Archive | Katy Brand RSS feed for this section

Living in Rock: Simon Day & Rhys Thomas on life with Brian Pern

9 Dec
© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

This week sees the launch of Brian Pern: A Life in Rock on BBC Two.

The mockumentary focuses on prog-rock singer Brian Pern, as he attempts to adapt to life after fronting one of rock’s biggest bands.

Featuring a host of big name guest stars, the show is an absolute treasure, and TVO was lucky enough to talk to its creators, writers and stars, Simon Day and Rhys Thomas about the life of Brian.

Brian Pern is many things. Former frontman for prog-rock legends Thotch. Jukebox musical writer. World music inventor. Campaigner for WiFi-afflicted moths. He’s also the brainchild of Fast Show and Bellamy’s People veterans Rhys Thomas and Simon Day, who first brought the character to life in a series of YouTube videos for BBC Comedy, before Pern was unleashed on a wider audience via his debut tv series earlier this year.

That show, The Life of Rock with Brian Pern, was a critically acclaimed smash, jam-packed with celebrity guest stars as it used the medium of the music documentary (for which Thomas has previously won awards including an Emmy and a Rose D’or), to poke fun at the ridiculous nature of classic rock.

Now Pern is back with a brand new series, Brian Pern: A Life in Rock, which takes the character out of the clip show, and into a living, breathing world of his own. As Rhys explains, this was an easy decision to make.

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

“To do another series like the first,” he tell us, “would be difficult. Harry Hill had twenty people all watching television at the same time to keep up for TV Burp, but for the first series it was basically me and Simon, hunting through the archives looking for all those funny clips. It would take us about a year to do it again, so we got rid of all that. The money we would have spent clearing archive footage we’ve now put into…”

“Rick Wakeman,” interjects Simon.

Wakeman is one of many guest stars in the new run, which expands Brian’s world by focusing on his day to day life, and the challenges he faces trying to get projects off the ground.  In Episode One, Pern and his former Thotch bandmates plan to launch their own jukebox musical, Stowe Boys, with Martin Freeman and Jack Whitehall in its cast and Kathy Burke on directing duties.

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Elsewhere, the second episode sees Brian attempt to play a charity gig, for the aforementioned moths, at the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, whilst the third and final episode focuses on Brian’s attempts to record a charity Christmas album with a string of fellow rock stars including Roy Wood, Chrissie Hynde, Rick Parfitt and Melanie C. Oh, and his live-in assistant and world music protégé Pepita, played once more by Lucy Montgomery.

“To take him forward,” Simon explains. “We knew we had to have him living his life, meeting up with his manager, Pepita living in his house, and how he relates to the outside world.  Then we throw crisis at him in each episode.”

“His whole raison d’etre,” he continues, “is to stay very calm, so that nothing can go wrong. But he’s put under this intense pressure, and hopefully that’s where the joke is.”

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

The expanded world – which also features Tony Way as Brian’s driver Ned, Michael Kitchen as his Jim Beach inspired, yacht loving manager John Farrow, Paul Whitehouse and Nigel Havers as his former bandmates – takes a character that could have seemed like a one-trick idea, and beds him into a believable world, much like the transformation of Alan Partridge over the years.  Yet Rhys is determined to spell out the differences between the two characters.

“He’s not like an Alan Partridge,” he states, firmly. “None of it is ever played for laughs. What you’re laughing at is that he’s a foil to his own ideas. When he’s trying to put on a concert to save moths in Africa, if it was a concert for ebola, it wouldn’t be funny. It’s the idea that it’s wifi affected moth’s wings that’s the joke. A silly idea dealt with seriously, and played naturalistically.”

© BBC / Neil Barnes

© BBC / Neil Barnes

“It’s like the similarity with Peter Gabriel,” adds Simon. “Brian’s based on Peter Gabriel, but Peter’s actually a much nicer person with a really good heart. I just took him a baseline, and run with it, really. Brian’s just a pompous child at heart.”

