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Prince sees Prince

15 Aug

Here at The Velvet Onion, we try to focus on the real, genuine news stories surrounding the alternative comedians who make up our family of frequent collaborators. We leave their personal lives very much off limits – as cute as all those Velvet Babies are these days – and don’t tend to look for trivial news stories to flood your feed with.

Every once in a while, we can’t help ourselves, however. And this afternoon, an event equal to typing google into google almost broke the internet.

© Prince

© Prince

Prince – the incredibly prolific virtuoso musician and, it’s fair to say, known eccentric – shared a link to a sketch about himself on Twitter to his 94K followers, taken from the seminal 90s/00s sketch series Big Train. Thus.

Given that Prince – or his representatives – policy of policing the internet and removing all trace of ‘homage’ to him has left many a fan-site feeling dejected, it’s good to know the man himself still has a sense of humour.

We can only hope that the clip has intrigued His Royal Purpleness enough to check out more Big Train, and that gives us the opportunity to suggest you all do too.

© BBC

© Talkback Thames / BBC

The show was the brainchild of Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd) and Arthur Matthews (Toast of London), following their runaway success with Father Ted. The first series aired in 1998, and starred Simon Pegg and Mark Heap (both pre-Spaced), alongside The Actor, Kevin Eldon, Amelia Bullmore (I’m Alan Partridge) and Julia Davis.

The latter pair jumped ship after the first series along with Linehan, and it was four years before the second and final run aired – this time with Rebecca Front and Tracy Ann Oberman joining Pegg, Heap and Eldon.

The show was also notable for giving Catherine Tate (The Office, Doctor Who) an early break on television, appearing in seven episodes across both series, while other guests included Simon Greenhall (I’m Alan Partridge, Alice’s Wunderland), Julia Deakin (Spaced, Love in Recovery), Geoffrey McGiven (just about every comedy ever) and a very young Nick Frost.

If you’ve never seen the above clip before, there’s still a chance you’ll have recognised the dulcet tones of Chris Morris, who co-directed the first series alongside with Linehan. Series Two was directed by Jonathan Gershfield, who went on to direct Strutter featuring Paul Kaye and Lucy Montgomery, so the lineage of TVO heritage within the show really does loom large. Really, if you haven’t seen it yet, you definitely should.

Truly one of BBC Comedy’s jewels in the crown, both series are available in a double-pack to buy on DVD now for the bargain price of £4.95 in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. You can also see a selection of highlights via the handy playlist below. Enjoy…

Our Father, Who Art In Dublin… Ted, Be Thy Name

25 Jul
© Shota Kotake

© Shota Kotake

“I haven’t written anything, because I’m not really good at that type of thing. But I did a drawing.”

In one of the oddest news stories we’ve seen for a while, a Dublin-based artist has taken to drawing a Father Ted related picture every day in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record.

Shota Kotake began his work in May, when the show, written by Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd) and Arthur Matthews (Big Train), celebrated its 20th anniversary, and plans to do so every day until, and we quote: “I get fed up”. Er… up with this sort of thing?

Currently on Day 75, you can see the whole collection so far over yonder.

We’re wondering which group of diehard fans is likely to try and match this challenge: Noel’s Field-mice, or Alan’s Partridges? Over to you…

Count Arthur Is Back!

22 May
© picturehouseblog.co.uk

© picturehouseblog.co.uk

Radio Times today revealed that Count Arthur Strong will be back for a third series on BBC1 next year.

The BBC has commissioned seven more episodes of the Bafta-nominated comedy which sees Steve Delaney once again in the role of the eccentric ex-music hall performer, who causes chaos wherever he goes, joined by his long-suffering friend Michael (Rory Kinnear).
The series will again be co-written by Delaney and TVO regular Graham Linehan.

Count Arthur recently released the first volume of his memoirs entitled ‘Through it all I’ve always Laughed’, available here, and series 1 is available on DVD from the TVO Store.

How To Write Comedy – By The Best

1 Apr
© Gigglebeats

© Gigglebeats

Arthur Mathews will be one of the guest speakers at Soundstage, a new regular arts event in London.

Mathews is one of Britain’s most successful television comedy writers, and his CV includes a number of TVO-connected shows. For starters, he co-created and co-wrote Father Ted with Graham Linehan, and co-wrote Toast of London.

He has also worked with Chris Morris on Brass Eye and Jam; Morris and Steve Coogan on the seminal The Day Today; and Coogan again on I’m Alan Partridge and Coogan’s Run. His credits also include Harry Enfield and Chums, The Fast Show , The Catherine Tate Show, Big Train – which he created, and The All New Alexei Sayle Show. That’s quite a comedy pedigree right there!

Soundstage is a monthly event, and each month there will be a line-up of two special guest interviewees, discussing their popular work and achievements – a mixture of inspiration and advice. Arthur Matthews will be one of the guests at the May event, alongside Dan Carey, record producer and multi-instrumentalist.

It all takes place at The Others, Stoke Newington on Thursday May 7th. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets are £12.50 and are available here via PayPal (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the May event).

Reece’s Chain Reaction

20 Feb
© bbc.co.uk

© bbc.co.uk

Reece Shearsmith is interviewed by Adam Buxton in the first of the new series of BBC Radio 4’s tag team interview show Chain Reaction. Each week the interviewee from the week before becomes the interviewer.

The 10th series of the chat show carries on from the end of the last series, when Adam Buxton was interviewed by Graham Linehan.

During the show the pair discuss the League of Gentlemen, Psychoville and Inside No 9 and Reece’s strange job making models.

Next week Reece interviews House of Fools legend Bob Mortimer, the following week Bob interviews his comedy partner Vic Reeves, and Vic then interviews three-time Bafta award winner Olivia Colman.

Chain Reaction is broadcast on Wednesdays on Radio 4 at 6.30pm, followed by repeats on Radio 4 extra at 7.30am and 10pm the following Wednesday. It is also available after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.

So Hot Right Now #18

16 Feb

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

COME ON IN…

Monday evening puts out the Welcome mat for the long awaited second series of House of Fools, which airs at 10pm on BBC2.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Vic and Bob’s artily homemade and brilliantly daft take on a sitcom has gone down a storm with both their hardcore audience and casual viewers alike, and it was only natural it would return for a second run. In the first episode of the new series, Bob’s reclusive son, Erik (Daniel Simonsen) emerges from his bedroom long enough to stop dry-retching and go on a blind date, meeting the equally calculated Rachel (Ellie White). Vic and Bob form a band with Beef (Matt Berry) and fall out over the name of their act before their debut gig, while Julie (Morgana Robinson) attempts to teach Bosh (Dan Skinner) the art of waiting tables. Clever, silly, and just as surreal as the first series, this episode also includes the best use of an Owen Wilson photo that you’ll ever come across!

If you missed them last week, TVO was graciously invited to be one of the few publications to speak to the cast of House of Fools at one of the Salford filming dates late last year. You can read our trilogy of interviews over on our news pages now, but if clicky links are more your thing, you’ll like the highlights over the names ‘Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer‘, ‘Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White‘, and ‘Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson‘.

CLOSE THE DOOR…

As one show arrives, another must sadly depart, and this week it’s the turn of both Cockroaches and Count Arthur Strong to say a (we hope short-lived) farewell.

