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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 #8

1 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.

ST VINCENT AND THE BEAR

© 2014 Sony Pictures

© 2014 Sony Pictures

This week sees the UK release of St Vincent – the new Bill Murray film about a young boy whose parents have just divorced who finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran (Murray) who lives next door. We’re telling you about it because the film also features Chris O’Dowd as a priest/teacher. Have a look at the trailer below to see what it’s all about. The film is released in the UK on Friday (5th December).

Don’t forget, Paul King‘s movie adaptation of Paddington featuring an all-star cast and cameos from Alice LoweSimon FarnabySteve Oram and Tom Meeten is still in UK cinemas, so do go and see it if you haven’t yet!

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent and former Nathan Barley actor turned Bond movie star Ben Wishaw lead the cast, with Kidman, Bonnerville & Walters turning up on last week’s Graham Norton Show to publicise it. You can catch up on iPlayer here.

TVO ON AIR

The current runs of TVO favourites continue apace this week, with Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Toast of London, Psychobitches, Trollied and Not Going Out all airing new episodes throughout the week – and available via catchup services after transmission. Here’s a pic from tonight’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks to keep you going.

©  BBC/Talkback/Brian Ritchie

© BBC/Talkback/Brian Ritchie

Also this week, the voice of Rich Fulcher can be heard in The Regular Show on Cartoon Network. The episode is called I Like You Hi (season 5, episode 26), and Rich is the voice of the answering machine and smoke signal. The episode will be repeated regularly on the channel so keep a look out for it.

For more on the show, visit the Cartoon Network website now.

NORMAN

© Lauren Taylor / The Velvet Onion

If you missed it last week, the brand new Gary Le Strange single, Norman (I’ve Dropped My Cup Of Tea) is available for download now via iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby, and is also up for streaming on Spotify. You’d be insane to miss it. Grab a copy over yonder.

It marks the first completely new Le Strange material from Waen Shepherd since Beef Scarecrow in 2006, following the character’s revival in 2012 at Club Fantastico and The Velvet Onion Live, and the release of the ‘lost’ EP Glamoronica last year. Judging by the strength of Norman, which we’ve had on repeat at TVO Towers all week, forthcoming material is going to be stonking!

THE JAZZ MEN

A couple of years ago Julian Barratt made a surprise appearance on stage with Tenacious D at their Hammersmith Apollo gig. At the time all we had by way of evidence were a couple of blurry photos and videos. New footage has been published by Peter Kyriacou, which shows what happened from back stage and front of stage – so we can have a proper look at their freeform performance of ‘Simply Jazz’.

Click on our news post to see the video!

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:

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.

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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:

So Hot Right Now #5

10 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.

TVO ON TELLY

This week sees the continuing adventures of Trollied (featuring Aisling Bea) on Sky One, and Toast of London (written by and starring Matt Berry) on Channel 4, whilst Not Going Out - the BBC One sticom featuring Katy Wix alongside Lee Mack, takes a break for Children In Need, returning next Friday (Nov 21st).

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

Miss Bea also makes an appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks alongside pop veterans Lisa Stansfield and Ana Matronic, and fellow comedian Joe Lycett, and the regulars Rhod Gilbert, Phill Jupitus and Noel Fielding.

If you missed it last week, there’s also the opportunity to catch up with Richard Ayoade joining David WalliamsCatherine Tate, Dame Shirley Bassey and Annie Lennox on The Graham Norton Show via iPlayer, which is available until Friday evening.

© BBC / So Television

© BBC / So Television

There’s one other little treat for TVO fans out there this week, with a round of popular quiz show Pointless featuring Cult Sitcoms, which aired on Tuesday, November 4th.  The question asked 100 people to name actors who appeared in two or more episodes of SpacedThe Mighty Boosh and French & Saunders oft-neglected 80s sitcom Girls On Top.  Surprisingly, those polled were clearly not regular readers of The Velvet Onion – as quite a number of our regulars came up as pointless answers! Check it out, 36 minutes in, over yonder.

TVO TOASTS

The nominations for this year’s British Comedy Awards were announced this weekend, with a huge number of shows having TVO connections.  As we noted in our news post, the nominations include a whopping – and totally deserved – eight nods for Matt Berry via Toast of London and his recent short The Lone Wolf.

