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World Premiere & Q&A For Aaaaaaah!

5 Jul

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 12.47.33As our regular readers will be aware, we’ve been getting more than a little over-excited about Aaaaaaah! for some time – and now the details of the World Premiere have been announced.

Steve Oram‘s directorial debut comedy horror, about a world inhabited by apes in human form, will star a cavalcade of comedic TVO-connected talent (and post-punk icon Toyah Wilcox), including Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding (or “Noah Fielding” according to this site), Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, Steve Oram, Sean ReynardWaen Shepherd, John Hopkins and Tony Way.

The film premieres at Film 4 FrightFest at Leicester Square – and you can be there to experience it on the big screen in person! What’s more, the event will feature a Q&A with some of the cast. Steve and Toyah are confirmed for this, but there’s on news yet as to which other cast members will be there.

The film will be screened at 18:35 on Friday 28th August on the Discovery 1 screen. A festival pass costs £185 (eek) and day passes for the Friday are £60 (still eek) – these are available here. Single tickets at £13.25 per film will go on sale on 25th July, but unfortunately there are no guarantees what will be available then. Festival and day passes went on sale yesterday and it looks like demand so far has been very high.

In the meantime, to remind yourself how flipping exciting this is (and it really is!), take another look at the Aaaaaaah! trailer below:

So Hot Right Now: #34

8 Jun

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 THIS WEEK below…

FAREWELL TO SUCCESSVILLE

Murder in Successville, Wednesday, 10:00pm, BBC Three

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

It’s been a fun ride, but all good things must come to an end as we say a fond farewell to Murder in Successville this week – and it’s another corker to go out on.

Joining Tom Davis gumshoe maverick DI Sleet this week is Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, after phramacist Lindsay Lohan turns up spray-tanned to death. With the help of forensic pathologist Richard Hammond (a spot-on Tom Meeten), the duo must determine the culprit and fast. Was it local gym owner Vladamir Putin (Tom Stourton), convicted psychopath Kim Kardashian (Marie Lawrence) or local bric-a-brac salesman Russell Brand (Luke Kempner).

Also featuring Jess Robinson and Liam Hourican, this is a delightful finale for the smash-hit show, which over the last six weeks has also featured the likes of Colin Hoult, Cariad Lloyd, Tony Way, Harry Peacock, Dan Skinner, Gemma Whelan, Frances Barber, Nico Tatarowicz and Ricky Grover. A dynamite cast indeed, and we hope we’ve not seen the last of DI Sleet yet.

You can catch up with previous episodes on iPlayer now, and see an exclusive preview clip featuring the two Toms below.

DOLL & EM’S DINNER PARTY

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:00pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer return in the charmingly off-kilter UK/US hybrid comedy Doll & Em once again this week, as the second episode of Series Two airs on Sky Atlantic.

Now casting their dream off-Broadway play, Doll’s bluntness and Em’s over-compensating almost lose them their two leading ladies: Hollywood actresses Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood. Keen to win them over, they plan a dinner party for the four of them, but with this being the world of Doll & Em nothing quite goes to plan.

After a slighted muted opening episode, this second instalment is delightfully funny: from Em trying to have two phone-calls at once while her hungry young son gripes at her, to Doll meeting a man with a mirror and a pack of playing cards. Unafraid to send themselves up to oblivion, this is dynamite television you’d be mad to miss.

You can read our preview of the first two episodes over yonder, and both series are available via catch-up services Sky Go and Now TV if you need to get up to speed.

A SLEEP IN THE SUN

Sun Trap, Wednesday, 10:45pm (regional times vary), BBC ONE

© Happy Tramp / BBC

© Happy Tramp / BBC

The adventures of Brutus and Woody on their Spanish island paradise continue in this week’s edition of SunTrap, and just like last week, there are two bonus TVO stars turning up for good measure.

In this third episode of the Bradley Walsh & Kayvan Novak vehicle, the island’s annual hypnotism convention sends mesmerists from all over the world to the resort. But when a hypnotised member of the audience develops a murderous streak and flees the venue, Woody must use his skills as a master of disguise to hunt for the missing man.

Simon Day guests as the punter and would-be-killer ‘Handlebar’, whilst Morgana Robinson plays Janice, wife to the troubled hypnotist The Fabulous Mark (Pulling and Dead Set star Cavan Clarkin). There’s also a great guest appearance from the criminally underrated Martin Trenaman (Luxury Comedy, The Mighty Boosh and lots of other things). Check it out.

THE HUMANS ARE COMING

Humans, Sunday, 9pm, CHANNEL 4

humansKPRF

© Channel 4

 

Sunday evening sees the launch of new dystopian sci-fi drama Humans featuring Katherine Parkinson and Rebecca Front in its ensemble cast.

Set in a world where synthetic human servants are the ‘in’ thing, the lives of a family who buy the latest model begin to unravel, whilst a retired engineer’s paternal relationship with his own Synth is threatened by a malfunction.

The first episode also features a cameo from Dan Tetsell as a synth salesman, and you read our interview with the marketing team behind the impressive Humans campaign over yonder.

STRANGE DAYS INDEED

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sunday, 9pm, BBC ONE

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – the riveting fantasy drama from from the makers of Doctor Who, Sherlock and Wallander continues apace on Sunday evenings, as we approach the climax of the seven-part series with the fifth episode.

This week, Strange (Bertie Carvel) and Norrell (Eddie Marsan) are at opposing ends of the spectrum. The former has returned home a war hero, and to the horror of the latter, resolves to write a book on ancient magic. But a sudden tragedy and a confrontation with Norrell force Strange to flee the country, determined to learn the truth about the fairy world, even if doing so costs him his sanity.

The impeccable ensemble cast, also featuring Marc Warren, Enzo Cilenti, Paul Kaye and Edward Hogg are on fine form once more, and if you’re not already watching the series, you really should catch up pronto. And if you are, and you’re enjoying it, you can pre-order the dvd and blu-ray release now from The Velvet Onion Amazon UK Store.

MARDY MARY

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

The new series of Horrible Histories continues on Monday afternoons, and this week’s big guest star is Doc Martin and Our Zoo actress Jessica Ransom.

Random plays Mary, Queen of Scots – the would-be ruler terrifying Tudor England with her romantic and political schemes. Following her as she stumbles from being a young girl in Scotland to a Queen in France, back to a Queen in Scotland, and finally to Elizabeth I’s arch enemy.

Away from Mary, we meet silver-nosed Danish scientist Tycho Brahe, and Mr H looks at more of History’s Craziest Fools. As ever, Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick are on hand, alongside Murder in Successville‘s Tom Stourton repeating his spot-on Brian Cox impression (last seen overlooking the corpse of Reese Witherspoon), in a more child-friendly environment.

WORK, REST AND PLAY WITH AYOADE

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Richard Ayoade is back as the Gadget Man in another instalment of the technology fun show.

This week, he tests out devices to improve life at work: including a solar briefcase that recharges your gadgets; a hand massager for soothing tired fingers; and a portable hammock for the feet.