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

At 10pm on Tuesday over on ITV2, the final episode of Cockroaches brings the post-apocalyptic comedy to a close, with dramatic results. This week Tom (Daniel Lawrence Taylor) and Laura (Jessica Emily Rose) are imprisoned by a gang of cannibals led by the villanous Ash (Jaime Winston), and it’s up to Suze and Felix (Esther Smith and Tom Davis) to save them from becoming supper.

With its top notch cast including Dan Skinner, Jack Whitehall, Robert Bathurst, Rich Hall, Nigel Planer and Alexander Armstrong, it does feel strange even in this digital age for Cockroaches to be tucked away on ITV2, but we’re hopeful we haven’t seen the last of Tom and the gang just yet. The full first series is available on dvd from next week.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

We must also say goodbye to Count Arthur Strong, whose second series goes out with a bang at 10:45pm on Tuesday evening over on BBC One. Unless you’re in Northern Ireland or Wales, in which case it does so at 11:10pm. Or if you’re in Scotland, in which case there’ll be a slightly smaller bang (it’ll be more of a bump, really), at 10:40pm on Wednesday evening instead.

Anyway, after years of plugging away, Arthur (Steve Delaney) finally hits the big time this week when he gets a job as a TV psychic – only to let the fame go to his head. Meanwhile, Michael (Rory Kinnear) has a rather unique reaction to a tempting job offer, one that causes his health to suffer. Given Kinnear’s fate in The Casual Vacancy, we’re rooting for him here!

Of course, whilst the Graham Linehan co-penned series is coming to an end (for now), Delaney is current out on tour with the Count, and you can catch a full list of dates over on his website. He’s also recently released a book, which you can get here.

TAKE A SEAT…

Whilst we have new shows to savour and others to say goodbye to, there’s a few others that continue their successful runs this week.

© Tim Bret Day

© Tim Bret Day

Catastrophe – the smash hit show from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney continues apace on Monday evening at 10:05pm, though House of Fools fans may want to catch up via 4+1 at 11:05pm instead!

In this fifth episode, Rob and Sharon plan their wedding, but Rob’s plans to throw a surprise birthday party are scuppered when his Boston bosses fire him during a video call, and his mother (special guest star Carrie Fisher) reveals a big secret of his to Sharon.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

On Sunday evening, part two of The Casual Vacancy airs at 9pm on BBC One. The star-studded adaptation of JK Rowling’s novel of the same name features Richard Glover and Rufus Jones in its ensemble cast, with the former particularly playing against reality as a real nasty piece of work!

Sadly as we went to press on this week’s SHRN, images from this second episode remain under embargo, so stay tuned for those later this week. What we can tell you, however, is that it picks up straight from where the last one left off: with the townsfolk of Pagford left shocked by posts online that are seemingly coming from a dead man.

With the various factions of the town on tenterhooks at one another, a dinner party is scheduled, but things quickly spiral out of control. Elsewhere in the Fields, an addiction appears to be weakening, giving Krystal fresh hope for the future of her family.

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

The new series of Uncle also continues on Tuesday evening at 10pm (again, clashing with Cockroaches – thank gawd for catchup services, eh?) on BBC Three.  Starring Nick Helm and Elliot Spencer Gillot, alongside Nicholas BurnsDaniel Lawrence Taylor and the criminally underrated Daisy Haggard, the show is as puerile yet oddly touching as ever.

This week, Andy (Helm) tries to prove how mature he is to his latest love interest, while Errol (Spencer Gillot) wants to show a girl how cool he is, and Sam (Haggard) is desperate to impress Ben’s girlfriend, Veronica (Burns and special guest star Gemma Whelan of Game of Thrones and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains fame). Unfortunately their efforts do not go well, forcing the trio to resort to deception in order to make a good impression.

ENJOY THE SHOW…

Londoners have it good at the moment! Not only do they have a Kim Noble residency at the Soho Theatre to savour at the moment, but this week sees them get a Rachel Stubbings fronted film night too. And next week brings the return of Richard Sandling‘s live nights, and a mini-residency for Sarah Kendall. For more news on live events, check out news page!

TVO IS FIVE

We’ve been celebrating our fifth anniversary this month, with a couple of reflective articles on our news pages, and a number of our regulars sending us video messages wishing us a very happy birthday. Kind of. The video below features, in order of appearance: Rachel StubbingsColin HoultDave BrownJames CookBob PipeDave McNeillKaty BrandNeil ColePhil WhelansJames WrenSpencer MillmanWaen ShepherdJacqueline WrightHolly Jane ShearsRufus JonesStephen Evans and Tony Way.

Our huge thanks to all involved – and we’ve got a few more messages coming through to give you Part Two very soon, so stay peeled!

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

The Cloud for Linehan, Buxton & Bea

9 Feb

© BBC

Graham Linehan and Adam Buxton have teamed up to write a new space-set tv pilot, according to Radio Times.

The Cloud will feature a hapless crew on board a data hub floating above the earth, protecting the vast amounts of information humanity now hoards of its endless devices. Information such as selfies, kitten pictures and porn. Lots of porn.

No word yet on whether the show will include any aliens or sutin, but signed up for the non-broadcast pilot is none other than Aisling Bea. She’ll be joined by Jamie Demetriou (Cockroaches, Bill), and as soon as we hear more info, if any, we’ll let you know.

Buxton, of course, is perhaps best known for his work as one half of seminal comedy duo Adam & Joe, though international readers may remember his guest appearance in The IT Crowd, written by Linehan. You can here the two writers chat to one another in this BBC Radio 4 show, Chain Reaction, via iPlayer now.

So Hot Right Now #17

9 Feb

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

YOU SAY GOODBYE…

This week sees the Comedic Guard of 2015 begin to change for the first time, as January’s new shows begin to wrap up, and February’s new shows start to arrive. Sadly, this means we must say our goodbyes to two firm favourites already: Love in Recovery and Crims, both of which end this week.

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

The sublime Love in Recovery wraps up on Wednesday 11th February, with the sixth and final instalment of Radio 4’s touching comic drama. Written by Pete Jackson, the series follows the lives of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting group, made up of characters portrayed by Sue Johnston, John Hannah, Eddie Marsan, Rebecca Front and Paul Kaye, whilst Julia Deakin plays village hall cleaner Marion.

This week we turn our focus away from the individual tales of each recovering alcoholic, as the group are forced to leave their meeting room to try and rescue one of their members from a nearby pub. As it all comes full circle for the gang, we can’t help but hope we haven’t heard the last of them yet.

 If you missed previous installements, you can catch all previous episodes except Episode One on iPlayer now, but be quick – as Episode Two will vanish in four days time…

© Hal Shinnie / BBC

On Thursday 12th February, we also say a fond farewell to Crims – as the BBC Three sitcom from the pens of Mongrels writer Adam Kay and Grandma’s House writer Dan Swimer airs its sixth and final episode at 10pm, with Tracy Ann Oberman once again making a guest appearance.

