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Rave Reviews For Bill

26 Sep
© BBC Films

© BBC Films

Bill, the new feature film about the lost years of William Shakespeare’s life, from the team who brought us Horrible Histories, has been wowing critics. Inspired by her own visit to the cinema to see the film (which boasts a bevy of TVO faces), Velveteer Mog rounds up the recent Bill reviews (and adds a sprinkling of her own opinion for good measure):

Anyone familiar with the likes of Monty Python, Blackadder and Horrible Histories will testify to the fact that mashing together historical facts with the funnies can be a wonderful combination. Bill continues this fine tradition, while wearing its ancestral influences well. Best described as ‘Monty Python for 12 year olds’, the jokes come thick and fast from a strong cast, most of whom play multiple roles.

© BBC Films

© BBC Films

With high production values, tight, inventive story-telling and a phenomenal gag to screen time ratio, the result is hugely entertaining: funny, daft and clever. All the performances are excellent, but a special shout out should go to Simon Farnaby, who is a treat every time he’s on screen. Plus it was a joy to see so many of ‘our lot’ adding to the giggle quota: Rufus Jones, Justin Edwards, Richard Glover and Tom Meeten.

If there weren’t enough TVO faces on screen, we were lucky enough to see two more in the audience at our local cinema, in the form of James Cook and Julian Barratt. I’m delighted to report that they seemed to enjoy Bill as much as we did.

But don’t just take our word for it; here’s what the critics have had to say about Bill (click on the links to read the review in full):

The Guardian awards Bill 4 stars, describing it as exhibiting “hints of the Carry Ons, Blackadder and especially Python.” The Observer also gives 4 stars, saying, “Nicely balancing its historically literate gags with broad knockabout slapstick, Bill is a crowd-pleasing treat that should tickle audiences young and old alike.”

4 more stars from Time Out, who say, “Mathew Baynton’s plucky Bill, Jim Howick’s grumpy Marlowe and Ben Willbond’s testosterone-fuelled Philip II of Spain are all up there with vintage ‘Blackadder’.” Den of Geek also loved it, noting that “fans of the team’s previous work will not be disappointed here,” adding, “their speciality lies in combining the grandeur of the historical or the fantastical with pure silliness, creating a bathos which is amplified in Bill by the cinematic ambition of the project.”

Even the FT gave Bill a big thumbs up, saying, “This is a comedy. And a puckish, inventive, funny one.” And The Express called it “daft fun for all the family”. A very good thing in our book.

But the final word goes to one of my notoriously difficult-to-impress kids, who summarised the film as: “Very good, funny and a bit cheeky.” High praise indeed!

Bill is currently on general release in cinemas across the UK; check local listings for details.

© BBC Films

© BBC Films

Monster Tease

22 Sep

The Velvet Onion has received a copy of the brand new teaser trailer for forthcoming short film The Monster.

We first told you about the film back in March, when the production was awarded funding by Film London.

A comedy horror about an iconic monster who falls in love with his leading lady on the set of a dubious film as he tries to resurrect his once-successful career, the film features Sightseers and The Casual Vacancy star Richard Glover alongside Call the Midwife‘s Helen George, and up and coming actors Simon Cotton and Matt Slack.

© Film London

Written and directed by Forgery Club head honcho Bob Pipe and produced by Hen & Chickens guru James Wren, the film continues their longstanding association that has previously produced web series The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains and a little event called The Velvet Onion Live. Needless to say, we love ’em.

Furthering the TVO connections, Waen Shepherd continues building his impressive resume of scoring that has recently taken in the likes of The Ghoul and Murder in Successville.

Partially shot at Elstree Studios earlier this year, the film is a bold, dynamic short that marks the ever increasing talents of Bob Pipe as a director to be reckoned with. You’re going to love it.

We’ll bring you more information on screenings and release in due course. Until then, stay peeled.

Wunderful Alice: An Interview With Alice Lowe

20 Sep


A wee while ago Velveteer Mog was lucky enough to spend time with the lady we refer to as TVO’s fairy godmother, Alice Lowe. They met to talk about Alice’s various creative projects – past, present and future, and the wider world of comedy in general. Here we bring you Part 1 of the interview, which looks at Alice’s fantasy comedy radio series, Alice’s Wunderland, currently airing on Radio 4:

Alice Lowe is marvellously multifaceted, both in terms of her professional creative output and her general persona. When you first meet Alice, her friendly girl-next-door-ness immediately lulls you into thinking she’s the type of person you’d take home to meet your Mum; someone you might have gone to school with. As the conversation progresses, however, little bubbles of naughty rebelliousness start to emerge from her butter-wouldn’t-melt smile, occasionally punctured by moments of genuinely sinister oddball-ness. If you spend more than a few minutes with her, you begin to see the shadowy shapes of the darkly comic off-kilter characters and story lines that she dreams up. Alice’s Wunderland is one such project, an audio-based fantasy world, “a place in the Nether Regions, the manky Poundland of magical realms”.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

I ask Alice how she approached the leap from stage, TV and film to radio. “I was worried when I did the pilot, because I thought I was a totally visual comedian. It was always about my facial expressions and my physicality. But this made me think in a different way. I love music, so I took that as my start point.” she explains. “A lot of people who do something for radio think it needs to be about words. While words are important, I wanted this to have a poetic quality to it; I wanted it to be about rhythm and music and soundscapes and atmosphere.”

Alice taps into her live performance experience in order to help her imagine the worlds that her characters inhabit: “I can see the environment that I’m in. If I’m acting on stage I’m imagining a setting, and this is the same thing. It’s what I love about radio shows; you can transport people to strange places. You can say ‘we’re on the moon now’ and we’re on the moon. Aural comedy is visual comedy.”

