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A Peek Behind The Fantasy

27 Sep

Some of you will be lucky enough to be seeing Noel Fielding live at the Pleasance Theatre this weekend, as he performs two work-in-progress shows in preparation for his forthcoming UK tour. Anyhows, we reckoned the rest of you might need a bit of cheering up…

Here, then – for your perusal and pleasure – is our exclusive behind the scenes documentary, captured during the filming of Luxury  Comedy, Tales of Painted Hawaii. Take a look below – it includes interviews with cast and crew, the odd outtake, a fleeting moment of frisbee, and an alarming amount of (blue) bosom.

If seeing some of your favourite Luxury characters again has made you realise just how much you’re missing them, don’t forget that you can buy series 1 and series 2 on DVD by clicking on the links in this sentence. Then you can revel in the show’s eye-popping kaleidoscope of joy to your heart’s content. Don’t forget that both DVDs feature their own behind-the-scenes documentaries (the doc for series 1 even includes footage from The Velvet Onion, fact fans!), which are well worth a look too.

And if you still haven’t got a ticket for Noel’s UK tour (what the heck??), then there are still a few available – check out Ticketmaster and Seetickets, but be quick!

Tales From Photographed Hawaii

28 Aug

Tonight sees the grand finale of Luxury Comedy 2: Tales From Painted Hawaii on E4 – and to celebrate, we’re bringing you exclusive behind the scenes photos taken during TVO’s on-set visit last summer.

© The Velvet Onion / Lauren Taylor

© The Velvet Onion / Lauren Taylor

TVO were on hand for four days of filming madness, right at the peak of a very packed out schedule, grabbing the cast for chinwags whenever we could.  The results will be seen in our behind the scenes featurette, which will be available very soon.

Something else that’s available soon is the dvd of Series Two – which you can ORDER NOW for just £14 via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store: it’s released next Monday, September 1st, so there’s no time to waste!

The final episode will air at 10pm tonight, and you can see it on 4OD now. Until then, savour our images below. Enjoy.

Luxury Cafe Competition: A Massive Thank you

13 Aug

© Channel 4

A week and a half ago we announced a competition which would give 5 readers the chance to win a Luxury Comedy mug and pack of coffee. To enter, we asked you to create something from the Luxury Comedy cafe menu.

We didn’t think it was fair to award the prizes on the basis of cooking ability, so to give everyone an equal chance we decided to select the winners randomly from all of the entries. We secretly hoped that some of you would make a bit of effort, but we had no idea how inventive, hilarious and downright incredible so many of your entries were going to be!

Here are a small selection of those which knocked us sideways with their creativity and put a smile on our faces – and we had many, many more besides! Just click on the thumbnails to view a larger image.

It just goes to prove how much you’re loving the new series of Luxury Comedy and how much the show inspires you; we hope Noel Fielding is justifiably chuffed! It also suggests that you’re pretty desperate for a mug of coffee, but perhaps that’s not really the point ;-)

The 5 winners have been selected at random from all of the entries received and have now been notified. They are: Cali Rivlin, Chaas, Imaginary Nadya, Spaceboy and The Dream Tiger (twitter names).  A rather splendid Luxury mug and pack of coffee will be winging its way to you.

Huge congratulations to the winners and a massive thank you to everyone who took part!

Luxury cookery shown above thanks to Afrika D, Alleshia Cook, Anita, Arthur M, Azzy, Becca Moody, Becky Price, Bluey, Cali, Cali Rivlin, Catie, Chaas, Faye Loretta Lee, Gothic Bob, Imaginary Nadya, Jadie Rae, Jodie Kozo Konatsubara, Mol, Nikki Burns, Sean Feehan, Terry, The Dream Tiger, The Plasticine Punk, Spaceboy and  . (yes, that’s their name). You’re all awesome!

Onion Talking: Dolly Wells on Luxury Comedy 2

2 Aug

A few months ago, TVO reporter, Gina R Snape, met up with Dolly Wells to talk all things Doll and Em. They also spent a little time discussing Luxury Comedy series 2. Here are the excerpts from that interview:

© Channel 4

How was it working on Luxury Comedy this time round?

It was really really fun. It was boiling hot. We’d have competitions over who was hotter! Because I was wearing a nylon wig with a stocking, that was definitely quite hot.