He’s not alone, either. Comedian and presenter Dara O Briain helps investigate a giant interactive touchscreen, a zero gravity desk and a virtual reality office assistant, while journalist Grace Dent looks at gadgets designed for exercising in the office.

COMMUNITY KINDNESS FOR DAN & CO

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

Kindness, they say, is a virtue, but nobody told Dan, as the second series of Greg Davies vehicle Man Down continues on Monday evening.

Another teacher, and rival for Miss Lipsey’s affections delivers a smash-hit school assembly as part of Community Week, so child-like Dan naturally conspires to top it all with a brilliant one of his own involving his drama class and a war veteran.

Meanwhile Jo (Roisin Conaty) is exploring her artistic side, while Aunt Nesta (Stephanie Cole) favours an upset Brian (Mike Wozniak) over her idiotic nephew. Oh, and there’s a cameo apperance by The Proclaimers for good measure.

Written by Greg Davis alongside Stephen Morrison (Anna and Katy, Good News) and Sian Harries (Here Be Dragons, Never Mind The Buzzcocks), further TVO pedigree of course, lies with producer Spencer Millman of The Mighty Boosh fame, but also with director Al Campbell (It’s Kevin, The Midnight Beast, Fit and Charlie Brooker’s various Wipe series). It’s also seriously bloody funny, so give it a watch, and pick up Series One if you haven’t already from our store.

POTENTIAL (GREY)JOY IN WESTEROS

Game of Thrones, Sunday, 2:00am & 9:00pm, Sky Atlantic

© Home Box Office Inc.

© Home Box Office Inc.

It’s the biggest show on television, and if you’re not yet watching Game of Thrones, there are a huge number of reasons for you to do so: not least of which are the appearances of a handful of TVO regulars in the show.

For a start, there’s Tony Way appearing as Ser Dontos Hollard in the second and fourth seasons. And whilst his character won’t be returning, there’s currently unused plot from George RRR Martin’s expansive novels which features Paul Kaye‘s character Thoros of Myr, and the show’s creators are remaining tight-lipped on whether that particular strand will be featured in their adaptation.

Far more likely to return, however, is Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy: the commanding officer of the Greyjoy fleet, and tortured soul Theon’s closest relative. She was last seen (spoiler alert) trying to free her captured brother during last year’s run, but as fansite Winter Is Coming found out, Whelan’s agent suggested she would return in the fifth season. If that’s the case, with only two episodes left, you can expect to see her in Episodes Nine and/or Ten.

Of course, chances are if you’re reading this, you’re either going to be watching, or not, but if you aren’t yet, we firmly recommend you do as soon as possible. Sometimes, just sometimes, the hype is worth it, and there’s a box-set of the first four seasons on dvd and blu-ray in our store now.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Adam Kay

© Adam Kay

Monday 8th June

Adam Kay, The Petting Zoo, LadyProv and Viv Groskop
The Alexandra, London
7:30pm, £11.00
TICKETS

Aisling Bea, Joe Lycett and Bridget Christie – Work in Progress
Aces and Eights, London
7pm, FREE
FULLY BOOKED

Tuesday 9th June

Adam Kay, Mark Watson and Maff Brown
Hampton Hill Playhouse, London
7:30pm, £13.20
TICKETS

Wednesday 10th June

The Comedy Store Players: Cariad Lloyd, Richard Vranch, Andy Smart, Ian Coppinger and Stephen Frost
The Comedy Store, London
6:30pm, £19.15
TICKETS

Friday 12th June

Ellie White, Harry Hill, John Kearns and Natasia Demetriou
Union Chapel, London
6:45pm, £22.00
TICKETS

Paul Foot
Baltic Square, Gateshead
7:15pm, £10.60
TICKETS

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on within the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by.

Two Toms in Successville – Exclusive Clip

3 Jun

BBC Three’s smash hit whodunnit gameshow sitcom hybrid Murder in Successville wraps up next Wednesday, and we’ve got an exclusive preview clip of the final episode to share with you thanks to the good folk at Tiger Aspect, who produce the show.

In the clip, DI Sleet (Tom Davis) has taken his new rookie partner, Louis Smith, to visit the morgue – where the body of murdered Lindsay Lohan is lying in wait for their investigations. On hand is mateymatemcmatey mortician, Richard Hammond (Tom Meeten), who, it transpires, is a bad, bad, (dog) man.

Murder in Successville concludes on Wednesday 10th June at 10pm on BBC Three. Previous episodes featuring Cariad Lloyd, Colin HoultDan SkinnerGemma WhelanTony Way and Harry Peacock are currently available on iPlayer.

Faces of Successville

1 Jun

If, like us, you’re enjoying BBC Three’s new game-show sitcom whodunnit hybrid Murder in Successville, you’re no doubt already looking forward to this week’s episode on Wednesday evening.

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Starring Tom Davis on magnificent form as rough-n-ready DI Sleet, the series recruits a special celebrity guest each week to act as a rookie cop in training, following Sleet around to investigate the death of one of Successville’s celebrity inhabitants, which has invariably been caused by one of the other residents.

With big name rookies including Dermot O’Leary, Greg James, Jamie Laing, Deborah Meaden, this week’s guest Kimberly Wyatt and next week’s Louis Smith, press attention has understandably been focused on their guest appearances, and reactions to the gallery of grotesques who inhabit MiS weird and wonderful, partially improvised world.

Not us, of course. As we’ve been telling you for weeks, this is a TVO show through-and-through. Joining Davis in the series have been a cavalcade of impressionists and comic actors, including the brilliant Liam Hourican as Gordon Ramsay (and a spot on Simon Cowell in last week’s episode), as well as delightful turns from Jenny Bede, Luke Kempner, Nick Mohammad, Tom Stourton, Jason Lewis, Marek Larwood, Rachel Paris, Frances Barber and Nico Tartarowicz.

But also along for the ride have been Cariad Lloyd (as Darcey Bussell, Justin Bieber, Cheryl Fernandez Versini and Miley Cyrus), Colin Hoult (as Jimmy Carr, Gary Barlow), Tony Way (as Harry Styles), Harry Peacock (as Niall Horan) and in this week’s episode: Dan Skinner as top-notch surgeon Bob Geldolf, and Gemma Whelan as Nurse Adele.

The TVO connections continue with Tom Meeten appearing as Richard Hammond in next week’s final episode, and the whole run having been scored by Waen Shepherd. And surely we don’t need to tell you how fantastic they all are, considering we’ve spent the last five and half years doing just that on a regular basis, but we’ll do it anyway: they’re amazing, and make an already superb show even better.

We couldn’t let all these connections go uncelebrated, and as the series approaches its conclusion, we’ve bagsied some exclusive shots of our regulars from the good folk at Tiger Aspect, who produce the show, which you can see below.

So if you haven’t given Murder in Successville your full attention yet, we cannot recommend it highly enough, and urge you to take a look asap. All previous episodes are available on iPlayer now.  The second, featuring Greg James, might be our favourite one to date – we’ll never look at jammie dodgers the same way ever again – but every edition has lots to enjoy, and as episode one is only available until 9th June, when the 30-day rule starts to kick in, we suggest you get into that one while you can.

