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All Work And No Play In Soho

22 Feb

© Joseph Lynn

Joseph Lynn’s reportage photography of Noel Fielding‘s recent UK and Ireland tour kept his dedicated fanbase connected with what was happening – both on and off the stage. And now a selection of the images that Joe has taken will be on show at an exhibition in London’s West End.

All Work No Play is a collection of around 20 photos which cover a time period of nearly two years, whilst Joe worked with Noel on various projects as he developed, prepared and performed his show, An Evening With Noel Fielding. As an integral part of the team, Joe was given unprecedented to access to Noel, Tom Meeten and Mike Fielding, allowing him to capture intimate off duty moments alongside photographs of the live shows. The images he took paint a rich and candid picture of the hard work and camaraderie of the tour.

© Joseph Lynn

The exhibition will be taking place at Gallery Maison Bertaux on Greek Street (which has previously hosted Noel’s two solo art shows) towards the end of March/early April – exact date tbc.

We caught up with Joe over a coffee at Maison Bertaux, and he told us how excited he was about the forthcoming exhibition of his photographs: “Even if it ends up costing me more money than it makes it’s such a nice thing to have done. I come here every week – it’s the best coffee in London, so to have my stuff on the wall here is amazing.”

© Joseph Lynn

He and a friend have been busy editing down his vast collection of images and printing them out. “I had a couple of tasters printed and they look great!” He beams, managing to look both proud and humbled at the same time. But does the ease of sharing images on social media remove the need for a physical gallery space? Joe regrets being as generous as he was on Instagram during the tour – although the exhibition will feature a few images you won’t have seen anywhere before.

We discuss how some photographs take on a new lease of life when viewed in the flesh versus being seen on a computer screen; and how the ‘home made’ aesthetic of Noel’s creative output lends itself perfectly to the printed format.

Indeed, Dave Brown‘s Behind The Boosh photography exhibition last year featured a number of familiar Mighty Boosh photographs, but seeing them in real life was something else entirely; it seems that some images are meant to be seen for real to be fully appreciated – and Joe hopes his photography falls into that camp.

As soon as the dates for All Work No Play have been confirmed, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, Joe has set up a website where people can register their email address to receive updates about the forthcoming show and the prints that will be available to buy. Visit allworknoplayart.com to register. And if you like what you’ve seen so far, check out Joe’s  Instagram for more of his photographs.

Don’t forget that Noel also has his own exhibition taking place in March – at the Royal Albert Hall. He Wore Dreams Around Unkind Faces, a new collection of stunning water colours by Noel, runs from 7th to 17th March; for further details of when you can view the paintings see our previous post about the show.

Onion Talking: Sarah Kendall on Touchdown

21 Feb
© Sarah Kendall

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Acclaimed stand-up comic Sarah Kendall returns to The Soho Theatre with the final run for her smash-hit show Touchdown this week, running from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th February.

With her follow up show, A Day in October, due to launch at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in March, this felt like as good a time as any to finally book ourselves some time to talk to the gifted storyteller, masterful standup and full-time mother.

Editor in chief Paul Holmes caught up with Sarah to discuss about her career so far, and the effects her life beyond it have had upon her outlook, with the following insightful results…

At the turn of the millennium, Sarah Kendall made a huge decision. Already a regular on the Australian stand-up comedy circuit, two years after her initial flurry of success, she packed up her bags and moved to England. By 2003, she was ready to take on the Edinburgh Fringe, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Flight of the Conchords, Gary Le Strange and Adam Hills. The following year, she was nominated for the Perrier Award’s main category of Best Show alongside Chris Addison, Reginald D Hunter and winner Will Adamsdale (best known internationally for his role in The Boat that Rocked).

As the years went by, Kendall built on this initial success, gaining a cult following through heavy touring, countless festivals, and numerous, award-winning live shows. In 2008, she stretched her wings and took on sketch-show comedy, with a role in the short-lived E4 show Beehive, and has spent the last four years voicing Libby McKenzie alongside Sally Philips, Nina Conti and Liza Tarbuck in the long running Radio 4 comedy Clare in the Community.

Recent years, however, have seen Kendall’s extra-curricular activity dry up, as she became a mother and, quite naturally, shifted her workload accordingly.  As TVO calls, she is in her London home with the kids tucked up in bed and a slightly burnt warm-up shepherds pie in the oven. Greeting us fondly, and stressing she isn’t the kind of person to make her own  shepherd’s pie, she confirms her eagerness to talk by exclaiming: “I’m going to stop doing the dishes and give you my full attention. That’s how serious I am, I’m walking away from the dishes. Fire away!”

© PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Naturally, the conversation turns firstly to motherhood, and TVO wonders exactly how having children has changed Sarah’s career plan. “Gosh, that’s a good question,” she says, thinking about the answer for a moment. “It’s a really big answer too. I suppose I’m not really at my sparkiest late at night, so you know, most gigs…” She trails off, laughing. “I generally need to go on early. I can’t do a late night. And I can’t do huge amounts of travel, either. I don’t wanna be away for weekends. I don’t wanna be away for a week, you know? It’s changed the practicalities of work.”