It’s another firm favourite, as Dawn (Cariad Lloyd) is to receive a commendation for her crackdown on drug use in the institution, and Creg (Ricky Champ) is forced into a difficult position when he accidentally lets the collected substances go missing on his watch. Let’s just say, this episode features the best comedic sandwich consumption since Arnold Rimmer ate a triple fried egg sarnie with chilli sauce and chutney.

When the show began, it was easy to believe the focus would remain entirely on Luke and Jasan, brilliantly played by Elis James and Kadiff Kirwan, but as the series has developed, Dawn, Creg, Marcel (the sublime Theo Barklem Biggs) and the rest of the gang have become just as important to the success of the show. We’re certainly hoping we haven’t seen the last of Crims yet.

If you have missed previous episodes, you can catch up on iPlayer now. There’s currently no sign of a dvd or blu-ray release, but the episodes are now becoming available to own via Amazon Digital, so keep an eye on your preferred digital store for the whole run soon.

…AND I SAY HELLO!

Sunday evening brings us a brand new show, in the form of JK Rowling’s comic drama The Casual Vacancy, which features Rufus Jones and Richard Glover in its top notch cast.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Julia McKenzie (Miss Marple), Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes), Rory Kinnear (Count Arthur Strong), Monica Dolan (Sightseers), Silas Carson (The IT Crowd) and Emilia Fox (Silent Witness) join Glover & Jones in the three part mini-series, which centres on the seemingly idyllic English village of Pagford.

With it’s cobbled market square and ancient abbey, Pagford looks quaint and charming to all who enter. Behind the pretty façade however, is a town at war: rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.

When a local councillor dies suddenly, the town is left in shock, and the empty seat becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the village has yet seen. Three candidates are soon lined up: Miles Mollison, Colin Wall and Simon Price – played by Rufus Jones, Simon McBurney and Richard Glover respectively.

Episode One airs on BBC One this Sunday evening at 9pm, and you can see our preview gallery alongside clips and trailers, over yonder.

© BBC/Baby Cow/Chris Brock

© BBC/Baby Cow/Chris Brock

Tuesday 10th February also sees Series Two of Uncle begin on BBC Three at 10pm, once again starring Nick Helm and Elliot Spencer-Gillot alongside Sophie Haggard (Psychoville), Nicholas Burns and Daniel Lawrence Taylor.

A year after Andy (Helm) was banned from seeing his nephew Errol (Spencer-Gillot) for being a destructive influence, the unlikely duo are hanging out in secret, with the latter having a broken voice and the former being as broken in general as ever.

It’s a welcome return for a very popular show, and you can see what TVOer Mog thought of its return very soon.

CONTINUING ADVENTURES IN ONION LAND

It would, of course, be foolish to focus only on the newly arriving and the soon departing, as lots of other great shows vie for your attention in the middle of their current runs this week.

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

Monday 9th February at 10:05pm sees Episode Four of Catastrophe air on Channel 4. Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s charming yet brutally honest sitcom focuses on an American man and an Irish woman in London, forced to make a whirlwind romance develop into something more when they find themselves expecting a child.

This week, Sharon’s parents head over from Ireland, only to have a difficult first encounter with Rob, as the subject of pregnancy is broached.  More health complications for Sharon and the baby also arise, and Rob’s secret friendship with Chris backfires in a way he could never have imagined.

As the story unfolds and becomes ever more complex and rewarding, it’s increasingly a delight to spend half an hour with realistic, flawed characters you can’t help but like, even if you’re not sure why.  The show thunders on with rave reviews, and a second series commissioned, so if you’ve not caught the bug yet, you can catch up with the series now via 4oD.

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

Episode Five of Cockroaches airs on Tuesday 10th February at 10pm over on ITV2. The post-apocalyptic comedy stars Daniel Lawrence Taylor (How Not to Life Your Life), Esher Smith, Jack Whitehall and Tom Davis (House of Fools, Murder in Successville), alongside a string of big name guest stars such as Dan Skinner, Alexander Armstrong, Caroline Quentin, Robert Bathurst and Nigel Planer.

This week, Tom’s mother-in-law Cathy (Caroline Quentin) arrives at the camp with her new boyfriend Pete, who happens to be his former PE teacher – and an overbearing alpha-male American, played by the initimitable Rich Hall. Meanwhile, Suze is sceptical when a stranger called Ash (Jamie Winstone, Dead Set) arrives from the woods claiming not to have seen a single person for the past three years.

It’s another suitably bonkers episode, and if you like what you see, you can catch up with past episodes via ITV Player, or pre-order series on dvd for release February 23rd.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

Also on Tuesday 10th February, the sixth and penultimate episode of the second series of Count Arthur Strong airs on BBC One at different times, depending on your location.

Viewers in England can see the show at (shock horror), the same time as last week: 10:45pm, whilst those watching in Northern Ireland and Wales don’t have to wait as long as usual, with the episode moved up to 11:10pm. Viewings in Scotland, annoyingly, have to wait almost 24 hours, with the episode airing at 10:40pm on Wednesday instead.

Despite the crazy scheduling, this episode – once more from the pens of star Steve Delaney and Graham Linehan (best known for The IT Crowd and Father Ted), is perhaps the series highlight: as a trouser fire causes Arthur to move in with Michael. His claims of being low maintenance clash with Michael’s Game of Thrones obsession, so Arthur turns to John the Watch for companionship.

Brilliantly structured, and surprisingly heart-warming, this episode works better still when you know the characters well enough to enjoy spending time in their company, but if you only watched one episode this year, this could be the one for you. Either way, catch up on the series now via iPlayer over yonder.

© Comedy Central UK

© Comedy Central UK

Meanwhile, the fifth episode of Drunk History UK airs at 9:30pm on Monday 9th over on Comedy Central UK, once more featuring famous British comedians getting absolutely plastered in the name of reciting tales from the past – which are then re-enacted by a top notch cast.

Tony Way, Cardinal Burns, Rebecca Front, Marek Larwood and Mat Horne have appeared across the series so far, and tonight’s edition keeps the talent levels up high: as Marc Wooten (La La Land, Shirley Ghostman) returns to the show, along Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner).

With Russell Kane and Alex Horne on story telling duties, and Tony Way again making an appearance, it’s another great excuse to watch comedy talents being very silly indeed. Enjoy!

LIVE HAPPENINGS

There’s lots brewing at the moment, with Kim Noble in the middle of his run at the Soho Theatre, a special Forgery Club for Greenpeace this week, Rachel Stubbings hosting a film night next Monday, Tony Law wrapping up his Tone Zone tour, and tickets for Sarah Kendall at Soho Theatre later this month, and Angelos & Barry later this year on sale now.  Keep an eye on our news pages for the latest live news as and when we can throw it your way!

TVO IS FIVE

We’ve been celebrating our fifth anniversary this month, with a couple of reflective articles on our news pages, and a number of our regulars sending us video messages wishing us a very happy birthday. Kind of. The video below features, in order of appearance: Rachel StubbingsColin HoultDave BrownJames CookBob PipeDave McNeillKaty BrandNeil ColePhil WhelansJames WrenSpencer MillmanWaen ShepherdJacqueline WrightHolly Jane ShearsRufus JonesStephen Evans and Tony Way.

Our huge thanks to all involved – and we’ve got a few more messages coming through to give you Part Two very soon, so stay peeled!

