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What’s The Crack? 10pm Tonight!

24 Sep

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

© Dave

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

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

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

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

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

Rik’s Crack To Air Next Month

8 Aug

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

© Dave

© Dave

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

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

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

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

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

Parkinson & Eldon Join Crackanory Series 2

5 Jul

© Dave

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

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

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

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

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

The new series will air on Dave in the Autumn.

Teasaaaaaaahs From Toyah

7 Jun

© Toyah Willcox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Albans Welcomes The Baron & Philomena

1 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get It Seen

1 Apr

No, that title isn’t just an instruction from us… it’s also the name of a new underground film festival taking place at legendary venue The Hen & Chickens Theatre in Islington this month.

© Hen & Chickens

The venue, which has been a spiritual home for TVO regulars for almost two decades – from The Mighty Boosh and Garth Marenghi to recent shows like the magnificent Kill Phil, has gathered together some of the finest low-budget features and shorts of recent years to come out of the London comedy scene, to show from today through to April 26th,

This includes Peacock Season on April 1st, 4th & 11th.  This legendary film about the Edinburgh Fringe shot at the festival features a top-notch cast including Justin EdwardsPaul FootRichard Glover, Nina Conti, Rhys Darby, Richard Herring, Reece Shearsmith, Isy Suttie, Glenn Wool and co-writer James Wren.

Other TVO connected films on offer include Phil Whelan‘s slapstick farce Clowntime Is OverStephen Evans‘ nostalgic short The Notorious Bruiser Brothers Revisitedand a chance to see the star-studded Bob Pipe masterpiece The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains on a big screen!

© Bob Pipe

There’s loads more on offer too: we particularly recommend Adriel Leff’s brilliant mockumentary Bloody Lip! To see the full list of shows, and to pick up tickets, visit the festival’s Facebook page now!

The Ghoul’s Cast Begins To Form

11 Mar

As filming continues apace on Gareth Tunley‘s directorial film debut, The Ghoul, a few more exciting cast details have emerged.

© Gareth Tunley

© Gareth Tunley

The film, which is written and directed by Ealing Live veteran Tunley, features Tom Meeten alongside Alice Lowe, who was revealed to be part of the cast last month.

© Gareth Tunley

© Gareth Tunley

Since filming began, it’s been revealed that they will be joined by a cavalcade of talented TVO regulars, with Rufus Jones, Rachel Stubbings, Waen Shepherd and Paul Kaye all shooting scenes for the picture in the last few days.

Also on board is comedy legend Geoffrey McGivern, who is perhaps best known as the original Ford Prefect in the radio version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, but has also appeared in shows as prestigious as Blackadder The Third, 15 Stories High, Peep Show and A Bit Of Fry And Laurie.

© Andy Hollingworth

© Andy Hollingworth

His TVO connections are sound, too.  McGivern appeared alongside Waen Shepherd and Stephen Evans in Hypderdrive, as well as a regular role in Lab Rats alongside Dan Tetsell and Chris Addison.  Geoffrey was also involved in the first series of Big Train alongside Kevin Eldon, and more recently turned up as a useless lawyer in Sharon Horgan’s Dead Boss (alongside Aisling Bea), and cameoed in Holy Flying Circus alongside Rufus Jones. Wowsa.

So if you’re not excited about The Ghoul yet, you really, REALLY should be. We can’t wait to see the results, and of course, we’ll keep you updated as and when we can. Stay peeled…

Crackanother!

3 Mar

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

© Dave / UKTV

© Dave / UKTV

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

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

© John Willie Hopkins

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

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

Toyaaaaaaaah!

28 Jan
© Toyah Willcox

© Toyah Willcox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reverse Angle Approaches

22 Jan

A new exhibition of the work of Andy Hollingworth will be on display in Chester next month.

© The Andy Hollingworth Archive

© The Andy Hollingworth Archive

Here at The Velvet Onion, we have a great love for the work of the photographer. And indeed, for Andy himself – one of the nicest men in the business.

We’re not alone, either – as his work and general personage have been embraced by the comedy fraternity up and down the country.  The Chester based artist has been responsible for some of the most memorable shots of comedic greats over the last decade or so, including a number of our regulars – from The Mighty Boosh to Gary Le Strange and back again.

