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So Hot Right Now: #37

29 Jun

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

MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN

Humans, Sunday, 9:00pm, Channel 4 [UK]
Sunday, 9:00pm (8:00pm Central), AMC [US]

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

AMC and Channel 4’s smash-hit sci-fi drama Humans continues on Sunday evening, with Katherine ParkinsonRebecca Front and Paul Kaye part of the impressive ensemble cast.

Over in the USA, it’s time for Episode Two, and George (William Hurt) is assigned a new Synth, Vera (an eerie Rebecca Front) whom he cannot stand, and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) feels threatened by Anita’s presence in her home. Elsewhere Fred (Sope Dirisu) is held captive by Hobb (Danny Webb), which leads him to fear for the future of the human race, and Leo (Colin Morgan) finds himself on a dangerous path in the search for information.

UK viewers, are a couple of weeks ahead, so naturally, our US brethren may wish to skip this paragraph. In the fourth episode, Anita (Gemma Chan) is taken for testing, which yields the surprising revelation that the supposedly brand new synth is actually 14 years old, and has a past she is not aware of. Elsewhere, Pete (Neil Maskell, Kill List) hates being stuck at home with Simon (Jack Derges), but his selfish behaviour drives Jill (Jill Halfpenny) from the house, and Hobb closes in on Niska (Emily Berrington), and Mattie (Lucy Carless) gets in touch with Leo (Colin Morgan), who reveals something that could change the world.

If you’re not watching on tv – and you really should – Humans is also available to pre-order for £14 on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. If you’d rather go all synthetic yourself, you can purchase digital downloads of the show on Amazon already.

SUNSET FOR THE SUNTRAP

SunTrap, Wednesday, 10:40pm, BBC One
Regional times vary (see below)

© Happy Tramp / BBC

© Happy Tramp / BBC

It’s the last in the series for BBC One’s crime caper SunTrap this week, and the show goes out in style with a nautical adventure.

Directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie, Bad Sugar, Star Stories), Sun Trap features Kayvan Novak and Bradley Walsh as former undercover journalists turned private investigators in an island paradise. Also featuring Jamie Demetriou, Emma Pierson and Keith Allen, the series has previously featured guest appearances from TVO regulars Tracy Ann Oberman, Alex Kirk, Morgana Robinson, Simon Day and Paul Kaye, and this week, two more familiar faces join the fun, in the form of Tony Way and Steve Oram.

When a company running pirate-themed boat parties for tourists hires Woody to go undercover as an entertainer to investigate a new rival firm that is threatening to sabotage their business. However, the master of disguise soon discovers all is not quite what it seems, and when he is kidnapped at sea, mock pirate battles quickly transform into real seafaring clashes. With his life on the line, Woody must rely on one of his most audacious disguises yet – as well as help from Brutus and Melody – if he is to escape unscathed.

With Oram, Way and former Shameless star Sean Gilder as this week’s guest stars, the series goes out on a high. If you’ve not yet tapped into the SunTrap, this is your last chance on telly, and as ever, regional times for Wednesday’s transmission vary, with viewers in England getting it at 10:40pm, viewers in Wales getting it at 11:10pm, and viewers in Northern Ireland at 11:20pm. Everyone, including Scotland, can also tune in on Friday at 10:35pm after The Graham Norton Show.

If you’ve enjoyed the show, or want to know why so many talented types turned up in it, you can pre-order the DVD now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

TIME IS SHORT FOR DOLL & EM

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:10pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

The second series of Doll & Em continues this week, as Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer’s semi-autobiographical comic drama begins to draw to a conclusion.

This week, there are only 24 hours remaining before the pair’s play is due to première off-Broadway, with genuine Hollywood stars Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood on board playing the lead characters based on Wells & Mortimer.

However, tensions are high, and Wilde & Wood are frustrated by a string of last-minute changes. Dolly makes things worse when her salty language offends Evan, and Em’s husband Noah is spending an increasing amount of time with his wife’s on-stage counterpart Olivia.

Also featuring Mischa Richter, this is another dynamite installment of the hugely acclaimed comedy, and with any luck you’ll have been watching all along (we did keep telling you). However, if you haven’t, both series are available on demand now via SkyGo and NowTV, along with a cavalcade of previous hits.

AMBASSAHOFF

Hoff The Record, Thursday, 9:00pm, Dave

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

Dave’s delightful new semi-improvised comedy Hoff The Record continues on Thursday evening, with Fergus Craig playing the hapless manager of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff.

For the uninitiated, Hoff the Record focuses on the Knight Rider legend’s fictionalised attempts at rebuilding his career in the UK, with his useless manager Max (Craig); Harriet (Ella Smith) – an inexperienced PA; Terry (Asim Chaudhry) – an over-enthusiastic driver; Danny (Brett Goldstein) – an oafish personal trainer; and Dieter (Mark Quartley) – The Hoff’s illegitimate son.

With the likes of Tim Downie and Anna Crilly turning up in last week’s episode, and guest appearances from Steve Oram and Simon Greenall still to come, there’s lots of TVO-flavoured reasons to watch Hoff the Record, as well as it being rather ruddy funny.

In this week’s episode, The Hoff has decided to give up acting, following an inspirational session with Danny, and plans to embrace his potential for doing good in the world by becoming a United Nations Ambassador. In a bid to learn about the UN, he takes part in a school’s debate: only Hoff’s debating skills are not enough to win against a group of precocious kids.

If you missed it recently, you can catch our exclusive interview with star Fergus Craig over yonder now, and Series One is available to pre-order on dvd too.

UNDERCOVER GETS WIRED

Undercover, Tuesday, 9:00pm, Dave

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

Unless you’ve been living under a rock with no access to TVO over the last few weeks, you’ll know that there’s not one but two new shows on Dave with TVO connections. Undercover is their bold new sitcom which fuses witty wordplay with high-octane crime drama, and is directed by Dave Lambert (The Mighty Boosh, Common Ground, Alan Partridge).