Episode Five, Dr Death, airs at 10pm on Wednesday via BBC Three, with Episode Six, Orangefinger, airing next week at the same time. We’ll bring you an exclusive clip of that episode later this week, so don’t forget to tune in and keep peeling.

Mighty Laughs In Melbourne – Reviews Round Up

19 Apr

If you follow what we do, you’ll be aware that a few of ‘our lot’ are currently gigging in Australia. So how are they being received by the critics?

To find out, take a look at our round up of reviews for Noel Fielding, Paul Foot, Tony Law and Sarah Kendall below (click on the links to read the full review). We’ve also come across a few new interviews on our travels around the World Wide Web, so we’ve included those too. Don’t say we don’t look after you…

© PaulpanfergramsNoel Fielding

Noel’s show has been getting as much praise from the critics as it has from his super-enthusiastic Antipodean fans. Across the board, reviews of An Evening With Noel Fielding have been superlatively positive:

The Music awarded the show 4 stars saying, “Highly recommended, and a strong contender for comedy gig of the year.” Noel received 4.5 stars from the Herald Sun, who said, “He owns the stage as if it is his loungeroom and we have somehow sneaked in via the kitchen.”

Then another writer at The Music awarded him the top 5 stars score, stating that, “Fielding is one of our improv greats, often just launching off on tangents left and right from the script and making them work.” And finally, The Sydney Morning Herald gave the show 4 stars, noting, “It’s pleasing to report that, over the course of two hours (plus interval) Fielding delivered.”

Go Fielding (x2) + Meeten!

If you haven’t got a ticket yet for one of Noel’s shows, there are a handful left for some of the dates. Take a look here to see what’s left – but be quick! UK folk can still get tickets for his tour later this year too – via the same link.

While you’re at it, why not have a listen to Noel in this new-ish radio interview too:

 

Paul Foot

Paul Foot has also been wowing the critics, with consistently positive reviews of his show Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major.

The Age gave him 4 stars, describing the show as, “an exquisite symphony of jubilant madness as Foot conducts the crowd, cuing the audience’s laughter and silence to amplify his offbeat delivery and timing.” And Time Out also awarded him 4 stars, noting: “It’s utterly outlandish, but beneath layers of absurdity is Foot’s sharp eye for satire, laser-pointed at British suburbia.”

Paul will be in Melbourne until tonight (Sunday), before moving on to festivals in Sydney and Perth (then returning to Blighty for shows in May). For information about the gigs and to buy tickets, visit his show diary.

Tony Law

© Tony Law

© Tony Law

There haven’t been as many reviews of Tony’s show Enter The Tone Zone available online, but we’ve uncovered a couple of new interviews, by way of compensation:

Review-wise, however, The Herald Sun gave him 3.5 stars, describing the show as, “An antidote to the predictable, the overly slick and the highly polished….Enter the Tonezone is the perfect tonic.” Sounds good to us.

Interview-wise, Liza Dezfoulo from The Beat spoke to Tony about his approach to comedy – which you can read in full here, and he was also interviewed on film by Dan Watt, which you can see there.

His final Melboune show is tonight – at 8.45pm. A few tickets are still available, which can be procured here.

Sarah Kendall

We’ve uncovered a nicely considered and thoughtful review of Sarah’s current show A Day in October.  The reviewer says of her performance: “A story like this one needs to be detailed to be effective, and Kendall has a natural ability to be incredibly descriptive but still maintain a clear and succinct structure. Everything interconnects nicely, and makes for a compelling sixty minutes.” To read the review in full check out Squirrel Comedy.

Sarah’s final Melbourne date is also this evening – at 7.15pm. To nab one click on this.

You can also read a short interview with The Herald Sun, which you can read here.

© Eugene Hyland

© Eugene Hyland

Congratulations to all of the artists for garnering such positive reviews. We hope more than a few of you managed to get to see the shows yourselves (jealous, us?).

Murder in Successville is Almost Here!

18 Apr

It’s almost time to pay a visit to Murder in Successville, the new sitcom-gameshow hybrid featuring a cavalcade of familiar faces to TVO readers.

© Tiger Aspect / BBC Three

© Tiger Aspect / BBC Three

As we told you back in February, the series is set in a fictional town brimming with celebrities – and a high incidence of surreal homicide, and it’s up to Detective Inspector Sleet to solve each murder case, with the assistance of a  real celebrity guest sidekick.

Part Stella Street, part Cludeo, the utterly bonkers premise features at its epicentre rising star Tom Davis as DI Sleet – who you may recognise from his appearances in CockroachesCommon Ground, House of Fools and The Morgana Show.

Joining Davis as the celebrity residents of Successville are Tony Way, Colin HoultTom MeetenCariad Lloyd (Crims, Crackanory), Harry Peacock (Toast of London, Star Stories), Gemma Whelan (The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains, Game of Thrones), Frances Barber (Psychobitches, The IT Crowd), Tom Stourton (Drunk History, Up the Women) and Jenny Bede (Watson & Oliver, The World’s End). The TVO connections don’t just stop at the cast, either – the incidental music and incredibly awesome theme tune are the work of Waen Shepherd, no less!

Real life celebrities including Dermot O’Leary, Louis Smith, Jamie Laing and Greg James will be joining Sleet on his adventures, in a town where Harry Styles runs a mafia gang, the Carr Brothers (Jimmy and Alan) are the brains behind every caper, and Mary Berry is the owner of a strip club.

Part sitcom, part improv and part murder mystery, the show will be coming to BBC Three very soon. TVO has seen a sneak preview of the show, and we can confirm it’s every bit as bonkers yet addictive as you’d expect. Davis revels in making his guests feel uncomfortable, never breaking character, yet they always leave with a huge smile on their face, and it’s hard not to join them.

We’ll bring you a confirmed tx date asap – it was previously announced as 27th April, but has been pushed back slightly – as well as more news from the team behind the show very soon, so stay peeled! Until then, here’s a sneaky peek at the first episode. Enjoy…

So Hot Right Now #26

13 Apr

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 THIS WEEK below…

TRAILAAAAAAAAH!

Late last week, TVO recieved the first teaser trailer for Aaaaaaaah! – the directorial feature debut of Steve Oram which features a cavalcade of TVO regulars in its impressive cast list.

The film features Oram alongside Tom MeetenJulian BarrattNoel FieldingAlice Lowe, Waen ShepherdShelly Longworth, Tony WayJohn Hopkins and Sean Reynard, as well as Julian Rhind-Tutt (A Touch of Cloth, Green Wing), Holli Dempsey (Derek, Doctor Who), Lucy Honigman (Mr & Mrs Murder) and post-punk legend Toyah Willcox.

With music from King Crimson Projekts (Robert Fripp) and David Westlake (Sneakerpimps), and no real dialogue to speak of, the teaser is certainly whetting appetites – and we can’t wait to tell you more. Stay peeled, and we’ll let you know what we can, when we can!