For the new series, Alice considered whether she should make any major changes to the Wunderland concept. In the end she chose to evolve it slightly, rather than fundamentally shift gear. “I know this show and I knew what I wanted to do with it next.” she says. “We’ve made it a bit more narrative this time: each episode is a story in its own right, with one main character – and each episode has a different main character. It was really good fun, because each one is like a silly little adventure.”

Now in its third series, how does Alice feel about its success? “A third series! I never thoughts I’d be saying that, ” she laughs. “People find it hard to believe I have a radio series on Radio 4!”

© Jules Heath

Behind the scenes on Sightseers © Jules Heath

Although said entirely un-selfconsciously, it’s a comment that carries meaning. Alice is one of many artists that we write about at TVO who continually innovate, entertain and inspire with their talent and creativity. Like the others, she has enjoyed periodic mainstream success, but deserves much more.

I ask her why this is and what she thinks binds the group together: “I think it’s because we’re this weird inter-generation.” She explains. “There was a point when BBC3 stopped being about alternative comedy and became more about youth comedy. But none of us were quite young enough to fit into that category! We weren’t the hot young things, but we weren’t comedy establishment either.”

With BBC3 focusing on the younger end of Gen Y and Channel 4 no longer the proud home of alternative comedy, many of the group were left without a TV springboard for their output, still the primary channel for mainstream comedy success.

“We all had to find our own way instead,” Alice explains, “And the way we did that was working with each other and helping each other out [indeed, Alice’s Wunderland features fellow TVO folk Richard Glover and Rachel Stubbings]. All of those people are so creative, but you can get put in a little box on TV. It can hamper the creativity of what you do.”

TV’s loss is radio’s gain, as Alice’s Wunderland continues to weave its wonderful web of the bizarre and bonkers on our airwaves. The first episode of four, featuring the gloriously silly Lady Bowie, is available on iPlayer here (for a further 25 days). Episode 2, which features “the ghost of a child who died in the 1970s” will air on Radio 4 at 11pm on Tuesday 22nd September. So tune in (and drop out).

© Jimmy Crippen

© Jimmy Crippen

Many thanks to Alice for taking the time to chat to us about he new radio series. Look out for Part 2 of our interview, coming soon, in which she talks about Sightseers, the joy of playing baddies, and her other new projects.

Bill – Out Tomorrow

17 Sep

Bill – the long awaited film about the lost years of William Shakespeare is finally released tomorrow (September 18th), six months later than originally planned.

© BBC Films

© BBC Films

It is written by Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond, who star in the film, along with the rest of the cast of BBC’s Horrible Histories (and Sky 1’s Yonderlandto tell the story of hapless lute player Bill Shakespeare, who wastes his life in a band called Mortal Coil.

He dreams of becoming a playwright so moves his family from Stratford-upon-Avon to London, where he befriends Christopher Marlowe, who has been unemployed since the plague closed all the playhouses.

They join forces on a play which they intend to sell to The Earl Of Croydon who has promised some comical entertainment for Queen Elizabeth I (Harry Potter’s Helen McCrory). Unfortunately there is a plot to kill the Queen, so of course the lads get caught up in this.

As well as Simon Farnaby and the rest of the Horrible Histories gang, the cast also includes Damien Lewis and a few familiar TVO faces in supporting roles: look out for Richard GloverJustin EdwardsTom Meeten and Rufus Jones!

Click here for reviews and interviews and you can see the trailer below.

Wunderland Returns

16 Sep

We’re late. We’re late. For a very important date. No time to say Jasaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, we’re late, we’re late, we’re late!

© Lewes Herriot

Yes, it’s not often we’re behind the times, but somehow, a bubble in the Onionverse caused a rift in the comedy continuum yesterday, and everyone involved with the long awaited Series Three of Alice’s Wunderland forgot to tell you it was back on the air at 11pm last night!

In fairness, both Alice and TVO managed to sneak in a ten minute warning on Twitter, so well done to any late night Tweeters who caught it and tuned in.

For the uninitiated, the radio series, which began life as a 2011 pilot before full series runs in 2012 and 2013, features Alice Lowe as a variety of characters who comprise the main inhabitants of Wunderland: the ‘Poundland of magical realms’.

Also along for the ride are series regulars Richard GloverRachel StubbingsClare Thomson, Simon Greenhall (I’m Alan Partridge) and Marcia Warren. The results are as magical as ever, as Lady Bowie goes on an adventure to a ‘tights spot’ and the narrator meets some other weirdos.

Please adjust your pants accordingly, and listen without orifice via iPlayer now. Three further episodes will air over the next few Wednesdays at 11pm only on Radio 4.

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




Bad Education in the Summer Holidays

17 Jul
© Cave Bear Productions / Tiger Aspect Productions

© Cave Bear Productions / Tiger Aspect Productions

In most cases, the kids break up from school this week, for 49 days of freedom. We don’t need no education, indeed. (Yes, we know we just used a double negative.)

What we will need, however, is some Bad Education – as the hit BBC Three sitcom which starred Jack Whitehall, Mathew Horne, Michelle Gomez and Harry Enfiled amongst others, returns as a fully-fledged movie across UK cinemas.

The show – which closed its doors for the last time at the end of its third series last October – was never a favourite with the critics, yet has a very large and very loyal following eagerly awaiting its big-screen debut, and there’s a trio of TVO names making cameo appearances in the film to prick our interest, too.

And so, in the cleverly titled The Bad Education Movie, Alfie Wickers (Whitehall) continues to be probably the worst teacher to (dis)grace the English education system, but no one cares about their pupils quite as much as Alfie does. Having completed their GCSEs, Alfie is keen for his class to join him on one last hurrah and what follows is a coming of age story like no other… the best school trip ever!