But then Noel would be wearing (not going to give things away!) a rubber outfit and a wig – and was running sweat like a tap, while talking to you! So I couldn’t really complain about being hot. And also that feeling that the crew are thinking that you’re wimps. But when you put on the lights, the heat is just so hot. It was ludicrous.

How was it shooting series 2 of Luxury Comedy compared to the last series?

Shooting was similar in that it was really fun, really easy. Me and Mike getting giggles a lot of the time; Tom being very sensible; Noel being really silly.

I mean there will be things in his series, and I can’t really give the story away, but…there was one particular thing Noel did, and I can’t remember which episode it was, where it was sooooo hard not to laugh. Like a school play or something. And no one is really in the mood for you laughing because you haven’t got that long.

And also, what’s really nice is that feeling which you don’t get on everything you do: it’s like when you do a dance together, you’re sort of willing everybody to get it right, so you really want it to be good. There’s a lot of trust that you feel, and you sort of owe it to each other slightly. Especially Noel, who is carrying 99.9% of the show, and it’s hot and you’re doing it again and again. Everyone feels like they’re part of it, which is really very lovely. And you also feel real admiration for him. He’s got a serious amount of energy and he’s constantly saying and trying new things. There’s so much improvising, which is really fun.

© Channel 4

How much input did you get to have yourself through improvisation?

Well, because Noel and Tom are really good…I can do it in my own show, but I’d get shy sometimes to be doing it myself. You’re definitely free to do whatever you wanted. And we had really long rehearsals, so you could try things out – which was really fun. We rehearsed in Camden and ran around like the Ramones. We all had on black jackets, and tried to look like the Ramones. So yeah, it was brilliant. It was very, very hot. And it was the last thing I did before I came to NY and then I flew to NY the next day. So it was a real culture shock. I really missed them all for ages. But yeah, it was brilliant.

The last time TVO interviewed you about Luxury Comedyith you said that the energy was very frenetic w Noel was doing a million things at once, and then he would then stop and fall asleep in the corner for 20 minutes. Was the same true this time?

Yes! Yes! He did. But no, you know what? He was always absolutely firing on all cylinders because he would either be getting painted blue, or making up a painting or something. But this time most of the things he was making or drawing (like the sets) were done before. But there were lots of conversations with the art department or with costumes or with make-up, because every aspect of it is him and Nigel’s vision, so they were always working. So of course he was always very, very busy. But actually, it felt a bit less like that this time, I think. I don’t know why that is, but it definitely felt less like that.

Maybe it’s because the second series? 

Yeah, everyone knows what they’re doing. Although the main difference for the second series is that there’s a serious narrative. So once it’s been written and you know the exact story, then you’re just left to try and get it right.

You’ve said previously that Tom Meeten is the straight man? But in Doll and Em he’s insane!

He’s not the straight man – on camera he’s absolutely hilarious. But behind the scenes, especially when me and Mike are getting the giggles, and he was hot under his wig or something, yes, he’d be serious. He’d be like a school teacher. We’d all have our roles, if you know what I mean.

© Channel 4

In Doll & Em you’re called Doll and in Luxury you’re Dolly. Why do you think you can’t get away from your name?

I know! I was thinking that. I was thinking, “My god this is a bit confusing and massively egotistical.” Well, BOTH TIMES it’s men being annoying! (laughs). Noel did it to sort of piss me off almost. I was going “Couldn’t I be called Jana or, just any name would be just fine” and Noel was like “Yeah, not really, I was just thinking Dolly.” “Yeah, but what about like Ivanna or… “No, that’s Nigel’s wife.” So there was just never gonna be anything but Dolly. He definitely knew I was going to be Dolly.

Many thanks to Dolly Wells for taking the time to chat to us. And don’t forget to tune into the second episode of Luxury Comedy on 4th August at 10pm on E4 (or catch it now on 4oD) to see Dolly & co in action!

Luxury Gallery, Ooh-Yeah!

1 Aug

Suck my beans! Luxury Comedy officially launched last night, and with Episode Two now on 4oD, there’s still lots we have to share with you as the series progresses.

© Dave Brown / Channel 4

© Dave Brown / Channel 4

For starters, there’s our making of featurette: a rough-n-ready rumble-tumble through the madness of filming Luxury Comedy.  TVO hung around for four very different days on set and highlights from the organised chaos will be seen very soon.

There’s also a competition coming later today, and a few more surprises to come – including our own behind the scenes photo galleries.  But it’s only right and proper that we begin such proceedings with the official photography, lovingly crafted by the incredible Dave Brown and the genius that is Nigel Coan. Enjoy, and keep coming back for more!

