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Hunderby Xmas Special – Details

23 Nov
© Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic

Back in February we revealed that Hunderby, the award-winning dark comedy by and starring Julia Davis, had been commissioned for a  Christmas 2-parter. We can now confirm more details about the festive special, including transmission dates!

The first hour-long instalment will air at 10pm on 10th December on Sky Atlantic, with part two hitting our telly box screens 1 week later on 17th December.

We’re delighted to report that Rufus Jones will be reprising his role as Dr Foggerty, and Reece Shearsmith features as the local vicar.

In the first episode local vicar John announces that homosexual men in the area are being identified and hanged (rather worryingly for the pastor), while Foggarty’s estranged wife Hester plots to interfere in his new relationship. In the second episode, Dorothy and Hester join forces to capture the men of their dreams.

If you’re one of the sorrowful few who still doesn’t have access to to Sky Atlantic, here are a few clips from the awesome first series to keep you going…


Angelos and Barry return

22 Nov

There’s a fresh chance to see Angelos Epithemou and Barry from Watford early next month.

© Mike Leigh Associates

Fans of Dan Skinner are aware of Angelos: the award-winning burger van owner who seems to follow Dan around in an attempt to get work. In recent years, Angelos has been teaming up with another comedy hanger-on – Barry from Watford, who is related to Alex Lowe (The Peter Serafinowicz Show, Fun at the Funeral Parlour, Spaced, Toast of London etc etc), to record a series of podcasts, and there’s a live recording of the next one in front of an audience.

This festive edition takes place at Dingwalls in Camden on Tuesday, December 1st – the official day for Christmas celebrations to begin without being obnoxious about it (November is too early!) – so what better way to start your holiday season than with two masters of chitchat?

Tickets are just £12.50 and available now.

Onion on Site: Toast Q&A

17 Nov
© Channel 4

© Channel 4

The long awaited third series of Toast of London airs this week (Wednesday, 10:30pm, Channel Four), and you’re in for a real treat.

TVO’s newest recruit, Jess Gerber, recently attended the series launch, which featured a Q&A from the show’s writers Matt Berry and Arthur Matthews.

Her thoughts are below…

The epic Toast of London is returning to its home on Channel 4, and is bringing all the bells and whistles with it! The general plot of the series has not changed, but feels enhanced by wittier writing than ever, as Steven Toast gets himself into all kinds of unthinkable situations.  All the quirky regular characters, such as Toast’s hilarious house mate Ed Howzer-Black (Robert Bathhurst), his colourful agent Jane Ploug (Doon Mackichan) and the unforgettable Ray “Bloody” Purchase (TVO’s Harry Peacock), are back and up to their usual, entertaining mischief. And there are also some exciting and surprising guest appearances from the likes of Paul Whitehouse and Jon Hamm to savour too!

As well as the fantastic new episodes, the highlight of the evening was a Q&A session at the end with Matt and Arthur Matthews, hosted by Adam Buxton. Of course, the first thing everyone wanted to know was what Jon Hamm was like, and how did he come about being in Toast?

Matt and Arthur were both very chuffed to have Jon guest star, which came about due to Matt’s work over the pond, and the wonderful connections he’s made along the way. Many people he met there know about Toast of London and they love it. When Jon was approached to be a guest star in Toast, he was delighted to do it as as a fan of the show… and they also added that he smelled fantastic!

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Berry and Matthews also spoke about how they make their long distance writing partnership work. With Matt living in London and Arthur living in Ireland, they utilise the wonders of modern technology to send each other ideas and bits and bobs as they come to mind, and slowly piece it all together.

They also explained that even though they have brought in some pretty big guest stars and come up with some explosive new plot twists, they have not made very many changes to the skeleton formula of the show, as it works – and they like it – just how it is. As Matt explained: It makes Arthur and I laugh, and it seems to make others laugh, so we are happy with it. And we agree: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Finally, Adam asked Matt if he enjoys playing the character of Steven Toast, and of course asked him to do some Toast’s voices. Matt exclaimed that Toast is great fun to play as he is such a fool, and it is fun to be so socially awkward and get away with it. He told us that most of the voice work he does he just comes up with on the spot and is influenced by the fact that when he was younger his mother used to take him to the theatre a lot. He was fascinated by how loudly the actors spoke even when they were not acting, and the amusing way they would over pronounce some of their words.

Very few TV shows can tell the tale of a theatre actor and still manage to have that theatre magic and feel to it. Toast of London has done this brilliantly, and it’s a joy to have it back on our screens. Series Three does not disappoint.

Toast of London returns Wednesday 18th November at 10:30pm on Channel 4. The book, Toast on Toast – a fictional autobiography of the character – is out now.

The Peterford Golf Club

15 Nov


Early last month we told you about the revival of Peterford Golf Club, this time as part of Radio 2’s Comedy Showcase.

The show, now called The Peterford Golf Club) written by and starring Simon Farnaby, was broadcast at 10pm on Tuesday evening, with a repeat tomorrow at 10pm. It also starred Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Lucy Montgomery and Tom Meeten.

It is of course also available on BBC iPlayer.

Next weeks Comedy Showcase also has a few TVO connections. The King’s Men is written by Arthur Matthews alongside  Terry Mynott (Toast of London), who also stars in the show with Robert Webb.

The two main characters are policemen Ernest Ridley and Arthur Smyth. The lifelong friends are asked to join the new Secret Service in London, after discovering what they believed to be a German plot to invade The Isle of Sheppey.

Also in the cast are Katy Wix, Ellie White and Alex McQueen.

The show will be broadcast on Tuesday at 10pm on Radio 2  and is available now on BBC iPlayer.

There is another TVO connected Showcase available now and due to be broadcast on Wednesday. Ankle Tag stars Katy Wix and Ellis James as new parents whose lives are interrupted when his Dad appears unexpectedly, wanting to stay.

The episode also features Alice Lowe and is available now, again on BBC iPlayer.

A Day In October… In February

10 Nov

Sarah Kendall will be reviving her 2015 Edinburgh Fringe show for a final set of dates in the new year.