“But I think from a creative perspective,” Sarah continues, “when I do get that time to myself, and I do get that time on stage, I really wanna make it count. I suppose I don’t fuck around as much as I used to. Cos I suppose when I have got that time to work, and to be creative, it’s actually really special ‘me’ time. God, I really relish it. I think when my day wasn’t quite as occupied looking after little people, I’d just go and do a gig and not really think much about it. Now I wanna make that time count. I wanna do the very best material I can do.”

That material at present is Touchdown – the 2014 show she toured around Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe amongst other places, and is reviving for one last shebang at The Soho Theatre across the last week of February.  As with her previous show, it focuses on particular events in her teenage years, rather than Sarah’s life at present, a factor which may be a subconscious reaction to having to grow up and take responsibility for what Sarah endearing refers to as ‘little people’.

“Also, I think,” she suggests, “I don’t want to get on stage and talk about what I’m doing now. That’s only because if I went on stage and whinged about it, it wouldn’t be right. I don’t want to whinge about it, but I also don’t want to stand on stage and say how much I love my children. That’s not particularly hilarious.”

“I’ve been looking into different times of my life,” she adds, “reflecting on them, and thinking about them differently.  I suppose to me, I do regard those years quite differently now that I’m a mother. The thing is, that sounds really boring, but it changes your perspective on the whole time. I find that creatively it’s really energising. I really enjoy writing about it.”

© PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Kendall’s comedy has morphed from its early days of quick-fire stand-up into a more intelligent, thoughtful brand of storytelling that connects with anyone who was ever the slightly awkward kid that didn’t quite fit in, but wasn’t unpopular either. The gags are obviously still there, but it’s wrapped up in intellectual reasoning, emotional resonance, and the odd moment of childish humour for good measure.

“I think, ultimately, I’m a little bit of a whore for a laugh,” Sarah reveals. “Anyone who goes into comedy has to be. I don’t like to leave it too long without one. My training is as a stand up, so I do always look for the gag. I try not to do that at the expense of the story.”

“If it didn’t fit with where the story was at, I wouldn’t do it. But I try to make it a punchy show. I don’t think I’m precious about that sort of thing. I do want people to laugh and have a good time.”

If there’s one thing Kendall could never be accused of, it’s being precious about her work. There’s a remarkable freshness to talking to someone who, unsullied by the PR machine that affects so many in the industry, is completely open and honest about her work, right down to the point of Touchdown’s premise being the reality behind the fabrication of her previous show.

“I had this joke that I’d been doing for years,” Sarah discloses. “I knew in my heart what the real story was, but I’d made it into a good joke. I’d always been slightly plagued by the fact that there is a much bigger story behind it, but I didn’t know how to tell it. I didn’t think it belonged in a comedy show. Then I just thought: sod it. I’m gonna write about what really happened because it is a good story, and an important story. It means a lot more to me now that I’m older, and now I know how to tell it, and I’m not afraid of the serious or silly parts of the story. I think if you do something that’s got a bit of a darker edge to it, you’ve gotta be confident that you can treat it respectfully enough that you’re not gonna panic and try to make a joke out of it.”

© PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

“It was a surprise for me,” she notes, in regards to Touchdown’s now deconstructed predecessor, Get Up, Stand Up.  “I enjoyed telling that story every single night I performed it. Generally during a festival there comes a point where you say: if I have to say these words one more time, I’m gonna fucking kill myself. I found that with this show, I never got to that point. I really enjoyed taking the audience on that journey.”

Thankfully, Touchdown offered a similar vibe. “This is my favourite show that I’ve ever done,” she states, firmly. “I was really crestfallen at the end of the festival because I kinda felt it was over. I knew I’d probably do a run at the Soho, but it felt kinda like the end. By the time I did Edinburgh, I’d already done quite a few other festivals, so I knew that was the end of that festival circuit. And I was quite sad.”

TVO notes that, given how precious Sarah’s time has become, this feeling may have been intensified, and it’s something that we’re seeing more and more of. When we began, five years ago, our thirty-something regulars were still riding high on their initial flurry of success, gigging around the clock and constantly making new and exciting things. Recently, there’s been a marked slow-down in the activity of some of them, as they’ve reached the age of having babies and settling down, just like Kendall.

“I suppose you kind of go through this huge sea of change when you have a family,” she suggests. “You do start to look back on events with fresh eyes. It can be a good and a bad thing. Sometimes you go: Ah, shit, I wish I hadn’t done that thing. I really regret that thing that I did.”

Such feelings came to the fore last year, when Kendall wrote a piece for The Guardian about her somewhat flippant handling on stage of a genuinely disturbing moment in her career, when a drunk heckler threatened her with anal rape at a gig. Whilst the routine was funny, as time went by it had increasingly made her feel uncomfortable.