Now there’s a chance to see some of his finest work in one place.  Reverse Angle:  Andy Hollingworth Portraits 2005-2014 will be on display at The Grosvenor Museum, Chester from 1st February through to 11th May 2014, and features just about everyone who is anyone from Eric Idle to Noel Fielding.

For more info, keep an eye on Andy’s website over yonder, and you can see him in conversation with Justin Moorhouse below.

Four Days Left For In Holoserica Cepa 2013!

4 Jan

In Holoserica Cepa 2013It can’t have escaped your attention that, with all this review of the year gubbins, TVO has been relatively silent on the news front. Given the relative silence of a new year, we decided to temporarily suspend normal service at TVO Towers until tomorrow, when we’ll return to our usual ways of bringing you all the news, reviews, interviews and fun stuffs that we can muster from the realm of Onion Land.

You can see our four part review of the year below if you’ve hopped straight to our home page, or individually by clicking on the words one, two, three and four in this sentence.

To round off this period of reflection, we felt it prudent to remind you on this one final evening of indulgence that there’s just four days left to download our 100% FREE Six-Track musical EP, featuring some of the finest musical names in Onion Land.

In Holoserica Cepa 2013 includes the official release of ZaNg‘s epic Yogiebogiebox – the alt-rock brainchild of Paul Kaye & Adie Hardy, which features actor Marc Warren on harmonica.  It also packs the first release of Waen Shepherd‘s festive ditty, Little Old Nick in character as Beach Boys esque alter-ego Colin Watson, and the debut of James Cook‘s sensational cover of XTC’s Making Plans For Nigel.

And, like all gifts that keep on giving, there’s a preview of Stephen Evans‘ forthcoming one-man comedy show via his track Walking, made in collaboration with Rob Halcrow – and a rare chance to hear a new track from Dead Dog In Black Bag which pays homage to one of the biggest influences, Prince.  Lastly, but by no means least, the EP is the only place you can pick up a digital copy of Baloo My Boy sung by Richard Glover on the soundtrack to A Field In England, which was previously only available on limited edition vinyl.

You can hear the full thing above, or alternatively DOWNLOAD IT OVER YONDER.  But hurry, because just like our first EP this time last year, come January 9th, they’ll be gone for good.

As always, TVO would like to thank everyone involved with the making of these tracks, and the compiling of this collection.  You all know who you are, and to you, and everyone out there reading this – a very happy new year to you all. We love ya.

For full details on the tracklisting, click to read more…  Continue reading

TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Four

4 Jan

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

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

OCTOBER

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

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

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

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

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

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TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Three

3 Jan

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

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

JULY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Two

2 Jan

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

APRIL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part One

1 Jan

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

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

JANUARY

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

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

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

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

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

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FREE DOWNLOAD: In Holoserica Cepa 2013!

25 Dec

In Holoserica Cepa 2013It’s that time of the year again. The big fat bloke has been, and given you all lots of lovely jubbly presents, with hopefully a few TVO related goodies amongst them!

As our friends, naturally, we had to provide you with a gift or some variety, and given the runaway success of last year’s festive EP, we’ve managed to bring together another collection of great tracks from our musical members absolutely free for a limited time only.

In Holoserica Cepa 2013 features six tracks to download completely free between now and January 8th, including some rather special exclusives, which you can also hear below.

Just visit our Soundcloud page to get the EP, featuring the likes of James Cook, DeadDogInBlackBagStephen EvansRichard Glover Paul Kaye and Waen Shepherd.  But hurry, because just like last year’s effort, come January 9th, they’ll be gone for good.

As always, TVO would like to thank everyone involved with the making of these tracks, and the compiling of this collection.  You all know who you are, and to you, and everyone out there reading this – a most merry of holiday seasons to you all. We love ya.

TRACKLISTING

© Paul Kaye

© Paul Kaye

Yogiebogiebox – ZaNg

Comedy legend Paul Kaye has provided us with the world exclusive download of Yogiebogiebox, the first effort from ZaNg: his musical project with Adie Hardy, featuring actor Marc Warren on harmonica.  It’s a hard-hitting slice of alt-rock madness, and we’ve been grooving to the demo all year, so it’s great to finally be able to share a finished version with you all.