© Kuba Wieczorek

© Kuba Wieczorek

With Toast currently in the midsts of its second series, as mentioned above, there’s no better time to check out what all the fuss is about!

In fact, the nominations go a long way to proving what we’ve been telling you all for almost half a decade now: that Onion Land is a talented place indeed.  All four nominations for Best Sitcom and three of the four for Best New Comedy Programme have TVO connections, as do fellow nominees, The Inbetweeners 2, Harry and Paul’s Story of the Twos and How To Make A Hit Pop Song.  It’s a glorious time for British Comedy indeed.

Our huge congratulations go to all the nominees, but especially our regulars Matt BerryAisling BeaKatherine ParkinsonReece ShearsmithDan Skinner, Spencer MillmanSimon FarnabyChris O’Dowd and Steve Coogan.  Good luck to you all!

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE VIRAL

Three stories caught the public’s imagination this week in ways we didn’t quite expect.  First up, Paul King‘s forthcoming Paddington movie – featuring cameos from Steve Oram and Tom Meeten amongst its star studded cast – began the biggest part of its publicity campaign, with a series of statues of the titular bear being erected across London.

© John Furniss / Studio Canal

© John Furniss / Studio Canal

The full blown Paddington Trail, detailed on the official Visit London website, features a whole host of Paddingtons designed by celebrities: with the likes of Peter Capaldi, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Sheen, John Hurt, Emma Watson and Julie Walters amongst those making their mark on the famous bear.

The film itself is due out on November 28th, and there’s a new trailer for it below.

On the subject of all things film related, the bad news this week was the closure of Teddington Studios, which will be demolished to make way for a series of luxury homes, as reported here by The Express.

Starting life as a film studio in the 1910s, Teddington was at one time a home for Warner Brothers productions of quota-quickies, before being taken over by ABC, and later Thames Television – in that time making shows as diverse as THe Avengers and Morcambe & Wise.  It became an independent studio in the mid 90s, and was leased to Pinewood for the last decade or so – but with the expiry of their lease, time is up for the legendary studio.

© Talkback

© Talkback

In recent years, Teddington has housed The IT CrowdHarry Hill’s TV BurpBlack BooksMan To Man With Dean LearnerBrass EyeNot Going OutStarlings and Dick And Dom’s Funny Business - all featuring a bevvy of TVO regulars.  It will be missed by the industry, but its legacy will live on.

Whilst Teddington leaves behind a positive legacy, the one ITV2 are making at the moment has been the source of much concern over the weekend, with friend of TVO (and cult comedian) Nathaniel Tapley being on the receiving end of abuse – alongside his collaborator Abi Wilkinson – after they dared to criticise ITV2 star Dapper Laughs for his remarks about women and the homeless.  The furore shows no signs of slowing down, but if you’ve missed it all, we recommend you start catching up here, then read the follow up pieces from BBC News and Huffington Post.  We’re firmly on Team AbiTap, here…

THE BRAINS! THE BRAINS!

The campaign for The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains fundraising continues apace – and you can help make the movie happen! Join the campaign over yonder, and watch the splendid Neil Cole make a tit of himself in the name of moviemaking below.

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:

See you next week… until then, keep on peeling!

Steve Oram Tells Us How

26 Oct

© aceshowbiz

Steve Oram will be one of the speakers at this week’s Cofilmic Festival, which takes place in Manchester on Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th October 2014.

A number of reasonably priced workshops and panels have been organised over the two days of the Festival, which are likely to be of interest to comedy writers, performers, producers and directors.

Steve will be speaking at the session ‘Script to Screen: Feature Films’, which takes place at the Comedy Store in Manchester on Wednesday 29th at 17:30. Tickets are £5/£3 and can be procured here. He will be talking about the making of Sightseers, which he co-write and starred with Alice Lowe.

Other guests at the talk include Celine Coulson from Film 4 and Kristian Brodie from Agile Films who will explain how they work with new and emerging comedy feature film makers.

To see the full programme of events across the two days visit the Festival website.