The Fosters Comedy Award nominated show played to packed out audiences across the Fringe in August, following huge success in her native Australia at Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Now Londoners will get a final chance to see the show in February, when it returns to its spiritual home at The Soho Theatre.

A gifted raconteur, Kendall’s show is, in her own words: “about a friendship I had with a guy in my teenage years. We went to a pool party one October, and the show is about the knock-on effect that pool party had on us throughout the rest of his life and my life.”

Following rave reviews, which placed Kendall as a master comic at the top of her game (quite rightly so!), there’s a huge buzz around the show, but these will be the final dates before Sarah moves on to her next piece.

You can book tickets for the six night run from Monday 15th to Saturday 20th February now via the Soho Theatre Website. And if you missed it back in February, TVO sat down for a lengthy natter with Sarah about her work, which you can catch up on over yonder.

BBC Store now open!

5 Nov


The BBC has unveiled the long awaited BBC Store: a new digital service that makes it easy for audiences to buy, enjoy and keep their favourite BBC programmes. And the best news of all is that it’s officially open right now!

A large collection of titles across genres are available at launch, featuring recently broadcast shows, television favourites and best of all – lost gems from the BBC archive.



BBC Store will work in tandem with the company’s longstanding iPlayer service – with a new My Programmes area allowing full playback.

iPlayer itself will continue to offer the same range of programmes to watch live, catch up on and download for up to 30 days for free, while the Store collection will continue to build each day. In fact, many BBC programmes will be made available to buy on BBC Store the day after transmission including, for the first time, serial dramas such as EastEnders and Holby City.

As an introductory offer to celebrate the launch of this new service and to get collections started, anyone registering with BBC Store will be eligible for a 25% discount on their first purchase. Audiences can buy programmes using a UK registered credit or debit card, and gift cards will be available to buy on the high street and in supermarkets in the coming weeks.

© Baby Cow

© Baby Cow

But what you really want to know is what TVO related goodies will be available from launch. Confirmed so far are the following classics and recent favourites:

  • The Detectorists – written, directed by & starring Mackenzie Crook and featuring Simon Farnaby
  • Doctor Who – The biggest sci-fi show in the land, with a cavalcade of TVO guest stars over the years. It’s various spin-off series will also be made available.
  • The Fast Show – Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse’s seminal sketch show phenomenon featuring Simon Day, Mark Williams, Arabella Weir, John Thomson and Caroline Aherne alongside Felix Dexter, Colin MacFarlane, Rhys Thomas and Tony Way
  • Horrible Histories – Education has never been so much fun, as the wickedly entertaining show featuring Simon FarnabyAlice LoweKaty Wix and many more makes a welcome reappearance.
  • Human Remains – The little seen anthology series featuring Julia Davis and Rob Brydon as a string of darkly comic creations.
  • Knowing Me, Knowing You // I’m Alan Partridge – Steve Coogan‘s masterful creation in three dynamite series of cringeworthy faux pas in the name of CHAT.
  • The League of Gentlemen – The show that launched the careers of Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss and Steve Pemberton, and pioneered a darker and cinematic side to alternative comedy on television.
  • The Thick of It – The now infamous political comedy from Armando Iannucci starring Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison alongside Alex MacQueenRebecca FrontJustin Edwards and many more.


Plus a few other legendary shows with looser TVO connections:

  • Absolutely Fabulous – The recent specials featured Lucy Montgomery
  • Blackadder – Which featured an early appearance by Geoffrey McGivern in Series Three
  • Gavin and Stacey – Featuring a recurring role for Julia Davis
  • Live at the Apollo – Featuring several TVO guests over the years
  • The Office – Look out for Matt Holness in several episodes!
  • Sherlock – Featuring appearances by Alice Lowe and Tony Way
  • The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer – Arguably the finest sketch show of the 90s – and look out for a young Matt Lucas!

There’s also promise of a Steve Coogan collection (which may include the Paul Calf Video Diaries, Coogan’s Run and various other assorted classics).

And that’s just the start of it. We’ll give you a full run-down of everything that’s in the store as soon as we can. Until then – we suggest you head on over to BBC Store right now, and start digging!


27 Oct

The new series of Catastrophe stars on Channel 4 this week, and we’ve got a selection of images from the new run to share with you.

Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan in Catastrophe

Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan in Catastrophe

The internationally acclaimed first series featured Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney as a pair of random strangers who have a fling and accidentally wind up having a baby together. Essentially over-exaggerated versions of their own personalities, the in-show Rob chooses to move from the US to the UK to be a real father to his unborn child.

When we last saw the duo, Sharon was about to give birth, and as we join them for Series Two, the turbulent lovers have arranged an ill-considered party to enable friends and family to meet their newborn baby. Unfortunately for Sharon, the gathering coincides with a disturbing revelation about her father’s health, a visit from Rob’s mum, and an unfortunate incident with the family dog.

You can catch up on Series One via All4 now, and Series Two airs every Tuesday night at 10pm.


Return to Successville

14 Oct

BBC Three’s smash hit comedy series Murder in Successville is to return for a second series.

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

The show, which first aired earlier this year, features Tom Davis as rough, gruff, intellectual doorknob DI Sleet, presiding over a town filled with potentially murderous celebrities – all played by comedy talents.

The first series featured Cariad Lloyd as Darcey Bussell, Justin Beiber, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Miley Cyrus;  Colin Hoult as Jimmy Carr and Gary Barlow; Tom Meeten as Richard Hammond; Dan Skinner as Bob Geldof; Tony Way as Harry Styles and Harry Peacock as Niall Horan.

Also along for the ride were series co-writer Nico Tartarowicz as put upon fellow officer Sid, and a whole host of familiar faces – including Frances Barber, Ricky Grover, Jenny Bede, Luke Kempner, Chris Martin Hill, Nick Mohammed, Jason Lewis and a scene stealing Liam Hourican.

