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Onion Talking: Sarah Kendall on Touchdown

21 Feb
© Sarah Kendall

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Acclaimed stand-up comic Sarah Kendall returns to The Soho Theatre with the final run for her smash-hit show Touchdown this week, running from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th February.

With her follow up show, A Day in October, due to launch at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in March, this felt like as good a time as any to finally book ourselves some time to talk to the gifted storyteller, masterful standup and full-time mother.

Editor in chief Paul Holmes caught up with Sarah to discuss about her career so far, and the effects her life beyond it have had upon her outlook, with the following insightful results…

At the turn of the millennium, Sarah Kendall made a huge decision. Already a regular on the Australian stand-up comedy circuit, two years after her initial flurry of success, she packed up her bags and moved to England. By 2003, she was ready to take on the Edinburgh Fringe, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Flight of the Conchords, Gary Le Strange and Adam Hills. The following year, she was nominated for the Perrier Award’s main category of Best Show alongside Chris Addison, Reginald D Hunter and winner Will Adamsdale (best known internationally for his role in The Boat that Rocked).

As the years went by, Kendall built on this initial success, gaining a cult following through heavy touring, countless festivals, and numerous, award-winning live shows. In 2008, she stretched her wings and took on sketch-show comedy, with a role in the short-lived E4 show Beehive, and has spent the last four years voicing Libby McKenzie alongside Sally Philips, Nina Conti and Liza Tarbuck in the long running Radio 4 comedy Clare in the Community.

Recent years, however, have seen Kendall’s extra-curricular activity dry up, as she became a mother and, quite naturally, shifted her workload accordingly.  As TVO calls, she is in her London home with the kids tucked up in bed and a slightly burnt warm-up shepherds pie in the oven. Greeting us fondly, and stressing she isn’t the kind of person to make her own  shepherd’s pie, she confirms her eagerness to talk by exclaiming: “I’m going to stop doing the dishes and give you my full attention. That’s how serious I am, I’m walking away from the dishes. Fire away!”

© PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Naturally, the conversation turns firstly to motherhood, and TVO wonders exactly how having children has changed Sarah’s career plan. “Gosh, that’s a good question,” she says, thinking about the answer for a moment. “It’s a really big answer too. I suppose I’m not really at my sparkiest late at night, so you know, most gigs…” She trails off, laughing. “I generally need to go on early. I can’t do a late night. And I can’t do huge amounts of travel, either. I don’t wanna be away for weekends. I don’t wanna be away for a week, you know? It’s changed the practicalities of work.”

“But I think from a creative perspective,” Sarah continues, “when I do get that time to myself, and I do get that time on stage, I really wanna make it count. I suppose I don’t fuck around as much as I used to. Cos I suppose when I have got that time to work, and to be creative, it’s actually really special ‘me’ time. God, I really relish it. I think when my day wasn’t quite as occupied looking after little people, I’d just go and do a gig and not really think much about it. Now I wanna make that time count. I wanna do the very best material I can do.”

That material at present is Touchdown – the 2014 show she toured around Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe amongst other places, and is reviving for one last shebang at The Soho Theatre across the last week of February.  As with her previous show, it focuses on particular events in her teenage years, rather than Sarah’s life at present, a factor which may be a subconscious reaction to having to grow up and take responsibility for what Sarah endearing refers to as ‘little people’.

“Also, I think,” she suggests, “I don’t want to get on stage and talk about what I’m doing now. That’s only because if I went on stage and whinged about it, it wouldn’t be right. I don’t want to whinge about it, but I also don’t want to stand on stage and say how much I love my children. That’s not particularly hilarious.”

“I’ve been looking into different times of my life,” she adds, “reflecting on them, and thinking about them differently.  I suppose to me, I do regard those years quite differently now that I’m a mother. The thing is, that sounds really boring, but it changes your perspective on the whole time. I find that creatively it’s really energising. I really enjoy writing about it.”

© PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Kendall’s comedy has morphed from its early days of quick-fire stand-up into a more intelligent, thoughtful brand of storytelling that connects with anyone who was ever the slightly awkward kid that didn’t quite fit in, but wasn’t unpopular either. The gags are obviously still there, but it’s wrapped up in intellectual reasoning, emotional resonance, and the odd moment of childish humour for good measure.