Obviously, we’re aware that, given TVO is read in 161 different countries at last count, that a large number of you have no access to Channel 4.  In that case, we heartily recommend you order Series 1 and Series 2 on dvd from The Velvet Onion Amazon Store now!

Luxury Archives

29 Jul

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

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

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

© Lozzy Taylor

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

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

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

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

An Early Look At Luxury 2

24 Jul

© Channel 4

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

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

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

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

© Channel 4

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

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

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

© Channel 4

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

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

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

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

Time For A Serving Of Luxury

16 Jul

© Channel4

We’ve seen the trailer, we’ve wondered at its vague promise of “coming soon” – and you’ve been asking us in droves: WHEN WILL SERIES 2 OF LUXURY COMEDY BE HITTING OUR SCREENS?? Well wonder no more..

We can confirm that the new series kicks off on E4 on 31st July!

We’ve got all sorts of exclusive goodies up our sleeves to mark the occasion, so stay peeling to make sure you stay on top of everything.

In the meantime, here’s an interview with Noel Fielding that Channel 4 have released ahead of the new series.

Wee Paper People

1 Jun

Regular readers of TVO might remember Paper People – cut out and keep paper models of your favourite TVO folk. We’ve just revisited the site and there are many, many more characters for you to cut out and keep. How many do you recognise from the pictures below?

If you can’t wait to get your hands on your own Wee Paper People, all you have to do is click on the website, download your favourites then print and assemble. Assembly instructions are on the site.

If you want something more personal, the creator of all these fantastic models, Sally Grosart, can make personalised little people of your friends and family, or personalised cards or banners. To contact Sally and see the rest of her creations click here.

Luxury Amusement

27 Apr

It’s been a quiet weekend on the news front, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to decorate our home page with a few pictures, courtesy of Noel Fielding‘s creative output during the past 48 hours.

© Mog

We were lucky enough to catch one of Noel’s (slightly) secretive warm up shows last night, along with his fellow Luxury crew, Dolly Wells and Tom Meeten, who were chuckling away at the bar. It would be unfair on Noel to write a spoiler-riddled review of the gig at this stage in the development of his live show, so we thought we’d share a few artfully-blurred (ahem!) photos with you instead. Suffice to say that his characteristic charismatic energy is there is spades, and the fruit cake is still being baked.

On a different topic, followers of Fielding on twitter were treated to a series of images on Friday evening which showed his early sketches of some of the characters from Luxury Comedy, including Sergeant Ray Boombox, Dondylion, Andy Warhol, Fantasy Man, Rene, Gaviskon, and the costume reveal at the end of the series 1 Jellyfox episode.

The closeness of the final on-screen characters to these early sketches shows how clear Noel’s vision for the show was right from the off, and demonstrates the skill of his production team (Nigel Coan, Christine Cant and Ameena Kara Callender, amongst others) in helping him to pull it off. It’s further whetted our appetite for series 2!

For those of you who didn’t catch Noel’s tweets, here are the pictures of the characters in all their glory:

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

Making Doll & Em

2 Apr

© Pop Matters

Director and co-writer of Doll & Em, Azazel Jacobs, was interviewed this week by Pop Matters about his work on the series, which completed its run on Sky Living last week.

In the article Jacobs talks about how he first got to know Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer, how the writing and directing process worked on Doll & Em, and why he chose to make the show and TV series rather than a film.

As he explains: “First off, I was watching TV being handled the same way as movies, with the same director, but also with the same intentions, same ability to go from dark to light…But I also wanted to take advantage of doing slices, instead of like on a film where you have to have transitions from one scene to another.”

Jacobs also talks about the dynamic between the two co-stars, echoing what Dolly said to us in our interview with her a few weeks ago, by saying: “I really wanted it to be called Doll & Em, because I wanted to credit their friendship, the friendship that allowed them to do things like this. I think in order to do things like these, the relationship has to be very healthy.”

To read the interview in full visit Pop Matters here.

Em Interview

28 Mar
© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

Emily Mortimer was interviewed for In Conversation and it is due to be shown very soon (6.30pm) today on Sky Arts. She talks to Jason Solomons about her varied film and TV career, including Doll & Em.

For those without Sky Arts you can see a snippet of the interview here, and those with Sky Arts need to tune in now! It will be on sky on demand later on too.