DO YOU COME FROM A LAND DOWN UNDER?

With the Melbourne International Comedy Festival now in full swing, the arrival of An Audience With Noel Fielding down under has led to a sizable chunk of TVO regulars entertaining audiences on the other side of the world to their normal location for an extended period of time.

© News.com

© News.com

MICF kicks off the Australian tour for AAWNF this week, as Noel FieldingTom Meeten and Mike Fielding bring their full length live mayhem to Oz. If you’ve not paid attention so far, the show features Noel’s long-form standup storytelling and a series of characters from Luxury Comedy and beyond… plus the Moon makes regular interjections on the action!

This week’s Melbourne dates are sold out, but Saturday’s second show in Adelaide and a return to Melbourne on Sunday are both still on sale, and some of the later dates are also up for grabs for the time being too. Next week, dates in Canberra, Sydney and Perth follow (all bar the second Perth date sold out), and the show will visit Brisbane, Syndey (again), Melbourne (again), Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch before wrapping up on 14th May. For tickets, go over yonder.

© Sarah Kendall

MICF is also hosting a series of TVO flavoured gigs from some of our favourite standups until it all comes to an end on Sunday 19th April. Most excitingly, this includes the première of Sarah Kendall‘s brand new show, A Day in October.

The storytelling stand-up follows her work on previous shows by exploring another tale from her childhood: this time focusing on a pool party in 1989 that was so disastrous, the ramifications are still being felt today. It was a bad pool party. Book tickets here.

© Paul Foot

Elsewhere at the festival, the mighty Paul Foot brings his 2014 Edinburgh show, Hovercraft Syphony in Gammon # Major, to Aussie audiences.

Paul has become a cult favourite in Australia, and returns after rave reviews to stimulate minds with his brief case full of new rants and tall tales. Book tickets here.

© Tony Law

Also there for one more week is Tony Law, who is bringing his 2014 Edinburgh show Enter the ToneZone to Australia for one final run. Following a huge UK tour and a Soho Theatre residency, Tone offers magical shapes, an original song, some truly heart-breaking nonsense and brief tackling of world issues through the medium of dance.

There’s tons of other great shows on offer, so we suggest maybe hitting the list here and booking as many as you can, but whilst we’re here, we’d also like to give a shout out to up and coming comic Alexis Simmonds, whose show Mist-Conceptions is taking place at The Tuxedo Cat.  A long-standing friend of TVO and a big fan of our regulars now forging her own comedic path, she’s one of us, and one of you, and it’d be great if you could go along and say hello from us.

TRAVELLING JESS

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Back on our tellyboxes, the truly incredible Jessica Hynes joins Richard Ayoade for the latest edition of Travel Man this Monday evening at 8:30pm on Channel 4.

The delightful duo take a whirlwind weekend trip to Iceland, visiting the most famous waterfalls, glaciers and geysers of the Nordic island by helicopter, go in search of whales and chill-out at the Blue Lagoon geothermic pool. But it’s not all rosy, with a meal of rotten shark and Breavin (mashed potato spirit) on the agenda, and a mandatory attendance of Elf School. Magnificent.

TONY VISITS NUMBER NINE

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The sublime Inside No. 9 continues on Thursday evening at 10pm on BBC Two, and this week, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton are joined by Ab Fab legend Jane Horrocks, Luther star Nikki Amuka-Bird and TVO regular Tony Way in Cold Comfort.

This week focuses on Booth Nine in the Comfort Support Line’s call centre, which offers the lonely and desperate a chance to talk about their problems. Each of the CSL counsellors have their own ways of dealing with clients, the stress of the job and killing time between calls, but newcommer Andy (Pemberton) really isn’t prepared for what is to come.

Inside No. 9 continues to innovate and push the boundaries of its format, and this episode is no exception. Shot almost entirely via a fixed camera in the booth, other angles of CCTV footage are displayed down the side of the screen, and become increasingly important as the story unfolds. It’s clever television that also manages to remember to be gripping, thoughtful and creepy in good measure, and above all else, it’s a comedy that’s downright hilarious. A must-see.

ROULETTE FOR SIMON DAY

© BBC

© BBC

If you’ve not tuned in to Chat Show Roulette yet, it’s really time you did – as the improvisation led chat-show in which famous names pretend to be fictional guests on the spur of the moment to host Justin Edwards only has two episodes left in this long-awaited first series.

This week, he is joined by Brian Pern himself: the legendary Simon Day, as well as friend of TVO, David Reed. Also along for the ride are Luisa Omielan, Beardyman and regular musical accompanier James Sherwood. You can hear it on Radio 4 on Thursday evening at 11pm, and previous episodes, including appearances from Kevin Eldon, Matt Lucas, Charlie Higson, Cariad Lloyd and many more can be heard over yonder.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

©Stubbings

© Rachel Stubbings

While a lot of our regular touring lot are down under as listed above, there’s also a number of other chances to see TVO regulars this week. Here’s where you can see them…

13/04/15 – Rachel Stubbings and Lou Sanders with Jessica Forteskew – Aces and Eights, 7:30pm, FREE.

15/04/15 – Aisling Bea with  Ed Caruna, Joe Lycett, Matthew Crosby and Stuart Goldsmith – Bar FM, 8pm, £10.

15/04/15 – Richard Sandling with Alexis Dubus, Sarah Bennetto, Syd Moor, Spencer Jones and Elf Lyons – Betsey Trotwood, 8pm, £5.

15/04/15 – Cariad Lloyd with Josie Lawrence, Niall Ashdown, Richard Vranch, Andy Smart and Lee Simpson – The Comedy Store, 8pm, £17.

16/04/15 – Joey Page, Julian Deane, Michael Fabbri, Richard Todd, Nathan Cassidy, Laurence Owen, Faye Treacy and Luke Capasso – Camden Comedy Club, 8pm, £4.

17/04/15 – Aisling Bea with Mae Martin, Mike Wozniak, Tim Key – The Bloomsbury Theatre, 7:30pm, £20. {in aid of The Lullaby Trust}

Please note – there are listings out there suggesting Tony Law is appearing at Laughing Boy Comedy this Thursday in Brixton, but as he’s currently in Melbourne, we’re not sure how that’s possible, even for the ToneZone.

IN OUR PERIPHERAL VISION

© HBO

© HBO

We’d be remiss not to mention the long-awaited return of Game of Thrones this weekend, which is just about the biggest show in the world right about now. As you may remember, Tony Way played Ser Dontos Hollard in Seasons Two and Four, while Paul Kaye was Thoros of Myr in Season Three and comedian Gemma Whelan (The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains, Cardinal Burns) has been appearing as Yara Greyjoy since the second season.

Whilst we’ve seen the last of Hollard, Thoros and Yara are still out there with stories to unfold, and the show’s international cast draws on a wide range of incredibly talented actors and actresses, so we’ll never rule out another TVO regular making an appearance until the show reaches its conclusion. And either way, it’s generally awesome, so it’s well worth your attention.