“I think, ultimately, I’m a little bit of a whore for a laugh,” Sarah reveals. “Anyone who goes into comedy has to be. I don’t like to leave it too long without one. My training is as a stand up, so I do always look for the gag. I try not to do that at the expense of the story.”

“If it didn’t fit with where the story was at, I wouldn’t do it. But I try to make it a punchy show. I don’t think I’m precious about that sort of thing. I do want people to laugh and have a good time.”

If there’s one thing Kendall could never be accused of, it’s being precious about her work. There’s a remarkable freshness to talking to someone who, unsullied by the PR machine that affects so many in the industry, is completely open and honest about her work, right down to the point of Touchdown’s premise being the reality behind the fabrication of her previous show.

“I had this joke that I’d been doing for years,” Sarah discloses. “I knew in my heart what the real story was, but I’d made it into a good joke. I’d always been slightly plagued by the fact that there is a much bigger story behind it, but I didn’t know how to tell it. I didn’t think it belonged in a comedy show. Then I just thought: sod it. I’m gonna write about what really happened because it is a good story, and an important story. It means a lot more to me now that I’m older, and now I know how to tell it, and I’m not afraid of the serious or silly parts of the story. I think if you do something that’s got a bit of a darker edge to it, you’ve gotta be confident that you can treat it respectfully enough that you’re not gonna panic and try to make a joke out of it.”

© PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

“It was a surprise for me,” she notes, in regards to Touchdown’s now deconstructed predecessor, Get Up, Stand Up.  “I enjoyed telling that story every single night I performed it. Generally during a festival there comes a point where you say: if I have to say these words one more time, I’m gonna fucking kill myself. I found that with this show, I never got to that point. I really enjoyed taking the audience on that journey.”

Thankfully, Touchdown offered a similar vibe. “This is my favourite show that I’ve ever done,” she states, firmly. “I was really crestfallen at the end of the festival because I kinda felt it was over. I knew I’d probably do a run at the Soho, but it felt kinda like the end. By the time I did Edinburgh, I’d already done quite a few other festivals, so I knew that was the end of that festival circuit. And I was quite sad.”

TVO notes that, given how precious Sarah’s time has become, this feeling may have been intensified, and it’s something that we’re seeing more and more of. When we began, five years ago, our thirty-something regulars were still riding high on their initial flurry of success, gigging around the clock and constantly making new and exciting things. Recently, there’s been a marked slow-down in the activity of some of them, as they’ve reached the age of having babies and settling down, just like Kendall.

“I suppose you kind of go through this huge sea of change when you have a family,” she suggests. “You do start to look back on events with fresh eyes. It can be a good and a bad thing. Sometimes you go: Ah, shit, I wish I hadn’t done that thing. I really regret that thing that I did.”

Such feelings came to the fore last year, when Kendall wrote a piece for The Guardian about her somewhat flippant handling on stage of a genuinely disturbing moment in her career, when a drunk heckler threatened her with anal rape at a gig. Whilst the routine was funny, as time went by it had increasingly made her feel uncomfortable.

“I hate looking at clips of myself,” Sarah confesses. “Someone sent me that clip and asked for permission to use it, and as I watched that piece of material, I was so struck by how untrue the emotions were that I was portraying on stage. That’s something that would never have entered my mind ten years ago. I would have just gone through and made sure all the jokes were strong without offending people. But I just thought: That is so not what happened. That is so not emotionally what that experience was like, and I have brought none of that to that piece of material. I think it would have been a much more interesting piece of material if I had discussed that.”

© Tiger Aspect Television

© Tiger Aspect Television

Another potentially difficult blip on her career came with the hugely divisive E4 sketch show Beehive in 2008. Designed by committee, it nevertheless gave a platform to Kendall on television, alongside Alice Lowe, Barunka O’Shaughnessy and Clare Thomson. TVO has previously waxed lyrical about the merits of the show: in spite of its obvious flaws, there’s a hell of a lot to love in there too.

“I haven’t watched it since we did it,” Sarah tells us as conversation moves on to the troubled production.  “It was incredibly rushed, from the commission to filming. My memory of it was thinking: This has been rushed. It was four people who’d never met each other, thrown into an ensemble and given a fairly small amount of time to turn a show around.  It’s one of those things where I did it as an opportunity, but in hindsight it could have been a lot better had we had more time. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have had a heck of a lot of alarm bells going off as it progressed.”