You can see the trailer for the film below.

So far, so ‘only-vaguely-TVOy’, but the film features cameos from Tom Davis (reprising his role as Big Tom from an episode of the series), Steve Oram (as Officer Rowe) and Richard Glover (as a tour guide).

In fact, dig a little deeper, and there are more TVO connections to be found. Over the last year, Jack Whitehall, has made guest appearances in Cockroaches, Psychobitches, Inside No. 9 and The Life of Rock with Brian Pern, whilst one of his earliest appearances was in cult favourite Beehive. The movie also stars Iain Glen (Game of Thrones), Talulah Riley (The Boat That Rocked), Steve Spears (Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire), Marc Wootton (Inside No. 9, La La Land) and Sheila Reid (Psychobitches).

Also along for the ride are regular cast members from the series: including Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of It), Mathew Horne (Gavin & Stacey, Roman’s Empire, Hey Diddly Dee), Sarah Solemni (Psychobitches) and Harry Enfield (Ruddy Hell it’s Harry & Paul, Star Stories, and a genuine comedy legend!).

This stuff extends behind the scenes as well. Director Elliot Hegarty returns from the Bad Education series, but previously directed Zimbani, Lizzie and Sarah, FM, Star Stories and Roman’s Empire. Co-writer Freddy Syborn also wrote for Cockroaches and Psychobitches, whilst producer Pippa Brown is also a Psychobitches veteran – and produced both Julian Barratt and Julia Davis’ Little Cracker episodes.

There’s a bit of a pattern emerging here too, as fellow producer Ben Cavey also worked on Psychobitches, Zimbani and Roman’s Empire. And if that’s not enough, the film is also made by his new production company, Cave Bear Productions – who recently made Dead Air. Neat, eh?

You can see The Bad Education Movie in cinemas from 21st August.

Free Comedy Pilots From Audible

7 Jul


Audible, the Amazon-owned company that sells audio downloads, has created five new sitcom pilots which it is giving away for free. The collection is titled This Is Your Pilot Speaking!, and this is the first time that Audible has commissioned original comedy content in the UK.

Of course if it’s comedy then there is TVO connected people involved!

The five pilots are:

Catching Up – Written by Bronagh Fegan

A sharp yet warm-hearted comedy about what happens after university. Performed by Louise Ford, Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Carrie Quinlan, Grainne Maguire and Andy Goddard.

Working for The Big Man – Written by Rob Sears and Tom Sears

Committed rationalist and atheist Ralph gets an unwelcome surprise when he dies on his honeymoon. He discovers that God does exist after all, and worse yet God has a job for him. Performed by Kevin Eldon, Felicity Montagu and Mitch Benn.

Slaving Away – Written by Miranda Kane

Meet (the other) Miranda. She’s a cheerful, happy-go-lucky single girl in London … who just happens to be a professional dominatrix. Performed by Hugh Dennis, Miranda Kane and Jon Holmes.

The Uncynical Cannibal –  Written by Dewi Llywelyn

This gloriously mad Desert Island romp is what Robinson Crusoe would have been like if the castaway had found a crop of magic mushrooms growing among the coconuts. Performed by Richard Glover, Simon Kane, Daniel Lawrence Taylor, Bobby Mair and Sophie Henderson.

The Hub –  Written by Bruce Windwood

Deep underground is The Hub, a top-secret location from which a team of dedicated professionals keep us safe by waging war against Terror, Anarchy and Foreigners in General. It’s just a shame that all the state-of-the-art, counter-terrorist hardware can’t stop them from screwing everything up. Performed by Susy Kane, Alex Kirk, Howard Gossington, Anjella Mackintosh and Joel Morris.

Click on the link to find out more and download the pilots. Once you’ve listened to them, you can vote for your favourite by giving a star rating on the site. Voting will remain open until December 31st when the most popular show will be turned into a full series.

So Hot Right Now #22

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

House of Fools welcomes Way & Davis

Series Two of House of Fools continues apace this week, with Episode Four featuring guest appearances from Nurse star Esther Coles, stand-up Romesh Ranganathan and TVO regulars Tony Way and Tom Davis.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

The latter three play a trio of hard-as-nails dancers, who threaten to wipe the floor with Vic, Bob and Beef at the Danceathon event over at Julie’s bistro. Though when Julie isn’t dealing with Bosh’s poor customer service, she’s dealing with a rat infestation.

As ever, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer lead the ensemble, alongside Matt BerryDan SkinnerMorgana RobinsonDaniel Simonsen and Ellie White. TVO saw this episode being filmed in Salford back in the Autumn when we went to interview the cast, and while it was a struggle to put together, we’re confident the end result is an absolute treasure. You can see for yourselves on Monday 16th at 10pm, over on BBC Two.

Nurse continues with Day and Hoult

Episode Two on Nurse – the new show from Paul Whitehouse starring himself alongside Esther Coles – continues on Tuesday.

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

With Whitehouse starring as a cavalcade of troubled characters, and Coles portraying the community psychiatric nurse who has to see to them all, the show has charmed critics with its off-kilter comedy and a respectful look at mental health.

Co-starring Simon DayColin Hoult, Vilma Hollingberry and Rosie Cavalero, this week’s episode features a guest appearance from none other than Fast Show veteran Arabella Weir, and you can catch it on Tuesday at 10pm over on BBC Two.

Justin Edwards goes In And Out Of The Kitchen

Here’s one that slipped us by last week – as we reach the middle episode of a three-part sitcom starring Miles Jupp and Justin Edwards entitled In and Out of the Kitchen.

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

The show is based on the Radio 4 comedy of the same name, and charts the life of cookery writer Damien Trench (Jupp) and his partner Anthony (Edwards). The show also stars Philip Fox, Brendan Dempsey, Ade Ofeyoso and Margaret Cabourn-Smith, who just so happens to be the wife of one Dan Tetsell.

