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Exclusive: The Ghoul Teaser Trailer

4 Sep

The Velvet Onion is proud to bring you the first official glimpse of The Ghoul in this tantalising teaser.

The Ghoul is written and directed by Gareth Tunley and stars a whole bevvy of his regular collaborators. Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Rufus Jones, Paul Kaye, Dan Skinner, Waen Shepherd and Sean Reynard join Naimh Cusack (Heartbeat, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time), James Eyres and veteran comedy legend Geoffrey McGivern in the film. Shepherd has also provided the movie’s score.

The film marks the directorial feature debut of Tunley, who has previously directed shorts (such as TVO favourite The Baron) and the groundbreaking making of web-portal for A Field in England.

And whilst the cast is primarily made up of Tunley’s comedy friends and collaborators, The Ghoul is a psychological thriller that follows Tom Meeten’s detective as he goes undercover as a psychotherapy patient in an attempt to solve a murder case. As he delves further, he begins to lose his grip on reality, eventually questioning whether the entire investigation may just be a fabrication of his mind.

Described as a dreamlike narrative by the director, the film fuses the visual trappings of suburban film noir with the narrative rug pulls of science fiction, and was shot in sixteen days earlier this year. With finishing touches to the film almost complete, we’ll be bringing you more news on The Ghoul very soon.

The Ape Man Cometh: AAAAAAAAH! Review

28 Aug

unnamedOne of the things that distinguishes the artists that we write about at The Velvet Onion is their ability to think differently and to make waves in a sea of entertainment mediocrity. At their best, they conjure up ideas and dream of worlds so creatively vibrant that they force us, the audience, into a different headspace ourselves. In this respect, Steve Oram‘s AAAAAAAAH! (always written with eight ‘A’s) totally nails it.

The premise of the film is simple: it shows us what human beings would be like if we conformed to the natural behaviour patterns of apes. AAAAAAAAH! presents us with an everyday world that looks like ours but where society has been reduced to little more than factions of fighting, fucking, shitting beasts.

Although I’m no primatologist, I’m fairly sure David Attenborough has said that our simian relatives are more complex than this. But given that the impact of AAAAAAAAH! comes, in large part, from the consistent and gaping absence of anything recognisably ‘human’ in the behaviour of the human forms on screen, let’s embrace the film’s freewheeling approach to natural history.

First things first: the idea upon which the film is built is strange, brave, funny and thought-provoking (more of that later). Conceptually, it’s one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in a long while. The cast are astonishingly good – within minutes you forget that nobody is actually speaking; their grunts, whoops and gestures tell you everything that you need to know about the film’s narrative (as an aside, Tom Meeten told us that the cast were actually given scripts to follow. Wonderful stuff!). Of particular note is the perfectly-observed unspoken camaraderie between Steve Oram and Tom Meeten, the boorish mateyness of Julian Rhind-Tutt and Sean Reynard, and the emotional fragility of a garden-bound Julian Barratt.

It’s also a real pleasure seeing so many of ‘our lot’ working together on a project like this. Proof, if any were needed, that they are a group bound by a shared love of what can best be described as creatively out there. And thank goodness for that!

unnamedBe warned though, it’s not all comedic complexity and anthropological insight. AAAAAAAAH! makes for pretty visceral viewing, sometimes bordering on the gratuitously gross – although it’s generally done for humorous effect, not to offend. The screen is frequently awash with body fluids and body parts, chunks of half-eaten food and unpredictable bloody violence. Within moments of the film starting two key characters defecate in their kitchen, and aggressive, often uninvited sex is never more than a couple of scenes away. Let’s just say it’s probably not a film to take your Mum to.

unnamed-3The overall sense of visual unpleasantness is reinforced by the depiction of a shabby, urban working class existence (I don’t know why, but I suspect that a rural middle-class monkey life might be easier on the eye), and the general look of the film, which is raw and ungraded.

With movie audiences now more used to the anaesthetising effect of Insta filters, it’s actually quite unnerving to watch a film which looks like it might have been shot on video tape.

Perhaps this was a decision born out of budgetary necessity, but by looking less cinematic AAAAAAAAH! feels more real, more immediate. This realism nudges it away from being an artistic concept on a cinema screen, towards a depiction of an authentic world that any of us could easily be part of.

And this is where the film gets really interesting: after watching it I half-expected violent chaos and beastial shrieks to erupt on my tube journey home. The fact that it didn’t, and that every day we unconsciously navigate our way around other people, mindful even of the rights of the strangers in our midst, suddenly seemed astonishing. AAAAAAAAH! provides a fascinating glimpse into what our society could be like if we didn’t follow the intricate set of social rules that have been defined and refined by several millennia of cultural evolution.

unnamed-1Watching people (like us) behave like apes has the effect of re-setting one’s internal gauge of what a ‘normal’ society should be like. We share 99% of our DNA with apes; how incredible it is then that we live in such close proximity to each other, but we rarely fall back on our basic animal instincts to deal with those around us.