Kendall is genuinely touched by our admiration for the team, and the bits that worked really well, such as her magnificent Elizabeth I routine, in which Sarah portrayed the monarch surrounded by bullying lackeys, or the flat sequences with swearing lessons, special robots, love affairs with pot plants and confusion over Spiderman’s true identity. Sadly, the show was buried by E4 before it even had a chance to build an audience, splurged onto television across a couple of nights with no advertising, and never repeated.

© Tiger Aspect Television

“I don’t really know how it happened,” she sighs, “or how it works. I don’t understand who decides these things, but it just felt rushed through. I had a really good time doing it though. I loved working with Alice, Clare and Barunka. They’re such powerful, funny women, and it was such a pleasure to work with them. I don’t want to piss anybody off, but it just didn’t feel like it had a lot of backing.”

Despite the circumstances of its troubled production, Beehive did allow Kendall a break from being ‘herself’ when making people laugh. TVO is curious if she’d do something similar now, given her present work/life balance. “God, that’s a good question!” she explains, and thinks for a moment.  “I think when I was younger I would say yes and just fuck it and see. I think now it would have to be something that I’m really passionate about, because I don’t have a huge amount of spare time. It would have to be something I could really put 100% of myself in. I’d be slightly more selective at this stage.”

The one bonus of the show was that It introduced Sarah to a whole new set of collaborators – some of whom she has continued to work with sporadically whenever possible. In 2010, for example, she played a fellow mum in My First Baby – the Jackal Films short featuring Rich Fulcher as Alice Lowe’s very oversized toddler. A few years later, she cropped up in James Bachman & Tom Meeten’s BBC Nought project, during a spoof on The Apprentice. Evidently, she’s still a part of the family, even if her time with them is sporadic at best.

© Jackal Films

© Jackal Films

“We don’t see each other as much as we used to when we had more spare time,” Kendall explains. “Certainly, not as much as I’d like to. The funny thing about London is you kinda get into your borough. But they were people I really learned so much from working with. There were such a variety of skillsets that were brought to Beehive. I felt they were all quite accomplished actresses, whereas I didn’t come from that background, so every day was a learning curve.”

Thankfully, in this internet age, a buried show doesn’t have to stay buried forever. The dvd release still chugs away on Amazon, the episodes are still viewable on 4oD, and TVO will occasionally bring it up. It still finds an audience. “It’s extraordinary,” Sarah states. “It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally I will get someone recognising me from Beehive, which is just really weird to me. It kinda got buried over three days on television, and yet it does still happen. It’s nice that you don’t live and die by whoever does the programming.”

Nevertheless, the show is firmly behind Sarah Kendall. Her comedic concentration right now, beyond remembering the finer points of Touchdown, is writing her 2015 show, A Day in October. Set to premiere at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at the end of March, the show will tour the festival circuit before arriving in Edinburgh throughout August. To that end, Sarah’s already seemingly come up with an enthusiastic manta, when the subject of the new show is brought up.

“March 27th is opening night,” she says, rigidly. “The show will be finished by opening night. I will have a show by March 27th.”

As laughs erupt on both sides of the phone, TVO inquires as to how close that process is to becoming a reality. “I would say a third of the way into the writing process,” Sarah reveals. “I think I have a fairly confident idea of where the story is. It’s another story about my teenage years. It’s about a friendship I had with a guy and we went to a pool party one October, and the show is about the knock-on effect that pool party had on us throughout the rest of his life and my life.”

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

With the deadline looming, it would be understandable for many comics to leave some of the details hazy, and let them arrive naturally as the show goes on, but not for Sarah. “This show and the last were quite heavily written shows,” she affirms. “There aren’t patches where I fuck around with the audience or bits where I think I’ll ad-lib that on the night. Because they’re stories, you do have to bring all the disciplines of storytelling to it. You do have to have structure, and you do need to have a big thing happening in the third act. All those things you don’t have to think about when you’re doing a standup set, but I find with a story if you just let it happen you can end up with a spectacular mess on your hands. I do tend to write them quite carefully.”

There’s also the potential weight of an unwanted baton to consider. To TVO, and we’re sure to a great many people – a comedian is a comedian, and that’s that. Yet as the debate about women in comedy continues to bubble to the surface, there’s an alarming amount of pressure put on female comedians to be funny for their gender, rather than their vocation.