© James Cook

© James Cook

Making Plans For Nigel – JAMES COOK

You may know him from his time fronting electropop wonders Nemo, or from his numerous appearances in The Mighty Boosh, but in recent years, James Cook has branched out into an increasingly healthy solo career.  Ahead of his second studio album proper, he’ll be releasing a selection of covers across two EP releases early next year, and this gorgeous reworking of an XTC classic is amongst them.

© Stephen Evans

© Stephen Evans

Walking – STEPHEN EVANS feat. ROB HALCROW

Former Hyperdrive star Stephen Evans is no stranger to the live circuit, having performed as part of Dutch Elm Conservatoire (alongside Rufus Jones & Dan Skinner), and more recently alongside regular collaborator Colin Hoult.  As he prepares a solo live show of his own, he’s very kindly offered us this rough mix of a track he’s written for inclusion in the show.  Recorded with the aid of musician Rob Halcrow, the singalong chorus features “quite a few anonymous comedy performers singing their hearts out” towards the end.

© Dead Dog In Black Bag

© Dead Dog In Black Bag

Prince Lives In My Garden – DEAD DOG IN BLACK BAG

We love Dead Dog. And Dead Dog really love Prince.  Things have been awfully quiet on the Black Bag front of late, as the electropop filthsters take a well earned break whilst Suzy Evelyn-Hall celebrates motherhood for the first time, but her partner in crime Holly Jane Shears (of Circulus fame) has very kindly sent us this recording of a live fan favourite.

© Rook Films

© Rook Films

Baloo My Boy [Excerpt from 'A Field In England'] – RICHARD GLOVER

Anyone who has seen Ben Wheatley‘s glorious A Field In England will have fallen in love with Richard Glover‘s kind-hearted simpleton peasant, known only as Friend.  This track from the soundtrack in which Friend sings a jaunty ditty receives its digital première here, having previously only been available on a limited edition vinyl release earlier this year, thanks to the good folk at Rook Films.

© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd

Little Old Nick – COLIN WATSON & THE EARLY BIRDS

Another comedy veteran offering us a world exclusive is Waen Shepherd, who has sent us a track by his Beach Boys inspired alter-ego Colin Watson, entitled Little Old Nick.  This festive ditty offers a rather twisted view on the traditional festive number, and we’re sure will become a staple of alternative Xmas playlists for years to come.

Waen 2525

21 Dec
© Alex Franklin

© Alex Franklin

Last month  we told you about a new radio comedy – 2525featuring Waen Shepherd, set 512 years in the future, when kitchen appliances are competitive, stand-up comedians are robots and The Beatles have become a religion.

We can now tell you that the first episode will be on Radio 4 extra at 9.00am and 10.30pm Monday 23rd and 2am Tuesday 24th December, with the next episode broadcast the following week.

The show was created by Matt Lucas and Ashley Blaker and is produced by Lucas’s John Stanley Productions.

If you would like to see the show recorded live, there are still tickets left for Wednesday 8th January here. Recordings take place at Up The Creek in Greenwich.

F*cked Up Fulcher: A Review

9 Dec

It’s been a while since we last witnessed Rich Fulcher live on stage in the UK; even longer since we saw him hosting a chaotic selection of his comedy mates in a show. Fulchfest, the legendary Kentish Town comedy night that Rich fronted a few years ago is but a distant (and sadly missed) memory. Then out of the darkness, for one night only, comes Rich Fulcher & His F*cked Up Friends at Soho Theatre. Luckily, two of our Velveteers were there on Friday night to report back:

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

There’s something utterly heart-warming about Rich Fulcher. He may be dressed as a wonky Christmas elf and he may be offering oral pleasure to Tom Meeten, but the mischievous smile and the sparkle in his eyes can make even the most cynical comedy watcher feel the cheer.

Noel Fielding once described him as “a natural buddhist”, saying of his friend, “His vibes are incredible. If you could take Rich everywhere with you, you’d never be sad.” In fact, if Rich’s mind wasn’t so damned dark and weird he’d make a fantastic kids’ entertainer.

Some of the set pieces were eye-wateringly funny: an opener about trying to behave like a parent, only to take it too far the other way (we’ll leave that to your imagination!); and a volley of abuse aimed at Oly Ralfe (who spent the entire show poised at the piano, ready to provide musical accompaniment at a moment’s notice), were particularly noteworthy.

Others fell a little short of their target, but the performance was so pacey you barely had time to notice. The entire night galloped along just on the right side of the professional/shambolic divide, like all good Fulcher shows do.