“I hate looking at clips of myself,” Sarah confesses. “Someone sent me that clip and asked for permission to use it, and as I watched that piece of material, I was so struck by how untrue the emotions were that I was portraying on stage. That’s something that would never have entered my mind ten years ago. I would have just gone through and made sure all the jokes were strong without offending people. But I just thought: That is so not what happened. That is so not emotionally what that experience was like, and I have brought none of that to that piece of material. I think it would have been a much more interesting piece of material if I had discussed that.”

© Tiger Aspect Television

© Tiger Aspect Television

Another potentially difficult blip on her career came with the hugely divisive E4 sketch show Beehive in 2008. Designed by committee, it nevertheless gave a platform to Kendall on television, alongside Alice Lowe, Barunka O’Shaughnessy and Clare Thomson. TVO has previously waxed lyrical about the merits of the show: in spite of its obvious flaws, there’s a hell of a lot to love in there too.

“I haven’t watched it since we did it,” Sarah tells us as conversation moves on to the troubled production.  “It was incredibly rushed, from the commission to filming. My memory of it was thinking: This has been rushed. It was four people who’d never met each other, thrown into an ensemble and given a fairly small amount of time to turn a show around.  It’s one of those things where I did it as an opportunity, but in hindsight it could have been a lot better had we had more time. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have had a heck of a lot of alarm bells going off as it progressed.”

Kendall is genuinely touched by our admiration for the team, and the bits that worked really well, such as her magnificent Elizabeth I routine, in which Sarah portrayed the monarch surrounded by bullying lackeys, or the flat sequences with swearing lessons, special robots, love affairs with pot plants and confusion over Spiderman’s true identity. Sadly, the show was buried by E4 before it even had a chance to build an audience, splurged onto television across a couple of nights with no advertising, and never repeated.

© Tiger Aspect Television

“I don’t really know how it happened,” she sighs, “or how it works. I don’t understand who decides these things, but it just felt rushed through. I had a really good time doing it though. I loved working with Alice, Clare and Barunka. They’re such powerful, funny women, and it was such a pleasure to work with them. I don’t want to piss anybody off, but it just didn’t feel like it had a lot of backing.”

Despite the circumstances of its troubled production, Beehive did allow Kendall a break from being ‘herself’ when making people laugh. TVO is curious if she’d do something similar now, given her present work/life balance. “God, that’s a good question!” she explains, and thinks for a moment.  “I think when I was younger I would say yes and just fuck it and see. I think now it would have to be something that I’m really passionate about, because I don’t have a huge amount of spare time. It would have to be something I could really put 100% of myself in. I’d be slightly more selective at this stage.”

The one bonus of the show was that It introduced Sarah to a whole new set of collaborators – some of whom she has continued to work with sporadically whenever possible. In 2010, for example, she played a fellow mum in My First Baby – the Jackal Films short featuring Rich Fulcher as Alice Lowe’s very oversized toddler. A few years later, she cropped up in James Bachman & Tom Meeten’s BBC Nought project, during a spoof on The Apprentice. Evidently, she’s still a part of the family, even if her time with them is sporadic at best.

© Jackal Films

© Jackal Films

“We don’t see each other as much as we used to when we had more spare time,” Kendall explains. “Certainly, not as much as I’d like to. The funny thing about London is you kinda get into your borough. But they were people I really learned so much from working with. There were such a variety of skillsets that were brought to Beehive. I felt they were all quite accomplished actresses, whereas I didn’t come from that background, so every day was a learning curve.”

Thankfully, in this internet age, a buried show doesn’t have to stay buried forever. The dvd release still chugs away on Amazon, the episodes are still viewable on 4oD, and TVO will occasionally bring it up. It still finds an audience. “It’s extraordinary,” Sarah states. “It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally I will get someone recognising me from Beehive, which is just really weird to me. It kinda got buried over three days on television, and yet it does still happen. It’s nice that you don’t live and die by whoever does the programming.”

Nevertheless, the show is firmly behind Sarah Kendall. Her comedic concentration right now, beyond remembering the finer points of Touchdown, is writing her 2015 show, A Day in October. Set to premiere at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at the end of March, the show will tour the festival circuit before arriving in Edinburgh throughout August. To that end, Sarah’s already seemingly come up with an enthusiastic manta, when the subject of the new show is brought up.

“March 27th is opening night,” she says, rigidly. “The show will be finished by opening night. I will have a show by March 27th.”

As laughs erupt on both sides of the phone, TVO inquires as to how close that process is to becoming a reality. “I would say a third of the way into the writing process,” Sarah reveals. “I think I have a fairly confident idea of where the story is. It’s another story about my teenage years. It’s about a friendship I had with a guy and we went to a pool party one October, and the show is about the knock-on effect that pool party had on us throughout the rest of his life and my life.”

