, Stephen Fry, Ben Miller, Stephen Mangan, Dame Eileen Atkins, Sir Derek Jacobi, Phil Davis, Olivia Colman and Rob Brydon.

The new series will begin with a double bill on Sky Atlantic on 8th January at 10pm.

If you missed the last series it’s available on DVD, here, or if you have a Sky Go account you can catch up on Sky’s website, here.

Boffins & Brand

9 Dec

© Contact Music

Katy Brand will be joining the hosts of Radio 4′s Infinite Monkey Cage in their live stage show this Thursday.

Prof Brian Cox and Robin Ince will be curating two nights of science, music, comedy and wonder at the Hammersmith Apollo, promising very special guests, fireworks, charm quarks, strange quarks and confusion. And at Thursdays show, Katy will be one of those very special guests!

Tickets are available for both shows – Thursday 12th and Saturday 14th December -  for the nice round price of £28.25. You can purchase them here. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start.

For more information about the show click here. All profitable proceeds from the shows go to the worthy causes of MSF, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and The Manchester University Access Program.

The British Comedy Awards 2013 Nominations Announced!

3 Dec
© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Next week sees Channel 4 host the annual British Comedy Awards ceremony in Wembley, which will also be broadcast live on the channel.

Starting at 9pm on Thursday, 12th December, the ceremony will be hosted by Jonathan Ross, and feature some of the cream of British comedy – including, of course, a number of TVO regulars.

Most notably, the category of Best Sketch Show has a guaranteed winner from Onion Land, as its nominations have all been featured on our pages.  Sky’s new star-packed historical therapy show Psychobitches will battle it out with the nation’s sweetheart, Horrible Histories and the long awaited It’s Kevin and veteran favourites Harry And Paul.

Between them, those shows featured some of our most beloved regulars: Alice Lowe, Matt BerryKaty BrandSimon Farnaby, Sharon HorganAlex KirkJustin EdwardsJulia Davis and, of course, Kevin Eldon.

“The Actor” Kevin Eldon is also nominated for Best TV Comedy Actor, alongside Greg Davis, David Mitchell and Jack Whitehall, whilst Psychobitches is also up for Best New Comedy Programme, alongside CuckooPlebs and another TVO favourite, Count Arthur Strong.

Elsewhere, the man behind Count Arthur, Steve Delaney, is nominated for Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist, alongside Adam Hills, Jonny Sweet and Tom Basden, whilst the show itself (directed by Graham Linehan, no less) is up for Best Sitcom against Bad Education, Getting On and Peep Show.

To find out who the winners are, join Channel 4, a whole host of comedy legends, and TVO itself, on 12th December.  The full list of nominations can be found below the ‘jump’, and to find out more visit: Channel4.com now! Continue reading

“Brenda Monk Is Funny” Has All Your Money!

28 Nov

© Oliver Lim

Katy Brand‘s crowd-sourced debut novel has reached its publication target, which means it will be winging its way to buyers asap!

The novel, Brenda Monk Is Funnywas first announced 18 months ago via specialist publishers Unbound: a pay-to-publish scheme, which lets interested readers pledge various amounts in return for the book and additional prizes depending on the donation.

It pours Katy’s experiences as a character comedian on the live circuit, as well as television and radio, into the titular character – a kind of semi-alter-ego, yet very much her own beast.  Brenda Monk is addicted to stand-up, and the recognition it brings, and her attempts to make it in a tricky business in which no slot on a bill is too late, and your ex would often steal all your best jokes… or vice versa!

Planned to be a series of novels about Brenda’s journey to comedy super-stardom, and its crowd-funding reached its 100% target this evening, making the book a reality at last.

If you’d still like to pledge – e-book versions are available for just £10, first edition hardbacks for £20, signed hardbacks for £50 and there’s a few more extravagant prizes too, from an invite to the launch party right up to Katy acting as a sort of comedy aunt who will offer private, insider advice on your work if you’re a budding comedian yourself.  Who knows?  It could be the start of something as wonderful as the adventures of Brenda Monk herself…

To join the pledgers, visit Unbound now – and you can hear Katy talk about the book a bit more in the video below.

A Different Brand On The Airwaves

10 Nov

© The Independent

Katy Brand was on the BBC Radio 4 this week.

Katy appeared on the satirical weekly panel show The News Quiz, now in its 82nd series! The show is chaired by Sandi Toksvig, and this episode’s panellists also included Miles Jupp, Bob Mills, and regular guest, Jeremy Hardy.

You can listen to the show on BBC iPlayer by clicking here. It’s available until Saturday 16th November.

 

Holiday For Brand

25 Sep

© Oliver Lim

Katy Brand will be appearing in upcoming British comedy musical Holiday.

The film, which is being touted as a “classic feel good love story”, is a vehicle for mega-selling reality tv winner Leona Lewis, and is directed by hip duo “Max & Daria”, best known for their StreetDance franchise.  It promises new versions of famous songs such as Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and, of course, Madonna’s Holiday.

We’re aware, of course, this sounds as far removed from our usual considerations for ‘entertainment’, but with Katy Brand involved, we’re sure there’ll be at least one strand of brilliance running right through it.  And she’s not alone, with the supporting cast also featuring Being Human actress Annabel Scholey, and Homefront star Greg Wise.

So it’s safe to say that while you can consider our eyebrows raised, they’re not quite arched just yet, thanks to a talented cast and a positive outlook on something way out of our comfort zone… this could turn out to be rather fun indeed.

Holiday is currently filming in Italy for release next summer.

Reach For Sky 1

27 Aug

© Baby Cow / Sky

Sky 1 have announced their new Autumn Schedule and there are a couple of TVO related shows to look forward to.

