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Luxury Archives

29 Jul

As we excitedly skip towards the official launch of the new series of Luxury Comedy, we’ve come over all nostalgic at TVO and  we thought it might be nice to have a look back at some of the exclusive interviews, reviews and content that we created for your delectation for series 1. Here then is a trawl through our Luxury archives from back in the day:

First off, a biggie! Noel Fielding and Channel 4 were kind enough to invite us along to the filming of  the first series. Here’s what went on when we were there (and there are a few teasers that you can watch while you’re in a viewing mood too – just click on the links in this sentence):

Next up, we got all intellectual as our in-house art expert, Lozzy Taylor, wrote this article about the myriad of artistic inspirations contained within the show. On the subject of art, some of you will remember our call for you to send us your Luxury-inspired artistic output. We were deluged with an incredible range of colour and creativity, which we collated into a gallery of fan-generated awesomeness. Take a look at it here; did you make it into the gallery?

© Lozzy Taylor

We were lucky enough to get the chance to talk to the very lovely Dolly Wells and Mike Fielding (in what is, by his own admission, Mike’s most honest and revealing interview) about their role in Luxury series 1. Plus we managed to persuade the interview-shy co-creater and director of the show, Nigel Coan, to talk to us about working with Noel.

We also ran profiles on Nigel and Tom Meeten, in case they and their work needed a proper introduction to their new army of fans.

Finally, we’ll leave you with this interview with Noel from Spring 2013, which we filmed while he was writing series 2. He talks about the reaction to the first series and his plans for the new one. It’s interesting to see just how much of what he said developed into the new shows:

Stay peeling, as we hope to bring you more exclusives for series 2!…

An Early Look At Luxury 2

24 Jul

© Channel 4

Last week we were lucky enough to get a sneaky peek at the new series of Luxury Comedy. So without giving away any spoilers, what can we expect when it finally hits our screens on 31st July?

In interviews about the new series, Noel Fielding has been pretty open about his decision to move away from the sketch show format of series 1, towards a more narrative programme structure with a beginning, middle and an end to each episode. He says it’s because he’s a story-teller at heart, and it’s what he does best. This change of structure is certainly one of the most noticeable differences between the two series. So does it work?

Luxury Comedy is Noel’s stand up in visual form. That’s not to do it down; the fact that anyone has managed to capture the fantastical mayhem that goes on inside Fielding’s mind is impressive enough. Noel’s stand up material is at its best when allowed to slowly weave its shapes, layer upon layer, over a period of time. Stories unfold, characters evolve and concepts crystallise through repetition. By contrast, on the occasions I’ve seen him perform short slots on crowded comedy bills, his ideas don’t always have time to develop. This is not a man for the rat-tat-tat of machine-gun punchlines.

In the same way, expanding his TV ideas into 30-minute stories gives them proper form, allowing the viewer to step inside, appreciate their complexities and get carried along with the narrative. These are ideas rich enough for full episodes; and to reduce each of them to a sketch of a few minutes would underplay them. For me, then, the new format isn’t just about telling stories – it’s about telling strange stories much better.

© Channel 4

The different characters whom we encounter across the series are now part of each week’s story, which gives them purpose and makes the interaction between them feel genuine. The relationships between the characters are one of the aspects of the new series that gives the show its heart. This is no longer a disjointed collection of strange misfits; they’re friends, neighbours, and occasional enemies – as the story requires.

The friendship between the main four – Noel, Dolly, Andy and Smooth, allows for a solid dynamic at the centre of the action. The series 2 versions of the core team feel more ‘human’ and rounded, and as a result more sympathetic than before. Noel, in particular, presents a very different on-screen persona to anything we’ve seen from him previously: awkward, eager to please and uncool, he’s the Howard to Dolly’s preening Vince. Devoid of Howard Moon’s pomposity, however, this Noel is a character with whom we empathise, not just the one we laugh at.

Noel has said that he and Nigel spent longer writing the second series, and this comes across. I loved the first series, but there are more funnier moments in series 2 (based on the two episodes we saw). The writing’s sharp, the physical comedy is hilarious, and the characters are beautifully honed and gloriously wonky at the same time. Look out for star turns throughout from a whole host of TVO faces, including Richard Ayoade, Steve Oram, Dave Brown, Rich Fulcher, Arnab Chanda, Tania Wade, Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Stuart Silver, Simon Farnaby and others.

© Channel 4

This series is arguably the most self-aware output that we’ve ever seen from Fielding, with a number of knowing references to the public reaction that series 1 generated. He’s said that it’s a natural reaction to criticism – you try to get in there first before anyone else does. And it works well in this context, tethering the strange Luxury world to our own experience from time to time (thereby making it more relateable), and imbuing the series with a large helping of humility which, one hopes, the cynics out there will respond positively to.