“I think I used to feel that way,” Sarah considers. “But I think things have got so much better. I’m not saying they’re ‘good’. We’re nowhere near a situation that is equal. But things are so much better than where they were twelve years ago, even though they’re not great. I take real heart in the fact that I’ve seen more and more female talent coming through as the years have gone by. And it’s great female talent I’m really proud to work with and associate with. I do think it’s challenging, and it’s still there, but I think it’s unfortunate, but the media do play it up.”

“On the live circuit,” she continues, “people are out in the club and they want a laugh, and you will get bad audiences and the occasional knob heads, but generally speaking they just want you to be funny. The real problems I’ve faced and have seen, are really in media circles, and tv commissioning, and the people who book talent for shows. The live circuit isn’t really the problem, but there are people who genuinely seem to not want women on television.”

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

© Sarah Kendall / PBJ

Male comics, TVO notes, are judged purely on their ability as comics. Female comics, however, are judged as ‘female comics’ for good measure. Sarah agrees, and adds: “I also think with social media there are a lot of voices. The really negative voices tend to get heard a bit more. For a hundred thousand people to go: She’s really good, she’s really funny, you’ll get a small proportion of people who just say something really vile, and that draws more attention.”

Not that Kendall will have seen most of this online, as the last few years have seen her maintain a relatively low profile. “I didn’t mean to!” she protests, laughing. “Our Twitter conversation today is the first Twitter conversation I think I’ve ever had.”

TVO explains that, if it wasn’t for Patrick Bustin at PBJ (the management company who handle a sizable chunk of our roster) casually mentioning her Twitter profile, we would have no clue that Sarah was even on there – and we take extra care to try and make sure we’re following everyone we need to in order to keep tabs on events.

“Oh yeah,” she says firmly, and a little guiltily. “Look, I know. I have been so not interested, and so busy. But I was talking to another comic who said: You really need to sort your shit out on that front, cos you’re off the grid man. I thought: Oh, really? I just sort of had my head buried in the sand for five years. I’m learning it, and you know, I’m gonna have to just get in there and do it.”

“It’s extraordinary, though,” she continues. “You do a couple of tweets, and suddenly you get all these pinging noises, and suddenly you’ve got twelve or thirteen new followers, and I just think: What the fuck? To me it’s very curious. It’s a very interesting, weird experience. And I know there are a lot of people who can’t remember a time before it, but I happen to be a billion years old.”

One thing that Kendall does have a lot of time for, however, is Jaws 4. No, really.

“I don’t know why,” she says, as she tries to justify the number of times she’s sat through it.  “I think I just like watching really good actors in terrible films. It’s like a schadenfreude thing. I just really enjoy seeing Michael Caine in this explicably awful movie. I can’t look away. I really like good actors in shit films. It’s like my favourite genre. It makes you feel better about yourself too.”

“I saw a movie with Henry Fonda in it called They Swarm, about bees attacking civilisation. It’s this great actor in this really weird horror film, where he’s being attacked by bees. I love it. It’s a fantastic film, I enjoy it thoroughly. Everyone’s just pulled together to get the product finished. I love that. I like the nose to the grind attitude. They’ve just thought: We’ve gotta bring this thing to life, and we’ve only got 50p. Let’s just use the car park. Fuck it.”

That attitude enthuses Sarah’s work, but is matched by her perfectionism and professionalism, and above all else, her genuine charm as a personality and a performer. As TVO bids her a fond farewell, so she can get back to her dishes and shepherd’s pie, we can’t help but feel that we’ve just spent a good half an hour being delighted by her company, and as a comic whose livelihood depends on storytelling, that can only be a good thing.

Sarah Kendall: Touchdown is at the Soho Theatre between February 24th – 28th 2015. Sarah Kendall: A Day in October is at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival between March 26th to April 19th 2015. Sarah will be at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2015. For more info on future live dates, keep an eye on her Twitter page… hopefully!

Alice Returns To Wunderland

6 Dec

© Lewes Herriot / Alice Lowe

Alice’s Wunderland – the surreal radio sketch show from the mind of Alice Lowe returns next week to Radio 4.

The show is set in the titular Wunderland – the pound shop of magical realms which is home to waifs, stays, ghosts, pensioners and squirrels, all brought to life by Alice and her incredible cast.

That includes TVO regulars Richard GloverRachel Stubbings and Clare Thompson, as well as Alan Partridge star Simon Greenall and acting legend Marcia Warren.