AND THE REST…

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

Nominations Announced For The South Bank Sky Awards

10 Apr
© Sunday Times

© Sunday Times

The nominations for the ​South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2015 have been announced and there are a few TVO people and productions amongst the nominees!

Paddington (Paul King and a whole host of TVO faces) has been nominated for Best Film, and all of the shows shortlisted for Best Comedy have a TVO connection! Doll & Em (Dolly Wells), The Trip to Italy (Steve Coogan) and W1A (Jessica Hynes & Rufus Jones) have all picked up nominations.

The awards will be hosted by Melvyn Bragg (who previously presented the South Bank Show when it ran on TV) at The Savoy Hotel on Sunday 7th June. The awards ceremony will be aired on Sky Arts 1 on Wednesday 10th June at 8.00pm.

For the full list of nominees click here. Congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted!

Teaseaaaaaaaah!

10 Apr

Journey Of The Man Child

5 Apr

© Hooligan Art Dealer

With Noel Fielding’s Australian and New Zealand live dates due to start soon, here on the other side of the world, Noel’s recent live shows have been frozen in time in the photographs which currently line the walls of  Gallery Maison Bertaux. All Work And No Play, featuring the photographs of Joseph Lynn, is an exhibition of images captured during 2014’s critically-aclaimed An Evening With Noel Fielding tour. We spoke to ‘Pirate Joe’ about his exhibition, and what working with Noel is really like. Velveteer Mog reports: 

© Joseph Lynn

I was fully prepared to dislike Joe. Having taken several years to earn the right to poke my own camera lens into Noel Fielding’s face, I was, at best, suspicious of this young upstart. Joe’s first commission was to film the behind the scenes documentary for series 2 of Luxury Comedy; since then, he has accompanied Noel on various warm-ups, interviews and shoots, always with camera in hand. He has also worked with TVO-connected artists, Dee Plume and Joey Page, amongst others. So who is he and what has he got?

When I finally meet Joe and get to know him better, I realise that disliking him simply isn’t an option. Down to earth, respectful, and warmly personable, he’s a pleasure to talk to.

Although half my age, he exudes the gentle confidence, wisdom and common sense of someone much older. Fired by creativity and fascinated by ideas, it’s easy to see why his presence was so welcomed on Noel’s tour. Joe explains how his involvement came about: “I was brought on board to document the tour and then picked up a few other jobs along the way. The original idea was to film behind the scenes for a DVD, but then I ended up photographing it for press and running Noel’s Instagram…and then looking after him when fans were attacking him for selfies!” He laughs. “I tried to give myself more jobs to do, because I wanted to make sure I had a purpose on the tour.”

Joe has been filming and photographing Noel for over a year, so has amassed a huge volume of footage: “I can’t keep doing it endlessly, it has to stop somewhere. The hardest thing has been deciding what not to shoot. I have hours and hours of footage – I want someone to see it!” he laughs.

© Joseph Lynn / Hooligan Art Dealer

The title of his photography exhibition, All Work And No Play, is a recognition of Noel’s work ethic: “I’ve got some great footage of him writing jokes, then the progression of the joke –  how he builds it and works it,” Joe explains. “It’s a side of him that no one’s really seen. Some people think he just tosses about, but he’s really humble and works hard. It’s not glamorous.”

They’ve discussed turning the behind the scenes footage into something which goes beyond a straight documentary approach, something more akin to Nick Cave’s 20,000 Days on Earth. However, Joe realises that it would require even more filming, and he worries that it might never be completed. “It’s often the case that things are started and not all of them get finished, unfortunately. Because I’m young, I get really excited that something’s happening, but then people are busy…” As his voice trails off, you start to appreciate that this is a common frustration for people and projects in the creative arts. “But Noel’s quite good – when things get started they tend to get done. He takes his ego out of it easily.”

© Joseph Lynn

The images that make up the photography exhibition demonstrate how deeply integrated Joe was in the mechanics of the tour and the friendship group that sat at the heart of it. Anyone who followed Noel’s Instagram at the time will have seen four faces repeating across the photos which were posted: Joe, Noel, Tom (Meeten) and Mike (Fielding), like a weird boy band on tour.

“It was like being a family,” explains Joe, “We used to joke that Noel’s my dad and Tom’s my uncle. It was a bit like that, because Noel does mentor me, but he’s also a bit irresponsible, a bit cheeky, whereas Tom’s a bit more responsible.”

He is full of praise for the group: “Mike’s hilarious. He’s the nicest and funniest man – without realising he’s being funny. Tom’s so polite, lovely, switched on and hilarious. Everyone on the tour contributed more than they needed to to.”

How does Joe feel about working with a group of people whose creative output he has long admired? “I was a Massive Mighty Boosh fan. Me and my sister used to quote it to each other. Sometimes I go ‘these are my friends’, then at other times I think ‘woah, wait a minute!'” He shakes his head, still slightly disbelieving of his good luck, and grins.

One of Joe’s favourite jokes from Noel’s live show is the already infamous ‘Chicken Man’, which sees Noel strutting around the stage, possessed by…er, a Chicken Man. It began life written out as a children’s picture book, then developed further during a Cure gig at The Albert Hall (“He was in the box moving about, going ‘I’m a goodamn Chicken Man!” laughs Joe). Some people were sceptical about whether the joke would work, which encouraged Noel to work even harder to get it right.

We discuss how the margin for error on a joke like that is so small. “That’s what’s so terrifying, I don’t know how he does it,” Joe says. “There are so many factors that make a difference. It depends how he’s feeling, what the audience is like, if the lighting is right, the seating…one night a coach trip didn’t turn up which left an empty front section in the audience; we had to move people around – so I put the people in costumes there!”

© paulpanfergrams

Talking about the people in costumes brings us to the subject of Noel’s fans; his fanbase is notoriously dedicated and colourful. Joe notes that it’s almost impossible for Noel to go anywhere without attracting attention and being hassled. He mentions a recent episode filming in London Zoo, which they eventually had to abandon, due to the ever-increasing crowd who surrounded them.

Hearing these stories makes you appreciate how difficult it is for someone as distinctive as Noel to lead a normal life in public. “The fans are mostly really lovely though,” Joe says. “I hope I’m not rude to them, but if I’m trying to transport Noel from a venue to the bus I have to get a bit stern.”

I point out to Joe that he’s started getting his own fans – how does he feel about it? Once again, his grounded common sense comes to the fore: “When you’re 21, your world is quite ago-centric anyway, so it’s not good for you to have fans.” Then he adds humbly, “I think they just associate me with Noel.”

Joe’s particularly delighted to be holding his  photography exhibition at Gallery Maison Bertaux, one of his favourite places in London – under the watchful expert eye of art dealer, Tania Wade. “Tania’s really positive. She puts everything into every project she does. Even if the show 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.”