Starring Daniel Rigby (Eric & ErnieFrom There To Here) and Sarah Alexander (Green Wing, Coupling) as dim-witted detectives Chris Anderson and Zoe Keller investigating an Armenian gangster family, the series also features Yasmine Akrin (Sherlock, Stella) and co-writer Sascha Tarter.

This week the Police are becoming impatient with `Operation Piccolo’ and see the release of Ara’s henchman Tommi Lylozian (Keith Allen) from prison as an opportunity to make some headway. Chris attempts to gather incriminating evidence on the Sarkissian operation by wearing a wire. As Tommi is guaranteed the protection of the family, Chris struggles not just to get evidence but to stay alive, due to the fact that Tommi is a raving psychopath.

You can catch Undercover twice this week: on Tuesday at 9pm, or right after Hoff the Record on Thursday at 9:40pm. You can catch our exclusive interview with Dave Lambert over yonder.

DENNIS & DAN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

Greg Davis returns in the latest edition of Channel 4’s Man Down – produced, as ever, by Spencer Millman.

This week, Dan (Davis) volunteers to look after his pupil Dennis (Alfie Davis) for the weekend after the boy recieves sad news about his family, though as ever, he is primarily motivated with impressing Miss Lipsey (Jeany Spark). Soon, poor Dennis is subjected to reliving the childhood years of Jo (Roisin Conaty), Brian (Mike Wozniak) and Dan by way of a bike-trip, a game of knock-down-ginger and one of their own devising called furry periscope.

AWFUL EGYPTIANS

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

The new series of Horrible Histories continues on Monday afternoon, with a look at the life of Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra.

Played by guest star Kathryn Drysdale, best known for her role as Louise in 2 Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Cleo clashed with her brother, seized power for herself, and hooked up with Roman leaders Julius Ceasar and Mark Antony – all of which is given a Horrible Histories spin.

Plus, there’s the thoughts of famous Chinese philosopher Confucious, and a look at the less glamorous side of of life in Rome. Featuring, as always, Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick, along with new regulars Jalaal Hartley, Naz Osmanoglu, Jessica Ransom, Adam Richies and Murder in Successville‘s Tom Stourton, it’s another fun filled half hour with the new look team.

ALL THE MIRRORS OF THE WORLD

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Saturday, 10:00pm (9:00pm Central), BBC America

©  JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

The fourth episode of the BBCs fantasy epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell airs in the US on Saturday evening via BBC America, once again starring Paul Kaye and Edward Hogg amongst its incredible ensemble.

In this instalment, Strange (Bertie Carvel) is developing a growing fascination with the magic of the Raven King, which drives a wedge between him and Norrell (Eddie Marsan). The latter is determined to stop Strange resurrecting the dark powers of ancient times, even as he attempts to cure King George III of his madness. Elsewhere, Drawlight (Vincent Franklin) is caught selling magical secrets, and the mysterious Gentleman (Marc Warren) seeks Stephen’s (Ariyon Bakare)  aid in putting a stop to Strange’s meddling.

If you haven’t caught up yet, do so immediately, then check out our exclusive interview with Kaye about the series over yonder. UK fans of the series can rejoice: you can pick it up on on dvd and blu-ray right now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Whilst it’s a quiet week ahead, here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Lauren Taylor

© Lauren Taylor

Wednesday 1st July

Richard Sandling‘s Perfect Movie Podcast Show featuring Brett Goldstein
Betsey Trotwood, London
7:30pm, £3.85
TICKETS

Lou Sanders & Bec Hill
Charles Cryer Theatre, Carshalton
8:00pm, £7
TICKETS

Aisling Bea & Phil Wang
The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol
8:00pm, £5
TICKETS

Thursday 2nd July

Joey Page & Yve Blake
Komedia, Brighton
7:00pm, £8
TICKETS

Saturday 4th July

Dan Clark‘s The Wow Wow Show! featuring Alice Lowe, Natasia Demetriou, Liam Williams, Oliver Maltman and The Wow Wow Band
Soho Theatre, London
9:30pm, £16.50
TICKETS

Aisling Bea, Stewart Lee, Arthur Smith, Phil Wang and The Pin
Union Chapel, London
7:45pm, £18
SOLD OUT

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on within the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by.

 

So Hot Right Now: #36

22 Jun

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

SMELL THE HOFF

Hoff The Record, Thursday, 9pm, Dave

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

Tim Downie and Anna Crilly make guest appearances in this week’s edition of Hoff The Record: Dave’s delightful new semi-improvised mockumentary starring David Hasselhoff and Fergus Craig.

For the uninitiated, Hoff the Record focuses on the Knight Rider legend’s attempts at rebuilding his career in the UK. In this fictionalised version of his life, he’s turned to his utterly useless English manager, Max Coleman (Craig), who has surrounded The Hoff with an inexperienced PA, an over-enthusiastic cab driver, and his long-lost illegitimate German son.

This week, The Hoff is in genuinely in demand: as Max has landed him a proposal to use his name on a new, classy aftershave. However, it soon becomes clear that the ad agency isn’t interested in Hoff as a symbol of class, but want to trade off his cheesy image.

Tim Downie – best known for his roles in Toast of London and Paddington guests as the hipster-tastic advertising exec Dylan Turnbull, whilst Anna Crilly – one half of Anna & Katy – turns up as journalist Lucinda Young, who takes issue with comments The Hoff made in confidence.

It’s another dynamite installment of Dave’s bold new show, which is playful with Hasselhoff’s reputation, and willing to make him look dafter than ever before.  And with appearances from Steve Oram (Sightseers, Luxury Comedy), and Simon Greenall (I’m Alan Partridge, Alice’s Wunderland) still to come in this first series, and a second series already confirmed and in pre-production now, this is one you really won’t want to miss.