Onion Land Catch Up

11 Mar

The past week has seen a smattering of TVO regulars make appearances across television and radio we didn’t have chance to warn you about ahead of transmission, plus a couple of shows you should already be watching have been airing too.

As such, we thought it prudent to give you a quick catch-up, starting with the incredibly popular detective comedy drama Jonathan Creek. The show, starring Alan Davies as the titular sleuth, returned for it’s fifth series recently, with Davies now accompanied by his new co-star (and comedy legend) Sarah Alexander.

© BBC

Episode two, The Sinner And The Sandman, featured James Bachman as Rev Hugh Chater, whose vicarage is being plagued by tales of a strange hump-backed beast that has been seen prowling in the garden by night.  You can see the episode for yourselves via iPlayer now, and it’s also available to pre-order on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store for release next week!

Elsewhere, another veteran of Ealing Live cropped up on topical discussion show Loose Ends on Radio Four.  The show’s usual presenter, Clive Anderson, was absent, but in his place were Nikki Bedi and Emma Freud – who pronounced over a panel of very talented women.

© BBC

Film director Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham), actress Imelda Staunton (Pyschoville) and artist Victoria Melody joined our very own Katy Brand on the panel. Brand was discussing her long awaited crowd-sourced novel, Brenda Monk Is Funny, which can still be ordered over yonder. If you want to jump straight to Katy, you can find her 39 minutes, 40 seconds in on iPlayer now.

Sticking with the Beeb for a moment, let’s not forget that Inside No. 9 - the latest stroke of genius from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton – is almost at an end, with Episode Six airing this Wednesday (12th March).  Previous episodes – including appearances by Katherine Parkinson and Julia Davies amongst others, can be seen again via iPlayer now.

© BBC / Des Willie

© BBC / Des Willie

Inside No. 9 is also available on dvd as of next Monday, with pre-orders possible now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.  Shearsmith & Pemberton are also undertaking a dvd signing at HMV Oxford Street on March 20th, so if you want a chance to tell them how great the show is, and get a squiggle on your box, that’s as good a time as any.

That’s not the only BBC2 comedy of the moment to have TVO connections. The glorious Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle returned recently, and the inimitable comic genius is regularly grilled each week by Chris Morris in-between chunks of his stand-up routines.  Regular collaborators Kevin Eldon and Paul Putner are also involved, appearing in sketches at the end of every episode.

© BBC / Colin Hutton

© BBC / Colin Hutton

The first two – focusing on Shillbottle and a certain “political” party – are available to watch on iPlayer now, and we’ll keep you posted on an eventual dvd release.

Finally, for now, whilst we recently bid goodbye to House Of Fools, The Life Of Rock and The Midnight Beast, there are two other very fine shows featuring TVO regulars still underway on Sky channels.

© Baby Cow

© Baby Cow

Moone Boy is currently airing on Sky One, and features co-creator/writer Chris O’Dowd as the imaginary friend of a young boy in early 90s Ireland. A delightful little gem, this show has quite rightly won almost every award thrown at it, and if you can’t catch up via Sky Go, you can at least pre-order the dvd release, due out on March 31st.

Whilst it hasn’t yet won any awards, it would be criminal if the critically acclaimed Doll And Em doesn’t pick some up before the year is out.

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

Currently airing on Sky Atlantic, the show features Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer as hyper-exaggerated versions of themselves, and features cameo appearances from big name Hollywood stars as well as Tom Meeten, Laura Patch and Noel Fielding.

Again, the show is available on Sky Go, but there’s sadly no sign of a dvd release yet. It’s due to air on HBO shortly, so perhaps we’ll hear more then. Stay peeled… and if you see any shows with our regulars we miss, do get in touch so we can spread the word!

Onion Talking: Dolly Wells on Doll & Em

18 Feb
© Gina R Snape

© Gina R Snape

Today sees the UK launch of Doll & Em, the new dramedy from Dolly Wells & Emily Mortimer for Sky Living HD and HBO.

The show features its titular stars playing exaggerated versions of themselves, as well as showbiz cameos from Hollywood A-Listers and a few TVO regulars for good measure.

With Dolly Wells now residing in New York City, TVO’s East Coast correspondent Gina R Snape went in search of the Luxury Comedy star to talk about all things Doll & Em…

Dolly Wells doesn’t know it, but she’s on the verge of becoming a real New Yorker. Battling the subway, dealing with the horrific cold fronts and wave after wave of skin-scourging cold and snowstorms, it’s a far cry from the warmth of Los Angeles or the hot bright lights of the Luxury Comedy studio.