It’s a huge treat to not only see a show focusing on a middle-aged gay couple on our screens without any ‘novelty’ hoo-har about it, but also to see one that’s so expertly written and delightfully performed by its talented cast, and we urge you to catch up with the series, with Episode One available on iPlayer now.

In the second episode, which airs on Wednesday evening at 10pm on BBC Two, Damien is banned from the kitchen for the day as Anthony prepares their Valentine’s meal. However, his desperation to know more is soon the last thing on his mind, as his planned documentary about the culinary habits of the great poets is thrown into jeopardy.

More Moone-ing around for O’Dowd and company

Over on Sky 1, the third series of Chris O’Dowd‘s Moone Boy continues with a very special guest star this week, in the form or legendary broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan.

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

In this third episode, Martin (the ever brilliant David Rawle) finds out that every clip played on a TV video out-take show earns £250 – so he and Padraic get hold of a camera and try to film themselves doing something stupid. Meanwhile, the Moone household is bursting at the seams when Fidelma, Dessie and baby Rose move in, leaving Liam at the end of his tether.

One of the great charms about Moone Boy is that, though written by and starring a big star like O’Dowd, he is not afraid to let his character take a back seat to allow others to shine. And when you’ve got an ensemble like this, who can blame him? You can see the episode for yourselves on Monday 16th at 9pm.

Pomipidou Continues

Sunday evenings are that little bit warmer and fuzzier with Pompdiou around for teatime.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The utterly bonkers and penniless aristocrat is played with sheer delight by Matt Lucas, who is ably supported by the sublime Alex MacQueen as his put upon butler Hove. This week, Pompidou wants to spend Valentine’s Day with a date, and signs up to a dating agency to make his wish come true. Except, his idea of romance isn’t to everyone’s taste.

With special guest appearances by Anita Dobson and Paul Putner, this is another charming way to spend 25 minutes in the company of Lucas’ madcap alter-ego. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it seems that ol’ Pompi has found his audience, and you can join them on Sunday 22nd at 6:35pm.

TVO IS FIVE all over again

As this weekend marked five years since we became a dotcom, and we had some bonus birthday messages that came in too late to be in our first round-up, we’ve extended our TVO IS FIVE video to include lots of new treats. You can see the results below.

And the rest

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

The Velvet Onion Is Five Again

15 Mar

The Velvet Onion is proud to bring you an updated version of our TVO IS FIVE video for your perusal, featuring a cavalcade of comedy legends wishing us a very happy birthday.

Some of you may remember at the end of January, The Velvet Onion marked its official fifth anniversary with a string of birthday messages from regular faces on these pages for the last five years.

The very next day, we got our first late message. And they kept coming in – so much so that we decided we’d soon have to either make a second instalment, or extend the original video. As well as these extra clips, a handful of names who wanted to get involved tried to move the earth to get a video to us, but for various reasons from technological breakdowns to hectic work schedules to full blown flu-outbreaks, just didn’t quite manage to get a message across.

As a result, we made the decision to delay the second video for as long as possible, in the hope that a few more people could get involved. This weekend just gone by marks, in essence, our second birthday – as we became a real, fully fledged .com on March 14th 2010, following six weeks of vibrant positivity around our initial activities. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Queen to have two birthdays, it’s good enough for us, too!

So here, at long last, is Version 2.0 of the TVO IS FIVE video. New to this collection are birthday messages from Paul FootRich FulcherRichard GloverJohn HopkinsPaul KayeTom MeetenRichard SandlingMichael Smiley and Dolly Wells.

Also included in the video are the previous messages from Katy BrandDave Brown, Neil ColeJames CookStephen EvansColin Hoult (and his various alter-egos), Rufus JonesDave McNeill, Spencer MillmanBob Pipe, Holly Jane ShearsWaen ShepherdRachel Stubbings, Tony WayPhil Whelans, James Wren and Jacqueline Wright.

Once again, enormous thanks to everyone who sent us a message and is included in the video. We love you from the bottom of our hearts, and really appreciate your efforts. Whilst we’re here we must say a huge thank you to the wonderful Tracy Ann Oberman, who tried to get a video message to us THREE TIMES, only for technology to block her attempts at every turn. We also greatly appreciate everyone else who wanted to get a message to us, but had various reasons for not managing it in time – we know you tried, and are grateful for that at least.

To still be doing this over five years after we started is a testament to the love we’ve received from those we cover on our pages, and the fact that you, dear reader, keep on coming back for more. Here’s to the next five, eh?

Big News For The Monster

8 Mar

© Film London

A new short film, starring Richard Glover, directed by Bob Pipe and produced by James Wren, has been awarded funding by Film London.

The film, The Monster, is a comedy horror about an iconic monster who falls in love with his leading lady on the set of a dubious film, as he tries to resurrect his once-successful career. From that synopsis alone, it sounds brilliantly unmissable!

Now that funding has been granted for the project, it’s full steam ahead! Casting begins next week and filming starts towards the end of April. Some scenes will be shot at the famous Elstree Studios (home of legendary movies like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Shining – and more recently of Paul King‘s Paddington), and the current plan is to release the film in August 2015.

Monster-sized congratulations and best wishes to James, Bob and Rich for making this exciting project happen!

We’ll be keeping you up to date with how it develops during production. But if you fancy keeping tabs on it yourself, follow the The Monster on twitter here.