Catch our exclusive interview with star Fergus Craig over yonder now.

 

A MERCURIAL CAMEO

SunTrap, Wednesday, from 10:35pm, BBC One

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

Paul Kaye joins Kayvan Novak and Bradley Walsh in this week’s edition of BBC One’s crime-caper sitcom Sun Trap.

Directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie, Bad Sugar, Star Stories), Sun Trap features Novak and Walsh as former undercover journalists now solving crimes in an island paradise. Also featuring Jamie Demetriou, Emma Pierson and Keith Allen, the series has previously featured guest appearances from TVO regulars Tracy Ann Oberman, Alex Kirk, Morgana Robinson and Simon Day, with Tony Way and Steve Oram set to appear in the sixth episode next week.

Back to this week, however, and Brutus (Walsh), Zorro (Demetriou) and Melody (Pierson) wake up after a heavy night of drinking to find themselves in a prison cell, with no memory of the previous night. It soon becomes clear the trio have been arrested on suspicion of murdering the brilliantly named Spanish tribute singer Elton Juan (Lee Boardman). With his friends locked up, Woddy must make use of his armoury of disguises to infiltrate the home of casino owner Senor Big (Allen), to find out what really happened.  His investigation brings him into contact with Juan’s bitter rival, Frederico Mercury (Kaye).

As ever, Sun Trap has inherited the Count Arthur Strong Wibbly Wednesday timeslot, which means viewers in England and Wales can see it on Wednesday at 10:35pm, viewers in Northern Ireland get to watch at 11:05pm, and viewers in Scotland have to wait until 11:35pm. Alternatively, everyone can see it on Friday night at 11:25pm after The Graham Norton Show.

DIAMONDS ARE A COP’S BEST FRIEND

Undercover, Tuesday, 9:00pm, Dave

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

Undercover – Dave’s new witty sitcom in disguise as ambitious crime drama returns this week with another top notch episode, once again directed by Dave Lambert (The Mighty Boosh, Common Ground, Alan Partridge).

Starring Daniel Rigby (Eric & ErnieFrom There To Here) and Sarah Alexander (Green Wing, Coupling) as dim-witted detectives Chris Anderson and Zoe Keller investigating an Armenian gangster family, the series also features Yasmine Akrin (Sherlock, Stella) and co-writer Sascha Tarter.

The results are an interesting blend of high-octane police procedural drama and Airplane levels of silly wordplay, with a stunning visual look from Lambert and his team, which he detailed in his exclusive interview with TVO last week.

In this week’s episode, Arno and Ara Sarkissian are due at the wedding of the head of the Margarian family’s daughter and are keen to impress, so Chris has to steal a set of diamonds for a present. Find out how he gets on on Tuesday evening at 9pm, or right after Thursday’s edition of Hoff The Record at 9:40pm.

THE FORCE ISN’T STRONG FOR EWAN

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:10pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

 

After his debut last week, Hollywood heartthrob Ewan McGregor makes another cameo appearance in this week’s edition of the superlative Doll & Em on Sky Atlantic.

As Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer’s alter-egos continue to develop their play, Doll’s film plans threaten to put the project into jeopardy. But when McGregor in unable to commit to the movie, the pair are good to go on their production – if they can break their director’s block.

As wonderfully akward and utterly charming as ever, you can catch this week’s episode at 10:10pm on Wednesday evening via Sky Atlantic, and every episode is available on catch-up services now.

BACK TO THE BULLY FOR DAN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

 

 

Channel 4’s wacky sitcom Man Down continues on Monday evening, as ever starring Greg Davis, Roisin Conaty and Mike Wozniak.

This week, idiotic high school drama teacher Dan (Davis) has organised a trip to the theatre for his pupils, but realises too late the play stars his childhood enemy, Geoff Doogan. Meanwhile, Jo (Conaty) has another new money making scheme, Brian (Wozniak) is determined to be published in the local paper, and Aunt Nesta (the sublime Stephanie Cole) tries her hand at helpful role-play.

Produced by Spencer Millman (The Mighty Boosh, TV Burp, Man to Man with Dean Learner), Man Down continues to delight audiences and critics alike, and this week’s episode also features a cameo appearance by acclaimed actor Ramon Tikaram – who Boosh fans will forever identify as Banoo, the frequently late warrior of Xooberon. Oh, and The Proclaimers. No, really.

ARE WE HUMAN? OR ARE WE ONIONS?

Humans, Sunday, 9:00pm, Channel 4 [UK]
Sunday, 9/8C, AMC [US]

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

Smash hit sci-fi dystopia Humans continues this week on Channel Four, and debuts in America on AMC, with Katherine Parkinson and Rebecca Front part of its impressive ensemble cast.

Set in a world where synthetic human servants are the ‘in’ thing, the lives of a family who buy the latest model begin to unravel, whilst a retired engineer’s paternal relationship with his own Synth is threatened by a malfunction. US audiences have the first episode, featuring a cameo from Dan Tetsell to enjoy this week – with Paul Kaye turning up in Episode Two. US audiences will probably want to skip the next paragraph.

Here in the UK, we’re up to Episode Three, and Laura (Parkinson) tries to get rid of Anita (Gemma Chan), but is forced to reconsider when the synth saves Toby’s (Theo Stevenson) life. Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) begins to share his wife’s suspicions that there is something strange about Anita when he checks her for damage and finds she appears more human than expected. Elsewhere, George (William Hurt) comes up with a plan to escape his joyless new routine under Vera’s (Front) care, and Pete (Neil Maskell) and Karen (Ruth Bradley) investigate a murder at the brothel – but when Pete loses his temper on duty, he finds himself suspended and stuck at home with Simon for company.