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

ALT CAB or Where Did It Go Wrong?

4 Feb
© CANAL

© CANAL

A new and extremely limited run exhibition on the transformation of alternative comedy across the 1980s and early 90s will take place at London gallery CANAL later this month.

ALT CAB or Where Did It Go Wrong? utilises archive material from the period as well as a programme of performances and discussions to track the journey of the movement from its initial reactionary beginnings against Thatcherism and the comedy mainstream, through to stadium gigs, star status and its placement as ‘the new rock’n’roll’, slap bang in the heart of a new mainstream.

With film footage, artefacts and ephemera relating to the aesthetic, innovativeness and political concerns of the live movement, the exhibition is the brainchild of former comedy promoter turned gallery curator Monika Bobinska and comedy director/producer/performer Dec Munro.

The linked live program includes an evening with Simon Munnery revisiting some of his classic works, a live installation by Ivor Dembina and a full length show by the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society.

Munnery will also be giving a talk after his show, in which he’ll discuss alternative comedy and the infamous Cluub Zarathustra – which was a regular haunt for Kevin EldonWaen Shepherd, Graham Linehan and Julian Barratt, amongst many others.

The exhibition runs from February 13th to March 7th, with a couple of additional live events on March 10th & 14th. For more information, visit the CANAL website.

As no doubt many of you will be unable to attend, as a treat below, we’ve included a tv pilot made by members of the Cluub Zarathustra gang in 1996 for Channel 4. Entitled The League Against Tedium, it features Simon Munnery, Stewart Lee, Kevin Eldon, Roger Mann, Sally Phillips, Jason Freeman and Richard Thomas, and is a fascinating look at the movement which paved the way for Ealing Live, Darkplace and The Mighty Boosh. There’s also a chance to see a then 27 year old Julian Barratt performing the kind of material he used to explore at those events. Enjoy…

So Hot Right Now #16

2 Feb

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

THE VELVET ONION IS FIVE

This week marks our fifth anniversary, and to celebrate, a number of our regulars sent us video messages wishing us a very happy birthday. Kind of. The video below features, in order of appearance: Rachel StubbingsColin HoultDave BrownJames CookBob PipeDave McNeillKaty BrandNeil ColePhil WhelansJames WrenSpencer MillmanWaen ShepherdJacqueline WrightHolly Jane ShearsRufus JonesStephen Evans and Tony Way.

Our huge thanks to all involved – and we’ve got a few more messages coming through to give you Part Two very soon, so stay peeled!

THE WEEK IN TV & RADIO

A couple of regular shows wrapped up last week, but we’ve still got a number of great things on telly to savour across the week. Each one is as important as the other to us, as has always been The Velvet Onion way, so for ease of understanding, we’ll tackle them in chronological order.

MONDAY: DRUNK HISTORY

© Comedy Central UK

© Comedy Central UK

Airing at 9:30pm on Monday 26th over on Comedy Central UK, the fourth episode of Drunk History UK once more sees famous British comedians get absolutely plastered in the name of reciting tales from the past – which are then re-enacted by a top notch cast.

With the likes of Tony Way, Seb CardinalDustin Demri-Burns, Tom Rosenthal, Mat Horne, Marek Larwood, Tom Stourton, Alex Owen, Ben Bailey Smith and Rebecca Front on re-enactment duties across the series, tonight’s edition also features Ben Ashenden, Russell Kane and Joy Lycett getting hammered. Enjoy.

MONDAY: CATASTROPHE

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

Monday 2nd February at 10pm brings us Episode Three of Catastrophe – the brand new comedy from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, in which an American man and an Irish woman fall in love in London whilst navigating the choppy waters of their increasingly complicated lives.

In this week’s edition, Sharon’s hormones plague her with waves of different emotions, and she has a chance meeting with an old flame (Phil Nichol), which leads to dinner. Meanwhile, Rob struggles to generate advertising business, since he has very few contacts in London, and begins a clandestine friendship with Chris, who is married to a woman Sharon can’t stand.

After wowing critics and audiences alike, Catastrophe will be returning for a second series, so it’s naturally a treat to watch the story unfold a little more this week.  If you missed the first two episodes, you can catch up with the series now via 4oD, whilst iPlayer houses Sharon and Rob’s last minute guest appearance on The Graham Norton Show last Friday.

TUESDAY: COCKROACHES

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

Tuesday 3rd February at 10pm sees Episode Four of Cockroaches air on ITV2. The post-apocalyptic comedy stars Daniel Lawrence Taylor (How Not to Life Your Life), Esher Smith, Jack Whitehall and Tom Davis, alongside a string of big name guest stars such as Dan Skinner, Alexander Armstrong, Caroline Quentin, Robert Bathurst and Nigel Planer.

In this week’s episode the survivors race to find an antidote after the camp’s children turn green – believing they may have nuclear radiation sickness or have become vampires – and the Doctor has gone power mad. If they do not find a cure, Tom may be forced to go through with a grisly deed.

As to be expected, you can catch up with past episodes via ITV Player, and the series will also be released on dvd on February 23rd.

TUESDAY (and Wednesday): COUNT ARTHUR STRONG

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

Also on Tuesday 3rd February comes Episode Five of the second series of Count Arthur Strong – airing on BBC One at FOUR different times, depending on your location.

Viewers in England can see it at the slightly later than usual time of 10:45pm, whilst those watching in Northern Ireland have to wait until 11:40pm. However, if you’re in Wales, there’s an even sillier timeslot, as it airs at 12:15am – and viewers in Scotland can see the episode on Wednesday at 10:40pm!

Episode Five, once more from the pens of star Steve Delaney and Graham Linehan (best known for The IT Crowd and Father Ted), sees a documentary team arrive to film a profile of Michael, but Arthur threatens to steal the show with his new career. Fun stuff, as ever.

WEDNESDAY: LOVE IN RECOVERY

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

Wednesday 4th February brings us Episode Five of Love in Recovery on Radio 4. Written by Pete Jackson, the series follows the lives of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting group, made up of characters portrayed by Sue Johnston, John Hannah, Eddie Marsan, Rebecca Front and Paul Kaye, whilst Julia Deakin plays village hall cleaner Marion.

This week’s episode focuses on Kaye’s character, Danno, as he deals with the death of his father after returning from his memorial service – in the pub down the road.  If you missed previous installements, you can catch all previous episodes on iPlayer now, but be quick – as Episode One will vanish in four days time…

THURSDAY: CRIMS

©  Hal Shinnie / BBC

© Hal Shinnie / BBC

Thursday 5th February brings Episode Five of Crims – the new BBC Three sitcom from the pens of Mongrels writer Adam Kay and Grandma’s House writer Dan Swimer – at 10pm. And gawd, have we been waiting to rave about this one.

As ever, starring Elis James and Kadiff Kirwan, alongside Cariad Lloyd, Ricky Champ and Theo Barklem Biggs, with a guest appearance once again by Toast of London‘s Tracy Ann Oberman, this week’s episode draws on Adam Kay’s musical comedy background in the best possible way, as plans for the Young Offenders Institute to put on its own theatre production, are hijacked by Marcel, and turned into a musical interpretation of Twilight, which poor ol’ Luke has to write in 24 hours.