So Hot Right Now #19

23 Feb

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


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

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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


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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

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


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

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

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

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


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

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

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


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



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

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


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



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

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


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

So Hot Right Now #18

16 Feb

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


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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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


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

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

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

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

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

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

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

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


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

© Tim Bret Day

© Tim Bret Day

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

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

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

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

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

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

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

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

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


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


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

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


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


12 Feb
© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

Rufus Jones will be a guest on tonight’s edition of The One Show to promote this weekend’s première of The Casual Vacancy.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware by now of the JK Rowling adaptation, with its star-studded cast, starting on BBC One this Sunday.

A three part adaptation, also starring Michael Gambon, Julia McKenzie, Keeley Hawes, Rory Kinnear, Monica Dolan, Silas Carson, Emilia Fox and fellow TVO veteran Richard Glover, the series is a co-production with HBO and has proved big enough to take this week’s Radio Times cover as part of a blanket of press coverage.

Rufus will join other (currently unconfirmed) members of the cast on tonight’s edition, presented live by Alex Jones and Matt Baker, after a day of filming the second series of W1A. The episode will be available on iPlayer shortly after BBC One transmission this evening at 7pm.

The Casual Vacancy, meanwhile, begins on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.

So Hot Right Now #17

9 Feb

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


This week sees the Comedic Guard of 2015 begin to change for the first time, as January’s new shows begin to wrap up, and February’s new shows start to arrive. Sadly, this means we must say our goodbyes to two firm favourites already: Love in Recovery and Crims, both of which end this week.

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

The sublime Love in Recovery wraps up on Wednesday 11th February, with the sixth and final instalment of Radio 4’s touching comic drama. Written by Pete Jackson, the series follows the lives of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting group, made up of characters portrayed by Sue Johnston, John Hannah, Eddie Marsan, Rebecca Front and Paul Kaye, whilst Julia Deakin plays village hall cleaner Marion.

This week we turn our focus away from the individual tales of each recovering alcoholic, as the group are forced to leave their meeting room to try and rescue one of their members from a nearby pub. As it all comes full circle for the gang, we can’t help but hope we haven’t heard the last of them yet.

 If you missed previous installements, you can catch all previous episodes except Episode One on iPlayer now, but be quick – as Episode Two will vanish in four days time…

© Hal Shinnie / BBC

On Thursday 12th February, we also say a fond farewell to Crims – as the BBC Three sitcom from the pens of Mongrels writer Adam Kay and Grandma’s House writer Dan Swimer airs its sixth and final episode at 10pm, with Tracy Ann Oberman once again making a guest appearance.

It’s another firm favourite, as Dawn (Cariad Lloyd) is to receive a commendation for her crackdown on drug use in the institution, and Creg (Ricky Champ) is forced into a difficult position when he accidentally lets the collected substances go missing on his watch. Let’s just say, this episode features the best comedic sandwich consumption since Arnold Rimmer ate a triple fried egg sarnie with chilli sauce and chutney.

When the show began, it was easy to believe the focus would remain entirely on Luke and Jasan, brilliantly played by Elis James and Kadiff Kirwan, but as the series has developed, Dawn, Creg, Marcel (the sublime Theo Barklem Biggs) and the rest of the gang have become just as important to the success of the show. We’re certainly hoping we haven’t seen the last of Crims yet.

If you have missed previous episodes, you can catch up on iPlayer now. There’s currently no sign of a dvd or blu-ray release, but the episodes are now becoming available to own via Amazon Digital, so keep an eye on your preferred digital store for the whole run soon.


Sunday evening brings us a brand new show, in the form of JK Rowling’s comic drama The Casual Vacancy, which features Rufus Jones and Richard Glover in its top notch cast.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Julia McKenzie (Miss Marple), Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes), Rory Kinnear (Count Arthur Strong), Monica Dolan (Sightseers), Silas Carson (The IT Crowd) and Emilia Fox (Silent Witness) join Glover & Jones in the three part mini-series, which centres on the seemingly idyllic English village of Pagford.

With it’s cobbled market square and ancient abbey, Pagford looks quaint and charming to all who enter. Behind the pretty façade however, is a town at war: rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.

When a local councillor dies suddenly, the town is left in shock, and the empty seat becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the village has yet seen. Three candidates are soon lined up: Miles Mollison, Colin Wall and Simon Price – played by Rufus Jones, Simon McBurney and Richard Glover respectively.

Episode One airs on BBC One this Sunday evening at 9pm, and you can see our preview gallery alongside clips and trailers, over yonder.

© BBC/Baby Cow/Chris Brock

© BBC/Baby Cow/Chris Brock

Tuesday 10th February also sees Series Two of Uncle begin on BBC Three at 10pm, once again starring Nick Helm and Elliot Spencer-Gillot alongside Sophie Haggard (Psychoville), Nicholas Burns and Daniel Lawrence Taylor.

A year after Andy (Helm) was banned from seeing his nephew Errol (Spencer-Gillot) for being a destructive influence, the unlikely duo are hanging out in secret, with the latter having a broken voice and the former being as broken in general as ever.

It’s a welcome return for a very popular show, and you can see what TVOer Mog thought of its return very soon.


It would, of course, be foolish to focus only on the newly arriving and the soon departing, as lots of other great shows vie for your attention in the middle of their current runs this week.

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

Monday 9th February at 10:05pm sees Episode Four of Catastrophe air on Channel 4. Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s charming yet brutally honest sitcom focuses on an American man and an Irish woman in London, forced to make a whirlwind romance develop into something more when they find themselves expecting a child.

This week, Sharon’s parents head over from Ireland, only to have a difficult first encounter with Rob, as the subject of pregnancy is broached.  More health complications for Sharon and the baby also arise, and Rob’s secret friendship with Chris backfires in a way he could never have imagined.

As the story unfolds and becomes ever more complex and rewarding, it’s increasingly a delight to spend half an hour with realistic, flawed characters you can’t help but like, even if you’re not sure why.  The show thunders on with rave reviews, and a second series commissioned, so if you’ve not caught the bug yet, you can catch up with the series now via 4oD.