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

With the deadline looming, it would be understandable for many comics to leave some of the details hazy, and let them arrive naturally as the show goes on, but not for Sarah. “This show and the last were quite heavily written shows,” she affirms. “There aren’t patches where I fuck around with the audience or bits where I think I’ll ad-lib that on the night. Because they’re stories, you do have to bring all the disciplines of storytelling to it. You do have to have structure, and you do need to have a big thing happening in the third act. All those things you don’t have to think about when you’re doing a standup set, but I find with a story if you just let it happen you can end up with a spectacular mess on your hands. I do tend to write them quite carefully.”

There’s also the potential weight of an unwanted baton to consider. To TVO, and we’re sure to a great many people – a comedian is a comedian, and that’s that. Yet as the debate about women in comedy continues to bubble to the surface, there’s an alarming amount of pressure put on female comedians to be funny for their gender, rather than their vocation.

“I think I used to feel that way,” Sarah considers. “But I think things have got so much better. I’m not saying they’re ‘good’. We’re nowhere near a situation that is equal. But things are so much better than where they were twelve years ago, even though they’re not great. I take real heart in the fact that I’ve seen more and more female talent coming through as the years have gone by. And it’s great female talent I’m really proud to work with and associate with. I do think it’s challenging, and it’s still there, but I think it’s unfortunate, but the media do play it up.”

“On the live circuit,” she continues, “people are out in the club and they want a laugh, and you will get bad audiences and the occasional knob heads, but generally speaking they just want you to be funny. The real problems I’ve faced and have seen, are really in media circles, and tv commissioning, and the people who book talent for shows. The live circuit isn’t really the problem, but there are people who genuinely seem to not want women on television.”

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Male comics, TVO notes, are judged purely on their ability as comics. Female comics, however, are judged as ‘female comics’ for good measure. Sarah agrees, and adds: “I also think with social media there are a lot of voices. The really negative voices tend to get heard a bit more. For a hundred thousand people to go: She’s really good, she’s really funny, you’ll get a small proportion of people who just say something really vile, and that draws more attention.”

Not that Kendall will have seen most of this online, as the last few years have seen her maintain a relatively low profile. “I didn’t mean to!” she protests, laughing. “Our Twitter conversation today is the first Twitter conversation I think I’ve ever had.”

TVO explains that, if it wasn’t for Patrick Bustin at PBJ (the management company who handle a sizable chunk of our roster) casually mentioning her Twitter profile, we would have no clue that Sarah was even on there – and we take extra care to try and make sure we’re following everyone we need to in order to keep tabs on events.

“Oh yeah,” she says firmly, and a little guiltily. “Look, I know. I have been so not interested, and so busy. But I was talking to another comic who said: You really need to sort your shit out on that front, cos you’re off the grid man. I thought: Oh, really? I just sort of had my head buried in the sand for five years. I’m learning it, and you know, I’m gonna have to just get in there and do it.”

“It’s extraordinary, though,” she continues. “You do a couple of tweets, and suddenly you get all these pinging noises, and suddenly you’ve got twelve or thirteen new followers, and I just think: What the fuck? To me it’s very curious. It’s a very interesting, weird experience. And I know there are a lot of people who can’t remember a time before it, but I happen to be a billion years old.”

One thing that Kendall does have a lot of time for, however, is Jaws 4. No, really.

“I don’t know why,” she says, as she tries to justify the number of times she’s sat through it.  “I think I just like watching really good actors in terrible films. It’s like a schadenfreude thing. I just really enjoy seeing Michael Caine in this explicably awful movie. I can’t look away. I really like good actors in shit films. It’s like my favourite genre. It makes you feel better about yourself too.”

“I saw a movie with Henry Fonda in it called They Swarm, about bees attacking civilisation. It’s this great actor in this really weird horror film, where he’s being attacked by bees. I love it. It’s a fantastic film, I enjoy it thoroughly. Everyone’s just pulled together to get the product finished. I love that. I like the nose to the grind attitude. They’ve just thought: We’ve gotta bring this thing to life, and we’ve only got 50p. Let’s just use the car park. Fuck it.”

That attitude enthuses Sarah’s work, but is matched by her perfectionism and professionalism, and above all else, her genuine charm as a personality and a performer. As TVO bids her a fond farewell, so she can get back to her dishes and shepherd’s pie, we can’t help but feel that we’ve just spent a good half an hour being delighted by her company, and as a comic whose livelihood depends on storytelling, that can only be a good thing.

Sarah Kendall: Touchdown is at the Soho Theatre between February 24th – 28th 2015. Sarah Kendall: A Day in October is at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival between March 26th to April 19th 2015. Sarah will be at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2015. For more info on future live dates, keep an eye on her Twitter page… hopefully!

Hands Up Who Wants To See Oram & Meeten Live?

20 Feb
© Mog

© Mog

In case it wasn’t clear from our previous gushing posts about the comedic duo, we LOVE Oram & Meeten. So when the opportunity to see Steve Oram and Tom Meeten performing live together arises, we get pretty excited. And that time is now.