Wear Your Favourite Film

11 Oct

© Last Exit to Nowhere

Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of seeing a few of the people that we write about appearing in some pretty awesome films. But what’s been missing until now is the ability to wear creative interpretations of those films emblazoned across our chests. Not any more…

Last Exit to Nowhere is a small collective of film enthusiasts and creative designers. They  collaborate to create unique hand screen printed T-shirts that pay homage to memorable places and characters in cinema history. And we’ve uncovered some great designs with a TVO flavour:

A personal favourite is this design on above (awesomely titled “Death has a ginger beard”), which pays homage to Ben Wheatley‘s Sightseers (written by and featuring Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, just in case it’s managed to pass you by). It’s available in regular and slim fit for £20 by clicking here.

You can also have the pleasure of wearing another Wheatley-directed film on your body, in the guise of this A Field In England t-shirt, also £20. Or a Hot Fuzz-inspired design like this ‘Neighbourhood Watch Alliance’ design.

If you needed any further TV-connected reason to pay the site a visit, Chris O’Dowd fans can also express their love of Cuban Fury by donning this El Corazon Cuban Salsa Dance Club tee for the princely sum of £20.

 There are a ton of other cool designs too – including mugs and posters…so get in!

What’s The Crack? 10pm Tonight!

24 Sep

The long awaited second series of Crackanory starts these evening on Dave, and as is often the case, it comes with a bevy of TVO regulars on board.

© Dave

Comedy legends Vic Reeves and Rik Mayall (in one of his final performances) tell the first two stories in the anthology saga’s sophomore run, both of which are written by prestigious comic talents you’ll have seen us mention a fair few times before.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Clean is written by Nico Tatarowicz, whose previous TVO related credits include Tittybangbang, Mr and Mrs Fandango, Otherworld and the sublime The Second Second Coming.  ISNOCHYC is his third Crackanory tale, and is double billed here with The Weatherman by TVO regular Tony Way.

With a top-notch cast featuring Simon FarnabyAlice LoweSteve Oram and Tom Meeten, this opening episode couldn’t become more essential viewing if it tried.  Oh, wait a minute – Waen Shepherd has composed the music for the whole run yet again. Are you convinced yet?

Later episodes in the run will feature Katherine Parkinson and Kevin Eldon, alongside David Mitchell, Simon Callow, Emilia Fox, Meera Syall, Warwick Davies, Ben Miller, Sue Perkins, Johnny Vegas, and Ruby Wax – whilst Eldon joins Alex Kirk, Holly Walsh, Ali Crockett, David Scott, Melissa Bubnic, Katherine Jakeaways and Toby Davies on scriptwriting duties.

So set your DVR’s, or switch your telly to Dave tonight and lose the remote – because the next few Wednesdays are going to be fun fun fun.  You can see a trailer for the series below.

Oram’s Secret

11 Sep

© BBC

Hands up if, like us, you managed to miss Steve Oram‘s recent appearance on BBC1 drama The Secrets?

The Secrets is a 5-part series of stand-alone dramas. Each story explores the links, pressures and expectations that draw people together and tear them apart. Steve was part of the main cast in the first episode, The Dilemma, which aired at the weekend. The BBC describe it as “a story about love, mercy and the things people do to save the ones they love.”

Steve plays the part of tree surgeon, Shaun, who’s married to Pippa, a north London vet – played by the fabulous Olivia Coleman. The episode follows Pippa’s struggle to decide whether to help her terminally ill mother (played by Alison Steadman) to end her life.

Thankfully the episode is available to watch on iPlayer for a further 8 days here (along with episodes 2-4 – these don’t feature Steve, sadly!).

For more information about the series, pay a visit to the show’s website. Happy viewing!

Crackanory 2 – Starting Soon

3 Sep

As we mentioned last month, the second series of Crackanory, the popular storytelling series on Dave, features a story read by the late, great Rik Mayall. The iconic comedian reads The Weatherman by TVO regular Tony Way.

It has now been confirmed that this will be the first story of the new series, alongside a story read by Vic Reeves called In Space No One Can Hear You Clean.

As in the first series, each half-hour episode contains 2 stories, narrated by guests and illustrated with either live action or animated sequences.

Katherine Parkinson will also read a story, and series 1 veteran Kevin Eldon, has written his second story for the series and will also make an appearance in Man’s Best Friend written by Alex Kirk.