AAAAAAAAH! makes you question the validity of the cultural codes by which we live. It forces you to acknowledge how strangely unnatural, transient and man-made our modern lives are. If we were to strip away these superficial social conceits, then really we’re no different to the apes that preceded us. We too are horny, violent, disgusting creatures. It’s no wonder that the news is full of bloodshed and war.

And that’s why I relished AAAAAAAAH so much: it made my brain whirr. It isn’t necessarily lovely to look at and it’s not perfect – indeed, it seems to flaunts its flaws with a strange sense of pride, but it really makes you think – for long after the end credits have rolled – and for that it deserves to be applauded. With the lions’ share of ‘entertainment’ served up for our online/on-screen pleasure these days unlikely to create the smallest cognitive ripple, anything that forces us to sit up and take notice should be celebrated. AAAAAAAAH! is punk cinema at its best: crude, rude and brain fizzingly provocative. Go see!

The next screening of AAAAAAAAH! Takes place at Picturehouse Central in London on 4th September, and includes a cast Q&A. For tickets for this and for updates on other screenings please visit the Lincoln Studios website.

 

AAAAAAAAH! On Tour

30 Jul

unnamedThe excitement is mounting…. As we’ve mentioned previously, AAAAAAAAH!, the new film by Steve Oram, which features a bevy of TVO faces, will be getting its world premiere next month at Film 4 FrightFest at Leicester Square! But for those of you who can’t make it there, don’t despair – because the film may be coming to a screen near you!

Additional screenings of AAAAAAAAH! include:

Picture House Central in London’s West End on 4th September (+ cast Q&A)
End of the Road Festival (Dorset), 4th-6th September
Mayhem in Nottingham, 15-18 October

Plus more dates to be announced soon. Sign up or check here for screening updates and general AAAAAAAAH! news.

Rook Films

Rook Films

For anyone out there who isn’t familiar with AAAAAAAAH! (how??), Steve’s debut features the entire cast behaving as apes – speaking in grunts and gibberish, in an anarchic, disturbing and touching look at the human condition. It stars Julian Barratt, Toyah Willcox, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Steve Oram, Lucy Honigman, Tom Meeten and Sean Reynard. The supporting cast includes Noel Fielding, Holli Dempsey, Shelley Longworth, Alice Lowe, Tony Way and Waen ShepherdBen Wheatley is also executive producer.

What’s more, AAAAAAAAH! is already receiving rave reviews; here are a few choice comments from the critics:

“Terrifyingly funny, hilariously sick and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Easily the cult movie of the decade” – Alan Jones Film4 FrightFest

“Steve Oram’s AAAAAAAAH! made me question humanity.” – Adam Woodward, LWL’s

“Deeply offensive in all the right ways. Marks its strange, humorous territory with originality and style.” – Phelim O’Neill

Excited yet?

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: #37

29 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…

MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN

Humans, Sunday, 9:00pm, Channel 4 [UK]
Sunday, 9:00pm (8:00pm Central), AMC [US]

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

AMC and Channel 4’s smash-hit sci-fi drama Humans continues on Sunday evening, with Katherine ParkinsonRebecca Front and Paul Kaye part of the impressive ensemble cast.

Over in the USA, it’s time for Episode Two, and George (William Hurt) is assigned a new Synth, Vera (an eerie Rebecca Front) whom he cannot stand, and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) feels threatened by Anita’s presence in her home. Elsewhere Fred (Sope Dirisu) is held captive by Hobb (Danny Webb), which leads him to fear for the future of the human race, and Leo (Colin Morgan) finds himself on a dangerous path in the search for information.

UK viewers, are a couple of weeks ahead, so naturally, our US brethren may wish to skip this paragraph. In the fourth episode, Anita (Gemma Chan) is taken for testing, which yields the surprising revelation that the supposedly brand new synth is actually 14 years old, and has a past she is not aware of. Elsewhere, Pete (Neil Maskell, Kill List) hates being stuck at home with Simon (Jack Derges), but his selfish behaviour drives Jill (Jill Halfpenny) from the house, and Hobb closes in on Niska (Emily Berrington), and Mattie (Lucy Carless) gets in touch with Leo (Colin Morgan), who reveals something that could change the world.

If you’re not watching on tv – and you really should – Humans is also available to pre-order for £14 on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. If you’d rather go all synthetic yourself, you can purchase digital downloads of the show on Amazon already.