Typically bonkers, with charming tunes and possibly the best Elton John joke ever, this is possibly our favourite episode of the run, and the cast and crew seem to agree. If you only see one episode, make sure it’s this one, but if you have missed previous episodes, you can catch up on iPlayer now.

SATURDAY: HORRIBLE HISTORY’S SPECIAL

©  Phil Miller / Laura Rawlinson / LionTV / BBC

© Phil Miller / Laura Rawlinson / LionTV / BBC

On Saturday 6th February, Horrible Histories returns for a one-off special focusing on the story of King John and the Magna Carta.  As you can see from the image above, comic actor Ben Miller leads the cast as King John, by sheer coincidence, just a few months after he appeared as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Doctor Who!

Whilst the original HH team moved on to create Yonderland for Sky One, and the forthcoming movie Bill, regulars Jim Howick and Simon Farnaby return for this special, with Farnaby’s famous character Death now hosting his own chat show.

As fun as ever, this transitional episode prior to the next series (with a mostly new leading cast), airs on Saturday evening at 5:15pm on BBC Two.  The team have also made a series of new videos promoting internet safety for children – you can see Farnaby’s contribution (alongside Matt Baynton) below.

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

So Hot Right Now #14

19 Jan

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

CATASTROPHE FOR SHARON HORGAN

Monday 19th sees the launch of Catastrophe – the brand new comedy from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, in which an American man and an Irish woman fall in love in London whilst navigating the choppy waters of their increasingly complicated lives.

© Tim Bret Day

© Tim Bret Day

With the pair embarking on a wild affair, Rob is forced to abandon plans to return to the US when Sharon falls pregnant and he vows to stick around and provide the support she so desperately needs.

First developed after a hugely popular web short, Kinky Sex, the show is hilarious and very, very rude, and sees Horgan’s welcome return to writing tv comedy of her own, following Dead Boss and Pulling.

With Ashley Jensen (Extras) and Mark Bonnar (Psychoville) in supporting roles, Catastrophe is full of promise and well worth your attention.  You can see a trailer for the show below, and catch the first episode on Monday 19th January at 10pm on Channel 4.  It will, of course, be available on 4oD after transmission, and we hope to bring you some catastrophic exclusive very soon, so stay peeled.

TELLY CONTINUATIONS

Catastrophe isn’t the only TVO related show on telly this week, as Drunk HistoryCockroaches, Count Arthur Strong and Crims all continue their runs on Comedy Central, ITV2, BBC One and BBC Three, respectively.

© Comedy Central / Tiger Aspect

© Comedy Central / Tiger Aspect

Drunk History – airing Monday evening at 10pm, with repeats throughout the week – features top UK comedians getting bladdered, then talking their way through key moments in history… which are then re-enacted by a team of top notch comedy talent.

Based on the hit US show, Episode One featured Tony Way, Rebecca Front, Dustin Demi-Burns, Matt Horne, Marek Larewood and many more – most of whom should be appearing in later episodes, too.  Sadly, as we went to press, information on Episode Two is thin on the ground, but we’ll update this page with more info after transmission.

If you’re worried about the clash with Catastrophe, the show gets repeated on Tuesday evening at 11pm, and it will be available on demand via SkyGo and Now TV after transmission. For more info, and some preview clips to savour, visit the Comedy Central UK website.

© Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

Cockroaches – ITV2’s new post-apocalyptic comedy starring Daniel Lawrence Taylor (How Not to Live Your Life, Hunderby, The IT Crowd), Esher Smith, Jack Whitehall and Tom Davis continues on Tuesday evening at 10pm.

The show is set following a nuclear holocaust, as the remnants of the British population do their best to get on with life.  The first episode was shot by acclaimed cinematographer Laurie Rose (Sightseers, High Rise, Kill List), and guest stars across the rest of the run include Alexander Armstrong (Armstrong & Miller), Nigel Planer (The Young Ones) and Dan Skinner.

In Episode Two, newly appointed leader Tom struggles with people fighting, a broken water supply system, and the ever-present threat from cannibals. Elsewhere, Suze attempts to set up a school, and daughter Laura is forced to answer questions about her mum and Oscar. Caroline Quentin guests in this episode, and you can catch up via ITV Player now.

© Freemantle Productions / BBC

© Freemantle Productions / BBC

Directly after Cockroaches, hop on over to BBC One to catch the third episode of Count Arthur Strong‘s second series at 10:35pm.  Unless you’re in Wales, in which case, it’s on at 11:05pm.  And if you’re in Scotland, it’s on at 11:35pm!

In case you’re new to the show, it’s the brainchild of Steve Delaney, who plays the titular character, and is written by Delaney with Graham Linehan of The IT Crowd, Big Train and Father Ted fame.  Bond star Rory Kinnear co-stars as the son of Arthur’s former variety partner, turned biographer and generally put-upon collaborator.

This week, Arthur plans to tackle noise pollution by running for the local election.  He gathers together a crack team which cannot be ignored… or can they?

©  Robert Viglasky / BBC

© Robert Viglasky / BBC

Lastly, but by no means least, Crims returns on Thursday evening at 10pm on BBC Three.  The sitcom starring Ellis George, Kadiff Kirwan, Theo Barklem-Biggs, Ricky Champ and Cariad Lloyd is written by former Mongrels writer Adam Kay alongside Grandma’s House writer Dan Swimer, and is set in a young offenders institute.

This week, put upon accidental criminal Luke decides to propose to his girlfriend Gemma, in an attempt to send a clear message to her new flatmate Roger.  However, first he must try and get her parent’s permission, and her brother Jason isn’t helping.  Meanwhile, Isaac struggles to give up snitching, and Dawn continues to fend off the advances of hapless Creg.

It’s another great episode from a sitcom that just gets better and better, and we sure hope you’ll be tuning in.  You can catch up on previous episodes, including Sylvester McCoy’s star guest turn in Episode Two, via iPlayer now.

RADIO LAYERS

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

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

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

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

© BBC

The show features a combination of new material and vintage pieces from Colin’s seminal Edinburgh shows, and reunites the team behind those via supporting artists Stephen Evans, Dan Snelgrove and Zoe Gardner, produced by Sam Bryant (Alice’s Wunderland, I Regress).

You can hear the latest episode at 11:00pm on Thursday night – again on Radio 4, with previous episodes available now on iPlayer.

Elsewhere, Colin continues his five-weekly vlog posts from a range of characters trapped in his mind.  You can see all the latest videos below.

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

So Hot Right Now #12

5 Jan

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

LOVE IN RECOVERY

This week sees the launch of a brilliant new radio 4 comedy drama, Love in Recovery, featuring a top-notch cast of astronomical star status, including our very own Paul Kaye.

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

The show is written by Pete Jackson and inspired by his own road to recovery, following the lives of five very different recovering alcoholics: plain-speaking and fun-loving Julie (Sue Johnson, The Royal Family), sarcastic and beleaguered journalist Simon (John Hannah, A Touch of Cloth), kind and naive group leader Andy (Eddie Marsan, The World’s End), snobby and spikey ex-banker Fiona (Rebecca Front, Psychobitches) and dodgy geezer with a heart of gold Danno (Paul Kaye).

