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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.

Seeing The Sights

28 Jan

© Rook Films / Big Talk / Studio Canal / Film 4

Next month’s edition of Caravan Magazine will feature a belated Sightseers special feature.

Here at TVO, we love to report the weird and wonderful side of Onion Land, and this story is no exception.

Whilst we, and critics at large, fell in love with Sightseers upon release in 2012, we couldn’t help but wonder how real life caravanners would take to the black comedy from the minds of Alice LoweSteve Oram and Ben Wheatley.

We needed have worried – it appears the community fell in love with it, and perhaps inspired by our very own guide to the film’s locations (provided courtesy of Steve’s dad), the route undertaken by Chris and Tina is fast becoming a favourite for holiday travellers.

John Sootheran and Ben Hackney are two such fans of the film, who have taken the Marquis Majestic 504 on a tour of the Peak District locations used within the film.

Starting, as the film does, at Crich Tramway Museum, they’ve visited a number of local landmarks, such as Blue John Cavern, Mother Shipton’s Cave and Ribblehead Viaduct.  Albeit with a bit less killing involved.  Not even a chicken sacrifice for good measure.

The results can be seen in the video below, and there’s a full feature expected in the March 2014 issue of Caravan Magazine, out on 12th February. In the meantime, if you don’t yet own a copy of Sightseers for yourself, you can pick it up on dvd and blu-ray from The Velvet Onion Amazon UK Store now.

Sneak Peek At Cuban Fury

26 Jan

A new trailer for Cuban Fury, the new Salsa Dance film starring Nick Frost and Chris O’Dowd, has been released and shows the first dance lesson for Nick Frost’s character, Bruce Garrett.

The film, which has its UK release on Valentines Day (14th February), also stars Rashida Jones, Kayvan Novak, Olivia Colman and Ian McShane, and some TVO favourites – Steve Oram, Kevin Eldon and Rory Kinnear (Count Arthur Strong).

See Oram Tomorrow!

25 Jan

© LOCO

As part of the LOCO London Comedy Film Festival, tomorrow the BFI will be hosting 21st Century Sketch – a celebration of modern sketch comedy with Steve Oram appearing as a special guest.

The event promises a celebration of a new golden age of sketch comedy with classic clips from both TV and online, live performances and a panel discussion.

Clips will be shown from Catherine Tate, Cardinal Burns, Mitchell and Webb, Peter Serafinowicz, Smack the Pony, Big Train, Horrible Histories, Armstrong and Miller and more and guests for the panel discussion will include Steve Oram, Cariad Lloyd, Watson And Oliver, Nick Mohammed and Cardinal Burns. There is also a hint that unannounced special guests may appear.

The event will be held at the BFI on London’s Southbank, tomorrow at 6:20pm. Tickets are £11 or £8.50 for concessions and can be obtained here.

Barratt’s Soho Guests

24 Jan

© Unknown

As announced earlier this week, Julian Barratt will be performing a solo show at Soho Theatre on 27th January. And we’ve now had confirmation of who his special guests will be!

Appearing alongside Julian’s alter-ego, Jon Breeze, will be two TVO-related names (yes two!): the extremely fabulous Steve Oram and the just-as-fabulous Stephen Evans. Also on the bill is Will Adamsdale.

Although Will isn’t one of our regular featured artists, he has appeared alongside folk who are, in films such as The Boat That Rocked and Four Lions.

Regular peelers will be aware that Julian and Steve (of the Oram variety) are working on a particularly out-there film project, so it’ll be interesting to see whether any monkey business spills over into Monday’s live show. You may recall that Stephen Evans has also appeared with Julian on celluloid – in Curtains, a short directed by Julian.

The one-0ff date at Soho Theatre sold out within minutes, so if you were lucky enough to bag a ticket you’ve got a stonking line-up to look forward too. We’ll see you there!

Oram Directs Barratt & Meeten In Monkey Film

8 Jan

© Unknown

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of bumping into Steve Oram at Rich Fulcher‘s recent show at the Soho Theatre. We had a chat about the projects that he’s working on at the moment, then a few beers were sunk (well, it was nearly Christmas). The next day our recollection of the projects that Steve had mentioned was so extraordinary we assumed that the beers had got the better of us, and vowed to find out what he was really working on when we next spoke.

Today, comedy site Chortle has published the details of  Steve’s latest projects, and it would appear that they actually are as extraordinary as we’d remembered them. Are you ready?

Aaaaaaaah! (the number of a’s in the title is important) is a film in which there’s no spoken dialogue, but everyone communicates like monkeys. As the director of the film, Steve has promised “lots of inappropriate sex and violence.”

It will be a low-budget, self-financed venture, and stars Steve himself, Julian BarrattTom Meeten, Green Wing’s Julian Rhind-Tutt and Hannah Hoekstra, star of Hemel, the sexually explicit Dutch arthouse movie. Shooting for Aaaaaaaah! begins in April and will be produced by Sightseers‘ Andy Stark.

Oram and Meeten will play the part of marauding characters who encroach into hostile territory, while Barratt is “the ex-alpha male who’s been deposed and has been living in the garden.”