Added to all of that, Luxury Comedy is still a fabulous feast for the eyes: the distinctive day-glo sets, wardrobe, make-up and animation all combine to create a uniquely visual world. Huge credit to Nigel Coan and his production team for putting it all together; you can see that it’s a labour of love in every single scene.

So will the rest of the world like it? I hope so. If people enjoyed the Boosh and the naysayers can get over their disproportionately extreme reaction to series 1, they would like this. Genuinely funny, beautifully magical and full of heart – what’s not to love?

Don’t forget to tune in: Luxury Comedy series 2 airs at 10pm on E4 on 31st July. For the less patient amongst you, episode 1 is available to view from TODAY –  a whole week early, on 4oD here.

The Double – Rave Reviews

10 Apr

© Studio Canal

Since The Double was released last week there have been plenty of rave reviews and interviews with Richard Ayoade. Here are a few for you to enjoy:

Digital Spy say “If Richard Ayoade continues in this vein, we could be looking at a director to rival David Cronenberg and David Lynch during their prime”!

The Metro describe the film as “downbeat and tricksy”.

The Radio Times call it “visually arresting and utterly compelling”.

The Independent says “Richard Ayoade’s surreal film makes for twice the fun”.

And of course, not forgetting Mog’s interview with Richard from last week.

The Double is out in the UK now and will be released in the USA on 9th May.

You can now get a copy of the screenplay by Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine from TVO Store, where you can also pick up a film tie-in version of the original story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Darkplace Live!

4 Apr
© Grimmfest

© Grimmfest

The lovely people over at Den of Geek have compiled a ‘where are they now’ about the cast of Darkplace to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show. You can catch up here.
Of course if you are a regular TVO reader, none of it will come as a surprise to you, as we give you regular updates on what the cast are up to these days.

Fans of Darkplace (and who isn’t?), who can get to Manchester, can treat themselves to a live screening of all 6 episodes followed by a Q&A session with Matt Holness and Alice Lowe! The event is on Sunday May 18th from 3pm to 10pm at Gorilla, Manchester.

Tickets are on sale NOW from Grimmfest, where you can also get more details of the event.

Double Time

19 Mar

© Studio Canal

As the cinematic release of the hotly anticipated Richard Ayoade directorial venture The Double fast approaches, we share news of where you can see it first.

With Ayoade at the helm and Chris Morris, Stuart Silver, Kim Noble  and Chris O’Dowd among the extended cast, we can’t wait for the release. The film tells the story of office worker, Simon James (played brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg) as his exact doppelgänger, James Simon (also played by Eisenberg, of course), joins the company and starts to take over his life.

The film will be released in cinemas across the UK and Ireland on 4th April and limited releases are planned  for the USA, France, Denmark and The Netherlands later in the year.

However, before the official release, preview screenings will be held at Picturehouse cinemas across the UK on March 27th.

What’s more, the Hackney Picturehouse screening will host a Q&A with Richard Ayoade in conversation with Jonathan Ross. Although this screening is sadly sold out, you don’t have to miss out as the Q&A will be broadcast live, via satellite, to all of the other Picturehouse cinemas.

To find a showing near you, and to book, head on over to the Picturehouse website.

And this won’t be the last you here from us about The Double – look out for our review and interview with Richard Ayoade as the release approaches!

Boosh-a-thon In North Wales

20 Oct

© Mighty Boosh

Theatr Colwyn in North Wales is holding a Mighty Boosh marathon viewing session on 23rd November.

All 20 episodes from series 1-3, screened back to back, will be shown from midday to midnight! The event is being held in conjunction with the Tough Crowd photography exhibition by Dave Brown which is running at Oriel Colwyn, the gallery upstairs at Theatr Colwyn.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, Dave will be making a special appearance during the Boosh-a-thon, talking about his time with the Boosh, his Tough Crowd exhibition and his continuing work as with the Afrikids charity, which helps children in Ghana.

Just how awesome does this sound?? Tickets are £10 and early booking is recommended. Proceeds from the Boosh-A-Thon are going to Afrikids.

Currently there doesn’t appear to be any facility to book online, so we suggest you contact the theatre box office on 01492 872000 to book. The box office is open Monday – Friday, 10am-5pm. Alternatively, you can purchase tickets at Venue Cymru, Monday to Saturday 10am – 7pm.

So who’s going in fancy dress then?…

 

A Bit Of Boosh At The Pleasance

13 Oct

© Ryan Taylor @ The Pleasance

Plans to keep the details of the recent Mighty Boosh warm up shows out of the public domain seem to have been derailed by the giddy connectivity of social media. So we figured it would be polite of us to do a quick round up of what’s out there for those amongst us who don’t frequent the fan forums and blogs:

© Becky

Last week’s Boosh shows at Soho Theatre were marked by their unexpected degree of polish; by contrast, this Thursday’s show at The Pleasance Islington felt very much like being let in to watch a rehearsal (which, afterall, is exactly what a warm-up is). What’s surprising is that the evening was none the worse for it.