They are joined by Marion (Julia Deakin, Spaced), the cleaner of the church hall where the show is set, as the group get to know each other, learn to hate each outer, argue, moan, laugh, fall apart, fall in love and tell their stories.

You can hear Episode One at 11:15pm this Wednesday evening on BBC Radio 4, with the episode available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

THE CARNIVAL RETURNS

Not content with bouncing five instalments of fried comedic gold at us each week via his YouTube channel, the eternally hard-working Colin Hoult returns to BBC Radio 4 this week with the long-awaited second series of Carnival of Monsters.

© BBC

© BBC

The show features a combination of new material and vintage pieces from Colin’s seminal Edinburgh shows, and reunites the team behind those via supporting artists Stephen Evans, Dan Snelgrove and Zoe Gardner.

Once more produced by Sam Bryant (Alice’s Wunderland, I Regress), Carnival of Monsters features several of our favourites: Andy Parker, Anna Mann, Eddie Cortinez… you name it, they’re here, all as monstrous yet oddly delightful as ever.

The show will be available on iPlayer after transmission on Wednesday at 11pm, and you can also catch up with the latest videos from Colin’s YouTube channel over yonder.

THE COUNT AND THE CRIMS

Two new series appear on our tellyboxes this week, with the return of Count Arthur Strong and new BBC Three sitcom Crims.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

The former, Count Arthur Strong, has been given a big boost of support from the BBC – with the show being promoted to BBC One in the perennial Mrs Browns Boys slot of 10:35pm.  Written once again by star Steve Delaney and IT Crowd head honcho Graham Linehanthe show polarised audiences in its first season two years ago, but a more mainstream timeslot may just see it find its audience at last.

In the first episode, the former variety star and his former showbiz partner’s son stage a heist to retrieve a salacious manuscript of Arthur’s semi autobiographical novel. Rory Kinnear and Chris Rhyman co-star, and you can see Episode One on Tuesday evening.

© BBC / Adam Lawrence

© BBC / Adam Lawrence

Over on BBC Three, brand new prison based comedy Crims launches this Thursday, in which cult standup Elis George and newcomer Kadiff Karwan star as two hapless friends who find themselves in a robbery situation and get sent to prison for 600 days.

Surrounded by guards and inmates even more stupid than them, the duo must use all their wits to stay out of trouble… except they don’t really have any.

Written by former Mongrels writer – and amazing musical standup – Adam Kay, alongside former Grandma’s House writer Dan Swimer, the show also features Cariad Lloyd (Cardinal Burns), Ricky Champ (Dead Boss) and a brilliant guest appearance in Episode Two by former Doctor Who star Sylvester McCoy.

Former Big Train star Tracey Ann Oberman also features in Episode Four, and from what we’ve seen of the show, it’s a gloriously ridiculous sitcom that we think will be right up your street.

We’ll have an exclusive interview with Adam Kay for you later this week, and you can catch Episode One on Thursday night at 10pm over on BBC Three.

GLOVER IN THE WOOD

This Friday sees the UK release of Disney’s blockbuster musical Into the Woods, and if you’ve been watching the trailers, you may have spotted a TVO face in the midsts of it all.

© Disney

© Disney

The film stars Meryl Street, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracy Ullman and Johnny Depp – as well as our very own Richard Glover as The Steward.

Based on the hit musical by Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods will give us another chance to hear the delightful Mr Glover’s singing voice on the big screen, which we’re sure he’s loving! Already out in US cinemas, the film can be seen in the UK from the end of this week.

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

So Hot Right Now #11

22 Dec

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

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY FOR TVO TELLY FANS!

As Noddy Holder once sang: IT’S CHRIIIIIIISSSTTTTMAAAAAAASSSSS!!!!!! Which means there’s a sudden glut of top notch telly to be savoured, and that naturally includes a bevy of TVO regulars on our screens once again.  We’ve got more news to share with you below this epic round-up, but first off, we’ve got to celebrate just how much we can enjoy this week!

Monday 22nd December

© Sky

© Sky

The crux of that comes on Monday 22nd December, with six new shows and a vintage repeat to savour across the evening. First up at 5:30pm on Sky 1 is Katy Brand‘s Little Cracker getting a welcome re-airing.

First shown in 2012, the episode – like the rest of the Little Cracker series which inspired Moone Boy – focuses on a key event from it’s writer’s childhood Christmasses dramatised and exaggerated for comedic value.  Katy Brand’s edition centres on the moment ten-year-old Katy made an earth-shattering discovery on Christmas Eve, and in one fell swoop the magic and sparkle of the festive season vanished. All is not lost when an unlikely opportunity to save Christmas presents itself.

Stick with Sky1 at 8:30pm for the last in the current series of Trollied featuring Aisling Bea. In tonight’s episode, it’s Charity Day at Valco supermarket, with a big prize draw called into question, a sponsored bike ride, shaved legs and a giant pain-relief tablet costume. Mad as ever.

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Over on Channel 4 at 8pm is the Gadget Man’s Guide To Christmas in which Richard Ayoade presents a gadget-packed guide to the festive season, joined by techno-loving celebrity friends including Jonathan Ross, Stephen Merchant, Robert Webb, Jessica Hynes and Reece Shearsmith.

In this hour long special, Richard and his guests reveal new ways of doing the Christmas shopping, surviving the winter weather, cooking Christmas dinner, wrapping gifts, dealing with snow, handling fog and getting through long nights. They also look at a smartphone breathalyser, a pitch-shifting karaoke machine and Richard makes a festive feast. Bring it on!

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

After Gadget Man, we heartily recommend you switch over to BBC Two, where the new series of The Wrong Mans begins at 9pm. The show featuring writers James Corden and Matthew Baynton as two idiots accidentally caught up in a huge espionage plot, was a smash hit last year, and featured a huge array of incredible guest stars, including our very own Rufus Jones and Dan Skinner amongst them.

This year, Baynton and Corden are again joined by a top notch cast including Dawn French and Rebecca Front, and the show is directed by once more by Jim Field-Smith – formerly a member of criminally underrated sketch troup Dutch Elm Conservatoire alongside Rufus Jones, Dan Skinner, Stephen Evans and Jordan Long, who you may recognise from Junglophilia, World of Wrestling, Mongrels and the first series of The Wrong Mans!

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

The first two episodes are being shown in a double bill on Monday 22nd from 9pm, with Episodes Three and Four – featuring a guest appearance from Fergus Craig as a pilot – airing tomorrow evening at the same time. American fans shouldn’t fret either – The Wrong Mans is a co-production with Hulu, so should be on your screens over there in the New Year.

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

Stick with BBC Two at 10pm for a double bill of musical mayhem. First up is Never Mind The Buzzcocks Christmas special to round off the series in style.  As you can see, the festive edition got everyone in the spirit of Christmas, and you’ll probably never look at turkey the same way again.

Joining host Rhod Gilbert and team captains Noel Fielding and Phill Jupitus for the madness are legendary Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, his polar opposite Louis ‘X-Factor’ Walsh, singer Melissa Steel and comedian Lloyd Langford. There’s even a guest appearance by the actual Snowman. A must see!