SUNSET FOR THE SUNTRAP

SunTrap, Wednesday, 10:40pm, BBC One
Regional times vary (see below)

© Happy Tramp / BBC

© Happy Tramp / BBC

It’s the last in the series for BBC One’s crime caper SunTrap this week, and the show goes out in style with a nautical adventure.

Directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie, Bad Sugar, Star Stories), Sun Trap features Kayvan Novak and Bradley Walsh as former undercover journalists turned private investigators in an island paradise. Also featuring Jamie Demetriou, Emma Pierson and Keith Allen, the series has previously featured guest appearances from TVO regulars Tracy Ann Oberman, Alex Kirk, Morgana Robinson, Simon Day and Paul Kaye, and this week, two more familiar faces join the fun, in the form of Tony Way and Steve Oram.

When a company running pirate-themed boat parties for tourists hires Woody to go undercover as an entertainer to investigate a new rival firm that is threatening to sabotage their business. However, the master of disguise soon discovers all is not quite what it seems, and when he is kidnapped at sea, mock pirate battles quickly transform into real seafaring clashes. With his life on the line, Woody must rely on one of his most audacious disguises yet – as well as help from Brutus and Melody – if he is to escape unscathed.

With Oram, Way and former Shameless star Sean Gilder as this week’s guest stars, the series goes out on a high. If you’ve not yet tapped into the SunTrap, this is your last chance on telly, and as ever, regional times for Wednesday’s transmission vary, with viewers in England getting it at 10:40pm, viewers in Wales getting it at 11:10pm, and viewers in Northern Ireland at 11:20pm. Everyone, including Scotland, can also tune in on Friday at 10:35pm after The Graham Norton Show.

If you’ve enjoyed the show, or want to know why so many talented types turned up in it, you can pre-order the DVD now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

TIME IS SHORT FOR DOLL & EM

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

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

The second series of Doll & Em continues this week, as Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer’s semi-autobiographical comic drama begins to draw to a conclusion.

This week, there are only 24 hours remaining before the pair’s play is due to première off-Broadway, with genuine Hollywood stars Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood on board playing the lead characters based on Wells & Mortimer.

However, tensions are high, and Wilde & Wood are frustrated by a string of last-minute changes. Dolly makes things worse when her salty language offends Evan, and Em’s husband Noah is spending an increasing amount of time with his wife’s on-stage counterpart Olivia.

Also featuring Mischa Richter, this is another dynamite installment of the hugely acclaimed comedy, and with any luck you’ll have been watching all along (we did keep telling you). However, if you haven’t, both series are available on demand now via SkyGo and NowTV, along with a cavalcade of previous hits.

AMBASSAHOFF

Hoff The Record, Thursday, 9:00pm, Dave

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

Dave’s delightful new semi-improvised comedy Hoff The Record continues on Thursday evening, with Fergus Craig playing the hapless manager of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff.

For the uninitiated, Hoff the Record focuses on the Knight Rider legend’s fictionalised attempts at rebuilding his career in the UK, with his useless manager Max (Craig); Harriet (Ella Smith) – an inexperienced PA; Terry (Asim Chaudhry) – an over-enthusiastic driver; Danny (Brett Goldstein) – an oafish personal trainer; and Dieter (Mark Quartley) – The Hoff’s illegitimate son.

With the likes of Tim Downie and Anna Crilly turning up in last week’s episode, and guest appearances from Steve Oram and Simon Greenall still to come, there’s lots of TVO-flavoured reasons to watch Hoff the Record, as well as it being rather ruddy funny.

In this week’s episode, The Hoff has decided to give up acting, following an inspirational session with Danny, and plans to embrace his potential for doing good in the world by becoming a United Nations Ambassador. In a bid to learn about the UN, he takes part in a school’s debate: only Hoff’s debating skills are not enough to win against a group of precocious kids.

If you missed it recently, you can catch our exclusive interview with star Fergus Craig over yonder now, and Series One is available to pre-order on dvd too.

UNDERCOVER GETS WIRED

Undercover, Tuesday, 9:00pm, Dave

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

Unless you’ve been living under a rock with no access to TVO over the last few weeks, you’ll know that there’s not one but two new shows on Dave with TVO connections. Undercover is their bold new sitcom which fuses witty wordplay with high-octane crime drama, and is directed by Dave Lambert (The Mighty Boosh, Common Ground, Alan Partridge).

Starring Daniel Rigby (Eric & ErnieFrom There To Here) and Sarah Alexander (Green Wing, Coupling) as dim-witted detectives Chris Anderson and Zoe Keller investigating an Armenian gangster family, the series also features Yasmine Akrin (Sherlock, Stella) and co-writer Sascha Tarter.