For the assembled audience, the technical glitches and subsequent on-stage ad libbing felt like being invited in to watch – and be part of – the inner workings of Boosh. We got the chance to spend an evening in their company, as opposed to simply watching them perform on stage.

Although none of it was planned, there were many moments that made this gig feel special: the ad hoc dialogue between Julian Barratt on stage and his adorable kids in the front row; the sight of three monks leaning helplessly over a silent drum kit; Noel Fielding‘s never-ending impersonation of a fold-out map; and the clever one-liners, glances and giggles that frequently erupted from the stage.

© Lustache Licker

The Boosh Band performance which wrapped around these improvised moments was still solid and vital, carried along by the bubbling on-stage chemistry between Noel and Julian.

It’s a credit to their professionalism and talent that the show lost none of its life force and charm when events nudged it along a different path. In fact, the verdict afterwards from the Boosh friends and family who turned out in force for the gig was that it was like being back at the Hen & Chickens all those years ago. A little shambolic perhaps, but that’s part of their charm – and the magic is still very much there.

For those of you who want the spoilery details, check out The Mirror’s review (it’s nice to see a tabloid being supportive for a change!).

And for those of you who are lucky enough to be going to Festival Supreme this week, you’re in for a treat! We reckon the Mighty Tent is going to be the place to be:

© Festival Supreme

Many thanks to Becky & Lustache Licker for helping us out with photos. Sadly no one managed to get a money shot of Tom Meteen‘s Karate Johnson!

What’s that? You want another one? Oh, go on then…

© Becky

Line Up Announced For Thursday’s Boosh Gig

7 Oct

© Conor Masterson/Phrased & Confused

The full list of support acts for Thursday’s third and final Mighty Boosh warm-up show at The Pleasance Islington has been confirmed.

Following a well-received and rather wonderful turn at last week’s Soho Theatre gigs, Stuart Silver will return to the stage this week. Expect beguilingly meandering comedy that roams around your head for a few seconds before you feel the full force of its cleverness. And some astonishing ukele playing.

New to this week’s bill is one of TVO’s favourite live acts: Tom Meeten. Ususally seen as part of Oram & Meeten with Steve Oram, this will be a rare opportunity to see Tom flying solo. Based on his past form, we’re in for an evening of charming, offbeam physical comedy that’s as smart as it is silly.

Both artists come armed with a myriad of Boosh-flavoured connections, and stylistically they provide the perfect segue to the main draw.  We’re counting down the days…

Mighty Fine: Boosh At The Soho Theatre

2 Oct

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

If you’re a regular reader of The Velvet Onion it won’t have passed you by that The Mighty Boosh performed two warm up shows at the Soho Theatre this week. We were lucky enough to be there to witness the epicness. Here’s Velveteer Mog’s non-spoilery report:

A long time ago I came across something wonderful. It was intelligent and warm, charming and whimsical; it took me to fantastical worlds and gifted me laughter and fierce friendships. It was unique, special and precious. Slowly, over time, it was discovered by more and more people, and because they’re only human, they too fell in love with it. Soon there were enough of us to fill the O2 arena several times over for The Mighty Boosh.

Since then we’ve had panel shows and plays, art exhibitions, voice-overs and tabloid tittle-tattle. We’ve grown up and grown older, and so have they. The world has changed, and now there’s a newer version of the latest thing. So the excitement that the promise of two Boosh shows generated came tempered with the fear of being disappointed. How could it possibly live up to expectations?

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

On Sunday and Monday night the downstairs room at the Soho Theatre was buzzing with eager anticipation. The hopeful old guard rubbed shoulders with expectant younger fans, who filled the front row with camera phones, hair colours and chatter.

The lights dimmed, and Julian and Noel’s voices rolled out onto the stage, closely followed by the two of them in person: the familiar pairing of the puppy-like energy of Fielding and the hesitant groundedness of Barratt. The magic was still there; whenever Noel and Julian took to the stage, the room glowed.

Genuine, clever, witty and frequently bonkers, the Boosh’s performance was perfectly pitched. I’ve rarely seen two artists more in tune with each other and their audience. And like all great double acts, the whole is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. It felt like we were all sharing a giant warm bath of joy.

Seeing them live again also served as a sharp reminder as to why they reached such dizzying heights of success: they’re bloody talented – from the brain-fizzing freshness of their ideas and the razor-sharp wordplay, to their amazing musicianship (hands up all those fellas who left the gig with a man crush on Julian?).