If you’re not watching on tv – and you really should – Humans is also available to pre-order for £14 on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

 

FAREWELL TO STRANGE & NORRELL

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sunday, 9:00pm, BBC One [UK]
Saturday, 10/9C, BBC America [US]

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

As US audiences get to savour the third episode of fantasty epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell this week, British viewers must say a fond farewell to the magical duo and their BBC One adaptation, which stars Bertie Carvel, Eddie Marsan, Marc Warren, Paul KayeEdward Hogg and many, many more.

In the final episode, England is plunged into chaos as ancient magical forces are unleashed on the world and the dark prophecy of the Raven King looks to be fulfilled. Norrell (Marsan) flees to the safety of his library, but is pursued by Strange (Carvel), who intends to free Arabella (Charlotte Riley) before the Gentleman’s (Warren) curse consumes him. Childermass (Enzo Cilenti) tries to find a way to break the enchantment on Lady Pole (Alice Englert), as Stephen (Ariyon Bakare) is drawn deeper into the sinister world of the Fairy kingdom.

Adapted from Susanna Clarke’s best-selling novel by screenwriter Peter Harness (Wallander, Doctor Who), producer Nick Hirschkorn (Five Children and It) and director Toby Haynes (Doctor Who, Sherlock), JS&MN has been a delightful Sunday night excursion into the otherworldly realm of magic and mystery, and those who stuck with it for seven weeks have fallen in love with its charms.

If you’re one of them, and haven’t yet ordered the series to own, you can pick it up on on dvd and blu-ray now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. You can also revisit our recent interview with Paul Kaye about the show, over yonder.

A LITTLE MORE REFORMATION

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

The new series of Horrible Histories continues this week, with a special guest appearance by Rowan Atkinson as Henry VIII.

Atkinson’s role as the portly king was revealed earlier this year, with his Elvis-tastic musical number released on YouTube to promote the new run.  He joins a number of big name guest stars appearing in this run, alongside Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kathryn Drysdale, Lorna Watson and The Actor, Kevin Eldon.

Also featuring Horrible Histories veterans Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick, as well as the new regulars Jalaal Hartley, Naz Osmanoglu, Jessica Ransom, Adam Riches and Murder in Successville star Tom Stourton, this week’s episode not only tells us all about the English monarch, but we get to learn about Ottoman leader Suleiman the Magnificent in Turkey, and Emperor Zhengde in China.

GO GO GADGET MAN!

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

It’s the final edition of Gadget Man this week, as Richard Ayoade‘s tech-loving show takes on the various gizmos available for protection and security.

First off, Richard kits the Gadget Man house out with a smartphone-activated lock, scanning visitors with a portable metal detector and putting a robot on patrol. He is also joined by actor Keith Allen to test a wallet tracker, a vest that makes the wearer look more muscular and a bulletproof bag. Finally, he meets up with Bill Bailey at a Cold War era nuclear bunker in Essex to try out a post-apocalyptic survival kit – much of which can also be used for camping holidays or festivals.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Whilst it’s a quiet week ahead, here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Lou Sanders

© Lou Sanders

Monday 22nd June

Lou Sanders and Ed Aczel
Aces and Eights Saloon Bar, London
7:30pm, Free but ticketed
TICKETS

Sarah Kendall, Matt Kirshen, Nish Kumar, Tom Craine, Tom O’Connor & Tiff Stevenson
Old Rope @ The Pheonix, London
7:30pm, £6.60
TICKETS

Thursday 25th June

Lou Sanders and Tania Edwards
The Oval Tavern, Croyden
7:30pm, £4.20
TICKETS

Friday 26th June

Neil Cole, Rudi Lickwood, Bryan Lacey, Francis Foster and Morgan Berry
West Cliff Theatre, Clacton On Sea
7:30pm, £14
TICKETS

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on within the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by.

Preview: Doll & Em Series 2

2 Jun
© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

This week sees the launch of the second series of Doll & Em on Sky Atlantic.  Written by and starring Dolly Wells & Emily Mortimer, the six part series follows a hugely acclaimed first run in February last year.

This series, like the first before it, features as a number of Hollywood stars in guest roles including Evan Rachel Wood, Olivia Wilde, Harvey Weinstein and Ewan McGregor, and focuses on a fictionalised version of the lifelong friends as they attempt to write and direct their own off-Broadway show.

With the first episode airing on Wednesday 3rd June, TVO took a look at the first two episodes of the new run, to see if the magic of Series One has been recaptured.

Warning: mild spoilers for Series 2, and big spoilers for Series 1 ahoy…

When it arrived, stealthily tucked away on Sky Living last year, the first series of Doll & Em could quite easily have sunk without trace. Here were two British actresses: life-long friends but never-before collaborators, poking holes in the industry which made their names via a fictionalised account of the trials and tribulations of an alternate universe version of the pair.

And perhaps, if Doll & Em had aired a few years earlier, that would have been that. Yet this delightfully charming series, so beautifully shot by co-writer and director Azazel Jacobs, so delicately balanced and subtly nuanced, was determined to live a life well beyond its original transmission. We are living in the Now TV generation, with television on demand long after broadcast picking up curious viewers who in turn, recommend the show to other curious souls, and so on, and so on.

In that respect, it was only natural that the story of Doll & Em, though perfectly contained in those six 24-minute segments, would be allowed to continue. Put simply: it was far too much fun spending time with Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer to not do it all over again.

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

But where to take their alter-egos now? The first series saw a down-on-her-luck Doll become Em’s personal assistant on a big budget movie project, but her semi-accidental rise to prominence broke their friendship in half, and it took a canal-side catchup in Camden, at one point interrupted by Noel Fielding, to reunite the pair.