Other stories will be read by  David Mitchell, Simon Callow, Emilia Fox, Meera Syall, Warwick Davies, Ben Miller, Sue Perkins, Johnny Vegas, and Ruby Wax; all providing their vocal talents to dark and intriguing stories written by comedian Holly Walsh, Ali Crockett and David Scott, Nico Tatarowicz, Melissa Bubnic and Katherine Jakeaways, and Yonderland scriptwriter Toby Davies .

The new series starts on Dave at 10pm on 24th September and you can see the new trailer below. If you missed the first series of funny, twisted tales then they are all available on demand from Dave.

 

Rik’s Crack To Air Next Month

8 Aug

The second series of much loved anthology show Crackanory will air next month, and features an episode narrated by the late Rik Mayall, written by TVO legend Tony Way.

© Dave

© Dave

Freeview channel Dave, which airs the series, was unsure if they would air the episode until they received the blessing of Rik’s family.

The episode entitled The Weatherman was filmed shortly before Mayall’s untimely death in June, and TVO can exclusively reveal that the story he tells through his wraparound segments features long-standing double act Steve Oram and Tom Meeten, also known for their work on Sightseers and Luxury Comedy, respectively.  Also on board is fellow SightseerAlice Lowe.

Tony Way, star of Mongrels, Game of Thrones and Tittybangbang, said simply that writing the episode was “a flipping honour”.

Past episodes of the series, featuring Sharon Horgan, Kevin Eldon, Alex Kirk, John ‘Willie’ Hopkins and Oram & Meeten on screen,with score by Waen Shepherd and two episodes directed by Gareth Tunley, are available to watch now on the UKTV website.

Series Two, featuring The Weatherman alongside episodes by Eldon, Toby Davies and Holly Walsh, will air next month, and feature Katherine Parkinson, Vic Reeves, David Mitchell, Meera Syall, Warwick Davies, Ben Miller, Sue Pergins, Johnny Vegas, Ruby Wax, Emilia Fox and Simon Callow.  We’ll bring you transmission details as soon as we get them.

An Early Look At Luxury 2

24 Jul

© Channel 4

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

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

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

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

© Channel 4

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

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

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

© Channel 4

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

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

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

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

Parkinson & Eldon Join Crackanory Series 2

5 Jul

© Dave

Earlier this year we reported that anthology comedy Crackanory would be returning for a second series.

Series 1 included TVO regulars Sharon Horgan, Kevin Eldon, Tom Meeten, Steve Oram, Alex Kirk and John ‘Willie’ Hopkins on screen, whilst the score for the show was composed by Waen Shepherd and two episodes were directed by Gareth Tunley.

Like its predecessor, series 2 will be made and broadcast by UK freeview channel Dave, and will feature top drawer British comedians telling Jackanory style stories for grown ups.

So far, those confirmed for the new series include Vic Reeves, David Mitchell, Meera Syall, Warwick Davies, Ben Miller, Sue Perkins, Johnny Vegas, Ruby Wax – and Katherine Parkinson. Emilia Fox and Simon Callow will lend their voices to the series too, and it’s hoped that a performance by the legend that is Rik Mayall will also be shown.

Writers for the new series include Yonderland and Mitchell and Webb scriptwriter Toby Davies, Holly Walsh and Kevin Eldon, who will be authoring his second story for the show and will also make an appearance in another tale.

The new series will air on Dave in the Autumn.

Teasaaaaaaahs From Toyah

7 Jun

© Toyah Willcox

The Crimson Queen herself, Toyah Willcox, has teased further information about Steve Oram‘s début directorial feature, Aaaaaaaah!

Since it was announced in January, news of the production has been thin on the ground.  Filming was due to start in April, but was delayed for some unknown reason – potentially the top-notch cast and their hectic schedules!

The film, in which Oram, Willcox, Tom MeetenJulian BarrattTony WayWaen Shepherd, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Hannah Hoeskra will communicate entirely in ape-like grunts, shrieks and moans, promises to be a typically surreal treat from the unique mind of Steve Oram.

In it, Oram and Meeten will play marauding characters who encroach into the hostile territory of the kitchen, with Barratt the former alpha-male who, now deposed, lives in the garden.

Last month, Willcox posted a photo of her copy of the script, which she was reading in Seattle whilst touring with The Humans – the side project she founded with Chris Wong and former REM drummer Bill Rieflin.  It came alongside the message: “Learning AAHHHH! In Lowell’s Seattle. This script is brilliant…..and naughty xxx”

Now her website’s official blog has provided more details, including the planned start date for filming.  She writes: “…Steve Oram’s film shoot starts on the 30th June, so fingers crossed all will run smoothly and effortlessly once we get into July for the rest of the shoot.