Yes, they falter at times, and you’re never far from feeling that they’re making it up as they go along, but that’s part of the Boosh’s charm (and afterall, they were warm-up shows). Besides, the gigs’ occasional ramshackle-ness felt like a nod to the early years, which is no bad thing.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

Woven around the Boosh’s appearances were three support acts: Joey Page (moments of brilliance), Stuart Silver (fantastic – well worth checking out if you get the chance) and Holly Burns (perhaps not the most obvious choice for the night).

The final 40 minutes of the show consisted of the Boosh Band, playing tight, fresh twists on their musical classics. We’ll never see Electro Boy in the same light again. Funny, inspired and smart – and just a bit wonky. Dave Brown also deserves a special shout out for THAT VOICE. This was most definitely not the “shambola” promised by Noel via twitter.

Marriage proposals were made (Sunday), Baileys was swigged (Monday) and a likely knowing reference made to an infamous fanfic*. Shrieks of astonishment reverberated along the front row.

The Mighty Boosh: charming, folksy, weird and inclusive, this was them at their original best. The stadium rock star comedy machine felt like a distant memory – and long may it remain that way!

In respect of the fans who’ll be seeing the show at Festival Supreme, photos were only allowed during the first half of Sunday night – so this review has been written in the spirit of avoiding spoilers too. Hopefully the essence of the show hasn’t been lost in the non-specificity.

* Alas, apparently mere coincidence.

Enter Garth’s Coatspace

27 Sep
© Avalon

© Avalon

Your chance to own a piece of history is here – as the charity auction to win Garth Marenghi‘s white coat and name badge from Darkplace has begun.

Garth’s clothing was made to wear in his seminal series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, which first aired on Channel 4 in January 2004 after the powers-that-be finally let the show out of the vaults it had been languishing in since the 1980s.

Now the author, dream-weaver, visionary plus actor has granted the sale of these items, alongside a personal note from Garth, via journalist Julia Raeside and Marenghi’s long-standing associate Matthew Holness.

With the proceeds from the sale going to Macmillan Cancer Care, there’s even more of an incentive to get involved and offer to part with your cash.  Bidding already stands comfortably into three figures, but we’re sure there’s scope for much more.

The auction ends at 9:14am on Sunday, 30th September, and we’ve got a gallery of images to further proof the might of this coat, that badge, and that titan of terror below.  So what are you waiting for?

BID TO WIN NOW!

Lastly, if by any chance you’re unaware of the cultural landmark that is Darkplace, you can see the entire series online for free via 4oD, and you can buy the extras packed dvd from our store now.  Considering it’s one of the main reasons this website even exists, we think you owe it to Garth to check it out!  Episode one is below…

Boosh Warm Up Line Up Announced

20 Sep

© Soho Theatre/The List/The Basis

As you’ll know if you’re a regular peeler of this here website, earlier this week we broke the news that The Mighty Boosh are performing two warm-up shows at the Soho Theatre. We can now confirm who the comedians are who will be performing before the Boosh Band take to the stage.

The line up will consist of Joey Page, Stuart Silver and Holly Burn. Many of you will know Joey as one of the acts who we’ve supported over the years (his TVO connection stemming from his various links with Noel Fielding via his involvement in Luxury Comedy and as a Buzzcocks panelist), but you may be less familiar with the work of the other two acts.

Stuart Silver is an award-winning writer/performer/producer/director/mentor who works across a variety of creative channels.  His Velvet Onion pedigree is  pretty impressive, with appearances in The Mighty Boosh, Luxury Comedy, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Man to man With Dean Learner. He’s worked extensively with Kim Noble as the acclaimed nobleandsilverAnd if more was needed, he’s  recently produced a “featurette” for Richard Ayoade‘s film The Double. You can find out more about Stuart on his website.

Holly Burn is a stand-up comedian who has been described by the Guardian as “extravagantly odd… a some-time sketch performer, some-time character comedian, but in truth her refreshingly peculiar material defies easy categorisation.”  She was also named the ‘New Hero of Alternative Comedy’ by Bizarre magazine in 2012. To find out more about Holly visit her website.

The three acts will perform at the two Soho Theatre shows before the Boosh Band. They promise to be quite a night!

 

Funny Fortnight Favourites: Darkplace Remembered

25 Aug

© Dan Goldsmith / Avalon Television

This weekend sees Channel 4 countdown its top 30 comedy shows ever, as part of its Funny Fortnight. One show in the top 30 was somewhat unloved at the time, yet has since gone on to become widely regarded as a cult classic.  Here’s Michael Glynn’s take on why Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace is worth your attention…

Back in the 1980s, acclaimed horror writer Garth Marenghi set to transfer his talents the small screen; the results were a television program ‘so radical, so risky, so dangerous, so goddamn crazy’ that it didn’t see the light of day until Channel 4 broadcast it during the worst programming drought in broadcast history in 2004. To bump up the runtimes of the episodes we were treated to interviews with Garth’s publisher, Dean Learner, who also starred in the series, as well as the other cast members.