The answer lay in the final moments of the first series, when the two friends discussed writing a play together. As the second series begins, that’s exactly what they do – hiring a lighthouse to get some ‘you-and-me’ time. Before long, the play is written, but Doll & Em are not the charming, sophisticated pair of friendly souls that Wells & Mortimer are in real life. The bumble through an awkward meeting with Harvey Weinstein, and are forced to turn to their old flame Buddy (the spot on Jonathan Cake of Desperate Housewives fame) for help getting the project of the ground.

As casting begins in earnest, two factors threaten the play, and as a result, their friendship. Em is offered a role in sci-fi blockbuster Space Pilgrim, which leads to them pulling out of starring in the play as well as directing and writing it, much to Doll’s chagrin. And the two women put their personality flaws on show for all to see: Doll’s perfectionism and bluntness almost costing them their leading ladies (cameos from Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood), and Em’s inability to balance the various people in her life with any degree of respect starting to pull apart the very fabric of her existence.

If all of this sounds very po-faced and serious: it isn’t. There’s some delightfully silly moments on offer which counterbalance the dramatic material, from Doll & Em spewing forth a bizarre anecdote about a fly, to the results of Doll’s attempts at buying a mirror from a ‘step-sale’.

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

And through it all, the pair remain utterly enchanting to watch, even when they are playing through a series of events so awkward even Alan Partridge would have seen sense by now. Em’s phone-juggling, trying to cook a meal, keep her hungry child quiet, guide a lost Doll through New York and also handle a press interview, would seem wholly unsympathetic in the hands of a lesser actress, and Mortimer knocks it out of the park.

So too, does Wells when she opens up to her friend in the second episode, telling her how living in the former au-pair’s quarters makes her feel “with you but not with you”. Doll’s realisation that Em has fallen asleep and missed what was clearly a hard thing to admit is beautifully underplayed, and feels all the more believable as a result.

And these awkward moments make the periods when the two friends are at their happiest all the more charming. It could be sickening watching them muck about on a stage, or hiding under the table, but it works because their genuine camaraderie shines through.

Granted, the episodes are not perfect. There’s a couple of really obviously signposted comedy set-ups sprinkled throughout – including an early gag with a lighthouse switch that feels so old fashioned it might actually have fallen out of an old Dad’s Army script by mistake. But when when the odd pay-off can be seen coming a mile-off, if the ride towards them is this much fun, who really cares?

Indeed, much like the first series, Doll & Em series two feels like it could quite easily have been edited together into a feature length piece and held its own in independent cinemas across the world. To break off after less than an hour in their company felt strange – like leaving a party too soon, and knowing the fun is going to carry on well into the night whilst you’re tucked up in bed wishing you’d stayed there til the bitter end. Sure, the little morsels each week are nevertheless tantalising enough drip-feeds to make you come back for more, but this is perhaps a show for the box-set age: one for marathon viewers to stumble upon, discover, and gorge their way through in the years to come.

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

There’s a curious moment towards the end of the second episode, Olivia Wilde observes Em and summarises: “It’s like you don’t give a shit.” The evidence to the contrary is littered across these episodes, and whilst at this point, the series may be saying nothing the first run hadn’t already made clear, that message of friendship against all the odds is one that holds up to a spot of repetition. It’s great to have the two of them back, and two episodes in, there’s a lot more lined up for Doll & Em yet.

Doll & Em Series 2 begins Wednesday 3rd June at 10pm on Sky Atlantic HD. The first series is available via Sky Go and Now TV, and on dvd via Australian import in The Velvet Onion Amazon UK Store now.

Black Mountain Poets

2 Jun

The first trailer for forthcoming British comedy film Black Mountain Poets has been released.

© Black Mountain Poets

© Black Mountain Poets

The film, which we first told you about back in April, is the third feature written and directed by Jamie Adams, following 2014’s A Wonderful Christmas Time and Benny & Jolene, the latter of which featured Dolly Wells and Laura Patch in its cast.

Wells and Patch return in Black Mountain Poets, alongside none other than Alice Lowe, as well as Downton Abbey’s Tom Cullen, Rosa Robson and Adams regular collaborator Richard Elis. In it, Alice and Dolly play a pair of wannabe thieves on the run, who go in hiding at a countryside poetry club in the Black Mountains of Wales.

Shot in just five days, and partially improvised, the film premières at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 22nd June, and will be released theatrically and on-demand later this year. As soon as we have confirmed release dates, we’ll let you know. You can see the trailer below.

So Hot Right Now #33

1 Jun

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

DOLL & EM RETURNS

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:00pm, SKY ATLANTIC

© Sky Atlantic / HBO / Mischa Richter

© Sky Atlantic / HBO / Mischa Richter

A year after their near-perfect debut run, Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer hook up once more for another series of their semi-autobiographical Doll & Em.  In it, they play fictionalised versions of themselves, with the first series seeing out-of-work Doll become an assistant to movie-star Em, and their friendship almost fall apart as the former started to get more attention than the latter.

The lifelong best friends are back, this time heading to a lighthouse retreat endeavouring to write a script together, which is all a bit meta considering they’re the writers of the show in reality.  But then, Wells is no stranger to that after her stint in Luxury Comedy, after all! However, a reality check is on hand when their meeting with Harvey Weinstein doesn’t quite go as planned.

As with the first series, this is a richly nuanced world which would feel just at home as a feature length movie as it does a serialised comic-drama. There’s a heavy influence of independent cinema on display, and it’s as beautifully shot as it is delicately written. If you have access to Sky Atlantic – be it through satellite or a Now TV subscription – you really ought to watch this absolute gem. You can see a trailer below.

THE GADGET MAN IS BACK

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, CHANNEL 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Who would have thought that Richard Ayoade – comedy legend and highly acclaimed director of television and film – would be such an enchanting host? Channel 4 clearly did, and it’s paid off big time, as just a few short weeks after Travel Man, he’s back for another run of Gadget Man for good measure.