They will be headlining the bill at Pull The Other One’s ‘Epic Variety Night’ on 27th February. Also on the bill are Lorraine Bowen, Spencer Jones and Lindsay Sharman. It all takes place at The Old Nun’s Head in SE15 at 9pm (doors 8.30pm). Advance tickets are £10 and can be procured here.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing one of Oram & Meeten’s clever/daft/charismatic/bizarre live performances, take a look at this review of one of their shows. And then try telling us you’re not as excited as we are….!

RIP Charlie Philips

6 Feb
© Charlie Philips

© Charlie Philips

The Velvet Onion would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Charlie Philips, who died earlier this week.

A BAFTA winning editor for his work on Sherlock, Charlie’s editing career began in 1996, with the Ben Elton penned sitcom The Thin Blue Line starring Rowan Atkinson, Mark Addy and Mina Anwar.

Philips was, however, perhaps defined by his work with director Matt Lipsey on a string of the most widely acclaimed comedies of the last fifteen years, which amongst them manage to include a huge number of the names we feature on these pages.

First working together on The Armstrong and Miller Show, the duo then worked on Lenny Henry in Pieces before being charged with bringing the twisted world of Julia Davis and Rob Brydon’s superlative Human Remains to life in 2000.

The following year, the pair began their first collaboration in the form of Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible - a comedy horror anthology in the style of Hammer and Amicus movies of yesteryear, which featured an appearance by Julia Davis alongside Mark Gatiss, Honor Blackman, Warwick Davis and Armstrong & Miller.

This was followed by Catterick - the seminal comedy drama from Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, which co-starred Matt Lucas and Reece Shearsmith amongst others. They then joined this creative team, alongside Steve Coogan once more for sketch show Monkey Trousers, followed by a sitcom for Coogan’s new character, Saxondale, co-starring James Bachman.

© BBC

© BBC

After short-lived sitcoms The Cup and Lunch Monkeys, came Psychoville - the sublime comedy mystery saga from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, which ran for two series featuring Lipsey & Philips at the helm.

The duo then worked on Chris Brann & Justin Chubb’s bonkers treat, This is Jinsey - co-starring Alice Lowe, no less, across two series either side of Psychoville‘s second run, as well as helming the first series of Greg Davis & Rik Mayall vehicle Man Down - produced by another TVO regular, Spencer Millman.  Sadly, these would mark their final collaborations.

Away from Lipsey, Philips also worked on Tittybangbang and the sixth series of Shooting Stars , as well as editions of Rev and Russell Tovey vehicle Him & Her, as well as the pilot episode of Psychobitches.

© BAFTA

© BAFTA

He moved into drama with mini-series Vexed, and followed that with work on Monroe and five episodes of Sherlock: the latter of which won him a BAFTA Craft Award in 2011.

Details of Charlie Philips outside of his work are limited, and it’s currently unknown exactly how he died. However, he has left behind an extraordinary body of work that has shaped the British Comedy scene for almost two decades, and will no doubt continue to do so in the years to come. He will be missed.

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

© 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?

Mog

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.

Helen

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.

Paulyne

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

Aggie

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.

Rosanna

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.

Michael

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!

Trixie

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.

Becca

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…

See Our Favourite Comedy Faces On The Silver Screen

29 Jan

© Rachel Stubbings

A brand new film night, presented by Rachel Stubbings, comes into being next month at Shortwave Cinema (10 Bermondsey Square, SE1 3UN).

Shooting the Breeze will include films from some of the most exciting comedy talent behind and in front of the camera, including many TVO faces.

This month’s screening will include work from Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Tom Meeten and Gareth Tunley, amongst others. Given the sheer awesomeness of the filmic output from this little lot, you’re in for a treat!

Stubbings will host the evening and will guide you through a carefully selected collection of all things film – from new releases, selected scenes, screenplays and guest speakers.

Tickets for the event, which runs 7.30-8.30pm on 23rd February cost £7 (+70p booking fee) and can be procured here. For updates on what’s what between now and then, check out the event Facebook page.

So Hot Right Now #13

12 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.

DRUNK HISTORY

Over on Comedy Central UK, a brand new British version of Drunk History is about to begin – in which popular faces from the UK comedy scene get hammered, then try and share their knowledge of the past.

© Comedy Central / Tiger Aspect

© Comedy Central / Tiger Aspect

Based on the hit US show (which has sporadically featured Rich Fulcher), this first edition week features stand-up Rob Beckett tell the story of Henry VIII, which is then re-enacted by Mathew Horne, Tony Way and Tom Davies. Also on board for Episode One are Rebecca Front (Psychobitches), Dustin Demri-Burns (Cardinal Burns), Marek Larewood, Joel Fry, Mark Davison and Kerry Howard.

You can catch Episode One on Monday evening at 10pm. It gets repeated Tuesday evening at 11pm, and it will be available on demand via SkyGo and Now TV after transmission. For more info, and some preview clips to savour, visit the Comedy Central UK website.

CRIMS & COUNT CONTINUE

The latest episodes of BBC Three sitcom Crims and BBC One sitcom Count Arthur Strong air this week.