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

Episode Five of Cockroaches airs on Tuesday 10th February at 10pm over on ITV2. The post-apocalyptic comedy stars Daniel Lawrence Taylor (How Not to Life Your Life), Esher Smith, Jack Whitehall and Tom Davis (House of Fools, Murder in Successville), alongside a string of big name guest stars such as Dan Skinner, Alexander Armstrong, Caroline Quentin, Robert Bathurst and Nigel Planer.

This week, Tom’s mother-in-law Cathy (Caroline Quentin) arrives at the camp with her new boyfriend Pete, who happens to be his former PE teacher – and an overbearing alpha-male American, played by the initimitable Rich Hall. Meanwhile, Suze is sceptical when a stranger called Ash (Jamie Winstone, Dead Set) arrives from the woods claiming not to have seen a single person for the past three years.

It’s another suitably bonkers episode, and if you like what you see, you can catch up with past episodes via ITV Player, or pre-order series on dvd for release February 23rd.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

Also on Tuesday 10th February, the sixth and penultimate episode of the second series of Count Arthur Strong airs on BBC One at different times, depending on your location.

Viewers in England can see the show at (shock horror), the same time as last week: 10:45pm, whilst those watching in Northern Ireland and Wales don’t have to wait as long as usual, with the episode moved up to 11:10pm. Viewings in Scotland, annoyingly, have to wait almost 24 hours, with the episode airing at 10:40pm on Wednesday instead.

Despite the crazy scheduling, this episode – once more from the pens of star Steve Delaney and Graham Linehan (best known for The IT Crowd and Father Ted), is perhaps the series highlight: as a trouser fire causes Arthur to move in with Michael. His claims of being low maintenance clash with Michael’s Game of Thrones obsession, so Arthur turns to John the Watch for companionship.

Brilliantly structured, and surprisingly heart-warming, this episode works better still when you know the characters well enough to enjoy spending time in their company, but if you only watched one episode this year, this could be the one for you. Either way, catch up on the series now via iPlayer over yonder.

© Comedy Central UK

© Comedy Central UK

Meanwhile, the fifth episode of Drunk History UK airs at 9:30pm on Monday 9th over on Comedy Central UK, once more featuring famous British comedians getting absolutely plastered in the name of reciting tales from the past – which are then re-enacted by a top notch cast.

Tony Way, Cardinal Burns, Rebecca Front, Marek Larwood and Mat Horne have appeared across the series so far, and tonight’s edition keeps the talent levels up high: as Marc Wooten (La La Land, Shirley Ghostman) returns to the show, along Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner).

With Russell Kane and Alex Horne on story telling duties, and Tony Way again making an appearance, it’s another great excuse to watch comedy talents being very silly indeed. Enjoy!


There’s lots brewing at the moment, with Kim Noble in the middle of his run at the Soho Theatre, a special Forgery Club for Greenpeace this week, Rachel Stubbings hosting a film night next Monday, Tony Law wrapping up his Tone Zone tour, and tickets for Sarah Kendall at Soho Theatre later this month, and Angelos & Barry later this year on sale now.  Keep an eye on our news pages for the latest live news as and when we can throw it your way!


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

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


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

Thanks For The Memories

5 Feb

Celebrating our 5th birthday this week has caused us to get a wee bit nostalgic. So we thought we’d collate some of those “Do you remember when?…” reminiscences into a Best of the first 5 years of TVO. It’s not a comprehensive overview of everything we’ve done, more a subjective account of a few of those ad hoc moments that made us feel warm, fuzzy and just a bit excited.

The favourite moments are different for all of us; sometimes it’s the memory of the event behind the article; sometimes it’s because we nailed an exclusive or wrote something that generated a huge amount of traffic for the website (one post last year generated over 13,000 unique visits in one day, fact fans!), and often it’s the buzz of being able to share something new, exciting and special with you, our readers. So here are a few of the happenings which have brought a smile to our faces over the past 5 years: 


© Paul Holmes

© Paul Holmes

There are so many glorious memories to treasure. There’s one particular Forgery Club that will forever be in my mind, presented by Hot Brew, and featuring a rare performance by Brown Jenkin (Colin Hoult & Stephen Evans), an appearance by The Mighty Thor and loads more. We were sat talking to Steve Oram before the show, and he noted that he’d never made it big because he liked to do things that broadcasters don’t know what to do with… then went on to give the audience an epic, ten minute long version of “Mary“. To this day, I can’t get a cab in London without thinking: “I will not go South of de river.”

I was particularly proud of the Mongrels takeover in November 2011, as various people being very busy meant I did that one pretty much solo, but was riddled with a genuine (and full blown) flu after arranging interviews with the whole cast and creator Adam Miller! I managed to salvage the interviews, strike up positive relationships with every single one of the team I spoke to which continue to this day, and fix up a wodge of behind the scenes stuff AND a competition to win DVDs of Series One, despite being unable to stand up or focus on a screen for more than a few minutes at a time. If you click here and scroll down, you can see everything.

Another good one to mention is Zimbani, which came to my attention early on in the life of TVO, when Dave McNeill & Colin Hoult emailed me to enthuse about their new show featuring Julian Barratt. It was the first time anyone had come to me direct outside of casual chatter, and really began expanding our world for the first time. Colin later made my partner, and occasional TVO designer, Lauren, get down on all fours and pretend to be a pig in front of Simon Amstell. Now that was a strange moment.