Indeed, the new run harks back to the duo’s previous collaboration, Bellamy’s People, and it’s radio forbear Down the Line, which focus on heightened realism to base increasingly silly comedic ideas upon.  The later ran for five series on Radio 4, but the former was shunned by the Beeb after only one series, a decision which still baffles comedy lovers nationwide.

“It should have carried on, really,” notes Simon. “It’s a shame various events conspired to stop it. But it did use up a lot of characters, which I suppose we could go back to. We still have fond memories of it, but it’s a shame it never really took off.”

Rhys is less philosophical about the experience. “The problem with it,” he suggests, “is that it’s part of that time where comedy series started dropping off with audiences for the first time. Episode One got 1.58 million viewers, but then it tailed off each week. That’s what everything does now, but we were one of the first ones to do it. Something like Toast of London gets something like 450,000 viewers on Channel 4, which is so small for something that great. Ten years ago that would have got five million.” He pauses for a moment, then adds the prophetic: “Christ, people just don’t watch telly like they used to.”

It’s certainly true. When Simon and Rhys first started working together, it was on the hugely acclaimed, ratings grabbing sketch show The Fast Show, which shockingly began airing over twenty years ago now, and still returns sporadically, most recently in the form of online videos for Fosters Comedy converted into full episodes for BBC Two. It’s lasting legacy, apart from establishing a huge network of comedy talent, is that it remains as beloved today as it once was.  Simon Day puts this down to canny decisions.

Simon & Rhys in Fast Show spin-off Swiss Toni. © BBC

Simon & Rhys in Fast Show spin-off Swiss Toni. © BBC

“They never sold it to a channel like Dave,” he explains, “where it could get repeated on a loop. It never really has been repeated. They want to but Paul [Whitehouse]’s holding back. People have dvds and videos of it, but that’s it, so it’s held up in people’s memory without them getting sick of it.”

“And also,” he adds, “lots of people watched it. Back in the days of four channels, no internet, no Twitter, it really took off. We didn’t do too many – three series and a couple of Christmas specials – so its preserved itself quite well.”

“The third series was the best…” chips in Rhys. “You’re only saying that,” Simon retorts, “cos you were in it!”

Two decades on, and both Simon and Rhys are still working with the same people.  Fellow Fast Show veteran Paul Whitehouse stars in A Life in Rock as Thotch guitarist Pat Quid, whilst Rhys is married to co-star Lucy Montgomery, and went to school with Tony Way (Ned) and composer Steve Burge. Many of those involved, as with a number of their projects, have genuinely known each other for decades, making the show something of a family affair.

Steve Burge & Tony Way © Burge & Way / United Agent

Steve Burge & Tony Way © Burge & Way / United Agent

“Oh, we really do feel like a family,” enthuses Rhys. “I like the idea we all work together better anyway, cos we’re all friends and it ends up being more fun.  You can do what you want and don’t mind making a fool out of yourself.”

“When I did Star Stories,” he reveals, “I didn’t know anybody. And you turn up, and it’s all a bit competitive. Everyone’s trying to get one up on each other. I like everyone there, and I ended up making friends with them all, but these days I’d rather not do that again, and just work with people I know.”

If this sounds like comedic nepotism, it should be pointed out that these choices are also made because said actors are brilliant at what they do. And besides, TVO itself is based on a continuing trend of recycling the same talent in new ways, as part of one big comedic family.

Tittybangbang © BBC

Tittybangbang © BBC

“There’s this thing with television,” Rhys explains, in reference to this, “where someone will get famous, and then they’re endlessly in everything.  We’re sort of not using the same faces as everyone else.  Commissioners decide they want a funny actress, say, so they just ask the same people over and over. I like using people like Lucy and Tony. Even though Tony’s been in Edge of Tomorrow, in terms of comedy television, people will still think: ‘Oh, let’s get James Corden instead.’”

Indeed, knowing each other for such a long time has further benefits, in that there’s an innate sense of reliability that allows everyone to do the best job possible. Steve Burge, who was part of comedy trio Stay Alive Pepi with Thomas and Way, was put in charge of most of Brian Pern’s musical back catalogue.