 © BBC / Robert Viglasky

© BBC / Robert Viglasky

Crims - written by former Mongrels writer Adam Kay alonside Dan Swimer - stars Elis George & Kadiff Karwan as two hapless friends in a Young Offenders Institute, surrounded by guards and inmates even more stupid than they are.

In this second episode, Luke (George) tries to impress his girlfriend on the outside by getting himself an A-Level… enter the delightful Sylvester McCoy as a bonkers Latin teacher.

If you missed Episode One, it’s available on iPlayer now, and our interview with Adam Kay can be read over yonder. Episode Two airs on Thursday at 10pm over on BBC Three.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

As for Count Arthur Strong, the Graham Linehan co-written series returns to BBC One on Tuesday evening, as the former variety star recalls his teddy-boy days in an unreliable flashback that takes in West Side Story, Oliver! and The Great Escape.

With a guest appearance from Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean), you can catch up with Arthur and friends on Tuesday evening at 10:35pm over on BBC One.

SECOND TIME AIRWAVES

Radio shows featuring TVO regulars also continue apace this week, starting with Love in Recovery, on Radio 4 starring Paul Kaye.

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

The show following the lives of five very different recovering alcoholics, played by Sue Johnson, John Hannah, Eddie Marsan, Rebecca Front and Paul Kaye, as well as cleaner Marion (Julia Deakin), continues on Wednesday evening at 11:15pm on BBC Radio 4.

Elsewhere, Colin Hoult brings us another edition of his Carnival of Monsters on Thursday evening.

© BBC

© BBC

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, produced by Sam Bryant (Alice’s Wunderland, I Regress).

You can catchup at 11:00pm on Thursday night – again on Radio 4.

BEAR IN THE USA

This weekend sees the US theatrical release of Paddington - the feelgood family movie from the makers of Harry Potter and director Paul King.

© Studio Canal

Starring Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters, as well as former Nathan Barley star Ben Wishaw as the voice of Paddington, the film (as we’ve previously reported) features a bevy of TVO related cameo appearances.

Steve OramTom MeetenAlice LoweSimon FarnabyJames BachmanJustin Edwards and Matt Lucas all feature, as do former Star Stories actor Matt King, The Thick of It actor Will Smith and Toast of London‘s Danny Boy himself – Tim Downie.

AND THE REST…

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!

Noel Fielding UK Tour Dates Postponed

19 Dec

© Paulpanfergrams/Joe Lynne

We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings this close to Christmas, but the second leg of Noel Fielding‘s UK tour has been postponed.

The 2015 shows were originally scheduled to kick off on 29th January. The dates have now been rescheduled to Autumn 2015 (with the exception of Norwich, Basingstoke and Milton Keynes which have been cancelled), due to unforeseen filming commitments in the New Year.

All tickets for the January / February dates will be valid for the corresponding re-scheduled date EXCEPT for SALFORD LOWRY. For Salford Lowry show please contact Salford Lowry Box Office for refunds or replacement tickets.

Fans unable to attend on the revised dates or who have tickets at venues that were unable to reschedule a date should return to their point of purchase for a full refund. For the full list of new dates, please see below:

We know that many of you will be disappointed. Rest assured, this isn’t something that Noel and his team take lightly, and they’ve extended their sincerest apologies to anyone who has been affected.

For those of you who can’t wait until the Autumn, and who have a wanderlust burning  in your hearts, you could head over to the other side of the world to see the show, featuring Noel, Mike Fielding and Tom Meeten, in Australia and New Zealand. Tickets for these dates are available from Ticketek Australia and New Zealand.

Reviews of the show’s initial UK run have been unanimously positive (like this one), so if you don’t have a ticket yet, get in there quick! Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

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 #6

17 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.

TELLY VELVETS CONTINUE

We’re knee deep into the current series of several TVO related shows at present, with Monday nights continuing to bring a triple whammy via Trollied (8:30pm on Sky One, featuring Aisling Bea), Never Mind The Buzzcocks (10:00pm on BBC Two, featuring Noel Fielding) and Toast of London (10:50pm on Channel 4, featuring Matt Berry).

© Avalon Television

© Avalon Television

Friday sees the return of Not Going Out after a week off for Children in Need, with Lee and Daisy (former Boosh radio series star Lee Mack and TVO regular Katy Wix) appearing on cult gameshow Pointless, as seen above. You can catch it at 9:30pm, and it will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

Next week, they’ll be joined by Psychobitches (starting Nov 25th), and with current repeats for The IT Crowd and Graham Linehan‘s latest project, The Walshes, it’s a great time to have your telly primed to catch a TVO favourite on air.

THE DAY THEY CAME TO SUCK OUT YOUR WALLETS

Campaigning for the movie version of The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains continues apace – with Bob Pipe and James Wren‘s magnificent web-series the catalyst for much of the fundraising.  With a star-studded cast including Warwick Davis, Chris Kendall, Gemma Whelan, Nick Helm, Thomas Nelstrop, Ricky Grover and TVO regulars Richard GloverColin HoultWaen Shepherd and Neil Cole, this is a project we at TVO would love you to get behind – and they really need your cash to make it a reality!