Series One aired back in July and August of last year, and we talked to Alice in depth about the show even earlier than that, when the pilot aired in April 2011.  You can read our interview again here.  This time around, the incredibly in-demand wonder that is Ms Lowe is ridiculously busy, so we’ve not been able to offer you a fresh tease.

However, from what we’ve heard about the new run, and from how much we enjoyed Series One, we’re sure it’s going to be something pretty darn special.

The show airs on BBC Radio 4 at 11pm on Thursday 12th December, and continues until January 2nd.  Episodes will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission, and we’ll provide reminder links when we can.

Though really, nothing will beat wrapping up warm on Thursday night, and taking a trip to a (cheap) magical realm with the rest of us… meet you by the bins at 10:55?

Yonderland Is Here!

7 Nov
© sky.co.uk

© sky.co.uk

We finally have the broadcast date for Yonderland, and it’s Sunday (10th November) at 6.30pm on Sky1 and Sky1 HD.

The first two half-hour episodes are being shown, with the next six episodes shown weekly. It will be repeated on Tuesdays and Fridays and the episodes will be available from Sky On Demand after broadcast.

As regular readers know, Yonderland is written by and stars the main cast of Horrible Histories along with Dan Skinner, and is a comic fantasy about Debbie Maddox, a Mum who drops her twins off at school for their first day, and is confronted by an elf with a magic stick at the back of her food cupboard.

The elf transports her to another world filled with carnivorous plants and strange creatures, where she finds she is the ‘Chosen One’.

Watch a clip from the first episode here and a Q and A with the cast there, where they talk about their influences when writing the show.

Dead Happy Lives Again!

25 Sep

© Film Or Die Productions / Sky Movies Indie

Dead Happy – the magnificent short film by Nicky Lianos – is now available to buy digitally via Amazon.com

The short, written by David Lemon and directed by Lianos, was made in conjunction with SkyMovies back in 2010. It features Alice Lowe as a Grim Reaper, bored of her 9-5 job, and looking for love.

Also featuring were Tom MeetenJustin EdwardsClare Thomson and Missing Scene co-creator turned internet legend David Bussell.

We fell in love with Dead Happy (and Lianos previous short with TVO connections, Monsters And Rabbits) when it was released three years ago, and followed its progress from SkyMovies airings, through to film festivals and eventually iTunes last year.

Now the short gets a US release somewhere that doesn’t fill Apple’s pockets, so those of you who think iPhone, schmiPhone, can download it via Amazon.com for just $1.99 right over yonder.  You can see a preview clip below.

Here in the UK, the film is still available via iTunes for £1.49, and it’s the best quid and almost-a-half you’ll spend today…

Dead Happy For Dead Happy

22 Sep

The short film, Dead Happy starring Alice Lowe (as the Grim Reaper), Tom MeetenClare Thomson and Justin Edwards has just picked up an award!

© Shorts

It has won the ‘Best Horror Short Film’ category at the The Chicon 7 Independent Film Festival. The Festival showcases the best film shorts, features and trailers from around the world, specialising in the science fiction, fantasy, horror and comic genres. To see the full list of winners click here.

Dead Happy will be shown as part of the Film Festival showcase; you can see it in the 3-5pm slot on Saturday, September 1st in Grand Suite 5. Please see Page 16 of the Festival schedule for full details.

It’s turned out to be a good month for Dead Happy, with an iTunes release a couple of weeks ago, followed by a Top 10 placing on the iTunes chart.  Let’s hope that this recent flurry of recognition for the 2010-produced film  draws new audiences to its charms.

iDead

4 Sep

© Shorts

The short film Dead Happy starring Alice LoweTom Meeten, Clare Thomson and Justin Edwards is now available to buy on iTunes.

Shot back in 2010, the film was written by David Lemon and directed by Nicky Lianos, who also helmed Monsters & Rabbits featuring Lowe & James Bachman the previous year.

It stars Alice as a Grim Reaper, bored of her 9-5 job, and looking for love.  Beautifully shot with drained colours and a delicate flight of fancy powered by a deadpan script and some off-kilter performances, the short is something of a forgotten classic which is more than worth your attention.

After several screenings on Sky Movies HD throughout 2010, the film is now – at long last – available to own for just £1.49 in the UK, and $1.99 in the US.  For more info on the film itself, visit Nicky’s website over yonder.

Funny Fortnight Favourites: Beehive Remembered

19 Aug

© Tiger Aspect Television

During Channel 4’s Funny Fortnight, we thought it’d be a good idea to look back at some of the TVO related shows in their archives.