We meet to chat about Doll & Em, an extraordinary, complex six-part series written by and co-staring Dolly, with overtones of independent cinema: “my baby” is how she describes it. Sitting down over tea and chocolate, the conversation meanders from the making of this new TV show to the filming of Luxury Comedy and back again. Delightful and chatty, introspective and considerate, a conversation with Dolly takes many turns.

Discussing the inspiration behind Doll & Em, Dolly explains: “Basically, we wanted an excuse to hang out because Emily was living here and I was living in London and we’d both started having children and things. If we were going to be hanging out we had to be doing something to justify it to our families.  So we began sort of tepidly, if that’s the word. By the time we thought of this idea we’d been doing it for a long time.”

Inspired by the Harold Pinter play The Servant, and the film All About Eve, Emily began adapting the central concept from a variety of sources.  “We got really fascinated by people having assistants,” reveals Dolly.  “We’d hear stories about other actors, very successful actors, who’d have assistants and there’s just something innately funny about it. Of course, it’s a totally serious job, but there’s something funny about your job being somebody else. Because the person who is the ‘star’ is at some point going to behave like a child, or do something weird, the person working for them in that capacity is going to feel slightly resentful. So if you make it two best friends, who are completely equal…it felt like it was a massive canvass to put silly ideas on.”

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD / HBO

Continue reading

Preview Peeling: Doll & Em

11 Feb
© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD

Next week sees the launch of Doll & Emon Sky Living HD.  Written by and starring Dolly Wells & Emily Mortimer, the show also features appearances by Dolly’s fellow TVO regulars Tom Meeten, Laura Patch and Noel Fielding, as well as a number of Hollywood stars.  

The first episode airs on Thursday 18th February at 10pm, and will be available on SkyGo from 10pm tonight (11th Feb).

TVO has been given exclusive access to the full series, and our spoiler free preview is below…

The great pantheon of work created by those we write about at The Velvet Onion quite often focuses on collaborations between friends and frequent associates.  Talent finds talent, and connecting the dots between the legends of alternative comedy is something which can span generations.  There’s a wibbly line right through the work featured on these pages which can, if you so wished to do so, be traced right back to the pioneers of silly: the Pythons, Goodies and Goons of yesteryear, even if our focus is on the last two decades or so.

Yet for all the talk of family: of Ealing Live, The Mighty Boosh and friendships forged in blood and sweat and late night petrol stations when a gig in the middle of nowhere’s gone awry, there’s one friendship which has remained untapped until now… and that’s that of Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer.

Though an actress for some time, we first came across Dolly as the stunning Methusula – wife of Head Shaman Dennis in Series Three of The Mighty Boosh.  From there came multiple roles in Star Stories and The IT Crowd, plus recurring roles in Free Agents and Campus and more recently Some Girls and Spy.

© Dave Brown / Secret Peter / Channel 4

© Dave Brown / Secret Peter / Channel 4

To many, though, she is simply Dolly – the German socialite friend of Noel in Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy.  Ahead of the second series of this candy-cane slice of liquid nonsense, comes a very different project which sees her first work with lifelong friend, Emily Mortimer.

Mortimer, of course, also started out as an actress in English television, before a series of film roles became increasingly high profile.  The 51st State catapulted her to stardom in America, which was followed up by roles in Match PointThe Pink PantherCity Island, Cars 2 and mega-smash Shutter Island.  Recently, she’s been appearing in the hugely successful HBO drama serial The Newsroom.

© HBO

© HBO

Through Doll & Em, which the two titular stars co-wrote with director Azazel Jacobs, the pair play hyper-exaggerated versions of themselves.  Emily is the movie megastar, currently filming a motion picture in LA with John Cusack and a hot-shot director who is adamant his film is not a female version of The Godfather.

Dolly, on the other hand, is not an actress, but a lifelong drifter whose nasty break-up with her slimy ex (played by her Luxury co-star Tom Meeten in a series of increasingly cringe-inducing cameos), gives Em the perfect idea.  In need of a break, Doll becomes Emily’s assistant, and whilst at first all seems cozy, it’s not long before the cracks in this set-up begin to show.