“I would say to Steven: I need a song like this,” reveals Rhys, “or a piece a bit like that. He would then go off and write something brilliant, and I knew he’d deliver it in time for us to write the lyrics.  Then there’s songs like Simon’s written, like Black Christmas.”

“Which I sold,” chips in Simon. “I sold it to Westlife.”

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Rhys laughs, straightens himself up and states: “You know, Simon and Steve remind me of each other, cos they don’t think like anybody else. They won’t come up with what you predict, but they’ll find something funny. Tony too… he came up with the version of Little Donkey we gave to Chrissie Hynde to sing. They’re so good. But they never put me in their fucking things!”

“Who?” asks Simon, perplexed.

“Tony or Steve,” Rhys answers, as Simon erupts with laughter.

Not that Rhys is short on work. Since he persuaded Brian May to write the theme music for his sitcom Fun at the Funeral Parlour, he has been working on dvds, blu-rays and award winning documentaries for Queen. His last piece, The Great Pretender won an International Emmy and a Rose D’or, no less, even though it very nearly didn’t get made.

© Queenonline

“I wasn’t going to direct that,” Rhys reveals. “Just produce it. But the director I had said it wasn’t going to be any good, cos it’s boring and about an opera singer. So I did it myself, and I’m glad I did!”

Part of the joy of Brian Pern is that the show uses Rhys’ background in documentary filmmaking to look authentic. “I’ve got the same editor I worked with on the Queen documentaries, and the same cameraman,” he tells us. “So it has the right look. When people try to make spoof documentaries with cameramen who haven’t come from that field, they make it look shoddy on purpose. Real documentary makers try to make it look as good as they can.”

“We thought about doing something after this about crime,” adds Simon. “Sending up gangsters and the whole middle class obsession with it. But getting real people to talk about it.”

Rhys agrees. “I think it’s better than having people pretending to be real people,” he suggests. “You look at Spinal Tap, and it’s brilliant, but it’s just taking the piss out of idiot heavy metal bands. It’s not taking the piss out of the documentary form itself, and we could have a lot of fun doing that.”

Perhaps this is what the future holds for Brian Pern?

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

 “If there’s a desire for it, he’ll be back,” states Simon. “If the channel want to do it, cos people like it, we’re never going to say: ‘No, we’re killing that off.’ Though, I don’t think it’s something you could do for a hell of a long time.”

Could we even see Brian take to the road? A live tour of his classic hits, perhaps? Simon is most definitely keen. “YES!” he enthuses, when the suggestion is put to him. Rhys is a little more pragmatic: “As long as it does well,” he opines, “it’d be a nice thing to do.”

Brian Pern: On Tour. Here’s hoping.

Brian Pern: A Life in Rock airs from tonight at 10pm, Tuesday 9th December on BBC2. Thank you to Simon Day and Rhys Thomas for talking to us, and to Abigail Johnson at BBC Comedy for arranging our discussion.

So Hot Right Now #9

8 Dec

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

THE RETURN OF BRIAN PERN

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

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

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

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

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

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

COMEDY COLLAB

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

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

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

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

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

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

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

ONIONS AIRING

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

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

©  Sky

© Sky

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

HOOKED TO THE SILVER SCREEN

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

© Studio Canal

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

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

THE BRAIN SUCKING CONTINUES

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

DONATE HERE!

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

TWEETS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

So Hot Right Now #7

24 Nov

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

PADDINGTON ARRIVES

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

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

©   Nils Jorgensen/REX

© Nils Jorgensen/REX

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

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

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

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

LE STRANGE RETURNS!

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

©  Andy Hollingworth

© Andy Hollingworth

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

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

© Lauren Taylor / The Velvet Onion

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

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

Download the original, explicit mix here.

Download the original, explicit mix here.

Download the radio edit here.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

TVO ON AIR

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

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

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

© cookdandbombd

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

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

©  Sky

© Sky

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

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

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

AND THE REST!

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

The Pyschobitches Are Back!

24 Oct

Psychobitches returns for a second series on November 25th.