Except of course, none of that is true. GARTH MARENGHI’S DARKPLACE was actually spawned from the minds of Matt Holness and Richard Ayoade, and filmed in the early 2000’s – though you would be hard pressed to believe that last part. With an emphasis on cheap production values and bad acting it’s easy to believe you’re really watching a forgotten piece of TV, even the retro Channel 4 logo is present. Continue reading

Funny Fortnight Favourites!

13 Aug

© Channel 4

Details have emerged of the exact transmission times for much of the programming in Channel 4’s Funny Fortnight – which features a number of TVO faces in new productions and old favourites.

These include Julia Davis and Sharon Horgan in Bad SugarMatt Berry in Toast Of London  Kevin Eldon and Colin Hoult appearing in The Function Room and repeats of The IT CrowdGarth Marenghi’s DarkplaceBrass EyeJam and more.

The season will also include new material from Vic & Bob and Harry Hill, archive programming long forgotten, stand-up from the likes of Steve Coogan, Lee Evans and Peter Kay, plus a count-down of the Top 30 Comedy Shows in the history of Channel 4.

© Talkback Productions

The special season starts this Thursday night (Aug 16th) with the broadcast of Peter Kay’s latest live show, followed by Phonejacker spin-off Verry Terry from Kayvan Novak.  The first TVO flavoured show crops up after these – with a repeat showing of the infamous Brass Eye at 11:30pm.

Not too long afterwards, the early hours of Friday 17th bring us a repeat of Russell Brand And Friends at 1:10am, which featured a memorable appearance from Paul Kaye as Mike Strutter.  Another Onion flavoured repeat comes along on Saturday night (Aug 18th) with another chance to see a firm favourite from The IT Crowd.  Series two opener The Work Outing is the chosen episode, which of course, was the one with the gay musical, the disabled toilet, and Richmond’s missing copy of Heat.

© Phil Fisk

Sunday evening (Aug 19th), sees the first new show to feature TVO faces, in the form of star-packed trad-sitcom The Function Room.  In this pilot episode, police officers hold a public meeting to discuss crime in the local area.  However, their plans for the event get derailed when it emerges local residents only want to talk about one thing – a notorious criminal with a highly offensive alias.

The Fucntion Room stars the legendary Kevin Eldon, League Of Gentlemen/Psyschoville star Reece Shearsmith, Fast Show favourite Simon Day, and The Vicar Of Dibley‘s James Fleet, alongside Paul Ritter, Daniel Rigby, Blake Harrison and our very own Colin Hoult!  Eldon portrays unflappable Inspector Marks, who wants to present a human face to the force, but is just a little bit weird.  Meanwhile Hoult and Josephine Bulter play local well-to-do couple Stuart & Marina, who effortlessly rub all the other locals up the wrong way.

A few hours later, early into Monday, Aug 20th, is a very rare chance to see a compilation episode of The 11 O’Clock Show from 1999.  The satirical news-based show was a breeding ground for comedic talent – launching the careers of Iain Lee, Daisy Donovan, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mackenzie Crook and Ricky Gervais.  It also brought to prominence Rich Hall’s blossoming UK career, and boasted a fine writing staff which included James Bachman, Rhys ThomasTony WayPhil Whelans, Charlie Brooker and Stephen Merchant, and one of it’s associate producers was none other than Spencer Millman!

© Kuba Wierczorek

Monday 20th is, perhaps, the biggest night for Onion fans – starting with the première of Toast Of London at 10pm- written by Matt Berry and Arthur Matthews, and starring Matt alongside Robert Bathurst, Geoff McGivern,  Tracy-Ann Oberman and Lee Cornes.  With that fantastic cast behind it, the lineage of both it’s writers, and the hilarious preview clip which appeared online recently, we’ve marked this one down as a must-see.

© Dan Goldsmith

Not long afterwards, the repeats kick in, with a re-run of Steve Coogan‘s 1994 live show Live & Lewd at 11:40pm, preceded by a new introduction from the comic.  This is followed by a repeat episode of Chris Morris‘ dark and devious project Jam featuring Kevin Eldon and Julia Davies, followed by a very rare chance to see Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace back on our screens with the classic episode, Skipper The Eye-Child.

For those who don’t know, Darkplace aired not long before the first series of The Mighty Boosh, and this sci-fi horror spoof featuring Matthew HolnessRichard AyoadeAlice LoweMatty BerryKim NobleStuart Silver and occasionally, Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding too {though not in this episode, sadly} was a golden nugget of genius which sorely deserves en-mass reappraisal.