In this first episode, Richard looks at how technology can be used to make the most of a weekend, with the help of TV presenter Steve Jones and comedians Al Murray and Sara Pascoe.  There are gadgets to help with chores, to assist your workout, and to help you enjoy your night out and get home safe afterwards. Lots of fun, as always. You can see a trailer below.

MAN DOWN GETS UP AGAIN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, CHANNEL 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

Channel 4’s other new started this week is the long-awaited return of Greg Davies vehicle Man Down – produced by TVO veteran Spencer Millman (The Mighty Boosh, Man to Man with Dean Learner, TV Burp and lots more), and directed by Al Campbell (The Midnight Beast, It’s Kevin, Fit and perhaps better known as Barry Shitpeas in Charlie Brooker’s various shows).

Moving on from the tragic early death of co-star Rik Mayall last year was never going to be easy, but December’s Christmas special introduced another formidable foe for Greg’s character, Dan, in the form of his eccentric aunt Nesta, brilliantly brought to life by Stephanie Cole. The result was the unthinkable: a tough act to follow was ably matched by a seasoned pro, and the show had a whole new lease of life once more.

Revitalised, it now returns for a second series, as middle-aged loser Dan continues to be a useless man-child, going on a horrendous date, whilst his equally baffling friends Jo and Brian have their own bonkers sub-plots to enjoy. Jo’s busy trying to improve her CV, and Brian is connecting with his family past and bonding with the local bin-men. Genius stuff, and watch out for the brilliant Marek Larwood making a guest appearance as a waiter. You can see a trailer below.

ALEX AND TRACY IN THE SUN TRAP

Sun Trap, Wednesday, 10:45pm (times vary), BBC ONE

©  Happy Tramp / Des Willie

© Happy Tramp / Des Willie

Kayvan Novak and Bradley Walsh vehicle Sun Trap launched last week, and this week sees the former journalists turned hired-hands Woody and Brutus meet two familiar faces for TVO readers: Tracy Ann Oberman and Alex Kirk.

Kirk’s part as Todd is small but sweet, yet it’s Oberman who steals the show as Brutus’ ex-wife, angry to find that he’s not dead, and he has all their money. Meanwhile, Woody ends up delivering an antique urn to a neighbouring island, but it soon transpires the urn isn’t full of ashes…

It’s another delightfully silly instalment in a show which, as critics have noted, gets better and better as it finds its feet. Also featuring a guest appearance from Keeping Up Appearances star Clive Swift, Neil Webster and Charlie Skelton’s script is bristling with great one liners, whilst director Ben Palmer makes it all look lovely.

Regional viewers should take note, however, that Sun Trap has inherited the Count Arthur slot, and as such is bouncing around depending on news requirements for each region.  In England, it’s on at 10:45pm, but viewers in Scotland get to start watching ten minutes earlier at 10:35pm. If you’re in Wales, you’ve got to wait until 11:10pm, but if you think that’s bad, poor old Northern Ireland doesn’t get to see it until 11:45pm, which is just ruddy madness.

If you’d prefer, however, everybody can see it on Friday evening at 11:25pm, right after The Graham Norton Show. Phew! Either way, there’s a trailer below.

DR DEATH VISITS SUCCESVILLE

Murder in Successville, Wednesday, 10:00pm, BBC THREE

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Is it just us, or is Murder in Successville one of the best new shows we’ve seen in a long time? It’s hard to think we’re almost at the end of our time with DI Sleet (a flawless Tom Davis), and his series of rookie cops in training, and we’re crossing everything to hear a second series has been commissioned. Here’s hoping, and on the strength of this week’s episode, it’s a must.

This week it’s the turn of former Pussycat Dolls singer Kimberly Wyatt to help Sleet question three suspects in a murder at Successville Hospital. A famous footballer and a lot of bandaging have met one another, and there are three possible suspects: Dr Obama, Nurse Adele and surgeon Bob Geldof.

Chances are you’ll recognise all three of those suspects on sight: Jason Lewis, who plays Obama, was Jay-Z in a recent episode of MiS, and was also a regular on Bellamy’s People and The Armstrong & Miller Show. Adele is played by someone we’ve mentioned a hell of a lot over the years: Gemma Whelan, stand-up comedienne and internationally recognised as Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones.

Geldof, on the other hand, is even closer to home – the ever magnificent Dan Skinner – last seen on our screens in the delightful House of Fools earlier this year, as well as ITV2’s hugely underrated post-apocalyptic sitcom Cockroaches alongside Tom Davis.

With friend of TVO, Nico Tatarowicz involved in the writing of this week’s episode, Waen Shepherd once again providing the music, and our enormous love for the spot-on Gordon Ramsey impression from Liam Hourican, this is another great edition of Murder in Successville you’d be mad to miss. There’s a preview clip below.

THE ACTOR CONQUEROR, KEVIN ELDON

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

There’s another great new edition of Horrible Histories to savour this week, as special guest star Kevin Eldon appears in a special look at the life of 11th century Norman monarch William the Conqueror.

Featuring Will’s quarrels with Harold Godwinson about who should be king of England, the legendary Battle of Hastings in 1066, a look at Chinese technology during the Norman era, and one of the world’s first scientists over in Egypt, and you’ve got another brilliant edition from the new-look Horrible Histories team.

Once again, the delightful Simon Farnaby makes an appearance, alongside HH veteran Jim Howick, and new regulars Jalaa Hartley, Naz Osmanoglu, Adam Riches, Jessica Ransom and Tom Stourton. And, really, if you needed more of a reason to watch this than Kevin Eldon being involved, you might be reading the wrong website…

ALL THE MIRRORS OF THE WORLD

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sunday, 9:00pm, BBC ONE

©  JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

The fourth episode of BBC One’s fantasy epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell airs on Sunday evening, and we reach the central point of this powerhouse seven-part drama.