© Sky Atlantic / Tiger Aspect

© Sky Atlantic / Tiger Aspect

The show – written and directed by Jeremy Dyson (The League of Gentlemen) on Sky Arts started life as a one-off pilot, before getting a full series comission last year.

Starring Rebecca Front (The Day Today, The Thick of It) as psychiatrist to the stars, an ensemble of comic talent portrayed famous women of history.  These included TVO regulars Sharon HorganKaty Brand and Julia Davis, alongside Samantha Spiro, Selina Griffiths, Frances Barber, Sheila Reid, Zawe Ashton, Joanna Scanlon, Kathy Burke and, rather brilliantly, The League of Gentlemen – including Reece Shearsmith as Old Mother Shipton.

The show was – and is – an absolute treasure, so we’re delighted to report it is back with a second run.

The teaser trailer below features Sharon Horgan as Bonnie Parker alongside House of Fools regular Morgana Robinson, Frances Barber and Sam Spiro.  Also back on board are Katy Brand, Michele Gomez, Doon MacKichan, Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Meera Syal, Cardinal Burns, Sheila Reid, Selina Griffiths, Zawe Ashton, Jack Whitehall, Frances Barber, Sheridan Smith and Alexa Chung.  Bring it on.

For more on Psychobitches, visit the Sky Arts website now… and you can catch Series One on demand through Sky or Now TV while you wait!

So Hot Right Now #2

20 Oct
Hello, dear Peelers, and welcome to The Velvet Onion!  For your regular news updates you used to find on our home page, click here.  But below, here’s what Dolly would say is sooo hot right now in Onion Land.

AN EVENING WITH NOEL FIELDING BEGINS!

© Noel Fielding / Dave Brown

The big news this week is that An Evening with Noel Fielding - the UK tour featuring the titular Mr Noel Fielding, alongside Mike Fielding and Tom Meeten - is officially underway.  Hopefully, you’ll have all bought your tickets via our exclusive pre-sale earlier this year, and we’d love to see you out enjoying the show.

The tour runs through the rest of the month, across November and most of December, and takes in various dates across the UK – so if you’re going along, send us a photo of yourself at the gig via our Facebook or Twitter pages (particularly if you’re in costume), with the hashtag #TVOSHOW and we’ll put our favourites on site at the end of the year.

TOURING ONIONS

Of course, Noel isn’t the only TVO regular on tour right now.  Tony Law and Paul Foot are traipsing across the land each week, with various dates on offer from other regulars, such as Aisling Bea, Richard Sandling and Colin Hoult.  There’s all sorts to see, as always, so keep your eye on our new Listings page which we’ll have up and running this week!

Again, if you’re off to a gig with TVO connections, why not send us a photo of yourself with the hashtag #TVOSHOW on Facebook or Twitter, and we’ll share them here for everyone else to enjoy!  And don’t be afraid to go say hello to people after the shows – they’re all lovely, and welcome your support.

THE DAY THEY CAME TO SUCK OUT OUR BRAINS… AGAIN!

The big news this week has been the announcement of The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains being adapted into a movie!  The B-movie pastiche started off as a web series from the minds of Bob Pipe, James Wren and Phil Whelans, and featured a cavalcade of TVO regulars in its huge ensemble cast.

© Bob Pipe

There’ll be more info available at TDTCTSOOB’s official website soon, but first up the team are launching the movie at this weekend’s London Comic Con – so get on down there to find out the news first, and pick up some funky badges along the way.

And if you can’t wait until then, you can catch up with the web series – and read our exclusive archive interview with the team over yonder.

NEW TELLY COMING SOON

The news that Doll & Em - the amazing comic drama starring Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer – has been recommissioned for a second series is just the tip of the ice berg!

November 3rd is the date to etch into your diary, as you get not one – but TWO new series to savour.

First up is series four of Sky One’s hit sitcom Trollied - now with added Aisling Bea and Doctor Who star Samuel Anderson in its ensemble cast.