With music by Waen Shepherd, no less, acting as the cherry on top, it’s easy to see how we’ve got this far down the article without explaining the show’s ‘set-up’: each week a real celebrity plays rookie partner to DI Sleet, as they investigate a murder that one of three suspects is responsible for. It’s up to the guest to decide who to take down.

Rookies in series one included Dermot O’Leary, Louis Smith and Greg James – the latter of whom ended up making his own sitcom pilot, Dead Air, off the back of the fun he had on the show. And the fun, it seems, has been shared by viewers – with the show proving a hit on original transmission and a recent repeat run.

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Now TVO can confirm that a second series – once again featuring Tom Davis, Tom Stourton, Colin Hoult and Cariad Lloyd (with more names to be confirmed) – will shoot in January. James De Frond (The Morgana Show) returns to the director’s chair, and we’ll bring you more news on Murder in Successville‘s return in the new year. Let’s go solve a crime!


8 Oct

This week saw the launch of new BBC Three sitcom Together – with a smattering of TVO faces tucked in there for good measure.

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

The show is written by and stars Johnny Sweet (Babylon), and follows two young people in the early, fragile stages of a new relationship, played by Sweet and Cara Theobold (Downton Abbey).

Along for the ride are Alex MacQueen and Katy Wix as Tom’s father Ashley and friend Maeve respectively. Episode One, which is available on iPlayer now, also featured brief appearances by Tom Davis and comedy legend Geoffrey McGivern.

Further episodes will be shown every Tuesday evening at 10:30pm on BBC Three, and available via iPlayer. We’ll bring you more on Together soon, so stay peeled. You can see clips from the first two episodes, and the series trailer, below.

Friends Star Joins Julia Davis Show

5 Oct
© Guardian /Alan Yorick

© Guardian /Alan Yorick

Friends actor David Schwimmer will co-star in Julia Davis‘ new sitcom Morning Has Broken.

As we’ve mentioned previously, the series follows the story of Gail Sinclair (Davis), the star of daily television programme Good Morning… with Gail Sinclair. After eight years of high ratings and awards ‘The Queen of Daytime’ starts to lose viewers and tensions build within the production team, leading to Gail’s breakdown.

Schwimmer has been cast as an American producer who is brought in by channel executives to refresh and boost viewing figures for the ailing show.

© Dan Clark

© Dan Clark

We’re particularly excited about the project, because it’s directed by another friend of TVO, Dan Clark. The series is also co-written (and co-stars) Nick Mohammed (Murder in Successville, How Not to Live your Life, amongst others). Julia has said that she is, “looking forward to experimenting with friends whose work I love”.

David Schwimmer has said of his involvement in the show: “I’ve been a massive fan of Julia’s for years, and I’m thrilled to be able to finally work with her and Nick on this fantastic comedy.”

Rachel Springett, Commissioning Editor for Comedy at Channel 4 added: “Julia is undoubtedly one of our most talented comedic writers and actresses and it’s a testament to the quality of her writing that she can attract such a big star. We are thrilled to have David Schwimmer star alongside Julia in this exciting new series for the channel.”

Given how willing Matt Le Blanc has been to poke fun at his Friends’ character Joey in Episodes, we’re looking forwards to see what Julia has in store for good old Ross.


Rave Reviews For Bill

26 Sep
© BBC Films

© BBC Films

Bill, the new feature film about the lost years of William Shakespeare’s life, from the team who brought us Horrible Histories, has been wowing critics. Inspired by her own visit to the cinema to see the film (which boasts a bevy of TVO faces), Velveteer Mog rounds up the recent Bill reviews (and adds a sprinkling of her own opinion for good measure):

Anyone familiar with the likes of Monty Python, Blackadder and Horrible Histories will testify to the fact that mashing together historical facts with the funnies can be a wonderful combination. Bill continues this fine tradition, while wearing its ancestral influences well. Best described as ‘Monty Python for 12 year olds’, the jokes come thick and fast from a strong cast, most of whom play multiple roles.

© BBC Films

© BBC Films

With high production values, tight, inventive story-telling and a phenomenal gag to screen time ratio, the result is hugely entertaining: funny, daft and clever. All the performances are excellent, but a special shout out should go to Simon Farnaby, who is a treat every time he’s on screen. Plus it was a joy to see so many of ‘our lot’ adding to the giggle quota: Rufus Jones, Justin Edwards, Richard Glover and Tom Meeten.

If there weren’t enough TVO faces on screen, we were lucky enough to see two more in the audience at our local cinema, in the form of James Cook and Julian Barratt. I’m delighted to report that they seemed to enjoy Bill as much as we did.

But don’t just take our word for it; here’s what the critics have had to say about Bill (click on the links to read the review in full):

The Guardian awards Bill 4 stars, describing it as exhibiting “hints of the Carry Ons, Blackadder and especially Python.” The Observer also gives 4 stars, saying, “Nicely balancing its historically literate gags with broad knockabout slapstick, Bill is a crowd-pleasing treat that should tickle audiences young and old alike.”

4 more stars from Time Out, who say, “Mathew Baynton’s plucky Bill, Jim Howick’s grumpy Marlowe and Ben Willbond’s testosterone-fuelled Philip II of Spain are all up there with vintage ‘Blackadder’.” Den of Geek also loved it, noting that “fans of the team’s previous work will not be disappointed here,” adding, “their speciality lies in combining the grandeur of the historical or the fantastical with pure silliness, creating a bathos which is amplified in Bill by the cinematic ambition of the project.”

Even the FT gave Bill a big thumbs up, saying, “This is a comedy. And a puckish, inventive, funny one.” And The Express called it “daft fun for all the family”. A very good thing in our book.

But the final word goes to one of my notoriously difficult-to-impress kids, who summarised the film as: “Very good, funny and a bit cheeky.” High praise indeed!

Bill is currently on general release in cinemas across the UK; check local listings for details.

© BBC Films

© BBC Films

Hear the Herring with Aisling Bea

22 Sep
© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

Aisling Bea is one of the confirmed guests on the next run of Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast.

The long running series is now legendary in the annals of internet comedy, and features the delightful Mr Herring chatting with some of the biggest names in comedy.