Steve and I are in regular contact as he sends me test films where he and other cast members have got together and improvised how we are going to deal with the lack of language. He has stripped the language down to the bare minimum of guttural grunts and the way he is shooting the scenes……..all I can say….it makes one hell of a comment about life………I find his idea of there being no language as we know it, very sinister as well as funny. He has struck a great idea here.”

We can’t wait. More news on Aaaaaaaah! as we get it.

Movie News: The Man You’re Not

16 May

© FMW Films

Friend of TVO and all-round comedy guru James Wren has co-written and produced a new film featuring none other than Joanna Lumley!

If anything further was needed to recommend the film, it also features Wren as a landscape gardner – plus Reece Shearsmith and Steve Oram. Filming of the low-budget movie, titled The Man You’re Not has just finished in London.

The main cast play play versions of themselves in the movie, and Shearsmith’s self-portrayal, as he attempts to kill a squirrel, is described as “mental” by Wren.

The Man You’re Not follows the story of unlucky-in-love Charlie as he’s encouraged to join various dating websites by his friends, who pretend to be different people in order that he is forced to man up. It’s the final part of a low budget trilogy of films that Wren and his colleagues at FMW Films pledged to make over six years; it will be released on the festival circuit later this year.

© FMW Films

Lumley apparently agreed to be in The Man You’re Not for zero pay after she saw the first film in the trilogy, Peacock Season (about an advertising exec who quits to become a stand-up). “She absolutely threw herself into it. She was charming and I was a little bit starstruck.” Wren said.

Peacock Season, (now out as a DVD on Go Faster Stripe), also featured Shearsmith alongside fellow comedians Adam Hills, Nina Conti, Brendon Burns, Scott Capurro, Rhys Darby, Paul Foot, Richard Herring, Phil Nichol, Lucy Porter, Richard Glover and Isy Suttie.

The second film in the trilogy, The Trap (a horror comedy), featured another of ‘our lot’, the very wonderful Richard Glover. It’s currently screening on the film festival circuit, so catch it if you can.

The Man You’re Not is now in post-production; for updates about its progress and eventual release we recommend Liking the film’s Facebook page.

St Albans Welcomes The Baron & Philomena

1 May

The Baron, the short film directed by Gareth Tunley, starring Tom Meeten and written by both of them, will be shown on Saturday (3rd May) as part of the St Albans Film Festival. The film also stars Steve Oram, Steven Evans and Barunka O’Shaghnessy, with music by Waen Shepherd and Nick Gillespie (Sightseers) as Director of Photography, so plenty of TVO connections there!

The film will be screened alongside 18 other films as part of the Programme of Main Shorts. This is divided into two parts – Beauty and Futility – and The Baron is in the ‘Futility’ section. Entry to see all the films, from 3pm to 7pm, is a tiny £8, so it is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Philomena starring Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench will be shown at 7.30pm. The film has a special relationship with St Albans as the real Philomena lives there. Tickets for this are £6 – £8.

The Awards Ceremony and Closing Party takes place on Sunday 4th from 7.30pm until late. Tickets for this are £20 and include entry to the ceremony and party featuring Cassette Boy Vs DJ Rubbish, or for £10 you can attend just the party. Tom Meeten is nominated for the Best Actor award, so it might be worth going to both.

For information on times, tickets, venues and the rest of the extensive line-up for the Festival, take a look at the Programme.

If you can’t make it to St Albans and have not seen The Baron yet, you can watch it below.

Three Cornettos To Go, Please…

9 Apr
© Big Talk

© Big Talk

This week marks the tenth anniversary of Shaun of the Dead being released in UK cinemas, and to celebrate, director Edgar Wright has made the scripts to all three parts of his Three Cornettos Trilogy available to download for free.

Each film in the series – Shaun…, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End - has links back to TVO, as Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are frequent collaborators with our regulars, and are always in our peripheral vision being amazing.