© Sky

© Sky

After that, hop over to Channel 4 to see Series 2 of the ever brilliant Toast of London written by and starring Matt Berry.  If you haven’t seen the show before, pick up Series One on dvd, pronto!

© Kuba Wieczorek

Matt will also be joining Dan Skinner once more in Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer led sitcom House of Fools which is recording its second series at MediaCityUK from this week.  We can expect that on our screens in early 2015.

Equally exciting is the impending release of Moone Boy series three, which is due on Sky any time now – alongside the news that it is to get a US remake… as is The IT Crowd!

Plus, there’s the continuing adventures of Katy Wix & Lee Mack in Not Going Out on BBC One, the delightful tales of Crackanory on Dave, and more Never Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC2 each week, so even if you can’t make it to a show there’ll be something to watch in the comfort of your own home for a while yet.  As for BuzzcocksAisling Bea will be making an appearance on there soon – that gal gets everywhere, eh – so stay tuned!

BOOK TIME WITH ONION LAYERS

As we mentioned last week, there’s a whole batch of new books from TVO regulars out now, so if you’re after the perfect Christmas gifts, pop on over to our Amazon Store by clicking on the pictures below.

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

http://astore.amazon.co.uk/thevelvetonion-21/detail/1783520345

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

 

ALL THIS & MORE

There’s so much going on, we’re using Twitter to keep you posted on things faster that we could before.  So here’s a selection of other news from this week you may have missed…

For more news, stay glued to our News Page and Twitter feed throughout the week. Keep on peeling!

- Team TVO

So Hot Right Now #1

13 Oct
Hello, dear Peelers, and welcome to The Velvet Onion!  For your regular news updates you used to find on our home page, click here.  But below, here’s what Dolly would say is sooo hot right now in Onion Land.

COOKING UP A LOVER’S DREAM

The former Nemo frontman returned with his new album Adventures in Ausland recently, which you can buy over yonder.  He’s just released the music video for his single Lily (A Lover’s Dream), which you can see below.

 

STAND UP TO CANCER

Alan Carr, Davina McCall and Dr Christian Jessen host this year’s live event on Channel 4 this Friday evening, with an all star cast of contributors joining the fundraising efforts.

Along for the ride are Will Ferrell, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington, Taylor Swift, Derren Brown, Nicole Scherzinger, McBusted and many more – including a number of comedy legends – including our very own Dan Skinner as Angelos Epithemiou and Richard Ayoade – with the latter joining Andy Murray in a sketch about a movie adaptation of the tennis star’s life jam-packed with BIG NAMES!

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

All money raised will help finance clinical trials around the UK, including the most sophisticated bowel cancer trial ever to be undertaken in the world. The aim is to reach the point where three in four people will survive cancer in the next 20 years – so join in the good fight from 7pm this Friday.

 

BOOK TIME WITH ONION LAYERS

Everyone has at least one novel in them, they say – and no sooner have we received Katy Brand’s excellent debut novel Brenda Monk Is Funny, we’re treated to three more books from TVO regulars.  None of which are novels, but all are worthy of your attention.  Buy them via our Amazon Store by clicking on the pictures below.

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

http://astore.amazon.co.uk/thevelvetonion-21/detail/1783520345

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

 

ALL THIS & MORE

That’s not all going on either – with Never Mind The Buzzcocks continuing, appearances from Tony Law and Simon Farnaby currently up on iPlayer, the return of Not Going Out (starring Katy Wix) this Friday, Tom Cruise blockbuster The Edge of Tomorrow co-starring Tony Way being released on blu-ray, 3D blu-ray and dvd this week, and Tony Law, Paul Foot and Noel Fielding gearing up their UK tours.

For all the latest news as and when we find it, visit our News Page and keep your eye on our Twitter Feed!  Keep on peeling!

Dead Funny

20 Aug
© amazon.co.uk

© amazon.co.uk

News has just reached us via the Ginger Nuts of Horror blog, that a new horror anthology, featuring stories from todays top comedians, will be published on 1st October.