© Mog

Steve is also developing another self-penned film, Sweet Shadow, which is about “a deluded dreamer from the Midlands who moves to London and finds it hard to fit in at this shit job he does…so he starts following people to make friends. He goes a bit wrong in the head. He has these fantasies.” There may also be a role for Julian in this film.

If that wasn’t quite enough, Steve will be joining the cast of the horror film, Altar, which has just begun shooting; and later this year he will appear alongside the awesome Olivia Colman in a one-off drama for BBC One.

We’re also delighted to learn that Oram and Meeten will be hosting more of their wonderful Club Fantastico comedy nights at the Soho Theatre in the Spring/Summer, with plans to perform a run of five nights with a different guest slot each night. Expect a few familiar TVO faces at those.

So, as you can see – there’s plenty of exciting (if slightly bonkers) Oram-based stuff happening! As and when we hear any more about these projects, we’ll be sure to let you know.

And the next time Steve tells us something that sounds beyond bizarre, we’ll believe him.

To read the original article in full, which includes additional information about the projects, head on over to Chortle.

TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Four

4 Jan

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

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

OCTOBER

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Three

3 Jan

If you’ve previously taken a mosey through Part One and Part Two of our Review of 2013, you’ll already be aware that it’s been a busy old year in Onion Land. July to September was no exception, with news, reviews, new shows and live performances from both our regulars and the new names on our roster.

So here are the best bits from the third quarter of the year – hand-picked from over 700 news stories across 2013, and jam-packed with forgotten treasures and instant classics alike. Enjoy.

JULY

The month began with the release of Dan Clark‘s debut album, Dan Clark & The Difficult Three, which had been funded via a successful Pledge Music campaign. Combining genuinely funny lyrics with proper tunes played by a bona fide band, the record offered fans of Clark’s musical comedy an opportunity to re-live some of his live show classics and enjoy some newer compositions. For a wee taster, here below is a live recording of ‘Don’t Kiss Me’ (and if you fancy buying a copy of the album, head on over here):

We also featured a series of introductions to the TVO-recommended artists you could see at 2013’s Edinburgh Fringe. We intentionally mixed up the folk who we already write about with the people who we define as “beyond the Onion”; those featured included Colin Hoult, Tony Law,  Paul FootSpank, Joey PageAisling Bea, Late Night Gimp Fight, Tim Fitzhigham, Jonny & The Baptists (+ Jonny Donahoe), Pete Heat and Glen Wool.

On 19th July the world of comedy sadly lost one of its pioneers, in the shape of Mel Smith. Whilst Smith’s contribution to modern comedy is undeniable, we can also claim a link between him and the TVO family, with Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthew’s first TV sketches being written for Alas, Smith And Jones. You can watch one of them below:

In terms of new TV and film projects, this month saw the release of Ben Wheatley‘s hotly-anticipated follow-up to Sightseers, the psychedelically historical A Field In England, which launched simultaneously in cinemas, on TV and on DVD on 5th July.

Filming also began on the second series of Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, and the Marmite-like TV adaptation of Graham Linehan’s Count Arthur Strong also hit our screens. Chris O’Dowd continued with his world domination of the airwaves with a role in the part-improvised US sitcom Family Tree:

Finally, fans of The Mighty Boosh got all hot and bothered over Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt‘s first live performance together since 2010 when the pair performed at The Barbican at a concert to honour the musician, Beck. Expect a bit more of the Boosh boys down below (honestly not as rude as it sounds)…

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TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Two

2 Jan

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

APRIL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part One

1 Jan

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

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

JANUARY

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

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

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

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

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

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Tellysight

13 Dec

Sightseers - the incredible comedy horror written by and starring Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, and directed by Ben Wheatley – will receive its television première on Boxing Day.

© Rook Films / Big Talk Pictures

The film, which also stars Richard Glover, Rachel Austin (Black Roses) and Jonathan Aris (Sherlock), was released in cinemas last Autumn and on home media formats in the Spring.  It features Oram and Lowe as nerdy caravanner Chris and Tina, who begin a romantic odyssey which takes an increasingly violent turn.

With cameo appearances by Tony WayTom Meeten and Antony Elvin, the film is a fully fledged TVO treasure, and rightly wowed critics and audiences alike on release.  Those who are still uncertain of its delights will now have no excuse not to check it out!

Film 4 have announced that Sightseers will be its 9pm film on Boxing Day – that’s December 26th for anyone genuinely struggling to remember.  As such, anyone with digital freeview, or subscription cable and satellite packages, will be able to tune in.

Earlier today,  Alice Lowe suggested on her Twitter page that fans of the film could perhaps take part in a tweetalong, and the idea appears to have gathered momentum, with members of the cast and crew, and Film4 themselves hitting the RT button.

© MPI Home Video

We’re all for it, so if you fancy joining the fun, why not get some pot-pourri (we don’t think you could live without pot-pourri), a packed lunch and/or a plate of cheap pasta, and get a break from all that snow and schmaltz for the most twisted romance in recent cinema history.

If you don’t yet own the film for yourself, or want to get the perfect last minute Xmas pressie, you can buy it on dvd or blu-ray from The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

In related news, US fans can rejoice in the fact that it is also available on their side of the pond on dvd as of this week!  The disc is priced at just $22.98, though if digital HD is more your thang, Amazon also have the film available for $19.99 to buy, and $4.99 to rent.  Get in!

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