This week the Police are becoming impatient with `Operation Piccolo’ and see the release of Ara’s henchman Tommi Lylozian (Keith Allen) from prison as an opportunity to make some headway. Chris attempts to gather incriminating evidence on the Sarkissian operation by wearing a wire. As Tommi is guaranteed the protection of the family, Chris struggles not just to get evidence but to stay alive, due to the fact that Tommi is a raving psychopath.

You can catch Undercover twice this week: on Tuesday at 9pm, or right after Hoff the Record on Thursday at 9:40pm. You can catch our exclusive interview with Dave Lambert over yonder.

DENNIS & DAN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

Greg Davis returns in the latest edition of Channel 4’s Man Down – produced, as ever, by Spencer Millman.

This week, Dan (Davis) volunteers to look after his pupil Dennis (Alfie Davis) for the weekend after the boy recieves sad news about his family, though as ever, he is primarily motivated with impressing Miss Lipsey (Jeany Spark). Soon, poor Dennis is subjected to reliving the childhood years of Jo (Roisin Conaty), Brian (Mike Wozniak) and Dan by way of a bike-trip, a game of knock-down-ginger and one of their own devising called furry periscope.

AWFUL EGYPTIANS

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

The new series of Horrible Histories continues on Monday afternoon, with a look at the life of Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra.

Played by guest star Kathryn Drysdale, best known for her role as Louise in 2 Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Cleo clashed with her brother, seized power for herself, and hooked up with Roman leaders Julius Ceasar and Mark Antony – all of which is given a Horrible Histories spin.

Plus, there’s the thoughts of famous Chinese philosopher Confucious, and a look at the less glamorous side of of life in Rome. Featuring, as always, Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick, along with new regulars Jalaal Hartley, Naz Osmanoglu, Jessica Ransom, Adam Richies and Murder in Successville‘s Tom Stourton, it’s another fun filled half hour with the new look team.

ALL THE MIRRORS OF THE WORLD

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Saturday, 10:00pm (9:00pm Central), BBC America

©  JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

The fourth episode of the BBCs fantasy epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell airs in the US on Saturday evening via BBC America, once again starring Paul Kaye and Edward Hogg amongst its incredible ensemble.

In this instalment, Strange (Bertie Carvel) is developing a growing fascination with the magic of the Raven King, which drives a wedge between him and Norrell (Eddie Marsan). The latter is determined to stop Strange resurrecting the dark powers of ancient times, even as he attempts to cure King George III of his madness. Elsewhere, Drawlight (Vincent Franklin) is caught selling magical secrets, and the mysterious Gentleman (Marc Warren) seeks Stephen’s (Ariyon Bakare)  aid in putting a stop to Strange’s meddling.

If you haven’t caught up yet, do so immediately, then check out our exclusive interview with Kaye about the series over yonder. UK fans of the series can rejoice: you can pick it up on on dvd and blu-ray right now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

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. Whilst it’s a quiet week ahead, here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Lauren Taylor

© Lauren Taylor

Wednesday 1st July

Richard Sandling‘s Perfect Movie Podcast Show featuring Brett Goldstein
Betsey Trotwood, London
7:30pm, £3.85
TICKETS

Lou Sanders & Bec Hill
Charles Cryer Theatre, Carshalton
8:00pm, £7
TICKETS

Aisling Bea & Phil Wang
The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol
8:00pm, £5
TICKETS

Thursday 2nd July

Joey Page & Yve Blake
Komedia, Brighton
7:00pm, £8
TICKETS

Saturday 4th July

Dan Clark‘s The Wow Wow Show! featuring Alice Lowe, Natasia Demetriou, Liam Williams, Oliver Maltman and The Wow Wow Band
Soho Theatre, London
9:30pm, £16.50
TICKETS

Aisling Bea, Stewart Lee, Arthur Smith, Phil Wang and The Pin
Union Chapel, London
7:45pm, £18
SOLD OUT

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.

 

Wow! Alice Lowe Joins Clark’s Comedy Night

27 Jun
© Amy Wilson

© Amy Wilson

It’s Saturday – and that means one thing at TVO Towers: our thoughts turn to what we’re doing next Saturday, and this week we’re pretty darned excited. Because in exactly 1 week’s time Alice Lowe will be on the bill at Dan Clark‘s Wow Wow Show at Soho Theatre. That’s two of TVO faces in one go!

The Saturday 4th July show will be the last Wow Wow Show according to Dan (sniff), so for those of you who haven’t encountered it yet, it’s best described as a British take on the American late night talk show, with Dan playing host to a night of stand up and sketches, set pieces, a house band and special guests.

With Alice spending more of her time on her film work, this provides a rare opportunity to see her live – so grab yourself a ticket while you can. Also on the bill are Anna Morris and Oliver Maltman.