In this instalment, Strange (Bertie Carvel) is developing a growing fascination with the magic of the Raven King, which drives a wedge between him and Norrell (Eddie Marsan). The latter is determined to stop Strange resurrecting the dark powers of ancient times, even as he attempts to cure King George III of his madness.

Elsewhere, Drawlight (Vincent Franklin) is caught selling magical secrets, and the mysterious Gentleman (Marc Warren) seeks Stephen’s (Ariyon Bakare)  aid in putting a stop to Strange’s meddling.

Adapted by Peter Harness and directed by Toby Haynes, Strange & Norrell remains a beautiful treat at the end of each weekend, and as we reach the middle of the tale, it becomes apparent that we won’t be ready to let it go in a few weeks time. Marc Warren is stealing every scene he’s in, which is no small feat when the cast includes Carvel & Marsan, and a cavalcade of great actors, including TVO regulars Edward Hogg and Paul Kaye.

If you haven’t caught up yet, do so immediately, then check out our exclusive interview with Kaye about the series over yonder. There’s also a preview clip available below.

GALA BEA

Channel 4 Comedy Gala, Sunday, 9:00pm, CHANNEL 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Last month saw the sixth annual Channel 4 Comedy Gala take place at London’s o2 Arena, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital, with another jam-packed line-up of some of the biggest names in British comedy, including Rob Beckett, Kevin Bridges, Alan Carr, Paul Chowdhry, Warwick Davis, Jack Dee, Rich Hall, Russell Kane, Shappi Khorsandi, Sean Lock, Michael McIntyre, Trevor Noah, Sara Pascoe, Romesh Ranganathan, Jon Richardson, Katherine Ryan, Sean Walsh and Josh Widdicombe.

Also on the bill was the mighty Aisling Bea, who is truly shaping up to be one of the biggest names on telly this year, as well as an absolute gigging-powerhouse.  You can see the results from 9pm on Channel 4 on Sunday night, though we recommend catching Strange & Norrell first, then hopping over to 4+1 to binge on the Gala before bed-time.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week, including a Manchester date for Paul Foot, and Lou Sanders visiting Windsor, plus a brand new show from Cariad Lloyd and lots more to enjoy.

© Ditto Productions

© Ditto Productions

Monday 1st June

Sarah Kendall, Rich Hall, Tiffany Stevenson, Will Anderson, Nish Kumar and Katherine Ryan
The Pheonix, London
8:30pm, £6.60
TICKETS

Wednesday 3rd June

Richard Sandling‘s Perfect Movie Podcast featuring Pappys and Ash Frith
The Betsey Trotswood, London
7:30pm, £3.85
TICKETS

Thursday 4th June

Cariad Lloyd and Paul Foxcroft in Cariad & Paul: A Two Player Adventure
The Soho Theatre, London
9:15pm, £13.75
TICKETS

Lou Sanders and Chris Martin
The Fire Station, Windsor
8:30pm, £7.15
TICKETS

Friday 5th June

James Wren & Leon Fleury present SPANK! You Love It! featuring Aisling BeaLate Night Gimp Fight, James Acaster and Vikki Stone
Udderbelly at Southbank Centre, London
10:45pm, £17,.45
TICKETS

Cariad Lloyd and Paul Foxcroft in Cariad & Paul: A Two Player Adventure
The Soho Theatre, London
9:15pm, £13.75
TICKETS

© Paul Foot

© Paul Foot

Saturday 6th June

Paul Foot [Edinburgh preview show]
Gorilla, Manchester
7pm, £8.80-£12.10
TICKETS

Cariad Lloyd and Paul Foxcroft in Cariad & Paul: A Two Player Adventure
The Soho Theatre, London
9:15pm, £13.75
TICKETS

Reece Shearsmith opens The Haunted Picture House, with a screening of Horror of Dracula
The Haunted Picture House, London
7pm, £25.75
TICKETS

Sunday 7th June

Dan Clark: The Wow Wow Show featuring Natasia Demetriou, Liam Williams, Oliver Maltman and The Wow Wow Band
The Soho Theatre, London
9:30pm, £16.75
TICKETS

The Geekatorium – presented by Richard Sandling, Iszi Lawrence & Paul Gannon, featuring Nathaniel Metcalfe, Elf Lyons, Eli Silverman, Matthew Highton and Suman Biswas
The Phoenix, London
7pm, £5
TICKETS

Aisling Bea, Romesh Ranganathan, Pete Firman and James Gill [Edinburgh previews]
Putney Arts Centre, London
7:45pm
SOLD OUT

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on at the Velvet Onion, it’s easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is via our Twitter feed, so here are a few highlights from throughout the week gone by. This week, we had a Twitter exclusive competition, so if you missed it, start following us now, so you can definitely keep up with the next one. Until next time, keep on peeling!

Nominations Announced For The South Bank Sky Awards

10 Apr
© Sunday Times

© Sunday Times

The nominations for the ​South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2015 have been announced and there are a few TVO people and productions amongst the nominees!

Paddington (Paul King and a whole host of TVO faces) has been nominated for Best Film, and all of the shows shortlisted for Best Comedy have a TVO connection! Doll & Em (Dolly Wells), The Trip to Italy (Steve Coogan) and W1A (Jessica Hynes & Rufus Jones) have all picked up nominations.

The awards will be hosted by Melvyn Bragg (who previously presented the South Bank Show when it ran on TV) at The Savoy Hotel on Sunday 7th June. The awards ceremony will be aired on Sky Arts 1 on Wednesday 10th June at 8.00pm.

For the full list of nominees click here. Congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted!