Here, our editor in chief turns his attention to oft-neglected sketch show Beehive, to see if it’s worthy of a reappraisal.

In December, 2008, a brand new sketch show aired on E4. If you blinked, you’d have missed it – as it’s five episodes were crammed into three nights and promptly forgotten about. Since then, there’s always been a stigma surrounding Beehive – not least amongst its stars. During a recent appearance on Richard Herring’s podcast, Australian stand-up Sarah Kendall was incredibly dismissive about the show, or at the very least, it’s treatment by the channel.  The dvd release of the series was rushed out not long after broadcast, and promptly forgotten about – it’s currently out of print, and is unlikely to get another run anytime soon.

Watching Beehive in retrospect, in some ways it’s difficult to see why it was buried away and forgotten about.  This is, after all, a funny show.  Yet at the same time, the shunting and dismissal is totally understandable given the way programming commissioners have moved towards broader, more mainstream entertainment, particularly at the time the show aired.

© Tiger Aspect Television

It is fair to say that Beehive is far from perfect. Certainly, this is a show that isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. Written mostly by its four stars, Alice Lowe, Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Clare Thomson and Kendall – it was described by Sarah as “shit that makes the four of us laugh”. As such, it’s a fusion of surrealistic moments, such as the alien going to the swimming baths, traditional sketches like the Aztecs taking all day to write a name, and some downright purile knob and fart jokes that prove once and for all women like crude humour just as much as men.

The most successful regular sequences are those set in the Beehive flat. Playing exaggerated versions of themselves, these sequences act like a French & Saunders white room for the 21st century – allowing the girls to be incredibly silly in the strangest possible ways, always grounded by the familiar surroundings. Thus, Sarah can recreate that scene from Aliens or become convinced she is Spiderman, Barunka can pretend to be a Speshul Robot for Claire’s birthday, and they can all get offended by the phrase: “Barunka is a bellend.” Continue reading

Wunderland To Keep

24 Jul
image

© Lewes Herriot

Alice’s Wunderland, the new comedy written by and starring Alice Lowe, is this week’s Comedy of the Week on BBC Radio 4! That means it’s available as a free podcast for you to download and keep forever.

If you haven’t listened before, the show is narrated by the lovely Marcia Warren who takes you  down a ‘rather manky-looking rabbit hole to Wunderland, the Poundland of magical realms’, to meet strange characters in bizarre situations.  This half-hour of sketches and songs  also stars Simon Greenall, Richard Glover, Clare Thomson, Rachel Stubbings and Waen Shepherd.

So pop over to the BBC Website, and grab a slice of Wunderland. If you love it, and we’re sure you will, the next episode is on Thursday at 11pm on BBC Radio 4 and will be available on iPlayer shortly after this.

TVO Triple!

12 Jul

You wait ages for one comedy show then, like buses, three come along at once! Tonight is one such evening, as Onion layers take over the airwaves!

image

First up at 10pm on E4 is episode two of The Midnight Beast, directed by Ben Gregor and featuring our favourite funny man called Simon Farnaby in the shape of, er… Simon Farnaby!

In tonights edition The Midnight Beast turn to the murky world of visual artists to craft a new music video, with suitably anarchic results. We are not 100% sure Simon features this week but its worth a watch regardless.

image

Following this, hop over to BBC Three for the series finale of Dead Boss, featuring its cowriter Sharon Horgan alongside Bunny and the Bull star Edward Hogg, at 10:30pm.

In tonights episode, Helen (Horgan) is being transferred to another wing whilst prison governer Margaret (Jennifer Saunders) faces a transfer to another prison altogether. Meanwhile, lovelorn Henry (Hogg) makes a gruesome discovery…

With a special guest appearance by one Miranda Richardson, no less, alongside impressionist John Sessions, it looks like Dead Boss will be going out with a bang!

After the show, its time to turn off the tv, and maybe the lights too, as you flick your dials to Radio Four (you may wish to do this before turning the lights off) – because at 11:00pm, the first episode of Alice’s Wunderland arrives.

image

Described by its epicentre Alice Lowe as “the Poundland of magical realms” – Wunderland is a strange and silly place we first visited last year in a one off pilot. Now we can finally return, and alongside Alice are a host of TVO names.