The show starts at 9.30pm and tickets are £15 (£12.50 conc.); they can be procured here.

Black Mountain Poets

2 Jun

The first trailer for forthcoming British comedy film Black Mountain Poets has been released.

© Black Mountain Poets

© Black Mountain Poets

The film, which we first told you about back in April, is the third feature written and directed by Jamie Adams, following 2014’s A Wonderful Christmas Time and Benny & Jolene, the latter of which featured Dolly Wells and Laura Patch in its cast.

Wells and Patch return in Black Mountain Poets, alongside none other than Alice Lowe, as well as Downton Abbey’s Tom Cullen, Rosa Robson and Adams regular collaborator Richard Elis. In it, Alice and Dolly play a pair of wannabe thieves on the run, who go in hiding at a countryside poetry club in the Black Mountains of Wales.

Shot in just five days, and partially improvised, the film premières at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 22nd June, and will be released theatrically and on-demand later this year. As soon as we have confirmed release dates, we’ll let you know. You can see the trailer below.

So Hot Right Now #28

27 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…

A SEANCE WITH LOWE & LLOYD FOR INSIDE NO. 9

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The superlative creativity of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton seemingly knows no bounds, as demonstrated perfectly by the second series of Inside No. 9, which concludes its eclectic run of six one-off tales this week, with special guest appearances by Downtown Abbey star Sophie McShera and Mike Leigh veteran Alison Steadman in the macabre Seance Time.

Tina (McShera) has never consulted the spirit world before, and isn’t quite sure what to expect on her visit to psychic Madam Talbot (Steadman). The medium’s assistant Hives (Shearsmith) seems quite helpful, but there’s already something waiting for Tina on the ‘other side’ and he knows all about it.

To say more would, as ever, ruin the subtle surprises on offer, but we will add that there’s the added bonus of guest appearances by TVO regulars Alice Lowe and Cariad Lloyd, as well as Doctor Who‘s resident Sontaran, Dan Starkey (last seen in Ben Wheatley’s Deep Breath in August, and occasional improv artist alongside Phil Whelans).

For one week only, the show shifts from its usual Thursday night slot to WEDNESDAY at 10pm on BBC Two. We’ll be sorry to see Inside No. 9 go, as this second run has proved to be a telly highlight this year. The campaign for a third run begins here…

STRICTLY LAUGHS AT W1A

© BBC / Jack Barnes

© BBC / Jack Barnes

Spoof documentary series W1A moves to Inside No 9‘s old slot of Thursday at 10pm this week, as Hugh Bonneville and team meet to discuss the troubling rumours that Newsnight presenter Evan Davis is to compete in the next series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Elsewhere, there’s a new Pilates initiative as Anna (the ever magnificent Sarah Parish) puts herself forward for the newly advertised role of Head of Better, and ever put upon Lucy (the inimitable Nina Sosanya) faces yet more tinkering with her as-yet-uncommissioned drama project.

As ever, Rufus Jones and Jessica Hynes are part of the impeccable ensemble cast, and the results are yet more must-see telly.

DELIVERY FOR BEA & MCQUEEN

© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

New ITV sitcom The Delivery Man continues on Wednesday, once again featuring Aisling Bea and Alex MacQueen alongside Darren Boyd, Paddy McGuiness and Faye Ripley.

This week in the maternity ward comedy, a prisoner arrives on release to give birth, but the police need some crucial information, so Ian (McGuiness) tries underhand interrogation tactics on the expectant mother. Elsewhere, Ryan (Joe De Costa) discovers Lisa (Bea) has been lending money to Matthew (Boyd), and heads to the hospital in a rage.

You can catch this latest episode at 9:30pm on Wednesday evening, over on ITV1. Previous episodes are available on ITV Player now.

TVO SQUARED

© Kieron McCarron / September Films / GME / ITV

© Kieron McCarron / September Films / GME / ITV

Okay – we have to admit: this one perhaps understandably slipped by us… but ITV’s latest incarnation of gameshow Celebrity Squares returned recently, with Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short, The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains) at the helm.

The Harry Potter star is now two episodes into the run, which airs on Sunday evenings at 7:15pm on ITV1, and both installments to date have featured TVO regulars or connected artists, so they’re well worth catching up with on ITV Player.

The first show, which aired on 19th April, featured none other than cult duo Anna Crilly Katy Wix amongst its star line-up, whilst the second, which aired yesterday (25th April), featured Jessica Hynes and House of Fools stars Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer.

The third show, which will air on Sunday 3rd May, will feature comedy legend Doon Mackichan – best known for her work on shows such as The Day Today, Smack the Pony and most recently, Toast of London. And we will never rule out ITV gameshows for potential connections ever again.