PLEDGE HERE

If you’ve never seen the web series, you can catch up below, and see more fun videos from Bob over yonder.

TOUR TIMES

UK tours are well underway now for three of our most popular regulars.  An Audience With Noel Fielding (featuring Noel alongside Mike Fielding and Tom Meeten), reaches Hammersmith, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff this week, whilst Paul Foot visits Brighton, Southend and Milton Keynes, and Tony Law can be seen in Colchester, Liverpool, Cranleigh and Newcastle.

Manchester also plays host to Richard Sandling MCing a fundraising night of comedy, which also features Buzzcocks legend Phill Jupitus this coming Sunday. For further live show details, visit our listings page… which we’ll be updating very soon!

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!

So Hot Right Now #4

3 Nov
Greetings and salutations to all who enter The Velvet Onion! For your regular news updates you used to find on our home page, click here. Here’s what’s sooo hot right now in Onion Land.

TELEVISUAL TREATS

Just as Halloween isn’t a good day to be a bad guy (just ask Skank), Monday 3rd November is seemingly a good day to be a fan of the televisual output of TVO regulars.

© Sky

First up at 8:30pm is the first episode of Trollied - returning for a fourth series on Sky 1.  This year’s ensemble cast has been expanded to include Aisling Bea, as well as Doctor Who star Samuel Anderson.  They join former Being Human and Psychoville star Jason Waktins and fellow newcomers Stephen Tomkinson (Ballykissangel) and Miriam Margolyes (Blackadder, Magnolia etc etc), for the usual madcap hijinx in a Valco supermarket.

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

Later on at 10pm, the latest edition of Never Mind The Buzzcocks airs, and Paul Foot returns for another go on Noel‘s team, alongside fellow guests Sara Cox, Fuze ODG and Adam Ant.  Next week’s edition will feature Aisling Bea, so don’t forget that either!

© Matt Berry

© Matt Berry

Switch over to Channel 4 after Buzzcocks, to see Toast of London make a long-awaited return for its second series at 10:35pm.  Written by Arthur Matthews (Father Ted, Big Train) and Matt Berry, the show stars Berry as the hopeless actor Steven Toast, alongside Robert Bathurst, Doon Mackichan, Harry Peacock and a guest appearance by Doctor Who legend Louise Jameson.

This is followed by a repeat of the very first episode of The IT Crowd at 11:05pm, featuring Chris O’Dowd, Katherine ParkinsonRichard Ayoade and Chris Morris: an episode which amazingly first aired eight and a half years ago in February 2006! Where did that time go, eh?

If you miss any of these shows, they’ll be available through demand services such as Sky Go, BBC iPlayer, 4od and Now TV throughout the week, so don’t panic if you’re reading this on Thursday and wondering why we’re still stuck on Monday’s excitement…

MORE FIELDING

© Noel Fielding / Dave Brown

If you’re feeling blue about missing out on tour tickets for An Audience With Noel Fielding the first time around, a whole batch of new dates were announced last week, with tickets on sale now.  With the tour now extending until the end of February, Noel is officially undertaking his longest ever tour, even if the total dates don’t come close to the last big Boosh tour in 2008.  There’s lots of chances to go and see him, so grab your tickets whilst you can!

POMPIDOU GOES INTERNATIONAL!

© BBC / John Stanley Productions

© BBC / John Stanley Productions

The other big news this week was the announcement that Pompidou - the forthcoming silent comedy series from the ever wonderful Matt Lucas – will be coming to Netflix in the US around the same time as its BBC transmission in the UK.  With Tony Way on board, alongside The Thick of It star Alex MacQueenPompidou is promising to be one to watch, and we hope to bring you more details nearer transmission.

ALL THIS AND MORE!

As always, there’s so much happening we’ve been reporting through out Twitter feed, so follow us there if you can to get all the latest news as quickly as possible.  Here’s what you may have missed throughout the week.

So, lots happening as ever. And the best way to stay informed is simple: Keep on peeling!

New Dates Added To Noel Fielding’s UK Tour

27 Oct

© Noel Fielding / Dave Brown

The hard-to-please critics have been overwhelmingly positive and the fans have been loving it! Just one week into Noel Fielding’s UK tour and it’s been announced that it’s been extended into 2015!