The likes of Richard Glover, Waen Shepherd, Rachel Stubbings and Clare Thomson are part of its ensemble cast, and we can’t wait to hear the results.

This being the 21st century all three shows will be available on catch up not long after broadcast. Pop back here tomorrow for the links, or sit back tonight and embrace the whole bally lot of them…. We will be!

Editor’s Note: The artist behind the Wunderland artwork above – Lewes Herriot – is currently exhibiting at Maison Berteaux, so do check it out if you are nearby!

Take A Trip To Wunderland

4 Jul

© Jimmy Crippen

Back in August 2011 we took great pleasure in announcing that Alice’s Lowe’s radio show, Alice’s Wunderland, had been granted a full series, following the success of the brilliant pilot epiosde.

Alice’s busy schedule has meant its taken some time to reach us, but at last the series is nearing its launch date, 11 months later!  Alice’s Wunderland hits the airwaves next week, on Thursday 12th July at 11pm on BBC Radio 4. Don’t forget that it’ll be available for 7 days after the initial transmission via iPlayer.

The series consists of four half-hour shows, focusing on “the Poundland of magical realms” and also stars Richard Glover, Waen Shepherd Rachel Stubbings, Clare Thompson, Simon Greenall and Marcia Warren.  Plans were afoot to include Hot Brew in the pilot episode – so they may also feature at some point in the run.

While you’re with us, why not check out our interview with Alice from last year when she talked to us about Wunderland, including her vision for the show, the characters that populate it and how it was written. Then there’s still plenty of time to set your alarm for 10:59pm next Thursday!

Return To Wunderland

2 Aug

© Jimmy Crippen

Alice’s Wunderland has been confirmed for a full series.

The fantastical sketch show from the mind of Alice Lowe, aired a pilot episode back in April – featuring the likes of Claire Thomson, Richard Glover and Rachel Stubbings in support roles alongside Simon Greenall and Marcia Warren.  Sketches were also written featuring Antony Elvin but had to be cut for time reasons.

Following a thunderous reception from peelers, desperate to hear more, we at TVO had very high hopes the show would receive a full commission, so naturally, we’re almost as delighted at this news as Alice is!

Talking to us back in April, Alice already had plans for a series commission, telling us she hoped there would be: “lots of memorable characters, and lots of subversive, weird stuff that you might not get to see on television at the moment.  It’s a surreal fantasy that’s a little bit spooky and frightening. Wunderland should be a bit of escapism to spice up your night!”

To revisit our full interview with Alice on all things Wunderland, click here, and you can also see the first part of our video interview with Hot Brew, who may feature in the series, right here too. We’ll be bringing you more news on the show and its expected air-date as soon as we can.

Forgotten Favourites: Hyperdrive

19 Jun

© BBC

Every once in a while, TVO likes to take the opportunity to look back on some of the lesser known areas of Booshdom.

Take sci-fi sitcom Hyperdrive for example – which ran for two seasons in 2006 and 2007, yet never quite shook off the comparisons to sci-com behemoth Red Dwarf.

With own very own Stephen Evans a series regular, Waen Shepherd making frequent appearances, and guest slots from James Bachman and Clare Thomson, the show is ripe for revisiting – and TVO peeler Adam Cooper has done just that, sending us this passionate plea for a show that arguably deserved more.  Read on…

As a genre, science-fiction is a relatively unexplored territory in the British comedy world – barring of course Red Dwarf and gag-filled episodes of Doctor Who.  Perhaps this is because it is notoriously hard to combine serious science with comedy.  But for me at least, Hyperdrive found a way to do that.   Written by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley – who had previously penned episodes of such classics as Black BooksThe Armstrong & Miller ShowLittle Britain and Spitting Image – it was first broadcast in 2006 and commissioned by the BBC under the working title Full Power.

The show chronicles the adventures of the HMS Camden Lock in the year 2151.  Britain has managed to get itself into space, ladies and gentlemen, and its aim is to bring Blighty to the rest of the Universe.  Part of this plan includes getting intergalactic businesses to relocate to Peterborough, explaining to them how loyalty cards work and building Barrat Homes palaces for alien royalty. Continue reading

Listen To Wunderland!

21 Apr

© Jimmy Crippen

The moment our international peelers have been waiting for is here – you can now listen to Alice’s Wunderland on BBC iPlayer!