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD

What begins almost as the pitch for a romantic comedy, complete with Doll and Em both falling for the same man, turns in a surprisingly different direction.  There’s a sense of British awkwardness abroad, and some scenes do perhaps play as broader than others – a seemingly disastrous encounter with a legendary actress, or Dolly getting locked out of the house springing instantly to mind – but the naturalistic tone soon takes hold and allows the flowing narrative room to breathe.

Those celebrity cameos never seem to get in the way, perhaps because they’re not handled the way a show like Extras did it.  Andy Garcia, Susan Sarandon and John Cusack are there because they’re acquaintances in Hollywood, not to bag ratings or give the actors a ‘wacky’ moment to play on.  Similarly, the appearance of Noel Fielding in the final, London-based episode doesn’t feel shoehorned in, even if his surreal suggestions for a great night in are so typically Noel!

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD

© King Bee Productions / Sky Living HD

It’s this naturalism that makes the show stand on its own legs, as the slow burning dissection of a lifelong friendship takes hold of Dolly and Emily.  As Doll starts to find her feet both on set and as a mature woman, Em’s own insecurity begins to take its toll.  A string of bad luck moments bring out her selfish side, which in turn causes a similar reaction in Dolly, and the two actors rise to the challenge of portraying this on screen beautifully.  When they finally confront one another in the penultimate episode, you feel for them both equally, and their mutual despair is heartbreaking.

If there’s one complaint, it’s with the show’s format.  With each episode only twenty-two minutes long,the piecemeal mini-plots do seem to be over so very quickly.  Where this show will shine, perhaps, is in its lifespan after broadcast: the digital age actively encourages marathon gorging sessions, and at just over two hours, it’s very easy to just sit back and let the whole series run through.

Indeed, TVO watched the series pretty much back-to-back, and the end result was reminiscent of an independent feature: you could re-cast this with Laura Linney and Catherine Keener, put it out in arthouses as a two-hour feature and it would still work, even though we’d be missing those glorious central performances.  Doll & Em just has that amount of class. As such, it will be interesting to see how it takes hold of an audience tuning in each week, as the nuances of the story may be clearer without the weekly gaps in broadcasts. We’re definitely hoping for a blu-ray release so we can revisit this world in one go once again.  

Throw in a cheeky little appearance from Dolly’s other long-standing collaborator Laura Patch, and perhaps this is a show to set your DVR for, and swallow whole, but if you’d rather not do that, then stick with this it to find something you’ll treasure for a long, long time.

Doll & Em airs on Thursday 18th February at 10:00pm on Sky Living HD.  It will be available exclusively to Sky Go customers from Tuesday 11th February at 10:00pm.

Doll & Em

28 Jan
© Sky Living HD / King Bee Productions

© Sky Living HD / King Bee Productions

Doll & Em - the new partly improvised transatlantic sitcom from Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer – will air on Sky Living HD from next month.

The real life best friends have written and starred in the razor-sharp satirical comedy which looks at the joy and pain of female friendship through exaggerated versions of themselves. The result was critically acclaimed at its première late last year at London Film Festival, and US premium channel HBO has snapped the show up for airing across the pond.

Mortimer (The Newsroom, Shutter Island) plays Em – a Hollywood actress who hires her childhood friend to be her personal assistant while making a film in Los Angeles.  Enter Doll – played by Luxury Comedy star Wells, of course – a London-based waitress whose relationship with Em gives her an excuse to leave it all behind.

However, being Em’s assistant is less straightforward than it first appeared, and soon Doll finds herself having more in common with the crew than her lifelong friend.  Em’s alienation and the demands of her overwhelming film role complicate matters, and pull their friendship towards breaking point.

Filmed on location in LA and London, the show features surprise cameos from A-List Hollywood stars, and looks set to be a huge international hit.  You can see a trailer below.

We’ll also be bringing you a more detailed preview of the run ahead of transmission, which is due to begin on Tuesday 18th February at 10pm on Sky Living HD.  Sky Go customers will be able to access the show a week in advance, so stay peeled for more details.

Benny & Jolene (& Dolly & Laura)

13 Dec

We love it when separate TVO-related worlds collide. And right now we are loving that Dolly Wells and her writing partner, Laura Patch, are starring in a film with Submarine star, Craig Roberts.

Benny & Jolene features Roberts and Charlotte Ritchie (Fresh Meat) as an up and coming folk duo. Dolly plays the part of Jolene’s mother, Rosamund. The film explores the growing tensions between Benny and Jolene as they attempt to balance commercial success with artistic integrity. They’re forced to confront their ambitions and emotions when they travel to a festival in Wales.