Things go a little quiet on the Onion front for a while after that, beyond Friday night’s short editions of Baby Cow’s Comedy Blaps which will feature the voice of Steve Coogan, but with the promise of Julia Davies & Sharon Horgan‘s Bad Sugar, repeats of Anna & Katy, Star Stories  and Black Books, plus the countdown of Channel 4’s greatest comedy shows ever still to come at some point between the 25th and the 31st, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the schedules for any news worth shouting about.

In the meantime, enjoy the gallery of images from Bad Sugar below.  With the likes of Olivia Colman, Reece Shearsmith, Peter Serafinowicz, Greg Davis & Kayvan Novak joining Davis & Horgan, this is looking likely to be an absolute cracker!

Blinkbox Booshdom!

6 Aug

© Copyright blinkbox Entertainment Limited.

Steve Coogan‘s sitcom Saxondale and anthology spoof Dr Terrible’s House Of Horrible are amongst a smattering of TVO favourites available to watch free online.

UK based video on demand service Blinkbox offers television and film from both sides of the pond to download or stream via pc, mac, games consoles, tablets and smart tv’s – and already offers a large back catalogue of programming for purchase.

This includes the TVO flavoured likes of The Mighty Boosh, Dead BossThis Is Jinsey, Horrible Histories and Mongrels, and movies Come On Eileen, Weekender and The Boat That Rocked to name but a few.

Coogan’s work is well represented on the site, from films such as Tropic Thunder and Hot Fuzz (also featuring our very own Alice Lowe), and the televisual adventures of one Alan Partridge.

Now as part of a deal with the BBC, a number of comedy classics are available to stream free of charge.

These include Saxondale – which also featured Matt BerryJames Bachman and Tom Meeten, and underrated spoof Dr Terrible – featuring Julia Davis.

© BBC

Also up for free viewing is criminally ignored sitcom Lab Rats featuring Dan Tetsell alongside Chris Addison and Dead Boss star Geoffrey McGivern.

You can also take another look at Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive which co-stars Sharon Horgan and Alice Lowe, or That Mitchell And Web Look featuring James Bachman.

For something a little bit more ‘out there’, you can also catch rarely seen French animation series A Town Called Panic – which included Lucy Montgomery and Alexander Armstrong in it’s English dub cast.

To browse the full Blinkbox catalogue, click on any of the links above, or be really obvious and fall onto it’s home page via the word Battenberg – and of course, almost all of these shows, and more, can still be purchased the good old fashioned way on dvd and blu-ray via THE VELVET ONION AMAZON STORE!

Funny Fortnight Forthcoming!

20 Jul

© Channel 4

Channel 4 have released more details of their Funny Fortnight next month, which features more than a smattering of TVO regulars and influences.

Over 30 hours of programming across two weeks of television, the season promises brand new shows, excellent stand up and familiar faces staging their returns to the channel.

A new video preview over on the Channel 4 press website showcases highlights from some of the channel’s flagship shows, and offers an exclusive look at a number of exciting specials.

© Tiger Aspect Productions

Amongst these new shows is Bad Sugar – written by Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong of Peep Show and Four Lions fame.  It combines three of comedy’s biggest names of the moment – Julia DavisSharon Horgan and Olivia Colman, and centres on a dysfunctional, wealthy mining dynasty, with an ailing patriarch and some greedy siblings.

The show also stars David Bradley, Peter Serafinowicz, Kayvan Novak and Reece Shearsmith, and it’s producer is Derren Schlesinger – who was previously responsible for both Four Lions and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy.  Undoubtedly one of the most exciting shows on telly in some time, this Tiger Aspect Productions show has real potential to be a smash hit.

© Objective Productions

Also set to première is Toast Of London, the new sitcom pilot by Matt Berry and Father Ted/Big Train creator Arthur Matthews.  Matt stars as successful actor Steven Toast, who has recently made a career faux pass by electing to star in a controversial west end stage play.

Recently divorced, and attacked in the street by members of appalled public, the previously much loved actor auditions for a role in the long running television series, Inspector Somerset.  However, it’s producer has been imprisoned for racial chanting on set, so Toast auditions for the part of a gay corrupt detective during prisoner’s visiting time.  Made by Objective Productions, we’re keen to see if this show lives up to its potential.

Other new shows include: Them From That Thing  – a two part sketch show featuring Kayvan Novak, Sally Phillips and many more, co-written by one Charlie BrookerThe Function Room - a traditional looking sitcom featuring the likes of Reece Shearsmith, Kevin Eldon, Simon Day and James Fleet; Lucky Sexy Winners - a new panel show from Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer; Very Terry - a Phonejacker spin off from Kayvan Novak focusing on car salesman Terry Tibbs; Harry Hill: The Reunion - in which the madcap comic seeks out the cast of his old Channel 4 show to find out “where are they now?”; The Boyle Variety Performance  – a spoof of the annual royal-attended show from Frankie Boyle; Just Around The Corner  – from the creators of Drop The Dead Donkey; and I’m Spazticus  – a prank show featuring disabled performers which has been seven years in development since its pilot aired in 2005.