The pilot, written by and starring Alice Lowe alongside a host of TVO regulars, aired on Radio 4 on Thursday night at 11pm – and is absolutely hilarious.  We won’t spoiler you much, but in a world where you can buy celebrities, people turn into insects, meter-men meet an untimely end, foxes carry handbags and the insanity of Jason is allowed to roam free, you’re in for a real treat.

The show will now be available on iPlayer for the next seven days and as its radio, it should be available worldwide, so sit back, froth up, and dilate your earlobes with Wunderland right here!

If you missed it, you can catch TVO’s interview with Alice about all things Wunderland right here.

Alice’s Wunderland: Through The Onion Glass

18 Apr

© Jimmy Crippen

This week sees the premiere of the brand new radio pilot from the brain of TVO’s fairy godmother, Alice Lowe.

Bringing together a whole host of familiar names in a late night audio treat, the pilot will be broadcast this Thursday, April 21st on BBC Radio 4.

In the run-up to the show, TVO were lucky enough to talk to Alice about the fantastical adventure she has in store for listeners…

Hi Alice! Welcome back to TVO.  First off then, what can you tell us about Wunderland?

I think it’ll be up your street! It’s quite fantastical, but with a gritty side to it. There’s a magical realism quality to it too. There’s a line in the script that says it’s the Poundland of magical realms. Wunderland is very weird but set in our world, with familiar references – imagining if magic did exist how jaded would it be by now?

It’s a sketch show, and it’s going to be ‘a little bit wacky’, she says in inverted commas! I wanted to do something a bit more imaginative, and go against the stereotype of what people expect from Radio 4. I wanted to do something that was about sound, and be experimental.

Wunderland itself is a place. It’s a fictional town where anything can happen. It’s a very British town… a bit dirty round the gills, with an air of dilapidation and pretension.

I wanted to do something that was quite magical, and transported you somewhere new. I’ve been thinking about hypnotism tapes, and how sound can transport you into a different place if you listen to it in a certain way. I kind of want people to listen to Wunderland in a darkened room! Get some sensory deprivation going…

Are we in for a real audio experience then?

There are a couple of songs in there, and some weird soundscape ideas – which I’d want more of if it went to series… fingers crossed!

I wanted music to be a big part of it, so I got Jane Watkins involved. She’s composed music for a lot of the short films I’ve done, so she came on board as my consultant and composer for this. What’s really strange is that you think being radio that music would be really important, but its quite common not to have the budget for new music.  I think that was one of my more diva-ish demands to Radio 4! Continue reading

The Many Faces Of Wunderland

17 Apr
© BBC

Alice’s Wunderland is set to air this coming week, and here at TVO we wanted to give you a little teaser about what to expect.

The sketch show pilot is the brainchild of its star Alice Lowe, and there are a number of familiar faces from the wider world of Booshdom involved.

These include the ever reliable Antony Elvin – one half of Hot Brew, former Circulus percussionist, talented singer songwriter in his own right and one time guest star in The Mighty Boosh [“It’s a glowstick, you berk!”]  The folktastic pairing of Hot Brew – set to grace the stage at Popcorn Comedy in Birmingham this week – will be featuring in the show.

Also along for the ride is Clare Thomson, whom you may recognise from Alice’s last major sketch-show project, Beehive, as well as being one of Herman’s 1000 Wives in Lifespam and featuring in last year’s cult comedy short Dead Happy.

© Bruno Vincent

Two Jackal Films stars – Richard Glover [Pebbles] and Rachel Stubbings [Love Song] are also on board.  Glover’s varied cv has also included a guest appearing in The Mighty Boosh [in The Chokes episode] and appearing in Lifespam, whilst stand-up comic and actress Rachel Stubbings presented the Jackal Films night at the FD4W Film Festival last Autumn.

And that’s not all… as there are also performances from Olivier Award winning actress Marcia Warren, who appeared in Jam & Jerusalem with TVO’s very own Simon Farnaby, and the legendary Simon Greenall who has several Booshy links but is perhaps best known as both hapless Geordie Michael in I’m Alan Partridge and as being the voice of Alexander Orlov in the Compare The Meerkat adverts!

It’s safe to say then that this is an extremely talented cast, under the more than capable hands of one of the most gifted comic minds on the planet.  Promising a trip round Wunderland, “the Poundland of magical realms” – the pilot will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 11pm on Thursday 21st April.  It will be available on iPlayer for one week afterwards, and TVO hopes you’ll all tune in for what promises to be something pretty damn special indeed.

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