Then again, there’s many of those. Getting accidentally lost for a moment in a strange building behind the London Palladium with Isy Suttie at a screening of Alice Lowe‘s People Place. Similarly, getting trapped in a lift with Mike Fielding and an old lady who refused to let anyone else press the buttons to get us out of this chaos. And then there’s that strange bar James Wren led a motley post-Spank crew along to that felt like something out of a Bond film, somehow managing to stay glamorous at 3am. It’s been a funny old time.  But above all else, it’s just been nice to be welcomed into the fold of this wonderful group of friends and collaborators, and be trusted to give them everything I can to help their work reach a wider crowd. Let’s keep doing it, eh?


Having been involved in TVO since the very early days makes picking a favourite moment is a real challenge – but this one was pretty special: In 2011 Dave Brown was putting together Noel Fielding‘s art book Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton. They needed one last thing to finish it off before it was sent to the printers, and they contacted us to provide it. We were able to offer our readers the opportunity to have a photograph of their faces painted over by Noel and included in the book. A double page spread of your lovely faces appeared in the book when it was published, alongside the caption ‘MY TINY CHILDREN’. A wonderful show of their appreciation for the fans, and something which we were delighted to facilitate on their behalf.

© Noel Fielding/Dave Brown

Our Sightseers take-over was pretty special too (click here and scroll down). We had no idea it would become such a cult hit at the time, and it was great to be able to support so many of ‘our lot’ (Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Richard Glover Tom Meeten) with a week of exclusives.

© Big Face Productions

On a personal level, getting to know a few of the people who we write about – and discovering that they’re damned nice people as well as being unbelievably talented – has been a privilege.

A particular high point has been getting to know Hoppo. Introduced to me at Club Fantastico as “the only man to have survived Old Gregg”, John Hopkins turned out to have a TVO pedigree as long as his (long) arms, being part of the original Ealing Live gang and having worked with half of the people that we cover. He’s also lovely. If you don’t know who he is, we urge you to read our interview/profile about him and check out his stuff.


There are lots of brilliant moments I could mention, but as a fan of Hayden Black, it’s been a pleasure getting the chance to spread the word about him. I guess I’ve become our resident expert on Hayden’s creative and comedic output; take a look at this to find out more.


The moment that stands out in my mind is Fulchfest (Rich Fulcher‘s legendary comedy night in Kentish Town). I’d say that was the most fun I could have. This Pete Heat video that we filmed summarises it perfectly:

I’ve also had some brilliantly fun nights at Dan Clark gigs – often with Mog. Here’s a review of one of them.

© Mog


I think my favourite moment is the Zappa Plays Zappa gig at the Camden Roundhouse, with The Mighty Boosh Band as support. Being surrounded by odd men with moustaches while weird music was playing… and then rushing across town to a Rich Fulcher gig – where all the familiar faces already were. It was a perfect blend of what started it all and the new direction TVO had pushed us all in.


Seeing the Boosh warm-up gigs in 2013 was great, and it was lovely going to Soho Theatre as part of the TVO team. It was brilliant to see them on stage together again, in a lovely small venue, with the magic between them there as if they’d never gone away. The review was great too!

I loved going to see the Inside No. 9 preview at the BFI. It’s now one of my favourite pieces of TV and seeing it in the cinema was really special.


Being involved in filming TVO Live was one the most fun shoots I’ve done, but also the toughest because it was so difficult holding the camera still due to my laughter! We couldn’t have wished for a better line up. Fingers crossed for a TVO Live 2!


My favorite TVO memory is of when I interviewed Rich Fulcher in LA. I hadn’t done anything like it before, and he was so funny and generous! I admire Rich so much, and it was wonderful that he was everything he seems to be and more. A truly funny man.


The Luxury Comedy coffee competition was great, because it encouraged people to create something artistic. And I loved the series of Noel Fielding interviews to celebrate his birthday, which featured questions from our readers:

So there you have it – a sprinkling of very happy memories from a few of us. A big TVO thank you to the artists who we write about, who have provided us with these highs and who make it all possible. And thanks too to you, for being interested enough in what we do to come with us on our journey to the outer reaches of the comedy universe. It’s been quite a ride so far…

Box of Issues & the Work of Tom Golding

3 Feb

© PBJ Management

One of the joys of The Velvet Onion is that, by concentrating on a particular family of regular collaborators, we get to draw your attention to some great material that could potentially go unnoticed by more mainstream comedy websites. Of course, the downside to this is that it’s very rare we get an opportunity to go outside our remit – and gawd knows we get requests from all over the place to cover this, that and the other, with varying degrees of quality flung our way.

Every now and then, a name will keep cropping up, however, and we’ll mark them as one to watch. One such name is Tom Golding, who appeared in Anna & Katy and The Ministry of Curious Stuff, whilst eagle-eyed Doctor Who viewers may remember him as one of Martha’s followers in Last of the Time Lords way back in 2007! He’s also made a habit of cropping up in online sketches – including the ingenious James James Bond by Thomas Nelstrop, alongside Richard Glover.

Golding also makes sketches of his own, including A Wooden Boxa frankly baffling yet brilliant sketch with William Andrews of Pixelface, Sorry I’ve Got No Head and more recently, Broadchurch fame – and a sketch with Gemma Arrowsmith which is possibly the most disturbing take on The Chuckle Brothers legend ever made. We’re not quite sure what goes on in Tom’s mind, but we like our occasional visits there an awful lot.

Anyhow, as we always pride ourselves on chances to give shout outs to talented names not quite on our roster (see also Late Night Gimp Fight and Jonny & The Baptists to name but two of our favourites), we felt this was a prime time to direct you towards Tom’s output, particularly as his latest video, Box of Issues, features a cameo appearance from our very own Stephen Evans.

So if you like what you see, why not delve into Tom’s world a little more? And for more recommendations on names just outside our regular fold, keep an eye on our Twitter feed, where we’ll always be happy to share some great comedy that doesn’t quite make it onto our news pages on technicalities alone.