We asked Joe to share his favourite five shots from the many images in the exhibition, and to explain why he likes each one in particular. Here’s what he had to say:

Interval. “This is perhaps my favourite shot of Noel. Completely candid and during an interval at Leicester. You have the glamour of showbiz in the mirror and lights next to the mundanity of him eating some crisps. Also some beautiful paintings Noel had done of himself, Tom, Mike and me in the background.”

Big Chief. “Perhaps my favourite shot of the whole collection. I honestly can’t remember taking this or at which gig it was. Tom looks so serious, almost solemn, as if he is questioning some of the life choices which led him to be on stage in a marigold headdress.”

Fur Coat No Knickers. “This shot was taken recently during a Guardian interview Noel did at Maison Bertaux. I like this one because he reminds me of a classic Hollywood actress here. Also reminds me of how open ended this collection is, it is ever-expanding!”

Steph Silhouette. “One of the only shots that was staged. I asked Mike to pose for me here round the side of a car park in Wolverhampton, I believe.”

Chicken Man. “I just think this is one of my most clear and dramatic shots. Goes to show that photography is a just a gamble. You click away and in a split second you can catch something strong.”

All Work No Play runs downstairs at Gallery Maison Bertaux (80 Greek Street, London) until the summer. You can buy prints direct from the exhibition website or from Tania Wade. Keep an eye open for limited edition specials too.

Don’t forget that you can also see Noel Fielding’s exhibition of watercolours He Wore Dreams Around Unkind Faces upstairs at the gallery too.

The Velvet Onion would like to thank Joe for taking the time to talks to us. We wish him all the best for the show and his forthcoming projects.

So Hot Right Now #23

23 Mar

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

ON THE TELLY AND RADIO THIS WEEK

We won’t lie to you: as weeks go, this one is absolutely huge in terms of television and radio broadcasts – with six new sitcoms airing and THREE radio shows to get excited about. There’s all sorts of other news happening too, so stick with us for that below this definitive run-down.

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10pm, BBC Two

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

The second series of the anthology of darkly comic tales, written by and starring Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, starts this week, on Thursday 26th March at 10pm on BBC Two. Each episode explores the goings-on behind a door marked No 9, and the first episode, La Couchette, is set on board the overnight train from Paris to Bourg St Maurice. To see our non-spoilery preview of it click here.

TVO faces Paul Kaye and Alice Lowe will be appearing later in the series, which is doubling the eagerness of our anticipation…plus Reece and Steve have just won the ‘Best Comedy Performance’ gong in the Royal Television Society Awards for the first series of Inside No. 9, so this comes highly recommended. Make sure you tune in!

COUPLES
Monday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© Alex MacQueen

© Alex MacQueen

Couples is a new semi-improvised comedy radio show, written and performed by the very wonderful Julia Davis and Marc Wootton. It starts on Monday at 11pm on BBC Radio Four. In the series they portray a series of couples in therapy with the renowned therapist Dr Tanya Ray-Harding, who is played by Vicki Pepperdine.

You’ll all be familiar with Julia’s creative output, but what you may not be aware of is that Marc Wootton was also responsible for La La Land (which featured narration by Julian Barratt, long ago in our ancient history), plus he was recently in Drunk History with a few of our lovely lot. Also on board, as you can see from the image above, is none other than Alex MacQueen and Nurse and Hunderby star Rosie Cavaliero, so there’s even more reason to tune in.

HOUSE OF FOOLS
Monday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Episode 5 of the very marvellous House of Fools is on at 10pm on Monday on BBC2, and this week sees Vic and Bob struggling to find a plot for the show. However, things look up when letter arrives from the White House announcing a surprise visit. This episode sees guest appearances by two further TVO faces (alongside the regulars): Rufus Jones and Simon Farnaby, as well as Horrible Histories star Jim Howick.

It also features Beef’s truth-telling turban and a health inspector, who threatens to close down Julie’s bistro when Bosh unwittingly reveals the state of the kitchen. Pretty much everything you could possibly need in a 30-minute telly dose. If you like the comedy we write about and you haven’t watched House of Fools yet, then do so immediately! Trust us – you’ll love it. You can take a look at previous episodes, clips etc here.

NURSE
Tuesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

The third episode of bittersweet comedy drama Nurse airs on Tuesday, 10pm on BBC2.  Simon Day and Colin Hoult also feature in the show, alongside Paul Whitehouse and Esther Coles. Whitehouse’s superb skill at portraying comedic characters is brought to the fore, with Whitehouse starring as a cavalcade of troubled characters. Mental health issues are treated with respect and sensitivity in the series, which has charmed critics with its off-kilter comedy.

This episode sees community mental health nurse Liz wondering why Graham is over the moon, while Jack recalls a grim time in Helmand but retreats to his ‘safe place’. Cat Lady discusses her New Romantic glory days, while Billy tries his hand at preparing vegetables from Liz’s allotment, despite the fact that ‘they are muddy, and I don’t like mud!’.

 

IN AND OUT OF THE KITCHEN
Wednesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

It seems like it’s only just arrived, and already In and Out of the Kitchen is wrapping up this week. Which isn’t surprising, as there were only three episodes of this charming comedy from Miles Jupp and Justin Edwards, so hopefully we’ll be seeing it again very soon.

This week, Anthony tries to persuade Damien to get a lodger to offset some of the costs of their building work. Keen to resist the idea, Damien instead accepts an offer from his literary agent to write a restaurant review for some extra cash. With a bonus appearance from Rachel Stubbings as a waitress, this is a great show you’d be mad to miss – and if you already have, you can catch up on iPlayer now.

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

© BBC

In and Out of the Kitchen isn’t the only chance to hear Justin Edwards dulcet tones this week: he now hosts new improvised radio series Chat Show Roulette on Thursday evenings!

We’ve been getting worked up about this project for some time – firstly as a live show, next as a non-broadcast tv pilot, and then a pilot for radio over a year ago. Finally then, it’s actually happening, and the first episode managed to sneak past us last week, no less! Featuring another TVO favourite, Kevin Eldon – it’s available to listen to on iPlayer here.

The second episode airs on Thursday at 11pm, and Justin’s guests this week are are Mel Giedroyc, Max and Ivan, and Nick Mohammed – with musical accompaniment from James Sherwood.

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9pm, Sky 1

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

Another week, another fantastic episode of Moone Boy, as the third series of Chris O’Dowd‘s sublime comedy about a boy and his imaginary friend in rural 90s Ireland continues – this week featuring a guest appearance from John Sessions.

When crop circles are discovered in Boyle, Martin (the ever wonderful David Rawle) goes UFO-hunting – and ends up telling the local media his donkey has been abducted by aliens. As the town council goes into crisis mode, fearing the gentle image they’ve created of Boyle will be destroyed, the council and church try to strong-arm Liam into suppressing his son’s story. Will he side with Martin or the leaders of Boyle?

 

POMPIDOU
Sunday, 6:30pm, BBC Two

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

Ah, Pompidou, how you have divided critics and audiences alike. The Guardian rushed to defence of Matt Lucas‘ mostly silent comedy last week, and we can’t say we blame them: this isn’t a show for everyone, but turn off your cynicism and there’s much to enjoy, not least the playful dynamic between Lucas’ bumbling aristocrat and his put upon butler, Hove (the ever fantastic Alex MacQueen).