© Avalon Productions

And that’s not all!  As we previously reported, Channel 4 are counting down their 30 Greatest Comedy Shows, which will feature the Onion flavoured vehicles Garth Marenghi’s DarkplaceThe IT CrowdBrass EyeFather TedStar StoriesSpacedBlack Books, and Friday Night Dinner. 

These classics will be up against the likes of The Comic Strip Presents, Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, The Adam & Joe Show,  Da Ali G Show, Trigger Happy TV, Pheonix Nights, Bo’ Selecta!, Peep Show, Green Wing and The Inbetweeners and more.

© Talkback Thames

The channel have also turned to the writers of classic shows to name their favourite episodes, which will air across the fortnight.  These include Graham Linehan‘s favourite ever The IT Crowd  and Father TedChris Morris‘s legendary Brass Eye; mockumentary series Star Stories which featured Fergus CraigAlice Lowe, Tom MeetenLaura PatchRhys Thomas and Dolly Wells in it’s expansive cast; plus episodes of Spaced, The Inbetweeners, Peep Show and Vic Reeves Big Night Out.

There’s also a chance to catch tv premieres of live shows from Alan Carr, Peter Kay, Lee Evans and Micky Flanagan, plus the early and rare Vic & Bob special The Weekenders, Harry Endfield one-off Norbert Smith: A Life and Peter Cook’s interview with Clive Andersonplus editions of Comedy Labs featuring Dynamo, Peter Kay, Karl Pilkington and TVO’s very own Anna And Katy!  Plus we’ll still have The Midnight Beast featuring Simon Farnaby every Thursday too!

Phew – we think we’ll need a lie-down after all that!  Exciting times indeed.  We’ll aim to bring you a complete run-down of exactly when each show will air as soon as possible, so stay peeled.  In the mean time, check out the video preview over on the Channel 4 press website – and you can pick up a string of Channel 4 classics in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

Thirty Greats

22 Jun

© Avalon Productions

It may be hard to believe for some of our older readers, but Channel 4 hits the big 30 this year, and as we’ve previously mentioned, there’s a whole host of comedy content to savour during their anniversary.

Part of that collection of comedy old and new looks set to be a countdown of The 30 Greatest Comedy Shows – and predictably, a number of shows with an Onion connection are in the running.

Shows with a TVO connection on the list include Garth Marenghi’s DarkplaceThe IT CrowdBrass Eye, Father Ted, Star Stories, SpacedBlack Books, and Friday Night Dinner, whilst the list also contains healthy competition from The Comic Strip Presents, Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, The Adam & Joe Show,  Da Ali G Show, Trigger Happy TV, Pheonix Nights, Bo’ Selecta!, Peep Show, Green Wing and The Inbetweeners to name but a handful.

It’s a stellar list, which viewers can impact upon by voting for their three favourites over yonder.  Voting closes on 4th July.

Usually, these shows feature new interviews with members of the cast and crew, so we’ll undoubtedly be watching this one very closely.  As soon as we hear of a confirmed transmission date we’ll be sure to keep you peeled.

The Terror Of A Missing Barratt

24 Oct

We’ve previously mentioned that Julian Barratt would be contributing to Soho Theatre’s annual Halloween show Terror, which begins later this week.

© Soho Theatre

However, we’re sorry to have recently discovered that Barratt is no longer involved in Terror 2011. Apologies to anyone who has purchased tickets based on our previous announcements, although we’re confident that you’ll enjoy the performance nevertheless. Based on reports from previous years, Terror provides the perfect terrifying evening for this time of year!

Soho Theatre has an array of other terrific acts for you to see for the next few months, and we hardly know where to start with their ever expanding list. In addition to Terror 2011 (which includes a special appearance from one half of the fabulous cabaret act Frisky & Mannish and Laura Corcoran) you can also see the recently reviewed Stuart Silver, letting you inside his brain-space until 29th October.

Then there’s also Soho Later, with Sarah Kendall (who you may recognise from JackalFilms‘ Beehive), the magnificent Tim Key, for a few dates at the end of this year, and also Stewart Lee (who needs no introduction to fans of the Booshniverse!), who can be found expressing himself there from November until February. Carl-Einar Hackner (pictured), a Swedish version of Tommy Cooper, who left us dazed and astounded at a past Fulchfest, will also be performing at the theatre next month.

Furthermore, Booshdom’s own Paul Foot will be a part of Set List which will be running through-out December. The show is described as “A Whose Line Is It Anyway?-style challenge for stand-up comedy” and features big names such as Tim Minchin, Rich Hall, Phill Jupitus!