What Rich does so well is taking a joke to his limits – then pushing it way, way beyond that. In the hands of someone less likeable and more self-conscious it wouldn’t work so well; but Rich approaches each moment with such energy and conviction, it’s easy to get carried along.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

The line-up for the night was fresh, sparky and marvelously odd. Highlights included: a whirlwind performance from Meeten in the guise of ‘Animal Man’ (like all his best characters, a man precariously balanced at the edge of madness – and surprisingly poignant with it) – and Meeten’s Karate Johnson also made an alarming appearance; Pajama Men’s Shenoah Allen, with a charmingly original multi-voiced sketch about animals; and Gary Le Strange in a startling Pineapple-Studio-Steam-Punk combo, complete with kiddy umbrella. Although the front row of Boosh fans looked a tad confused, he had the table next to us falling about.

Another comedy revelation was Ralfe, who sat to the side of the stage playing the (musically-gifted) straight man to everyone else’s chaos. His withering stares at Rich were pitch perfect, and his ability to find a melodies in the melee astonishing.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

Due to the quantity of acts on offer, Dan Clark and magic man, Pete Heat, didn’t have the opportunity to get fully into their sets, which is a shame because they’re bloody funny/clever when they’re in the groove.

By way of a finale, Cardinal Burns’ set, performed entirely in French, provided the perfect full-stop to the show: in equal measures bizarre, silly, clever, confusing and funny.

We’ve missed you and your F*cked Up Friends, Fulcher. Come back again soon.

Beef Scarecrow Returns!

3 Dec
© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd

The fourth-ish and (to-date) final Gary Le Strange album is now available for download.

Originally recorded in 2006 to promote his grand, uncompromisingly bizarre multi-concept leviathan live show of the same name, Beef Scarecrow saw Le Strange abandon his former “Neo-Regency Face Warrior” persona in favour of a genre-busting mash-up of psychedelia, prog, glam rock, folk, jazz, blues and Britpop.

The results were typically wonderful, taking Gary’s paranoia and grandiose ego and fusing it with satirical social comment, and stonking tunes to die for.  Tales of rotting scarecrows, evil pipers, violent whelks, genetically re-engineered wolves, imaginary cartoon swan Gods and bowler hats with bees which at the time alienated live audiences expecting a typically LeStrange vision, but have since gone on to cult acclaim.

After all, these new songs included Bowie-esque sweeping ballad, Shivering In The Rain, and Jagger-tinged hard rocker Midnight Bastard.  Other standouts include the majestic Secret Wolf, which we were privileged to give away free as part of our limited edition In Holo Serica EP last year, and the epic tale of Michael The Swan, which Gary performed at our inaugural TVO Live event in May 2012 – footage of which we’ll be uploading very soon, so stay peeled.

© Steve Ullathorne

© Steve Ullathorne

Now at last, thanks to the tireless efforts of Le Strange’s biographer and archivist Waen ShepherdBeef Scarecrow is available once more, completing the back catalogue of Le Strange reissues in time for future concepts from this most elusive of artists.

Beef Scarecrow can be downloaded now from CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.  Preview clips can be heard on Waen’s website, which also features 259 Things You Wish You Knew About This Album.

Also available are debut album, Polaroid Suitcase, follow-up Face Academy and lost mini-album Glamoronica.  For links to all of these, plus a smattering of rare tracks – visit Gary’s mini-site over yonder.

Future Shepherd

28 Nov
© Alex Franklin

© Alex Franklin

Waen Shepherd has joined the cast of a new sci-fi tinged radio sketch show.

2525 will aim to reveal just how life will be in 512 years, when kitchen appliances are competitive, stand-up comedians are robots and The Beatles have become a religion.  Some would argue we’re already halfway there, so perhaps if man is still alive and woman can survive, the world may sound something like this!

Making this a reality are Cartriona Knox, Jamie Demetriuo, Jenny Bede, Keiran Hodgson and our very own Mr Waen.  Recordings take place at Up The Creek in Greenwhich on Monday 9th & Wednesday 11th December, then again on Wednesday 8th January, and applications for tickets can be made now via SRO Audiences over yonder.

For a previous musing on sentient kitchen appliances from Waen Shepherd, check out the seminal Is My Toaster Sentient via it’s Stewart Lee directed video below.

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