The book – Dead Funny – has a few TVO connections, with contributions from Matt Holness, Reece Shearsmith, Katy Brand and Noel Fielding‘s Buzzcocks companion – Phil Jupitus.

The book is edited by Robin Ince (The Infinite Monkey Cage) and Johnny Mains (horror writer and editor), and is published by Salt Publishing.

This “unique exploration into the relationship between comedy and terror” also features contributions from Mitch Benn, Bridget Christie, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Charlie Higson, Rufus Hound, Robin Ince, Josie Long, Sara Pascoe, Al Murray, Danielle Wheeler, Tim Key, Neil Edmond and Michael Legge.

You can find out more about the book and the story behind it here at Ginger Nuts of Horror.

Dead Funny is available to pre-order now from TVO Store.

Katy Brand On Women In Comedy

1 Aug

© Zimbio

Katy Brand has written an article for The Telegraph in which she outlines 9 rules for any women thinking of breaking into comedy.

Managing to be insightful, funny and a tad depressing in equal measures, it’s well worth a read if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of making comedy your profession, or if you have a passing interest in watching someone else do it.

We particularly like rule number 5:

“You will get abuse about your appearance. It’s not fair, but currently, it’s still part of the package. We live in a world where women are routinely judged on their appearance far more than men, and we also live in a world where some people still don’t like to be confronted by a woman with a brain and a mouth and a direct connection between the two. And the most useful weapon in these people’s arsenal is to try to shut you up by saying you are ugly.

Luckily, these antediluvian morons are slowly dying out or being loudly told to go away, but it still happens all the time. Remember: you are not ugly, they are just trying to make you be quiet. Don’t be quiet. Ever. Unless you are at a funeral or near a baby that has just gone to sleep.”

Nice one! To read the article in full click here. And to buy a  copy of Katy’s book Brenda Monk is Funny, visit our amazon store.

Walking on Sunshine… with Dinobots!

27 Jun

© LFI / Photoshot

Today sees the theatrical release of two big films featuring Ealing Live veterans.

The biggest of these is Michael Bay’s latest mega-budget sfx extravangaza, Transformers: Age of Extinction - starring Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles and our very own James Bachman as Gill Wembley.  The film sees those metal giants hunted down by the humans, and the rise of the Dinobots at last!

The film is released in most territories today, with UK release following next week, and much of Europe throughout July – for a full list of release dates, check out imdb.  Bachman and his wife attended the US première in New York City earlier this week, and pictures of the pair are all over Getty images if you’re thataway inclined.

Here in the UK, romantic musical comedy Walking on Sunshine (originally titled Holiday) finds its way into cinemas today, featuring Katy Brand as part of its ensemble cast, which also features former X-Factor winner Leona Lewis and Being Human star Annabel Scholey.  The feel good flick features a variety of 80s pop classics reworked to drive its ‘boy-meets-girl’ narrative along, including songs by Madonna, The Human League, Duran Duran and Roxette.

You can see trailers for both very different films below, and whilst there’s no news of a wide release for Walking on Sunshine across the world just yet, a handful of other countries have been announced, and we’ll bring you news of release in major territories should we find it.

 

Pre-Order Your Katy Brand

16 Jun

© Katy Brand

Katy Brand‘s crowd-funded book Brenda Monk is Funny, is officially out to buy on 31st July. But for those of us not blessed with the patience gene, we can download the Kindle edition and pre-order the paper version now.

In the book Katy uses her own experience of stand-up comedy to tell the story of Brenda Monk, a woman who’s addicted to stand-up and the recognition it brings. It’s a blackly humorous and bitingly candid snapshot of the brutality and fragility of the comedy industry – from someone who really knows what its like!

The Kindle edition is available to download for just £3.99 from Amazon here; the paper version is £6.20 and available to pre-order from The Velvet Onion amazon store there.

Why wait?

Mongrels Return – To Dave

14 Jun

© Alexandra Thompson

Although it’s not quite the return we had hoped for, series one of Mongrels is set to air on Dave from Monday 30th June at 3.15am!