Each edition is released on iTunes and via our friends at British Comedy Guide, as well as later on YouTube.

This season, Richard is joined by two guests appear on each recording, which is captured live in front of a real audience at the titular theatre.

Currently confirmed guests for the next run, which starts on 27th September, include Diane Morgan (aka Philomena Cunk), Stuart Goldsmith, Lee Mack, John Robins, Robert Popper, John Finnemore, Grayson Perry, Jack Whitehall, David Mitchell and on 22nd November, Aisling Bea.

Tickets are available now, right up until recordings in November 2016, and these sell pretty quickly once guests have been announced, so get in now while you can.

You can see recordings of previous podcasts featuring TVO regulars Steve CooganRebecca FrontLou SandersSharon Horgan and Jessica Hynes below.

A Who’s Who of when TVO Meets Doctor Who

19 Sep

This weekend sees the launch of the latest series of Doctor Who – the ninth since it’s return in 2005, and the thirty-fifth overall since 1963.

© BBC / Simon Ridgway

© BBC / Simon Ridgway

Led once more by Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, with Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald and the sublime Michelle Gomez (Psychobitches) as Missy, this series of twelve episodes will see the time traveller battle Daleks, Zygons and a whole new batch of foes across a series primarily made up of two-part stories, though series head-honcho Steven Moffat has warned that the concept of a two-part story this year is under some degree of flux.

As we’ve reported previously, this series continues the increasing and much welcome association with TVO’s regular roster, as Paul KayeRebecca Front and Reece Shearsmith join the guest cast across the run.

Like most of the world, we’ve little to no idea of exactly what parts the trio are playing, which is of course, rather fun for a change. And so, to celebrate the show’s return, we’ve decided to look back at the various points at which the realm of The Velvet Onion, and the adventures of that runaway Time Lord have crossed over. We thought about doing it in a wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey fashion, but decided good old fashioned chronology was more helpful then. So going way back, come with us now on a journey through time and space – literally.

Alex Kirk



It’s no small secret to know that a large number of TVO regulars are longterm, hardcore Doctor Who fans. The first to fly the flag, way back when was Alex Kirk – star of Mount Pleasant and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains to name but two.

In fact, two of the earliest roles on Kirk’s resume are in fan-produced video productions made during those dark days when the show was taken off the air for a long rest. BBV Productions were one of several small companies providing an outlet for fans to make their own vaguely Who related productions, mostly avoiding any legal wranglings by recasting stars of the show in new roles.

So for 1994’s The Zero Imperative, written by a young fellow called Mark Gatiss, the producers managed to secure the right to use the character of Dr Liz Shaw and brought back the late, great Caroline John to return to the role, but then cast the likes of Jon Pertwee, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred and Louise Jameson in new roles.

Alex Kirk’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role was as an Orderly, but he returned in 1996’s Unnatural Selection as Colonel Ackroyd, opposite John, Jameson, Gatiss and Geoffrey Beavers. Both films are very, VERY lo-fi, but are now available on dvd so you can make up your own minds…

Reece Shearsmith

Left: © BBV | Centre & Right: © BBC

Left: © BBV | Centre & Right: © BBC

Like his League of Gentlemen co-hort Mark Gatiss, it’s no secret that Reece Shearsmith is a huge Doctor Who fan, so when Gatiss became involved in BBV Productions in the mid 90s, so did Shearsmith. And when Gatiss wrote further adventures for Liz Shaw in 1995 and 1996, Shearsmith was cast as troubled student Andrew Powell, who found himself at the mercy of Peter Davison’s sinister Gavin Purcell before succumbing to the evil Greatorex himself.

Both The Devils of Winterboune and The Ghosts of Winterbourne are, like the two earlier films featuring Alex Kirk, available on dvd now. So to, is 1997’s Auton spin-off from BBV, in which Shearsmith played Dr Daniel Matthews. But that wasn’t the end of his association with Doctor Who.

Fast forward to 2013, and Gatiss has written the sublime docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time about the early days of the show’s production, and the failing health of its original star, William Hartnell – brilliantly portrayed by David Bradley. Reece made a cameo at the end of the film as his replacement, Patrick Troughton, and while there’s not much of a physical likeness, Shearsmith hit the ball out of the park pretty well.

So much so, that the production team haven’t forgotten him – he’s making an appearance in Series Nine opposite Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, stating: “I am absolutely thrilled to be filming Doctor Who. It has been so exciting to be part of a very singular episode – which, I can say with authority will be unlike any previous episode of Doctor Who.” We can’t wait.

Kevin Eldon

Left: © Unknown | Right: © BBC

Left: © Unknown | Right: © BBC

In 2001, with The Doctor’s return to television looking more and more uncertain, the BBC’s fledging website teams hatched upon the idea of making new episodes for internet consumption. This would eventually lead to the creation of a new, Ninth Doctor, played by Richard E Grant, and the highly underrated animation Scream of the Shalka, but first, a few baby steps had to be made.

The first of these was a five part story featuring the apparent death of The Doctor, here played by Sylvester McCoy. Ignoring the 1996 TV Movie and eveyrthing Big Finish were doing on audio, Death Comes to Time was designed as a potential grand finale to the series, and both Sophie Aldred and Nicholas Courtney returned as Ace and the Brigadier for good measure.

There was also a new companion – an android named Antimony – voiced by Kevin Eldon. Antimony was unaware of his robotic genesis, and wasn’t around for long enough to find out, either. The story was a curious experiment, also featuring the voices of Stephen Fry, Antony Stewart Head, John Sessions and Jon Culshaw, but these days, it’s mostly swept under the rug as a step too far in the wrong direction.

Matt Lucas

Left: © Big Finish | Right: © BBC

Left: © Big Finish | Right: © BBC

It’s no small secret that Matt Lucas is a big Doctor Who fan. Together with his former comedy partner David Walliams (who himself appeared in 2011’s The God Complex), he jam-packed seminal sketch show Little Britain with references to the show, including characters named after original series stars Matthew Waterhouse and Michael Craze, and of course, Tom Baker’s cheeky narration.