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Straight after Buzzcocks is the final episode of Brian Pern: A Life in Rock – the madcap mockumentary from Rhys Thomas and Simon Day which features a massive ensemble cast of real life celebrities and great comic talents.  Michael Kitchen, Paul Whitehouse, Nigel Havers Lucy Montgomery and Tony Way are joined this week by Mel C, Chrissie Hynde, Roy Wood, Roger Allum and loads more as Brian tries to record a Christmas album.

There’s a glorious set of pastiches of past pop favourites on offer in this week’s episode, including Simon and Lucy’s homage to Barcelona, the Thotch lads getting all Chas N Dave on us, and the glorious Black Christmas.  Mel C and Pepita get to fight it out over the microphone, Roy Wood’s producer wants to put a till on everything, and the best is saved till last as Peter Gabriel makes another appearance.

As we bid Brian a fond farewell, don’t forget to catch up on our interview with him, as well as series creators Rhys Thomas and Simon Day, and we hope he’s back for more soon!

Both Buzzcocks and Brian Pern happen to clash with another TVO favourite, but thanks to the wonders of 4+1, that’s not necessarily a problem. At 10pm on Channel 4 (or 11pm on 4+1), is the special final episode of Derek starring Ricky Gervais.

© Channel 4 / Ray Burmiston

© Channel 4 / Ray Burmiston

The second series introduced characters played by Tony Way and Colin Hoult, and Colin features in this grande finale, in which Broadhill regulars are busy planning the wedding of the year.  However, Kev’s behaviour proves too much for Hannah, while Vicky prepares to fill her boss’s shoes, and Derek is just trying to hold everything together.

Previous finales from Gervais have tended to tackle surprisingly weighty issues in brilliant dramatic form – whatever anyone thought of Extras or Life’s Too Short, for example, there’s no denying they went out with a bang, so we’d definitely recommend you give this one a chance.

Tuesday 23rd December

If you’ve caught everything from Monday 22nd live, or you’re fully up to date from catchup services, then stick near your remote, cos there’s more to savour throughout the week. On Tuesday 23rd, at 9:30pm, we have the final episode of Psychobitches Series Two to savour over on Sky Arts HD, and it’s set to be as magnificent as the rest.

© Sky Arts

© Sky Arts

The highlight of the show looks set to be Richard E Grant’s guest appearance as Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as he interrupts a psychiatric session for grotesque witches played by Matthew Baynton, Kevin Eldon and Cardinal Burns star Dustrin Demri-Burns.  Also visiting Rebecca Front’s psychoanalyst this week are Gracie Fields (The IT Crowd guest star Frances Barber), Fanny Cradock (the other half of Cardinal Burns, Seb Cardinal), Hildegard of Bingen (Doctor Who’s Michelle Gomez), the Statue of Liberty (Toast of London‘s Doon Mackichan), Shirley Temple (Benidorm’s Sheila Reid), Daphne du Maurier (House of Fools star Morgana Robinson), Zeus’s wife Hera (Goodness Gracious Me legend Mera Syal) and Hindu goddess Kali (La La Land‘s Marc Wootton). Phew!

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

That’s not all, either, as 10pm brings us the festive special of Man Down on Channel 4.  The show, starring Greg Davies as idiotic teacher Dan, is produced by Spencer Millman (of The Mighty BooshMan to Man and The Inbetweeners fame), and the first series was hugely popular on its initial airing late in 2013.

However, the show suffered a near-fatal blow earlier this year, with the tragic death of co-star Rik Mayall – who injected so much life into proceedings (as always) taunting Dan as his vindictive father in a pitch-perfect casting choice.  Nevertheless, the show must go on, and this special – ahead of a second series – is the first chance we have to see the show without him.

Stephanie Cole guest stars as Aunt Nesta, and there are a few familiar faces for TVO fans on board too: with Justin Edwards making an appearance as a solicitor, and the excellent Ramon Tikaram (star of This Life, brother of singer Tanita Tikaram, and Mighty Boosh guest star as Banoo) also involved.  Al Campbell – aka Barry Shitpeas – is directing once again, and it looks set to be another fine addition to the festive canon.

Also on telly that evening are the aforementioned third and fourth episodes of The Wrong Mans, plus Sky 1 are repeating Treasure Island across Tuesday and Wednesday at 5pm each day. This adaptation starring Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood and Donald Sutherland from 2012 also featured a cavalcade of British telly talent, including Philip Glennister, Daniel Mays, Shaun Parkes, Nathan Barley star Nina Sosyana and our very own Julian Barratt as Thomas Redruth.

Christmas Eve

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

Speaking of Wednesday, Christmas Eve brings us the Not Going Out Christmas Special, in which the will-they-won’t-they tension between Lee (Boosh radio series star Lee Mack) and Lucy (Sally Bretton) reaches unseen new highs, and Lee’s pint-sized dad Frank (Bobby Ball) takes him for a night on the tiles.

As ever Katy Wix co-stars, and there’s a guest appearance from Phil Cornwell as a police officer (only a week and a bit after his role as a police officer in Brian Pern, actually!). Lee Mack has indicated this may be the final ever episode, so expect it to go out on a happy note, just in case.

One last treat for Wednesday – if you happen to be watching Film Four’s repeat of Saint Trinians – see if you can spot Richard Glover as a put upon telly bod. Nice little cameo, there…

Christmas Day

©  BBC / David Venni

© BBC / David Venni

Christmas Day itself is a little short on treats, but like the rest of the country (we hope), we’ll be settling down to watch Nick Frost as Father Christmas in the Doctor Who special, Last Christmas.  Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman return as The Doctor and Clara, alongside guest stars Michael Troughton (of The New Statesmen fame), Faye Marsey and Natalie Gumede (who appeared in sitcom flop The Persuasionists with Simon Farnaby).

There’s currently no word on whether Ben Wheatley will be returning to direct further episodes of Doctor Who in the new year, but with filming set to begin in January, we’re sure to know soon enough. Last Christmas, which has been getting rave reviews so far, will air at 6:15pm on BBC One.

Over on Channel 4 in the early hours – midnight to be exact – is the Father Ted Christmas Special, A Christmassy Ted. This festive classic, written by Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews sees Ted and his fellow priests trapped in the lingerie section of a major department store, and Ted’s quick thinking resulting in him staging an award-winning rescue.  The episode is also shown on More4 across the festive season, so keep your eyes peeled if you miss it, or catch it on 4od. And really, you should own the dvd by now!

Boxing Day

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

Boxing Day brings with it another Big Fat Quiz of the Year – and whilst Noel Fielding is absent this year, his old cohort Richard Ayoade is on hand to add a bit of Onion into the mix.  He joins David Mitchell, Mel B, Sarah Millican, Kevin Bridges and Micky Flanagan as well as regular host Jimmy Carr.

There’s also guest appearances from Michael Palin, Rio Ferdinand, Lily Allen and the stars of The Inbetweeners, plus some surprises in store, so check in to Channel 4 from 9pm.