As regular readers know Adam Miller‘s foul-mouthed puppet show featured Tony Way as Gary, the owner of a South London pub that just so happens to be surrounded by vermin – from meek metrosexual fox Nelson (Rufus Jones), and his best friend, simpleton feline Marion (Dan Tetsell), to psychopathic champion vulpine swearer Vince (Paul Kaye), and deranged, scheming pigeon Kali (Katy Brand). With Gary’s pedigree chav dog Destiny (Lucy Montgomery) completing the line up, the show was an instant cult smash, until it was axed by BBC3 a couple of years ago.

Dave is a digital channel and part of the UKTV network, who are now making original content for their channels, including the recent revival of BBC 2’s cult favourite Red Dwarf. UKTV Gold has also recently announced that they have the rights to show the final Monty Python live show, so they are obviously serious about investing in content for their channels.

If you can’t wait to see Mongrels again, you can get both series from TVO Store.

Brenda Monk Is Here

8 Jun
© Suki Dhanda/Observer New Review

© Suki Dhanda/Observer New Review

Katy Brand‘s crowd-funded first book Brenda Monk is Funny, is out on 31st July. Katy used her own experience of stand-up comedy to tell the story of Brenda Monk who is addicted to stand-up and the recognition it brings, 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!

There is an interview with Katy in  The Observer today, where she talks about the book and her upcoming appearance in the 80’s themed feel-good  film Walking On Sunshine (released on 27th June). You can see Katy and the rest of the cast covering the title track of the film below.

Make A Date With A Whimsical Festival

14 May

© Festival No. 6

The strangely-named Festival No. 6, which takes place in Portmeirion in September, features a bevy of TVO folk in its eclectic line-up.

2014 will be the third year of the critically acclaimed festival, which promises an intimate, bespoke banquet of music, arts and culture in a magical festival site in you will ever see. Festival No.6 takes place over the weekend of 4-7 September in the magical village of Portmeirion, Wales.

The line-up is brilliantly wonky, encompassing the likes of Beck, Neneh Cherry, Rhys Ifans, Gavin Turk, St Etienne, Andy Weatherall, Charlie Higson and Julian Cope – with the promise Philosophy and Stargazing Walks to finish things off.

© Show & Tell UK

Our particular reason for writing about Festival No. 6 is that it also affords you the opportunity of seeing the awesome Tony Law, Katy Brand and Matt Berry perform!

The festival takes place 5, 6th and 7th September, and there are a range of ticket and entry options – which you can see here. For more information – including the full line up and site details, please visit the charmingly lovely festival website. We so want to go!

Fans of Tony Law who also dig interesting-sounding festivals don’t need to wait until September to see their man. Tony is part of the line-up of the Arts Emergency Festival, which takes place 18th & 19th June at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London (he’s appearing on 19th).

Tickets for the Arts Emergency Festival are £20/£15 and you can find out more about the comedy festival for a worthy cause here.

New Role For Katy Brand

4 May

© Penguin Books

Katy Brand has been confirmed to appear in a forthcoming BBC adaptation of the comic drama by EF Benson, Mapp And Lucia.

Steve Pemberton has written the 3-part adaptation – about the notorious social rivals Miss Elizabeth Mapp and Mrs Emmeline ‘Lucia’ Lucas. The story celebrates and lampoons the snobberies and pretensions of small-town life. It takes place over the summer of 1930, when Lucia decides to take a holiday in the charming historic town of Tilling.

Brand will play the part of Hermione Pillson, and she is joined by an A-list cast which includes Miranda Richardson, Anna Chancellor and Mark Gatiss. Steve Pemberton also stars.

Gatiss has said of the project: “EF Benson’s tales of life in Tilling are some of the most sly, funny and waspishly brilliant stories in the language. It’s an absolute treat to be joining my old friend Steve and such a glorious cast to bring them to life. Quai hai!”

Filming will take place in Rye, Sussex this summer, which was Benson’s home between wars and his template for Mapp And Lucia’s battleground. The show is scheduled for broadcast on BBC1; we’ll let you know when we hear any more about the production.

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?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,061 other followers