Which perhaps makes it odd that Lucas’ sole brush with actual, proper Doctor Who to date came back in 2001, when he guested opposite Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor in the Big Finish audio, The One Doctor. In this story, the Doctor and Mel (Bonnie Langford) are seemingly being impersonated by Christopher Biggins’ Banto Zane and Clare Buckfield’s Sally-Ann.

It’s all rather silly stuff, but intentionally so, and Lucas’ turn as the sinister alien cylinder is an absolute gem. One to hunt down if you can. And somebody get Matt into the show proper asap.

Jessica Hynes



These days she’s best known as tech-savvy PR buffoon Siobhan Sharpe in W1A, but back in 2002, Jessica Stevenson, as she was then known was one half of the writing team behind the magnificent Spaced, which had recently wrapped up its second and final series on Channel 4. The other half was another young comic actor known by Simon Pegg, and together, they guest-starred in the Eighth Doctor audio Invaders from Mars.

In this story, Jessica played Soviet Spy Glory Bee, whilst Pegg was crime boss Don Chaney, who caused her downfall. But that wasn’t the end of the pair’s association with Doctor Who. Pegg turned up in 2005 episode The Long Game (which TVO’s editor recently recorded a podcast commentary for alongside CBBC’s Chris Johnson), whilst Jess – who had begun using her married name professionally, made her first appearance in the main show itself a few years later.

2007’s Human Nature The Family of Blood two-parter saw David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor use a chameleon arc to hide himself away as a schoolteacher in the early 20th century. Hynes played the school’s matron, Joan Redfern, with whom the ‘man’ the Doctor became fell in love. Whilst the defeat of robot scarecrows and the titular Family led to the erasure of John Smith, The Doctor never forgot Joan, and before he regenerated in 2010’s The End of Time, he visited her great-granddaughter, Verity Newman, to ask if she found happiness. To his delight, Verity (again played by Hynes) confirmed she did.

Michael Smiley



It seems someone at Big Finish was a Spaced fan back in the early naughties (let’s face it – who wasn’t?), as Michael Smiley made his Doctor Who debut opposite Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor and Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa in 2003’s Creatures of Beauty.

With a planetary ecological disaster underway, creating an incurable, disfiguring, genetic disease to contend with, Nyssa and The Doctor are in deep trouble on the planet Veln. A cosmetic surgeon on the planet, Forleon, gets caught up in the Doctor’s misadventures, which is where Smiley’s brief role comes in: he plays Forleon’s security agent Seedleson.

A much bigger role was waiting eleven years later, when Smiley’s regular collaborator Ben Wheatley cast him as Morgan Blue in 2014’s Into the Dalek episode in the ninth series since the show returned to television. Blue was a Colonel in the Combined Galactic Resistance, used to battling Daleks but not quite prepared for the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his sarcasm. He also became one of a small handful of people to ever take on the Daleks and win. Nice one.

Tracy Ann Oberman



It’s June 2006, and all eyes not transfixed by the footie are on David Tennant’s still new Tenth Doctor, as he prepares to bid goodbye to Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). Their separation comes in the form of a cracking two-part story, Army of GhostsDoomsday, in which the mysterious Torchwood – operating out of Canary Wharf – open the void between dimensions, and accidentally let in an army of Cybermen, plus four Daleks for good measure.

It’s all a bit too much for Yvonne Hartman, Torchwood’s head honcho, played by Big Train and Toast of London star Tracy Ann ObermanFinding herself at the mercy of the Cybermen, she’s appalled to discover they have none, and walks to her fate certain she did her bit for Queen and country. That’s not the end for Yvonne, who later manages to help save the day in spite – or perhaps because of – her Cyber-conversion. And as you heard earlier this week, Oberman is returning to the role of Yvonne Hartman for Big Finish’s new Torchwood series, with One Rule being released this December.

Beyond Yvonne, Tracy appeared in a 2007 special edition of The Weakest Link, and her love of audio drama later led to two appearances opposite Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor as Supervisor Temperance Finch, head of Deimos Moonbase in the 23rd century. Both released in 2010, Deimos and The Resurrection of Mars saw Finch square up against the Ice Warriors. Nice.

Harry Peacock



“Hey! Who turned out the lights?”

It’s not often you get to utter a phrase in Doctor Who that becomes something of a catchphrase, but Harry Peacock of Toast of London and Star Stories fame, got to have one of his lines appear on t-shirts and lunchboxes all over the place.

You see, Peacock played “Proper Dave” in the seminal two-part story Silence in the Library Forest of the Dead in the revived series’ fourth run, opposite David Tennant as The Doctor and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. The story famously introduced Alex Kingston as River Song, and also featured Steve Pemberton, Colin Salmon and Talulah Riley.

Sadly, Proper Dave’s days were numbered, as he became one of several victims of the deadly Vashta Nerada: a microscope race of piranha like organisms who latch onto your shadow until they can devour you in a moment. Nasty stuff, but his consciousness survived when The Doctor and River Song managed to save everyone believed dead inside the computer system, to live out an eternal afterlife together.

Katherine Parkinson

Left: © Unknown| Right: © Big Finish

Left: © Unknown| Right: © Big Finish

Best known to millions around the world as Jen from The IT Crowd and soon to be wowing audiences in The Kennedys – it’s quite surprising that Katherine Parkinson has yet to show up in televised Doctor Who, especially after her blistering performance in Sherlock a couple of years ago.

However, over at Big Finish productions, Parkinson played a one-story companion to Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor in 2008’s The Death Collectors. Danika Meanwhile was an engineer who prevented the Doctor from dying in an air lock, as he battled a virulent disease that killed millions, and an ancient race of salvagers who collect and preserve the dead.

Lucy Montgomery

Left: © BBC| Right: © PBJ

Left: © BBC| Right: © PBJ

It feels like a lifetime ago, but there was a time when the world was fearful of the large hadron collider at CERN, Switzerland. To celebrate its big switch-on, BBC Radio celebrated Big Bang Day, and this included Lost Souls: a Torchwood audio play set between the second and third series of the Doctor Who spin-off.

Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) were rejoined by former TARDIS-traveller Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) for the story, as the team investigated the disappearance of scientists from the institute. Tittybangbang and Brian Pern star Lucy Montgomery was amongst the guest cast, playing the fictional head of the project, Professor Katrina Johnson.

Johnson got to help Captain Jack reverse the polarity, and save the day, though through a bit of wibbly-wobbly, Montgomery also turned up as a Flight Attendant earlier in the story for good measure.

Katy Wix



Torchwood‘s third series – the five part Children of Earth saga – was pretty harrowing, as every child across the world fell under the possession of the mysterious aliens known only as the 456, who were in fact in big cahoots with the British government.

It’s also infamous for killing off the regular character Ianto Jones (Gareth David Lloyd), who then rather oddly received his own ‘shrine’ at the real-life location for Torchwood Three’s entrance in Cardiff Bay (despite two other series regulars having already been killed off in equally brutal fashion). Said shrine is still there to this day, confusing tourists who have long since forgotten about Ianto.

Before the character was bumped off, we met his sister, Rhiannon Davies, played by Fried star Katy Wix. Rhiannon lived on a council estate with her husband Jonny and their two children, David and Mica – and when Ianto asked for her help following an attack on Torchwood, she proved her loyalty to her brother. After his death, Rhiannon was caught up in the government’s attempts to take ‘lesser’ children to appease the needs of the 456, and helped Gwen and Rhys make a frentic dash for safety, before Captain Jack could save the day at a terrible cost.

Appearing in all five episodes, this technically makes Katy the only TVO regular to also be a ‘series regular’ in a Doctor Who related production to date. And her connection with the Whoniverse was re-established earlier this year, when she joined Tom Baker and Louise Jameson in Big Finish audio play Suburban Hell.  Her character, Belinda, was hosting supper for four, only for The Doctor and Leela to arrive and wind everyone up in an alien plot to put people on the menu. Lots of fun, this one!

Alex MacQueen

© Big Finish

© Big Finish

To many, Alex MacQueen is best known for being regularly shouted at by the Doctor himself, when Peter Capaldi played Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It. His first brush with the Whoniverse, however, came in early 2010, when Big Finish were finally bringing to life a series of stories written for the classic series, but never filmed for various reasons.

MacQueen played the mysterious Gabriel in Paradise 5, welcoming the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) to the titular leisure space station and turned out to be an agent of the Elohim. Alex clearly made an impression on the team, as returned to Big Finish in 2012’s UNIT: Dominion series opposite the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), as “The Other Doctor” – who turns out to be {SPOILER ALERT} none other than The Master himself.

Since then, MacQueen’s interpretation of the role has returned in Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) audio box-sets Dark Eyes 2 (2014), Dark Eyes 3 (2014), and Dark Eyes 4 (2015). We’ve probably not heard the last from him either, and we’d love to see a team-up with Michelle Gomez… The Two Masters, anyone?

James Bachman

© Big Finish

© Big Finish

In 2010, James Bachman – TVO regular and veteran of That Mitchell and Webb LookBBC Nought and The Mighty Boosh to name but a few – very nearly became a bonafide companion.

Bachman played Hugh Bainbridge: one of four potential new companions for the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) in the Big Finish audio production, Situation Vacant. Described as “an amiable public school type who, though perhaps not the brightest tool in the box, is happy to rush where Time Lords fear to tread”, Brainbridge lost the job to Tamsin Drew, played by The Catherine Tate Show‘s Niky Wardley. Oh, to think what might have been.

Kayvan Novak

Left: © BBC| Right: © Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

Left: © BBC| Right: © Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

The SunTrap and Four Lions star is a master of disguise, with his enormous vocal talents first brought to the fore in the now legendary Phonejacker. So it’s perhaps no surprise that his debut in Doctor Who was as this list’s first – and to date only – bona-fide companion: yes, we’re talking about Handles, the decapitated Cyberman head who accompanied the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) in his TARDIS travels and long-standing war on Trenzalore in 2013’s The Time of The Doctor.

Handles stayed by the Doctor’s side for over 300 years, eventually succumbing to circuitry corrosion. Never before has an audience felt such sadness over a metal head, but fear not – he is on display at Cardiff’s Doctor Who Experience which everyone should get to see at least once, twice, and many more times for good measure.

Gemma Whelan

Left: © Christine Hayter| Right: © Big Finish

Left: © Christine Hayter| Right: © Big Finish

Best known for her role as Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, it’s fair to say that comedian and actress Gemma Whelan is a woman of many talents, including a highly flexible set of vocal chords. So much so, in fact, that her first brush with the Whoniverse came with the 2013 Seventh Doctor audio story Persuasion.

In this story, the Doctor is looking to loot a very specific secret from a Nazi base during WW2, and Whelan is called upon to voice three different characters: the servant Casta, annoyed computer Sylph, and the alien race Khlecht.

Shortly afterwards, Gemma appeared in two audio plays in the Big Finish spin-off series Counter Measures, which focuses on three supporting characters from the 1988 classic Remembrance of the Daleks. Her character, Emma Waverly, was the result of a eugenics experiment in 20th century England, attempting to create super-soldiers in case of German invasion, and appeared in the stories Manhunt and Sins of the Fathers.

Rhys Thomas

Left: © BBC| Right: © Pete Dadds

Left: © BBC| Right: © Pete Dadds

Now here’s an interesting one. He’s a veteran of The Fast Show and these days is the man behind Brian Pern and some incredible Queen documentaries, but Rhys Thomas is also a big Doctor Who fan, and made a very brief appearance in Peter Davison’s sublime 50th anniversary special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.

Or rather, he didn’t make an appearance as such, but his voice could be heard, as a rather hapless DJ proclaiming his favourite Doctor to be Peter Cushing – much to Davison’s chagrin. The whole half hour is a joyous romp through the annals of Doctor Who history, with more cameos than you can shake a big stick labelled ‘CAMEO’ at, so do check it out if you haven’t already.