EXTRA ONION

© BBC

There’s a whole lot more TVO goodness to savour this week if you know where to look on tv and radio, thanks to a healthy dose of repeats – and a sneaky little spot of guest starring here and there.

BBC Two repeats Noel Fielding‘s 2013 appearance on QI XL on Saturday 2nd May at 11pm, whilst over on Channel 4 an hour earlier, there’s another chance to see the excellent British sci-fi action movie Dredd, which memorably features heavy usage of Matt Berry‘s theme for Snuffbox.

On radio, duo Max and Ivan continue their series The Casebook of Max and Ivan with a guest appearance from Reece Shearsmith this Tuesday evening at 6:30pm on Radio 4. Last week, they sneaked in an appearance from Jessica Hynes, whilst Matt Lucas joined them the previous week. You can catch up with the whole run on iPlayer now.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4 Extra are revisiting a firm TVO favourite in the form of Lucy Montgomery’s Variety Pack – which also features Waen Shepherd and was written by Montgomery with Steven Burge and Dan Tetsell. The first two episodes of Series 1 are on iPlayer now, with Episode 3 airing again on Wednesday evening at 11:30pm.

If you’re in the US, and feeling left out, don’t forget that Steve Coogan continues his run in Happyish on Sunday evenings exclusively on Showtime at 9:30 pm ET/PT.

MAY I HELP YOU?

As we reported last week, this Friday sees the relaunch of Rachel Stubbings web series, Stubbing Out Problems

The stand-up comic’s first run of S.O.P. videos began in May 2011, and featured Rachel’s disinterested alter-ego (Dr Stubbings, that is, not Rachel from Friends) trying – and failing – to help a series of clients sort out their issues, all played by fellow comedians. TVO regulars Stephen Evans, Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, Alex Kirk and Aisling Bea joined the likes of Luke McQueen, Brett Goldstein, Katherine Ryan and Margaret Cabourn-Smith as clients across the series.

Following Rachel’s debut Edinburgh run with a show based on Stubbing out Problems in 2012, the concept was retired except for a handful of rare live revivals – but now at long last, it’s back with a bang! For the whole of May 2015, Dr Stubbings has pledged to heal at least one problem per day (except weekends), which is really impressive. The results will be uploaded to Vimeo every day* throughout May, and will feature a whole host of new clients – some of whom you can see in the teaser above.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

© Tony Law

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on the London stage, and whilst this week is a bit of a quiet one, there’s still a few chances to see great people this week.

27/04/15 – Joey Page with Craig Murray – The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 8pm, £8

29/04/15 – Richard Sandling with Bec Hill, Brett Goldstein, Chris Coltrane, Howard Read, Tiernan Douieb (new material night) – Betsey Trostswood, 8:00pm, £3.50-£5

30/04/15 – Tony Law with Sara Pascoe, Zoe Lyons and Brett Goldstein – 99 Club, Leicester Square, 8:30pm, £9-£12

30/04/15 – James Cook: Outsiders Alternative Pop Cabaret with special guests – Aces and Eights, 8:00pm, £5

01/05/15 – SPANK! featuring James Wren and Leon Fleury, plus special guests Abandoman, Marcel Lucont, David Morgan and In Cahoots – Udderbelly, 10:45pm, £15.50

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 #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

Pieces Out Now – Online!

6 Apr
© Jack Weatherley

© Jack Weatherley

As per our lead item on this week’s So Hot Right Now, we’re getting more than a bit excited about the film Pieces – which is now available to watch online!

It’s the second short from writer/director Jack Weatherley, and features a top-notch list of collaborators, including Paul Kaye, Alice Lowe and Michael Smiley. To extend the TVO connections further, cinematography comes courtesy of Laurie Rose, and the soundtrack comes via the impressive collaboration of Pablo Clements and James Griffith.

The 15 minute film has been 2 years in the making, and has been attracting attention for its dark subject matter and heavyweight cast. 31 year old Weatherley spoke to the Huffington Post about it recently, saying: “It’s quite a dark and challenging piece, a non-chronological exploration of a difficult subject which will hopefully provoke questions from audiences. It’s about an unspoken incident which affects two families, effectively turning their lives into a nightmare. With shorts you have to do something which is different.”

Appetite whetted? You can view the film below:

So Hot Right Now #25

6 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…

PIECES

© Jack Weatherley

© Jack Weatherley

This week sees the online debut of Jack Weatherley‘s sublime short film Pieces starring Michael SmileyAlice Lowe and Paul Kaye.