The Casual Vacancy Opens Up

2 Feb
©  Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

BBC One’s star studded adaptation of The Casual Vacancy airs later this month, and as transmission approaches, more information is starting to be made public.

An adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s novel of the same name, The Casual Vacancy centres on Pagford, a seemingly idyllic English village with a cobbled market square and ancient abbey. Behind the pretty façade however, is a town at war: rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils. Pagford is not what it first seems.

When a local councillor dies suddenly, Pagford is left in shock, and the empty seat becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the village has yet seen. Three candidates are soon lined up: Miles Mollison, Colin Wall and Simon Price – played by Rufus Jones, Simon McBurney and Richard Glover respectively.

Also along for the ride are a top notch cast including: Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Julia McKenzie (Miss Marple), Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes), Rory Kinnear (Count Arthur Strong), Monica Dolan (Sightseers), Silas Carson (The IT Crowd) and Emilia Fox (Silent Witness).

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

Episode One of the three part saga will air on Sunday 15th February at 9pm on BBC One HD. As it’s a co-production with HBO, you can expect a US air-date very soon. In the meantime, you can console yourself with a gallery of images – including Jones & Glover – below, alongside a trailer and a preview of Episode One.

Words of Glover

12 Jan

He’s currently wowing the crowds in a mainstream Hollywood film, but Richard Glover still has the time to be suitably bonkers.

This needs so few words to describe, so we’ll hand right over to Richard, as he tells us the true origins of a very well known phrase. Enjoy.

As a cheeky bonus, Glover has also recorded a fresh ditty with regular collaborator, Stephen Evans, which you can hear over yonder.

So Hot Right Now #12

5 Jan

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.


This week sees the launch of a brilliant new radio 4 comedy drama, Love in Recovery, featuring a top-notch cast of astronomical star status, including our very own Paul Kaye.

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

The show is written by Pete Jackson and inspired by his own road to recovery, following the lives of five very different recovering alcoholics: plain-speaking and fun-loving Julie (Sue Johnson, The Royal Family), sarcastic and beleaguered journalist Simon (John Hannah, A Touch of Cloth), kind and naive group leader Andy (Eddie Marsan, The World’s End), snobby and spikey ex-banker Fiona (Rebecca Front, Psychobitches) and dodgy geezer with a heart of gold Danno (Paul Kaye).

They are joined by Marion (Julia Deakin, Spaced), the cleaner of the church hall where the show is set, as the group get to know each other, learn to hate each outer, argue, moan, laugh, fall apart, fall in love and tell their stories.

You can hear Episode One at 11:15pm this Wednesday evening on BBC Radio 4, with the episode available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.


Not content with bouncing five instalments of fried comedic gold at us each week via his YouTube channel, the eternally hard-working Colin Hoult returns to BBC Radio 4 this week with the long-awaited second series of Carnival of Monsters.



The show features a combination of new material and vintage pieces from Colin’s seminal Edinburgh shows, and reunites the team behind those via supporting artists Stephen Evans, Dan Snelgrove and Zoe Gardner.

Once more produced by Sam Bryant (Alice’s Wunderland, I Regress), Carnival of Monsters features several of our favourites: Andy Parker, Anna Mann, Eddie Cortinez… you name it, they’re here, all as monstrous yet oddly delightful as ever.

The show will be available on iPlayer after transmission on Wednesday at 11pm, and you can also catch up with the latest videos from Colin’s YouTube channel over yonder.


Two new series appear on our tellyboxes this week, with the return of Count Arthur Strong and new BBC Three sitcom Crims.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

The former, Count Arthur Strong, has been given a big boost of support from the BBC – with the show being promoted to BBC One in the perennial Mrs Browns Boys slot of 10:35pm.  Written once again by star Steve Delaney and IT Crowd head honcho Graham Linehanthe show polarised audiences in its first season two years ago, but a more mainstream timeslot may just see it find its audience at last.

In the first episode, the former variety star and his former showbiz partner’s son stage a heist to retrieve a salacious manuscript of Arthur’s semi autobiographical novel. Rory Kinnear and Chris Rhyman co-star, and you can see Episode One on Tuesday evening.

© BBC / Adam Lawrence

© BBC / Adam Lawrence

Over on BBC Three, brand new prison based comedy Crims launches this Thursday, in which cult standup Elis George and newcomer Kadiff Karwan star as two hapless friends who find themselves in a robbery situation and get sent to prison for 600 days.

Surrounded by guards and inmates even more stupid than them, the duo must use all their wits to stay out of trouble… except they don’t really have any.

Written by former Mongrels writer – and amazing musical standup – Adam Kay, alongside former Grandma’s House writer Dan Swimer, the show also features Cariad Lloyd (Cardinal Burns), Ricky Champ (Dead Boss) and a brilliant guest appearance in Episode Two by former Doctor Who star Sylvester McCoy.

Former Big Train star Tracey Ann Oberman also features in Episode Four, and from what we’ve seen of the show, it’s a gloriously ridiculous sitcom that we think will be right up your street.

We’ll have an exclusive interview with Adam Kay for you later this week, and you can catch Episode One on Thursday night at 10pm over on BBC Three.


This Friday sees the UK release of Disney’s blockbuster musical Into the Woods, and if you’ve been watching the trailers, you may have spotted a TVO face in the midsts of it all.

© Disney

© Disney

The film stars Meryl Street, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracy Ullman and Johnny Depp – as well as our very own Richard Glover as The Steward.

Based on the hit musical by Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods will give us another chance to hear the delightful Mr Glover’s singing voice on the big screen, which we’re sure he’s loving! Already out in US cinemas, the film can be seen in the UK from the end of this week.


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


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