We have only just scratched the surface of what can be found at this small but famous venue, so don’t be sad about a lack of Barratt – and book yourself a seat to one of many other brilliant shows!

Now We Feel Like Ants

23 Oct

© Stuart Silver / The Soho Theatre

After hyping up Stuart Silver’s debut solo show, You Look Like Ants, we took it upon ourselves to visit Soho Theatre and throw in our 2 cents, on what could possibly be the most peculiar yet memorable comedy experience you may have.

When walking out of the Soho Theatre after seeing Stuart Silver, we arrived at one conclusion, with one further question still pending.

First, the conclusion: the title of the show does, clearly, derive from the prospect of Stuart being this enlightening figure who invites you to come and learn about life, death and everything in-between. The show very much makes you think. From the moment Silver walks onto the stage, ukelele in hand, he begins to preach (yes, preach) and play – about the trivialities that we go through as adults, his in depth outlook on life (with the use of rabbits as a metaphor for death), and the comparision of how we live as adults to how we lived as children.

Now  to the unanswered question: whilst the tangents Stuart goes on are mesmerising, you do sit there for a moment wondering, “Am I supposed to laugh?” If you’re familiar with the work of Kim Noble and aware of Noble & Silver’s style of comedy, then you can walk into You Look Like Ants expecting exactly what is provided.
Noble, as we know, offers a deadpan delivery with clear puns and dry wit. With Stuart he offers the complete opposite; his delivery is informative and the passion behind his words is clear nonetheless, but if you’re in the need for a knee-slapping, head-rolling-back laugh-fest, this is far from it.

With this, the show falls straight into the Booshdom world as it gives it’s audience their own time to laugh, making it feel more personal to them as an individual and generating more discussion whilst filing out of the theatre .
There is the urge to simply listen and express that feeling that so many of us have had in the past: ‘I didn’t laugh – but it was funny!’

This is a night that will leave you chattering away with your peers no-end, with many questions left to ponder at the end of it (with some seriously mean uke skills thrown in too! You have to see it to believe it!).

Stuart Silver’s show continues until October 29th so grab your tickets while he’s still there!

You Look Like Ants, This Looks Like A Competition!

19 Oct

© Stuart Silver / The Soho Theatre

Thanks to the kind people at the Soho Theatre, we can offer a handful of free tickets to see Stuart Silver‘s new show, You Look Like Ants this weekend!

Silver, who appeared in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Man To Man With Dean Learner and The Mighty Boosh, as well as a ten year, BAFTA winning live partnership with Kim Noble, has created his first solo show since Noble & Silver came to a natural end, and is performing it every night for the next ten days at Soho Theatre Upstairs.

You Look Like Ants is an intimate, humorous tragi-ballad live show, promising a conversational and textually rich epic journey where Stuart seeks to get a hold on what life is really about, under the crush of great advice. With ukulele when you least expect it. And when you expect it.

The show runs at the Soho Theatre from tonight until Saturday 29th October, and we have a couple of pairs of tickets for Thursday 20th October, Friday 21st October and Saturday 22nd October’s performances to give away.

All you have to do is come up with an amusing caption to the ant-filled image you see above.  Obviously, the closer you can get to an ant-pun the better!

Email your answers, along with your preferred show date [Thurs 20th, Fri 21st, Sat 22nd] to stuartsilver@thevelvetonion.com and we’ll send your responses over to the Soho Theatre team, who will judge the results and contact the winners!

Entries must be received by 3pm tomorrow, Thursday 20th October.

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.  CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS! 

All entries MUST be sent to stuartsilver@thevelvetonion.com by 15:00pm on Thursday 20th October 2011.  One entry per reader.  The Velvet Onion will not accept entries as comments on this article, replies on our Facebook/Twitter pages, messages on our forum or emailed to any other account.   No personal information required, but your email addresses will be shared with The Soho Theatre.  Your email addresses will not be added to mailing lists or subscriber services, nor will they be shared beyond The Velvet Onion and The Soho Theatre.  Submission of an entry does not equate to confirmation of tickets, merely as entry to a judged competition.  Winners will be decided and contacted by The Soho Theatre, though The Velvet Onion may print the names of winners on it’s website and social networking pages.   The Velvet Onion and The Soho Theatre reserves the right to withdraw this competition if any overriding issues arise.  There is no monetary value to this competition and no physical prize.

Silver Stream Of Thoughts

18 Oct

Not too long ago you may have peeled our find of Stuart Silver performing his solo show You Look Like Ants, at the Soho Theatre.

If you are still not swayed into grabbing yourself a ticket for this bound-to-be wondrous show, then you can now let the man himself try and convince you, as he shares with you some streams of conciousness in this video.

You can watch said video below and also right here is where you can be led to the Box Office. Get your tickets while you can as his show comes to a halt on 29th October!

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