Sunday 28th December

© Pett Productions / Chris Baines

© Pett Productions / Chris Baines

Lastly, but by no means leastly, Sunday 28th December brings us the Christmas Special of House of Fools on BBC Two at 10:05pm.  This special episode of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s sublime sitcom is set on Christmas Eve, but when Bob’s present for Erik is unexpectedly engulfed in flames, the housemates go on an underground boat journey to Phil Collins’ mansion.

It’s typically glorious madness from the team, which features Matt BerryDan Skinner, Morgana Robinson and Daniel Simonsen, as well as a guest appearance once more by Reece Shearsmith – as Santa no, less. We’ll have a full preview of the episode later this week, and interviews with the cast (and new regular Ellie White) ahead of Series Two launching early next year.

SECRET SANTA SHOCKER FOR NEIL COLE

Of course, we’re celebrating all this telly, but it’s too late for Christmas. Neil Cole has exposed him, as we revealed over yonder.  Kris Kringle himself is launches his revealing autobigoraphy Secret Santa, but Neil wouldn’t take no for an answer…

Absolutely scandalous.

COLIN KEEPS ON COLLAB-ING

Another week goes by, and Colin Hoult continues his five-times-a-week quest to vlog in character.  Last week saw Anna Mann discuss credit card debt, Andy Parker tackle the Twilight saga, Eddie Cartizean dance his way into some beetroot, Thwor suffer from Season Affective Disorder, and Dom Fez tell us all about the girls that make him go CWOR!

With more videos uploaded every weekday, there’s a treat in store every day. Visit Colin’s YouTube channel now to subscribe.

AND THE REST…

There’s so much going on, a lot of which is featured on our News Page, but here’s some of what you may have missed in the last seven days.

We’ll see you throughout this week – and hope you have a very, very, Merry Christmas. Peace and love and all that jazz. Keep on peelin’.

The Count On Tour

18 Dec

© Count Arthur Strong

We’ve been getting so giddy about everyone’s tours and tour announcements lately, it’s been difficult to keep up with it all.  And now there’s another one to tell you about!

Count Arthur Strong will be touring his stage show ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ around the UK from February to May 2015, and tickets are already on sale. The man himself has said of the show: “Miss this wonderful event at your peril. If you only buy one ticket for something this year buy a ticket for this one twice and bring a friend. I promise you you won’t regret it. And if you do there must be something wrong with you. No refunds!”

The run of shows is vast; to find out where he’s performing and when click here. And to purchase tickets head on over there.

To stay on top of Count Arthur Strong news, why not check out his Facebook page or follow him on twitter? As pensioners go, he’s pretty active on social media!

Tedfest 2015!

5 Dec

© Independent

If you’re a bit mad about Father Ted, and you fancy a trip to ‘Craggy Island’ with a bunch of fellow Ted nutters, Tedfest 2015 will be right up your street.

Every year a group of Father Ted fans gather on an island north of Galway called Inis Mor for several days of silly competitions, drinking and general tomfoolery in honour of Father Ted. This next one will be the ninth Tedfest (seriously) and it’ll take place from Thursday 26th February to Sunday 1st March 2015.

You can read more about it here, where you’ll also find videos and photos aplenty from previous years’ events. Just in case you didn’t believe it was an actual thing.

Weekend Tickets for Tedfest cost €150 and can be procured here. The ticket includes entry to all the Tedfest venues and events, none of which are open to the general public, and if you book, you’ll receive a list of accommodation on the Island and the PIN Number required to book. According to the Tedfest website, the ticket does not include: “Transport, accommodation, food, drink, drugs…but you get a cup of tea when you get there!”

Brilliant.

So Hot Right Now #6

17 Nov

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

TELLY VELVETS CONTINUE

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

© Avalon Television

© Avalon Television

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

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

THE DAY THEY CAME TO SUCK OUT YOUR WALLETS

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

PLEDGE HERE

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

TOUR TIMES

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

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

AND THE REST!

As always, there’s so much going on, that we’re using Twitter to keep you informed quicker these days. Join the other 11,900+ of our regular readers by following us there, and get regular updates such as these:

Learn From The Experts

15 Nov

© comedy.co.uk

If you’ve ever fancied getting into comedy, get yourself along to the Big Comedy Conference, taking place in Clerkenwell, London on Saturday 29th November.

Organised by the British Comedy Guide, the conference  promises to give you an in on how to get on in TV and radio comedy writing, with practical advice from some of the biggest names in UK comedy. The line-up of speakers includes our very own Graham Linehan, as well as David Cohen (Horrible Histories), Andrew Allard (IT Crowd, Count Arthur Strong) – plus loads of non-Velvet Onion connected, but proper A-list, comedy writers. To see the full line-up click here.

Tickets cost £169 for the full day (9am-7pm), which includes lunch and a one-to-one session with an expert who will help you hone your own comedy project.  To register head on over here.

Matt Cuts The Mustard

4 Jul

We reported a while ago, that Mustard Comedy Magazine had produced its last ever print copy, but that it would ‘live on’ in other forms, well the good news is that it did!

The magazine is now available as an app on iTunes. The first issue has been revamped and expanded, including an extended interview with Graham Linehan looking back on The IT Crowd, Father Ted and Black Books, plus his thoughts on Twitter, TV vs Movies and the possibility of writing for Dr Who.

So even if you own an original print copy of the magazine, there is plenty of new content to keep you interested. There’s no word on whether there will be an android version coming out yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as we do.

Matt Berry is a guest contributor to the magazine and you can hear him and his music in the trailer below:

 

MPs Say No To Father Ted’s Lovely Horse

28 Jun

The Irish parliament has rejected a petition to make ‘My Lovely Horse’ from Father Ted Ireland’s official entry into next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

The petition entitled “legislate to make ‘My Lovely Horse’ Ireland’s entry for Eurovision 2015” was formally submitted to the government last month by the intriguingly-named Mr Finn McCool. You can see the petition here.

The Oireachtas petitions committee considered the request this week but Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, the chairman, said the committee “didn’t have the musical expertise” it needed to consider the issue. Brilliant stuff!

Lovely Horse was part of the “A Song for Europe” episode of Father Ted – and we reckon it would be a dead cert for Eurovision success, given half a chance. For now, however, you can simply relive the video below:

BAFTA Wins For Ayoade & Parkinson

19 May

This weekend saw Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson pick up BAFTA TV Awards for their roles in The IT Crowd.

The duo were nominated for Best Performance In A Comedy Programme, in the Male/Female categories respectively.  Parkinson faced off stiff competition from Doon Mackichan (Plebs), Kerry Howard (Him & Her) and Frances De La Tour (Vicious) to collect her gong, which you can see below.

Things were even more heated in Ayoade’s category – especially as he was up against his co-star Chris O’Dowd, no less, as well as comedy heavyweights James Corden and Matthew Baynton for their roles in The Wrong Mans. You can see his typically self-dismissive speech filled with gags and praise for his collaborators below.

Sadly, The IT Crowd itself lost out on the title of Best Situation Comedy, as did Graham Linehan‘s more recent Count Arthur Strong and Matt Berry‘s star vehicle Toast of London – with all three being snubbed in favour of Him & Her: The WeddingNo, we didn’t see that coming, either… but well done to the team behind the BBC Three smash, and to all the winners on the night – which you can see in full here.

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