The short was shot last year, and appeared at a smattering of film festivals, including the Leeds International Film Festival in October. Following Jack’s 2011 short film debut Straight Way Lost (which also featured Paul Kaye), Pieces also stars Tanya Franks from Pulling and Defiance star George McKay.  To further the TVO connections, cinematography comes courtesy of Laurie Rose (Sightseers, A Field In England, Kill List, Down Terrace).  And the soundtrack comes via the impressive collaboration of Pablo Clements and James Griffith – both of UNKLE fame, under their Toydrum moniker.

Now at last, it will be released to a wider audience at some point on Monday, 6th April. As we went to press, we didn’t have a link to share with you, but please see our subsequent post about it, which includes the embedded film. Also, keep your eyes on Jack’s website and Twitter for updates.

NEW TO TV AND RADIO THIS WEEK

After a solid three months of heavy comedic artillery, with recent weeks featuring eight or nine shows per week with TVO regulars taking centre stage, this week is our first real ‘quiet one’ of the year. However, with Inside No. 9, Moone Boy and Travel Man on our tv screens, and Chat Show Roulette continuing on radio, there’s still plenty to savour, and a couple of cheeky bonuses if you know where to look. So, as always here’s a run-down of what to look out for over the next seven days.

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10:00pm, BBC Two

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The dark comic anthology from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton has always been delightfully eclectic, and following two modern day tales of death and mystery, the third episode of this second series throws us back to Puritan days, as the gents pay homage to The Witchfinder General with their own The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge.

Gadge is an old crone accused of witchcraft, played by Ruth Sheen (Misfits, Bramwell). Shearsmith and Pemberton are the delightfully named witchfinder duo Mr Warren and Mr Clarke, whilst the legendary David Warner (The Omen, Time Bandits) plays local bigwig Sir Andrew Pike, who sees the trial as a tourist opportunity.

Warner last worked with S&P on the criminally underrated The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, so there’s a particularly arch pleasure in casting him in a similar vein here. There’s also appearances from the legendary Paul Kaye as Richard Two-Shoes (perhaps an ancestor of Johnny Two-Hats?), and Horrible Histories star Jim Howick.  The results are wickedly entertaining, as the episode allows S&P a chance to indulge their love of 70s horror and unleash their inner Vincent Price. What more do you need?

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9:00pm, Sky1

© Moone Boy

© Moone Boy

It’s never easy saying goodbye, and it’s even harder when you’re saying it to a show like Moone Boy, which never fails to charm us with its clever blend of familiar homespun charm and moments of downright madcap nonsense.

This week, Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy’s sitcom about a boy and his imaginary best friend in rural early-90s Ireland gets a touch of Hollywood glamour to send off its third series, as Anchorman megastar Paul Rudd makes a guest appearance, in an episode that manages to fuse the Irish civil war with George Gershwin and Godzilla. As you do…

It turns out that imaginary friends run in the family when Grandad’s childhood pal George Gershwin – a cool, piano-playing guy – turns up to fulfil his bucket list. Martin, Sean and Crunchie Haystacks (the ever brilliant Johnny Vegas) embark on a series of adventures to help him. Also, with summer just around the corner, Martin takes an unusual approach to his exam revision. Come back soon Moone Boy, for you will be missed.

TRAVEL MAN
Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Who would have thought that, only two episodes into Travel Man, that Richard Ayoade would be a natural host for this fast-paced holiday adventure series? Well, anyone who has previously enjoyed Gadget Man for one, or been charmed by Richard’s unique style over the years.

And he really is quite brilliant as the host of this new show, in which he is joined by celebrity guests and tasked to enjoy the most efficient weekend break possible. This week, he is joined by stand-up comic Adam Hills for a whirlwind weekend in Istanbul, Turkey.

The pair cross the River Bosphorus from Europe to Asia, comparing a private yacht tour with the low-price public ferry. They follow this up with an authentic Turkish shave at a local barbershop, and share an awkward moment at a local bath and massage parlour. Best of all, they visit the Grand Bazaar market, where both men have a go at haggling. Travel telly has never been this fun.

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

Justin Edwards returns as the host of long awaited radio improv show Chat Show Roulette on Thursday evening. The former live show, turned tv pilot, turned radio pilot finally came to air a few weeks ago, and has featured a strong line up of guests so far including Kevin Eldon, Matt Lucas, Cariad Lloyd and Charlie Higson amongst others.

Joining Justin this week are comedians Adil Ray, Jarred Christmas and Rachel Parris, and regular musical accompanier James Sherwood. As is the nature of improv, not everything works, but with talent like this, the vast majority of it is downright hilarious. Kick back and tune in.

THIS WEEK’S NOTEWORTHY REPEATS

© HBO

© HBO

Again, a bit of a slow week here, but there’s always chances to catch TVO classics if you know where to look. This week, with the fifth series of Game of Thrones just around the corner, Sky Atlantic are loving the opportunity to revisit the whole run. Which means, in recent weeks, we’ve seen the likes of Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains star Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy.