Yonderland, written by and starring a lot of the cast of Horrible Histories, is set to be shown in the Autumn. It is a mixture of live action and puppets, and is a fantasy adventure story. Click here for our earlier Peeling and to see the preview.

The next new show that has TVO excited is the second series of Moone Boy, written by and starring Chris O’Dowd and telling the story of a boy growing up in Ireland.

David Rawle as 12-year-old Martin Moone gives a brilliant performance alongside O’Dowd as his imaginary friend.

Sky has also announced that a third series of Moone Boy is just about to start filming, and Chris O’Dowd will make his directorial debut during this.

Another show with TVO connections, is Common Ground, which we told you about earlier this year when it was shown on Sky Atlantic. Now it is showing on Sky 1 at 10pm on Thursday evenings.

The series consists of pairs of 15 minute shows, and this Thursday is William and Sinclair, written by and starring Rufus Jones and Dan Skinner.

Next week (5th September) is Rupert, written by and starring Jonny Vegas and starring Paul Kaye.

There is also an episode called Eleanor, written by and starring Katy Brand, but there is no date for that yet.

Brand New Book Group

14 Aug

© Katy Brand

Katy Brand is hosting another of her popular Book Groups on 6th September. The special guests this time are Victoria Coren and David Baddiel, so get those tickets now if you want to go.

The evening will be all about books, the authors read from their own work and discuss their favourite literature and writers. There will also be a Q and A so the audience can join in too.

As a special treat you will also get a digital edition of Katy Brand’s new book, Brenda Monk is Funny, as soon as it is published and your name printed in the thank-you list.

The event is happening at the Tabernacle, 35 Powis Square, London W11 2AY and doors open at 6.30pm.

Tickets cost £15 (including a copy of the e-book) and are available here.

Tony Law

28 Jul

© Dave Brown

Tony Law was a guest on The Infinite Monkey Cage this week. The show was a special on Alfred Russel Wallace, who published The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection with Charles Darwin.

The Infinite Monkey Cage is presented by Brian Cox and Robin Ince on BBC Radio 4 on Mondays at 4.30pm. TVO regular Katy Brand has been on the show a couple of times, debating topics such as ‘Death’.

Tony added to the debate by questioning the date that Darwin received the letter from Wallace which spurred him to publish the Theory.

You can download the podcast of this or any other episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage by clicking here.

RIP Mel Smith: 3 December 1952 – 19 July 2013

21 Jul
© BBC

© BBC

The Velvet Onion would like to extend its sympathies to the family and friends of Mel Smith, who died this weekend aged 60.

First bursting onto television screens in anarchic, topical sketch show Not The Nine O’Clock News, alongside Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson and his later double-act partner Griff Rhys Jones, Smith was a considerable comic mastermind, a gifted performer, and hugely influential writer and director.

In 2003, he directed his final feature film – the cult comedy Blackball - starring Paul Kaye as a young, rebellious bowls player, alongside Johnny Vegas and Vince Vaughn.  This was not his only direct brush with the TVO family, as Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthew’s first tv sketches were written for Alas, Smith And Jones.  You can see one of them below.

Together with Griff Rhys Jones, Smith’s influence on comedy grew beyond his writing, performing and directing, when they founded Talkback Productions in 1981.  The company went on to produce some of the most seminal works of the last three decades, including The Day TodayBig TrainI’m Alan Partridge and Never Mind The Buzzcocks to name but a few.  When Smith & Jones sold the company, it was merged with Thames Television to become Talkback Thames in 2003 (until early last year), and the company went on to make The IT Crowd, Green Wing and Celebrity Juice amongst others.

IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan led tributes from our regulars on Twitter, stating: “Very sad to hear news of Mel Smith’s death has been confirmed. He and Griff gave Arthur and I our break. Was always so kind & generous to us.”  Matthews replied to this, adding: “Well said. Mel and Griff couldn’t have been kinder to us. And Mel was a brilliant, brilliant comic actor.”

The pair were joined by Rhys Thomas, who added: “Terrible news about Mel Smith. A funny man. Growing up Smith and Jones’ BBC One sketch show was one of my favourites.  He was an underrated director too. The Tall Guy sex scene is one of the funniest things ever.”.  Thomas’ former collaborator Steve Burge (later of Burge & Way and Tittybangbang), responded: “R.I.P. “Colin’s Sandwich” star, Mel Smith.”

Rufus Jones – who followed in Smith’s footsteps at Cambridge – also offered his thoughts on Mel: “RIP Mel Smith. Revered his jowly brilliance. An old boy at my school – he encouraged me to goon about onstage. He was terrific.”  Jones’ regular collaborator Katy Brand was also moved to comment: “Very sad to see the news about Mel Smith. He was a family friend as well as a brilliant comedian/writer/director/actor/bon viveur.”

Yet more names paid tribute, with US based, Salford-born comic Hayden Black adding: “RIP to a comic that was hugely influential to me – Mel Smith.”, and the head of Sky Comedy, Lucy Lumsden stating: “Just heard the sad and shocking news about the multi-talented Mel Smith. Wonderful comic who I grew up watching. A great loss.”

One of those in the outer layers of The Velvet Onion, Peter Serafinowicz, also supported the views of Linehan & Matthews, stating: “Very sad to hear about Mel Smith. He did something very kind for me early in my career even though he hardly knew me. Such a funny man.”  His brother, producer James Serafinowicz, added: “Oh no just heard about Mel Smith. Was so lucky to work for him. Such a lovely man.”

Finally, quite prophetically considering the comedic legacy the great man leaves behind, Neil Cole‘s tweet was simple, but effective, drawing on one of Mel Smith’s finest moments: “I like trucking, I like trucking, I like trucking and I like to truck; I like trucking, I like trucking, if you don’t like trucking…”

RIP Mel Smith. Your work will live on… Kinda Lingers.

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