Shaun of the Dead was the world’s first rom-zom-com, and starred Pegg & Frost alongside Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davies, Penelope Wilton, Dylan Moran and Peter Serafinowicz.  It also featured cameos from Spaced veterans Jessica Hynes, Michael Smiley and Paul Kaye: the latter pair playing zombies, with Smiley in his Spaced attire.

Hot Fuzz followed in 2007, and alongside Pegg & Frost were Timothy Dalton, Edward Woodward, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Coleman, Rafe Spall, Paddy Considine, Adam Buxton and two TVO regulars: Kevin Eldon and Alice Lowe.

Lowe – whose film Sightseers had Wright on board as executive producer – also cameoed in last year’s The World’s End, which again featured Michael Smiley, alongside Reece Shearsmith, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsdan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan and our very own Steve Oram.

All three have rightly taken their place in the pantheon of legendary British cinema, and now you can download the scripts for each film as interactive PDFs containing stills, storyboards and video clips… completely free!

© Big Talk

© Big Talk

© Big Talk

© Big Talk

© Big Talk

© Big Talk

But hurry, these may not be around forever.  Pick them up via Edgar’s official website over yonder now!

All three films are also available on dvd and blu-ray from The Velvet Onion Amazon UK and US stores.

Crackanother!

3 Mar

Anthology comedy Crackanory has been recommissioned for a second series, it has been revealed.

© Dave / UKTV

© Dave / UKTV

The show, which was made for and broadcast by UK freeview channel Dave, featured the cream of British comedy both involved with the short stories told across live action sequences or animation, and sat in a big ol’ Jackanory-esque chair telling the tales in the first place!

The likes of Harry Enfield, Charlie Higson, Sally Phillips, Rebecca Front, Jack Dee, Jessica Hynes, Hugh Dennis and Stephen Mangan were joined by TVO regulars Sharon HorganKevin EldonTom MeetenSteve OramAlex Kirk and John ‘Willie’ Hopkins on screen, whilst the score for the show was composed by Waen Shepherd and two episodes were directed by Gareth Tunley.

© John Willie Hopkins

Proving to be a huge ratings hit for the channel, with British Comedy Guide reporting that over half a million homes became regular views (up 82% on the channel’s average for the timeslot), it’s no surprise that the show is set to return in the Autumn.

The stars of series two have yet to be announced, but we’re holding out hope there’s still links back to Onion Land’s family of collaborators to make it a must-see.  In the meantime, Series One is being repeated from March 29th on Dave, so be ready!

Toast Of The Awards

26 Feb

© Kuba Wieczorek

There are more award nominations for TVO related shows, starting with Matt Berry‘s Toast of London being nominated in the TV Award category of the Chortle Awards 2014.

Meanwhile in the Empire Awards, A Field in England is nominated for Best Horror, with Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa and The World’s End both being nominated in the Best Comedy and Best British Film categories, with Edgar Wright nominated for Best Director, making three nominations for The World’s End.

Click on the links to vote for your favourites. The Chortle Awards are open until midnight on 4th March, and while there’s no closing date mentioned for the Empire Awards, it’s best to get your votes in soon!

If you’ve missed any of the nominated shows, don’t forget you can get everything you need at the Velvet Onion Store, just click to buy.

Toast of London

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa DVD or Blu-ray.

A Field in England.

Cornetto Trilogy.

Breezing To Inner Joy With Barratt

29 Jan

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

On Monday night Julian Barratt played his first ‘solo’ live show in a considerable number of years. Tickets for the gig sold out fast, but we made it our duty to be there and report back. Of course we did. Here then is our review:

It’s only a few short months since we were lucky enough to witness The Mighty Boosh‘s reformation downstairs at the Soho Theatre. In the same location on Monday night we had the privilege of experiencing another return to live performance involving Julian Barratt.  Generally viewed as  ‘the one who’s less keen on gigging’, it was a rare and real pleasure to see him on stage.

He performed under the guise of Jon Breeze, a flakey new age lifestyle guru, resplendent with blond flowing (nylon) locks, box fresh slacks and linen slip-ons. Bowls of pine nuts and water refills were provided for the audience by his earnest brigade of white-clad helpers, or “Wellness Companions” (Oly Ralfe, Stephen Evans, Will Adamsdale and Matt Steer).

Over the course of the evening Breeze guided us through a series of modules, designed to relax our inner selves and re-connect us to “now”. Occasionally this took on the form of song, with deadpan musical accompaniment from Ralfe and Evans – a particular highlight.  Evans’ hissy fit and off stage strop was a delight.