This week, the penniless Pompidou has hoarded too much junk and Hove has had enough – attempting to shift some of the clutter at a church hall fete. However, Pompidou will do anything it takes to ensure he keeps it all.

There’s something delightfully surreal about the image of Matt Lucas dressed as Jack Sparrow, let alone his impression of his beloved Freddie Mercury, and with a wider TVO heritage behind the scenes (puppeteer Andy Heath worked on Mongrels and director/producer Charlie Hanson was reponsible for Darkplace, Snuffbox, Life’s Too Short and many more), this is definitely a show to make your own mind up about.

 

CHAIN REACTION
Wednesday, 7:30am / 10pm, BBC Radio Four Extra
Wednesday, 6:30pm, BBC Radio Four

© Phil Fisk

© Phil Fisk

TVO regular Sharon Horgan is the current link in Radio Four’s long running hostless chat show Chain Reaction, in which last week’s interviewee becomes this week’s interviewer.

In the fifth episode of the series, originally broadcast last week – national treasure and former Bad Sugar co-star Olivia Colman talks to Horgan, and you can hear that again on Wednesday morning and evening via Radio Four Extra.  In Episode Six, Sharon talks to BAFTA nominated & Tony Award winning writer Dennis Kelly, her co-creator on Pulling

Kelly was also involved with Utopia (which included Simon Farnaby and Dan Testell in its cast) and Matilda the Musical (which initially starred Paul Kaye), so he’s clearly got quite a career to discuss!

LOOSE BOOSH

Last week saw two very different Boosh-related events taking place at the exact same time on different sides of London – and TVO was present at both.

HE WORE DREAMS AROUND UNKIND FACES

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

First off, TVO attended the private view of Noel Fielding’s latest art show at the Royal Albert Hall. The place was packed, and our readers will be pleased to know that there were a fair few TVO folk in attendance, including Dave Brown, Mike Fielding, Richard Ayoade, Tom Meeten, Oly Ralfe, David Westlake, Matt Berry, Morgana Robinson, Vic Reeves, Nigel Coan and Joey Page.

Noel’s new watercolours are mind-and-eye-bogglingly wonderful, and although many of the paintings have been sold (a world-famous artist being one of the buyers), parts of the show will be hung at Gallery Maison Bertaux soon so more of you will get the chance to see them. And if you can’t make it there and have some cash to flash, you could even buy one of the pieces for yourself. Watch this space for more news about Noel-related exhibitions taking place at the cool bijou art space in Soho…

THAT’S RICH! A TASTE OF FULCHER

© The Velvet Onion

© The Velvet Onion

Elsewhere in London, Rich Fulcher was back in town filming the non-broadcast pilot episode of his new project, That’s Rich.

We offered our readers a chance to get priority tickets for the free recording, which featured a whole host of weirdly wonderful characters from Rich’s wonderfully deranged imagination.If you missed out, you can read our non-spoilery review of the pilot, and then join us in our prayers to the TV gods that that it evolves into a full series.

PADDINGTON ARRIVES

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

The highest grossing family movie of all time not to come out of Hollywood, Paddington finally arrives on dvd and blu-ray this week just in time for the forthcoming Easter holidays.

And if you’re wondering why we’re telling you this – you clearly haven’t been paying attention! The star-studded movie is directed by none other than Paul King (Bunny and the Bull, Come Fly With Me and a little known show called The Mighty Boosh), and features a cavalcade of TVO regulars in supporting roles.

You can procure yourself a copy via our amazon store, and spot – in order of appearance: Tim Downie (Toast of London, This Is Jinsey), Matt Lucas, Kayvan Novak (Bad Sugar, Four Lions), Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, Doctor Who), Matt King (The IT Crowd, Star Stories), Dominic Coleman (Crackanory, Psychoville), Steve OramTom MeetenAlice Lowe, Simon Farnaby, Will Smith (The Thick of It, Dead Boss), Toby Williams (The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains), Catherine Shepherd (Cardinal Burns, The IT Crowd), Justin EdwardsRufus JonesJames Bachman, Steve Edge (Star Stories) – oh, and the voice of Ben “Pingu from Nathan Barley” Wishaw as Paddington himself. Phew!

AND THE REST…

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

So Hot Right Now #22

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

House of Fools welcomes Way & Davis

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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

Nurse continues with Day and Hoult

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

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

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

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

Justin Edwards goes In And Out Of The Kitchen

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

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

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

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

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

More Moone-ing around for O’Dowd and company

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

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

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

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

Pomipidou Continues

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

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

TVO IS FIVE all over again

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

And the rest

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

The Velvet Onion Is Five Again

15 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joey Page & Toyah On 6 Music’s Roundtable

13 Mar

© BBC

We love to see an unexpected mash-up of TVO-connected folk – and yesterday saw one such combo: comedian Joey Page and iconic actress/singer, Toyah Willcox!

We’ve been showcasing Joey’s comedic output on these pages for some time, but if you’re wondering what links Toyah to TVO, for those of you not currently in the know she features in Steve Oram‘s new film, Aaaaaaaah! alongside a bevy of ‘our lot’ (Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Shelley Longworth, Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, Sean Reynard, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Waen Shepherd, Tony Way and Steve himself ).

Joey and Toyah joined 6 Music presenter, Steve Lamacq and fellow guest, Gideon Coe, for this week’s Roundtable, where they reviewed new releases by Mumford and Sons, Mini Mansions featuring Alex Turner, Sharon Van Etten, Streets of Leredo, Johnny Marr, Pins and Gang Of Four.

You can hear the show on BBC iPlayer, where it’s available for your aural pleasure for a further 29 days.

Fans of Joey Page will be pleased to know that he has offered to do five previews of his new show Catastrophe Party in people’s living rooms. Awesome stuff! If you want to be one of the select few to enjoy a private performance of Joey’s new show, get in touch with him via twitter.

 

So Hot Right Now #21

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

NURSE – Tuesday @ 10pm, BBC Two

This week sees the launch of Paul Whitehouse‘s new show Nurse – featuring Simon Day and Colin Hoult in it’s ensemble cast.

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

As we explained in detail recently, the four part series features Esther Coles (Tittybangbang, House of Fools) as community psychiatric nurse Liz, who is visiting her various patients – most of whom are played by Paul Whitehouse.

With the series also featuring Rosie Cavalero (Hunderby) and Vilma Hollingberry (Psychoville), the cast list alone is reason enough to give it a chance. Thankfully, the resulting bittersweet comedy is a subtly nuanced gem that deserves your attention.  You can catch Episode One on Tuesday evening at 10pm on BBC Two.

HOUSE OF FOOLS – Monday @ 10pm, BBC Two

After a week off, Series Two of House of Fools returns this week with its third episode on Monday evening at 10pm, again on BBC Two.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

The show stars Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer alongside Matt Berry, Dan Skinner, Morgana Robinson, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White, with this week’s episode featuring a guest appearance by Alex Lowe (Barry From Watford, The Peter Serafinowicz Show).