The part-improvised film was originally called ‘Jolene: The Indie Folk Star’. You can see a trailer from back when it went by that name:

The film will be receiving its World Premiere at the BFI Southbank, National Film Theatre Screen 1, on January 24th 2014 as part of LOCO Comedy Film festival. The organisers of the event have described Benny & Jolene as: “Exactly the kind of film that LOCO is here to celebrate: an independent British romantic comedy, written and directed by Jamie Adams, that’s fresh, funny and charming.”

If that wasn’t exciting enough, the screening will also feature a Q&A with director, Jamie Adams, and some of the cast. And the Premiere party takes place afterwards in the BFI benugo lounge with live music and DJs! Tickets for the Premiere screening, Q&A and party cost £15 (concs £11.50) and can be booked by clicking here.

You can also follow Benny & Jolene on Facebook.
 

HBO Deal For Dolly

25 Sep

© Sky Living

HBO has acquired the US and Canadian rights to a comedy series created by and starring Dolly Wells.

Doll & Em was originally commissioned for Sky Living, and features 6 semi-improvised half-hour episodes. It was co-created and co-stars Dolly’s real life friend, Emily Mortimer.

The action is set in LA, and looks at what happens when your best friend becomes a Hollywood star (Mortimer), and you find yourself employed as their personal assistant (Dolly). The inevitable complications ensue as the line between real life and work becomes increasingly blurred.

Given HBO’s profile for creating innovative, high quality TV content, this is quite a coup!

 

Tough Crowd On The Move

24 Sep

Dave Brown‘s exhibition of intimate comedy portraits, Tough Crowd, will be leaving its current home in Norwich and heading to North Wales next month.

© Dave Brown

The exhibition will be moving to Oriel Colwyn from 21st October, and it’ll remain there until 4th January 2014. The collection includes stunning images of a number of big name comedians, including a bevvy of TVO regulars: Alice LoweArnab ChandaBarunka O’ShaughnessyDan ClarkDolly WellsJoey PageJulia DavisJulian BarrattKevin EldonKim NobleNeil ColeNoel FieldingRich FulcherRichard AyoadeSarah KendallSteve OramTom Meeten and Tony Law.

There will be limited edition prints on sale in aid of Afrikids, so there’s good reason to get yourself down there and part with your cash. If you can’t make it in person, the prints are also available on the Afrikids website.

Oriel Colwyn can be found upstairs at Theatr Colwyn, and admission to the show is free. For more information about the venue visit its website.

However, if Wales feels a bit too westerly for you and you haven’t yet caught Tough Crowd during its stint in Norwich, there’s still time to experience it at Flint Hair on Benedict Street and Fabulous Frames on Upper St Giles Street before it moves. Its Norwich run finishes on 12th October.

Don’t forget that you can also see Dave’s brilliant photos of The Boosh at Proud Camden, London NW1 from 24th October to 1st December. It’s not yet on the venue’s website, but it’s definitely happening.

Tough Crowd Returns

12 Sep
© Dave Brown

© Dave Brown

Tough Crowd - the exhibition of intimate comedy portraits by Dave Brown – will be given a new lease of life from tomorrow in Norwich.

Split across two venues, the collection includes shots of a number of big name comedians.  TVO regulars Alice LoweArnab ChandaBarunka O’ShaughnessyDan ClarkDolly WellsJoey PageJulia DavisJulian BarrattKevin EldonKim NobleNeil ColeNoel FieldingRich FulcherRichard AyoadeSarah KendallSteve OramTom Meeten and Tony Law are just the tip of the iceberg!

With the likes of Adam Buxton, Bill Bailey, Bob Mortimer, Chris Addison, Harry Hill, Lenny Henry, Phill Jupitus, Ross Noble and Tim Minchin amongst the various other names featured – and there are many more – it’s a fascinating collection to peruse, and the good people of Norwich can do so from tomorrow – Friday 13th September, until Saturday 12th October.

The free to view show is housed by Flint Hair on Benedict Street, and Fabulous Frames on Upper St Giles Street.  As ever, there will be limited edition prints on sale in aid of Afrikids, so get on down there and part with your cash.  If you can’t make it, the prints are also available on the Afrikids website.

If you missed our extensive interview with Dave on all things Tough Crowd late last year, you can swot up on it right now.

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