At the start of the evening one did wonder whether the premise could be stretched across an entire show; but the perfect attention to detail, Barratt’s ability to continuously delight our minds with surprising strings of words (“The distant scream of saffron” was a particular favourite of ours), and the on-stage chemistry that he radiates simply by being there meant that the giggles built and the joke crystallised over the course of the evening.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

The nonsense that Jon Breeze spouted was ridiculous enough to be entirely credible, which was part of its joy. People’s handwritten troubles were pulped in a blender to create a “worry smoothie” and “now cloaks” were offered to anyone who felt themselves to be at risk of “overflowing”. You get the gist. By the final module, which involved a fretless bass (allegedly the instrument that vibrates at the same frequency as the vulva…), the audience was putty in Breeze’s hands.

What binds this character to Barratt’s other creations is his pomposity. From Howard Moon to the Mayor in Government Inspector and various others in-between, Julian has a real skill for portraying characters who can’t hide that they believe themselves to be above the rest of us. Exactly the kind of people we enjoy laughing at, though not necessarily with; and that’s not a complaint.

The other fascinating aspect to watching Julian perform solo for the first time in many years is being able to better appreciate what he and Noel Fielding bring to the Boosh as individuals. It felt a bit like suddenly being able to understand how red and blue combine to make purple. That’s not to say that their independent creative output should only be assessed against the Boosh, of course – but it was interesting to observe nonetheless.

Jon Breeze’s modules were punctuated by short set pieces by Adamsdale and Steer (as unsuccessful jobbing actors), TVO favourite Steve Oram (as borderline headcase and cleaner at Millets HQ, Jeanette) and Andrew Buckley and Ed Gaughan (as a couple of Mark Morrison-singing priests).  Although it took a moment for the audience to adjust into and out of these breaks, the changes of pace that it offered worked well.

The show ended with a joyous singalong to ‘Come With Me’ (a little strange to begin with, given its provenance as a Boosh song), with the audience being invited to follow the performance up into the theatre bar – and then out onto the streets of Soho, to the bemusement of passers’ by. A gloriously silly finale for a gloriously silly evening.

Whether Jon Breeze has the same lifespan as some of Barratt’s other creations remains to be seen, but if he chooses to extend this show beyond a one-off in the West End, definitely try to see it!

Toyaaaaaaaah!

28 Jan
© Toyah Willcox

© Toyah Willcox

Actress and post-punk legend Toyah Willcox has been confirmed to star in Steve Oram‘s directorial debut, Aaaaaaaah!

We first told you about the film a few weeks ago, after hearing it discussed in hushed tones for some time, but the news of Toyah’s casting came to us twice over yesterday evening – first via Oram himself at Julian Barratt’s live show, then via Toyah’s web-master as the news was revealed on her official website.

Typically oddball, the film will contain no spoken dialogue, with the cast – Oram, Tom MeetenJulian Barratt, Tony Way, Waen Shepherd, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Hannah Hoeskra and now, Toyah Willcox, will communicate like monkeys.

Low-budget and self-financed, the film will also be produced by Andy Stark (Sightseers), and Steve has promised “lots of inappropriate sex and violence”.

Oram and Meeten will play marauding characters who encroach into the hostile territory of the kitchen, and Barratt is the former alpha-male who, now deposed, lives in the garden.

It sounds like a surreal treat, of course, so the addition of Ms Willcox to the project is the icing on the cake.  For the uninitiated, Toyah first became famous as an actress at the height of the punk movement, before forming her own band and recording a number of smash hits such as I Want To Be FreeThunder In The Mountains, It’s A Mystery and Brave New World.  Imagine a cross between Siouxsie Sioux, David Bowie and Yoko Ono, and you’re not too far off.

Going solo in 1985, Toyah continues to record music to this day, with 15 studio albums and a number of critically acclaimed side projects to her name, plus regular sell-out concert tours.  She’s also been a lifelong influence on several TVO regulars – most notably Alice Lowe, who based the short film Junglophilia on the singer’s 80s excesses.

We can’t wait to find out more.  Until then, revisit Junglophilia – directed by Jacqueline Wright and co-starring Barunka O’Shaughnessy – below.

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