This time around, Julie asks Vic to create a promotional video for her new bistro, but he writes his script on the back of a moth – which escapes into the kitchen and begins gorging on everyone’s underwear. Meanwhile, a pop star with a striking resemblance to Bob’s son arrives in the country and Beef suggests they take advantage of the media interest by planting Erik in the restaurant to generate publicity. As madcap as ever, then.

MOONE BOY – Monday @ 9pm, Sky 1

The third series of Moone Boy also continues apace over on Sky One this Monday evening at 9pm.

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

In this week’s edition of Chris O’Dowd‘s imaginary friend sitcom, Padraic finds himself caught in the middle of his warring parents and decides to escape his troubles, leading his worried mum and dad to raise the alarm following his disappearance. Unaware of the chaos he is causing, the lad embarks on a life of crime with the help of Martin. Meanwhile, Crunchie’s friends stage an intervention after he resorts to drowning his sorrows.

Featuring the return of the unstoppable might that is Johnny Vegas, this week’s episode is another jewel in the award-winning sitcom’s crown.

POMPIDOU – Sunday @ 6:35pm, BBC Two

The bonkers visions of Matt Lucas return early on Sunday evening, in Pompidou‘s third episode.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

This week, the penniless aristocrat is watching Heirloom Roadshow on TV and realises an antique Chinese bowl he gave to his friend Merrick (TVO regular Tony Way) for Christmas is worth £1million. Deciding he must reclaim the bowl, Pompidou has an idea to swap it with an imitation and heads to a charity shop with his butler Hove (Alex MacQueen).

With special guest appearances by Jane Asher and Bella Emberg, this episode sounds like a blast, and while Pompidou has been dividing audiences so far, there’s life in the daffy old sod yet.

COMIC RELIEF – Friday from 7pm, BBC One

Finally this week, Friday sees the return of Comic Relief to our screens, and while there are few of our regulars taking part (at present), we nevertheless feel this worthy cause is something we should celebrate.

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

Most excitingly for us, the delightful Rebecca Front joins Ben Miller and, of course, Rowan Atkinson in a brand new Mr Bean sketch. Elsewhere, David Walliams revives Lou from Little Britain, now taking care of Sir Stephen Hawking, and there’s a return appearance from The Vicar of Dibley team.  All alongside lots of surprises on the night, and films raising awareness of the plight of those Comic Relief supports.

As ever, there are many ways you can take part – from direct fundraising, to wearing a red nose, or simply donating your cash.  To be amazing and donate to this year’s appeal, CLICK HERE.

Another chance to see: BURKE & HARE – Sunday, 11:05pm

If you’ve not yet had a chance to see John Landis’ 2010 black comedy Burke and Hare – starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis, you can catch it on BBC Two next weekend. Alongside the likes of Isla Fisher, Tim Curry, Tom Wilkinson, Sir Christopher Lee and Hugh Bonneville, the film features a cavalcade of top notch talent from the world of British comedy.

These include Jessica HynesReece Shearsmith and Michael Smiley, alongside Bill Bailey, Ronnie Corbett, Paul Whitehouse and Stephen Merchant, as well as a brief cameo from Simon Farnaby and Tom Meeten. Get in! If you’d rather buy the film, you can get it on dvd and blu-ray now.

AND THE REST

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

Caaaaaaaast Revealed at Laaaaaaaast!

7 Mar

If you’re an avid Twitter user, you can’t help but have noticed the buzz mid-week when the poster for Aaaaaaah! was revealed.

Now that the details are out in the open, we can confirm that Steve Oram‘s directorial debut will star a cavalcade of comedic talent and a post-punk icon for good measure.

In alphabetical order then, Aaaaaaah! will star: Julian Barratt, Holli Dempsey, Noel Fielding, Lucy Honigman, Shelley Longworth, Alice LoweTom MeetenSteve Oram, Sean Reynard, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Waen Shepherd, Tony Way and Toyah Willcox.

The names in bold, we’re sure need little introduction from us – with Barratt & Fielding being the spearheads of The Mighty Boosh, and Longworth, Lowe, Meeten, Oram and Shepherd all being Ealing Live veterans and regulars on our pages, alongside a certain Mr Way.

If you’re unfamiliar with the name Sean Reynard, you may perhaps know him as Sean the Prawn: a regular on the live circuit often found appearing in Oram & Meeten’s Club Fantastico shows, as well as the man behind often disturbing yet compelling short films like 321-(2.6.78).

Of the other four names: Holli Dempsey will be familiar to viewers of Derek as Vicky, and she’s also appeared in BreathlessDoctor Who and the forthcoming Dad’s Army movie.  Lucy Honigman, on the other hand, is a young Australian actress best known for her role in Mr & Mrs Murder, and Aaaaaaah! marks her first leading role in the UK.

Julian Rhind-Tutt needs little introduction: perhaps best known as Mac in Green Wing, he’s also appeared in A Touch of ClothInside No 9, HippiesBlack Books, Oliver Twist and drama-of-the-moment, Banished.

© Toyah Willcox

Toyah Willcox, of course, has been crossing over between a successive music career and acclaimed roles on stage and screen for over 35 years now, with roles in Jubilee, QuadropheniaThe Tempest, Barmy Aunt Boomerang and Secret Diary of a Call Girl showcasing her range, and a string of classic albums including Anthem, The Changeling, Prostitute, Velvet Lined Shell and In The Court of the Crimson Queen behind her, she still tours the UK regularly with her live band, and records with her side-project The Humans. Like many of the stars of Aaaaaaah!, TVO is a bit of a fan…

Excitingly, Toyah’s inclusion in the production has paved the way for the music in the film to be a collaboration between King Crimson Projekcts (featuring her husband, Robert Fripp) and David Westlake: formerly of Sneakerpimps and the Boosh live band.

All of this is shaping up to make Aaaaaaah! the TVO-related event of the year, and as Steve Oram has been locked in the edit suite honing his masterpiece for some time now, we’ve yet to see a single frame of footage from the production… so we’re in that rare position of being just as much in the dark as you, dear readers. As soon as Mr Steve opens the door a little bit to get a draft going, we’ll let you know everything we can, so stay peeled!

For a wee bit more info, why not check out our previous posts about the film – here and there?

King Meets King

5 Mar
© Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

Director Paul King attended the Chinese premiere of Paddington this week, along with producer David Heyman and Paddington bear himself, where they were introduced to the Duke of Cambridget.

Whilst the people of Shanghai are enjoying the cinema release of the Paddington movie, the countdown to the DVD release of the film later this month has begun in the UK. The DVD will be released on 23rd March.

It features a smattering of TVO faces among its very wonderful cast, including Steve Oram, Tom Meeten and Alice Lowe. And you can get your paws on the critically-acclaimed film about the famous Peruvian bear by pre-ordering it through our amazon store. Click here for the DVD(£10)  and here for Blu-ray (£13).

 

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….!

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