Ben Wheatley

Left: © Charlie Gray| Right: © BBC

Left: © Charlie Gray| Right: © BBC

One of the most innovative directors working today, bagging Ben Wheatley for Series Eight of Doctor Who last year was a serious coup for the production team. Hot off the back of his success with A Field in England, and about to make the soon to be released High Rise, Wheatley signed up to make the opening two episodes of Peter Capaldi’s reign as the Twelfth Doctor.

The results were the extended series opener Deep Breath, and the regular length Into the Dalek, both receiving rave reviews, and demonstrating that, when the mood takes him, even Ben ‘Kill List‘ Wheatley can do family friendly drama at its best.

Tony Way



It wouldn’t quite be a Ben Wheatley production if he wasn’t killing off one of his mates, now, would it? Getting the chop for the third time following Down Terrace and Sightseers was Tony Way – best known internationally for his roles in Edge of Tomorrow and Game of Thrones, but known to UK comedy lovers for his appearances in Mongrels, Tittybangbang, Muder in Successville, Spaced, The Fast Show, Black Books, House of Fools… I could go on?

It’s a short and sweet cameo from Tony in Series Eight’s opener Deep Breath, who plays hapless and sceptical Victorian gentleman Alf, who just can’t quite believe that the T.Rex in the Thames is actually real. And he has such good eyes…

Paul Kaye & Rebecca Front

Left: © Fenris Oswin| Right: © Charlie Forgham-Bailey

Left: © Fenris Oswin| Right: © Charlie Forgham-Bailey

Finally for the time being, are a couple of temporary mysteries to whet your appetite. Alongside Reece Shearsmith, both Paul Kaye and Rebecca Front are due to make guest appearances in Series Nine this year. All we currently know for certain is that Kaye appears in Episodes 3 & 4, as a Tivolian called Prentis.

Tivolians were first introduced in 2011’s The God Complex, and as this month’s Doctor Who Magazine puts it: “amusingly revel in being opressed.” The story – Under the Lake Before the Flood is written by Being Human creator Toby Whithouse, and all he’s saying about Kaye’s part at present is that he’s done “a great job” with it. Doesn’t he always? Meanwhile, if IMDB is to be believed, Front will be playing Lady Yates in The Zygon Invasion, one of two episodes dealing with the aftermath of the Zygon/Human peace treaty established in The Day of the Doctor.

Under the Lake / Before the Flood air October 3rd and 10th respectively, and we’ll bring you more news about them, plus the episodes featuring Front and Shearsmith in due course. Until then, here’s the trailer for Series Nine, and we hope you enjoy the ride!

Doctor Who returns Saturday 19th September on BBC One, BBC America and across the world.

Bill – Out Tomorrow

17 Sep

Bill – the long awaited film about the lost years of William Shakespeare is finally released tomorrow (September 18th), six months later than originally planned.

© BBC Films

© BBC Films

It is written by Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond, who star in the film, along with the rest of the cast of BBC’s Horrible Histories (and Sky 1’s Yonderlandto tell the story of hapless lute player Bill Shakespeare, who wastes his life in a band called Mortal Coil.

He dreams of becoming a playwright so moves his family from Stratford-upon-Avon to London, where he befriends Christopher Marlowe, who has been unemployed since the plague closed all the playhouses.

They join forces on a play which they intend to sell to The Earl Of Croydon who has promised some comical entertainment for Queen Elizabeth I (Harry Potter’s Helen McCrory). Unfortunately there is a plot to kill the Queen, so of course the lads get caught up in this.

As well as Simon Farnaby and the rest of the Horrible Histories gang, the cast also includes Damien Lewis and a few familiar TVO faces in supporting roles: look out for Richard GloverJustin EdwardsTom Meeten and Rufus Jones!

Click here for reviews and interviews and you can see the trailer below.

Tracy Ann Oberman returns to the Whoniverse

17 Sep
© Big Finish

© Big Finish

Tracy Ann Oberman is to front a brand new audio play based on Doctor Who spin-off show Torchwood.

Back in 2006, Oberman guest-starred in the two-part Doctor Who television story, Army of Ghosts Doomsday as Yvonne Hartman: head of Torchwood One slap bang in the middle of Canary Wharf as it found itself slap bang in the middle of a double whammy attack from Cybermen and Daleks.

It’s no secret to say – spoiler alert – that Hartman didn’t make it out of that one alive. Sort of. Yvonne was given a forced Cyber-conversion, but her personality reasserted itself and in her new steel form she managed to help save the day.

Now Big Finish – producers of hundreds of Doctor Who related audio productions since 1999 – have turned back time and set an episode of their new Torchwood series in the months prior to Yvonne’s demise, as the character makes a trip to Cardiff on 26th March 2005 – the day that everything changes.

In One Rule, it’s been three weeks since the Mayor of Cardiff was killed by a shop dummy and the fight is on to see who will replace him. Hartman is in town to retrieve an invaluable alien device, but finds herself caught up in that fight, as a bloodthirsty alien stalks the streets, and there’s a special offer on at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.



Written by former Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures scribe Joseph Lidster, and directed by the king of all Dalek operators, Barnaby Edwards, the play also features Doctor Who veterans Gareth Armstrong, Dan Starkey and Cartin Stewart, and former Doctors star Rebecca Lacey.

The story is the fourth in the series which also sees the return of John Barrowman, Gareth David Lloyd, Eve Myles and Kai Owen to their regular roles as Captain Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams across the previous instalments.

One Rule is released in December, and is available to pre-order on cd and download from Big Finish now.

First Look at The Kennedys

16 Sep
© BBC / Adam Lawrence

© BBC / Adam Lawrence

Forthcoming BBC One sitcom The Kennedys is almost upon us, and while we wait for a confirmed transmission date, we’ve got this bevvy of promotional images to share with you.

As we reported back in March, the six-part series is set in the 1970s, and is based on the memoirs of actress, writer and TV presenter Emma Kennedy.