An Evening With Noel Fielding, which features Noel, Tom Meeten and Mike Fielding in a kaleidoscopic stage show of mind-bending stand up, sketches and animation, will be seen in nineteen new towns and cities including Milton Keynes, Margate, Croydon, Bromley, Northampton, Scunthorpe, Salford, Scarborough, Carlisle, Wimbledon, Swansea, Woking, Aylesbury, Oxford, Tunbridge Wells and Basingstoke, as well as three new dates in Scotland in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The full list of extra venues is shown below:

29/01/2015 MILTON KEYNES Milton Keynes Theatre 8.00pm 0844 871 7652
30/01/2015 MARGATE Winter Gardens 8.00pm 01843 292 795
31/01/2015 CROYDON Fairfield Halls 8.00pm 0208 688 9291
01/02/2015 BROMLEY Churchill Theatre 7.30pm 0844 871 7620
03/02/2015 NORTHAMPTON Derngate 8.00pm 01604 624 811
04/02/2015 SCUNTHORPE Bath Halls 8.00pm 0844 854 2776
05/02/2015 SALFORD Lowry 7.30pm 0843 208 6000
06/02/2015 SCARBROUGH Spa 8.00pm 01723 821 888
08/02/2015 GLASGOW Kings Theatre 7.30pm 0844 871 7627
09/02/2015 ABERDEEN Music Hall 8.00pm 01224 641 122
10/02/2015 EDINBURGH  EICC 8.00pm 0131 300 3000
13/02/2015 CARLISLE The Sands Centre 8.00pm 01228 633 766
15/02/2015 WIMBLEDON Wimbledon Theatre 7.30pm 0844 871 7646
16/02/2015 SWANSEA Grand 8.00pm 01792 475 715
17/02/2015 WOKING New Victoria Theatre 8.00pm 0844 871 7645
18/02/2015 AYLESBURY Waterside theatre 8.00pm 0844 871 7607
22/02/2015 OXFORD Apollo 7.30pm 0844 871 3020
23/02/2015 TUNBRIDGE WELLS Assembly Rooms 8.00pm 01892 530 613
24/02/2015 BASINGSTOKE Anvil 8.00pm

01256 844 244

Tickets for the new dates will cost £25 and go on general sale at 9am on Friday 31st October 2014. You can buy them from Ticketmaster and Seetickets.

Don’t forget that there are still a few tickets available for the shows which are taking place before the end of the year.

We suspect that a few of our overseas readers will be hoping that Noel’s tour will be heading further afield soon. Unfortunately we don’t know anything concrete about his future touring plans; earlier this year Noel mentioned that he’d like to bring the show to Australia, but nothing has been confirmed since then. If we hear anything, rest assured you’ll be the first to know.

So Hot Right Now #2

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

AN EVENING WITH NOEL FIELDING BEGINS!

© Noel Fielding / Dave Brown

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

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

TOURING ONIONS

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

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

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

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

© Bob Pipe

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

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

NEW TELLY COMING SOON

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

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

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

© Sky

© Sky

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

© Kuba Wieczorek

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

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

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

BOOK TIME WITH ONION LAYERS

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

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

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

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

 

ALL THIS & MORE

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

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

– Team TVO

21st Century Boy

16 Oct

© Noel Fielding

With his UK tour a mere 4 days away (getting excited yet?), Noel Fielding has been busy embracing social media by setting up an Instagram.

Noel’s shiny new Instagram will be used to document the tour, giving fans an opportunity to see what really goes on, both off and on stage. Noel will be updating it himself, along with a handful of people on the team. The intention is for it to be updated daily – it’s almost as good as being on the tour bus yourself! Follow @paulpanfergrams to keep on top of what’s going down.

There are also plans for an official Facebook – coming soon. And there’s now an official Luxury Comedy website, which features links to Luxury merch (Remember how that merch site disappeared a while ago and made us all sad? Well, it’s back!).

The website (which you can see a screen cap of below) currently features a bunch of Luxury-related videos, with new content still to be created and added. Film maker Joe Lynn will be creating short teaser videos on the tour, which will be uploaded as they go along. Who knows, if you spot Joe with his camera, and behave nicely, you might end up in one yourself! Click here to visit the website and admire the pretty view.

Exciting times, eh? We’ll update you as and when there’s more to report!

P.S. Fans of the Fielding may be interested to know that he was on Absolute Radio this evening. You can listen to it here.

A Peek Behind The Fantasy

27 Sep

Some of you will be lucky enough to be seeing Noel Fielding live at the Pleasance Theatre this weekend, as he performs two work-in-progress shows in preparation for his forthcoming UK tour. Anyhows, we reckoned the rest of you might need a bit of cheering up…

Here, then – for your perusal and pleasure – is our exclusive behind the scenes documentary, captured during the filming of Luxury  Comedy, Tales of Painted Hawaii. Take a look below – it includes interviews with cast and crew, the odd outtake, a fleeting moment of frisbee, and an alarming amount of (blue) bosom.

If seeing some of your favourite Luxury characters again has made you realise just how much you’re missing them, don’t forget that you can buy series 1 and series 2 on DVD by clicking on the links in this sentence. Then you can revel in the show’s eye-popping kaleidoscope of joy to your heart’s content. Don’t forget that both DVDs feature their own behind-the-scenes documentaries (the doc for series 1 even includes footage from The Velvet Onion, fact fans!), which are well worth a look too.

And if you still haven’t got a ticket for Noel’s UK tour (what the heck??), then there are still a few available – check out Ticketmaster and Seetickets, but be quick!

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.

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.

 

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