This week, they reach Series Four, which saw the return of Tony Way as Ser Dontos Hollard, who ends up playing a very key part in the Game. His three episodes are all being shown on Friday evening from 9pm. If you’ve missed out on GoT so far, and want to binge watch ahead of the new run, Now TV is offering the first four series as part of their ‘Boxset’ range for a limited time only, or you could always buy the dvd or blu-ray from our store.

IN OUR PERIPHERAL VISION

© BBC

© BBC

In a quiet week like this, it’s always good to cast a light on those just outside our remit who we love and admire, and would feature if only they worked with our regulars that little bit more often.

So this week, look out for the ever delightful Diane Morgan on the first new episode of Have I Got News For You this year, alongside The Thick of It and Alan Partridge co-creator, Armando Iannucci and guest host Daniel Radcliffe. The 49th (!) series starts on Friday night at 9pm on BBC One.

Listen out also for the re-run of Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens on BBC Radio 4 all week long, mostly at 11:30pm every night. The fantasy epic features a top notch cast with a smattering of names that aren’t quite regulars here, but we think they’re brilliant all the same: including Mark Heap, Peter Serafinowicz and Julia Deakin (all Spaced veterans, no less), as well as Neil Maskell (Kill List, Utopia), Louise Brealey (Sherlock, The Government Inspector), Arsher Ali (Four Lions), Mark Benton (Inside No. 9) and many, many more.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

©  Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

As is often the case, this week sees a smattering of TVO regulars appearing across London on various stages for your entertainment. So if you’re in the area, here’s where you can see them…

08/04/15 – Dan Clark: The Wow Wow Show! featuring Liam Williams, Oliver Maltman, Natasha Demetriou and The Wow Wow Band – The Soho Theatre, 9:30pm, £15

09/04/15 – Lou Sanders with Holly Burn, Richard Todd, Yacine Belhousse and Jayne Adams – The Glory, 7:30pm, £5

11/04/15 – Aisling Bea and Mae Martin – The Invisible Dot, 8pm, £10

Of course, if you’re on the other side of the world, then you can see Sarah KendallPaul Foot and Tony Law at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 19th. And if you’re in LA, keep your eyes peeled, as the recently emigrated brilliance that is James Bachman may just turn up on a bill near you.

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!

New Movie For Alice, Dolly & Laura

4 Apr
© Jolene Films

© Jolene Films

Alice Lowe, Dolly Wells and Laura Patch will be appearing together in a new film, Black Mountain Poets , planned for release later this yea.

Also starring Downtown Abbey’s Tom Cullen, the film is the final part of director Jamie Adams’ trilogy of improvised movies; the first of which was Benny & Jolene (starring Submarine’s Craig Roberts and Dolly, and also featuring Laura), followed by A Wonderful Christmas Time, which was the first UK movie to be released exclusively on demand for a month before its cinema release.

Black Mountain Poets is a fully-improvised comedy about relationships, and it was shot over five days in October 2014 in the Black Mountains of Wales. It will be released theatrically and on demand this autumn, self-distributed by Cardiff-based Jolene Films. As soon as we hear any more about it, we’ll be sure to let you know!

Fans of Alice Lowe may be interested to know that there are still a small handful of tickets available for her forthcoming talk at the Arthouse Cinema in Crouch End, London. Alice will talking about women in film, with reference to her fascination for the work of Glenn Close. The event takes place at 8pm on 14th April and tickets are available here. Be quick though – they’re nearly all gone!

 

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!

Return to No. 9

14 Mar

BBC Two have released the first trailer for the forthcoming second series of Inside No. 9.

© BBC

© BBC

For those who missed the sublime first series, Inside No. 9 is a twisted anthology series from the brains of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, marking their third major project together following The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville.

With each episode revolving around a different room, flat or house with a connection to the number nine, the first series featured the gifted duo as a string of one-off characters, as well as guest appearances from the likes of Katherine ParkinsonJulian Rhind-Tutt, Kayvan Novak, Oona Chaplin, Conleth Hill, Gemma Arterton, Tamsin Grieg, Rosie Cavalero, Julia Davis and Helen McCrory.

This star-studded policy for guest roles continues apace in Series Two, with TVO’s very own Alice Lowe and Paul Kaye set to feature, alongside Jane Horrocks, Jack Whitehall, Sheridan Smith, David Warner, Julie Hesmondalgh, Claire Skinner, Mark Benton and Alison Steadman amongst others.

You can see the trailer below, and the first episode of the new series will air on Thursday, 26th March. Stay peeled for more info very soon.

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.

 

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).

 

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!
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