Her parents Brenda and Tony are played by Katherine Parkinson and Dan Skinner respectively, while family friend Tim (a typical 70s alpha male) is played by Harry Peacock.

Emma herself, aged 10, will be played by Lucy Hutchinson (Inside No. 9), and the cast is rounded out by Emma Pierson (Suntrap), Clive Rowe (Doctor Who) and Shola Adewusi (Catastrophe) as neighbours David and Dee.

In the first episode, Brenda is determined to be the first person on Jessop Square to throw a dinner party. Giddy with possibilities, she invites best friends Tim and Jenny and new neighbours the Palmers for an evening no-one will ever forget. Having never cooked anything other than an egg, Brenda quickly shifts all responsibility for the dinner party and cooking the lasagne on to Tony.

Meanwhile, Emma is put out when arch-rival Julie gains control of the play fort – which nobody is allowed in to unless they know her secret whisper. Emma realizes that in order to wrestle control from her nemesis, she needs to create a secret whisper to end all secret whispers.

It’s all sounding very delightful, and we can’t wait to see the results. We’ll aim to bring you a more in-depth preview in the coming week, so stay peeled. In the meantime, there’s a gallery of images to savour below.

Wunderland Returns

16 Sep

We’re late. We’re late. For a very important date. No time to say Jasaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, we’re late, we’re late, we’re late!

© Lewes Herriot

Yes, it’s not often we’re behind the times, but somehow, a bubble in the Onionverse caused a rift in the comedy continuum yesterday, and everyone involved with the long awaited Series Three of Alice’s Wunderland forgot to tell you it was back on the air at 11pm last night!

In fairness, both Alice and TVO managed to sneak in a ten minute warning on Twitter, so well done to any late night Tweeters who caught it and tuned in.

For the uninitiated, the radio series, which began life as a 2011 pilot before full series runs in 2012 and 2013, features Alice Lowe as a variety of characters who comprise the main inhabitants of Wunderland: the ‘Poundland of magical realms’.

Also along for the ride are series regulars Richard GloverRachel StubbingsClare Thomson, Simon Greenhall (I’m Alan Partridge) and Marcia Warren. The results are as magical as ever, as Lady Bowie goes on an adventure to a ‘tights spot’ and the narrator meets some other weirdos.

Please adjust your pants accordingly, and listen without orifice via iPlayer now. Three further episodes will air over the next few Wednesdays at 11pm only on Radio 4.

Shooting the Breeze is Back!

15 Sep

This week sees the long-awaited return of Rachel Stubbings fronted film night Shooting the Breeze after a lengthy Summer sabbatical, and there’s some exciting details for TVO readers to savour.

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

First up, the event will feature an early preview of a new short film called One Tw*t written by Stubbings, directed by Ben Mallaby, and starring Stubbings, Mike Wozniak and Tom Meeten. A romantic comedy with a twist, we’ve got a couple of exclusive behind the scenes stills for you across this post.

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

The night will also feature the first screening of Mosquito starring Stubbings alongside Alice Lowe, Richard Herring and Michael Spicer, as well as contributions from Steve OramAlex MacQueen, Diane Morgan, Brett Goldstein, Alistair Green, The Blaine Brothers, Andrew Laurich, Gabriel Miller. MP Cunningham and even more – all packed into one stuffed hour of awesome film.

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

As ever, Shooting the Breeze takes place at Shortwave Cinema in Bermondsey Square, and tickets for the show this Thursday, 17th September are just £7 over yonder.

A Round Up Of Doll & Em

13 Sep


The second series of the awesome Doll & Em, co-written by and featuring Dolly Wells, will be premiering in the US tonight at 10.30pm on HBO. In its honour, we thought we’d gee you a round-up of recent interview and coverage about the show. We’re nice like that.

Just click on the links to read the articles in full:

First up, Emily Mortimer spoke to The Dinner Party Download and HuffPost Live in a filmed interview. She was also on Watch What Happens Live (various clips are available to view, but sadly not for those of us outside the US) and on NBC New York and  AOL Build (which we can all watch, wherever we are. Hurrah!).

Then, both Dolly and Emily spoke to Indiewire about how their friendship led to the creation of the show. We also chanced upon an article about Doll & Em from Indiewire too.

If that little lot doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about Doll & Em, don’t despair! There’s still time to ask Emily a question about the show, via this HBO Q&A; and if dual-screening is more your thing, Dolly will be live-tweeting during the first episode, so don’t forget to follow her if you’re not already.

Remember to tune in tonight, US folks. For the rest of us, here are a couple of trailers and a few clips from the second series – so no one feels left-out:

If you’d prefer to have the opportunity to meet one of the ladies face to face, tickets are still available to be part of the audience at A Conversation With Emily Mortimer with Wie in New York, on Wednesday September 30th at 6:30pm (EDT). Tickets are available here.




Marley’s Ghosts

7 Sep

Nicholas Burns joins John Hannah, Jo Joyner and Sarah Alexander in a new comedy commission for UKTV’s Gold channel.

Marley’s Ghosts features Sarah Alexander (Undercover) as Marley: a woman with a rare gift that comes with mixed blessings: she can talk to the dead.

The titular ghosts she sees are her husband Adam (A Touch of Cloth‘s John Hannah), her vicar (Jo Joyner, Ordinary Lives) and her lover, Michael, played by Nicholas Burns. The Sarah Jane Adventures star Mina Anwar is amongst those still in the land of the living, for good measure. It all sounds delightfully bonkers, and you can see a sneaky trailer right now.

The comedy lineage continues behind the camera too, as Marley’s Ghosts is written by Comic Strip Presents veteran Danny Peacock (who international audiences may remember from his guest slot in Sylvester McCoy era Doctor Who), and the three part series is produced by John Stanley Productions: the company set up by Matt Lucas, no less.

On directing duties is Ben Gosling Fuller (The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff, The IT Crowd, That Mitchell and Webb Look), while producer Katie Mavroleon previously worked on Pompidou and Life’s Too Short.

The series begins on Wednesday, 30th September. In the meantime, you can see a gallery of images from the show below.



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