New Movie For Alice, Dolly & Laura

4 Apr
© Jolene Films

© Jolene Films

Alice Lowe, Dolly Wells and Laura Patch will be appearing together in a new film, Black Mountain Poets , planned for release later this yea.

Also starring Downtown Abbey’s Tom Cullen, the film is the final part of director Jamie Adams’ trilogy of improvised movies; the first of which was Benny & Jolene (starring Submarine’s Craig Roberts and Dolly, and also featuring Laura), followed by A Wonderful Christmas Time, which was the first UK movie to be released exclusively on demand for a month before its cinema release.

Black Mountain Poets is a fully-improvised comedy about relationships, and it was shot over five days in October 2014 in the Black Mountains of Wales. It will be released theatrically and on demand this autumn, self-distributed by Cardiff-based Jolene Films. As soon as we hear any more about it, we’ll be sure to let you know!

Fans of Alice Lowe may be interested to know that there are still a small handful of tickets available for her forthcoming talk at the Arthouse Cinema in Crouch End, London. Alice will talking about women in film, with reference to her fascination for the work of Glenn Close. The event takes place at 8pm on 14th April and tickets are available here. Be quick though – they’re nearly all gone!

 

Dolly’s Blunt Talk

28 Mar

As we told you earlier this year, Dolly Wells is starring in Blunt Talk, a new show for starz, starring Sir Patrick Stewart as Walter Blunt, a British news anchor who moves to Los Angeles with his alcoholic manservant (Adrian Scarborough), to host a sanctimonious talk show.

The first teaser trailer for the new series is out and here it is, featuring Dolly and Adrian Scarborough. Looks like they have a hit on their hands!

We still don’t know when it will be on our screens, but as soon as we do you will be the first to know.

So Hot Right Now #22

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

House of Fools welcomes Way & Davis

Series Two of House of Fools continues apace this week, with Episode Four featuring guest appearances from Nurse star Esther Coles, stand-up Romesh Ranganathan and TVO regulars Tony Way and Tom Davis.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

The latter three play a trio of hard-as-nails dancers, who threaten to wipe the floor with Vic, Bob and Beef at the Danceathon event over at Julie’s bistro. Though when Julie isn’t dealing with Bosh’s poor customer service, she’s dealing with a rat infestation.

As ever, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer lead the ensemble, alongside Matt BerryDan SkinnerMorgana RobinsonDaniel Simonsen and Ellie White. TVO saw this episode being filmed in Salford back in the Autumn when we went to interview the cast, and while it was a struggle to put together, we’re confident the end result is an absolute treasure. You can see for yourselves on Monday 16th at 10pm, over on BBC Two.

Nurse continues with Day and Hoult

Episode Two on Nurse – the new show from Paul Whitehouse starring himself alongside Esther Coles – continues on Tuesday.

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

With Whitehouse starring as a cavalcade of troubled characters, and Coles portraying the community psychiatric nurse who has to see to them all, the show has charmed critics with its off-kilter comedy and a respectful look at mental health.

Co-starring Simon DayColin Hoult, Vilma Hollingberry and Rosie Cavalero, this week’s episode features a guest appearance from none other than Fast Show veteran Arabella Weir, and you can catch it on Tuesday at 10pm over on BBC Two.

Justin Edwards goes In And Out Of The Kitchen

Here’s one that slipped us by last week – as we reach the middle episode of a three-part sitcom starring Miles Jupp and Justin Edwards entitled In and Out of the Kitchen.

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

The show is based on the Radio 4 comedy of the same name, and charts the life of cookery writer Damien Trench (Jupp) and his partner Anthony (Edwards). The show also stars Philip Fox, Brendan Dempsey, Ade Ofeyoso and Margaret Cabourn-Smith, who just so happens to be the wife of one Dan Tetsell.

It’s a huge treat to not only see a show focusing on a middle-aged gay couple on our screens without any ‘novelty’ hoo-har about it, but also to see one that’s so expertly written and delightfully performed by its talented cast, and we urge you to catch up with the series, with Episode One available on iPlayer now.

In the second episode, which airs on Wednesday evening at 10pm on BBC Two, Damien is banned from the kitchen for the day as Anthony prepares their Valentine’s meal. However, his desperation to know more is soon the last thing on his mind, as his planned documentary about the culinary habits of the great poets is thrown into jeopardy.

More Moone-ing around for O’Dowd and company

Over on Sky 1, the third series of Chris O’Dowd‘s Moone Boy continues with a very special guest star this week, in the form or legendary broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan.

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

In this third episode, Martin (the ever brilliant David Rawle) finds out that every clip played on a TV video out-take show earns £250 – so he and Padraic get hold of a camera and try to film themselves doing something stupid. Meanwhile, the Moone household is bursting at the seams when Fidelma, Dessie and baby Rose move in, leaving Liam at the end of his tether.

One of the great charms about Moone Boy is that, though written by and starring a big star like O’Dowd, he is not afraid to let his character take a back seat to allow others to shine. And when you’ve got an ensemble like this, who can blame him? You can see the episode for yourselves on Monday 16th at 9pm.

Pomipidou Continues

Sunday evenings are that little bit warmer and fuzzier with Pompdiou around for teatime.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The utterly bonkers and penniless aristocrat is played with sheer delight by Matt Lucas, who is ably supported by the sublime Alex MacQueen as his put upon butler Hove. This week, Pompidou wants to spend Valentine’s Day with a date, and signs up to a dating agency to make his wish come true. Except, his idea of romance isn’t to everyone’s taste.

With special guest appearances by Anita Dobson and Paul Putner, this is another charming way to spend 25 minutes in the company of Lucas’ madcap alter-ego. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it seems that ol’ Pompi has found his audience, and you can join them on Sunday 22nd at 6:35pm.

TVO IS FIVE all over again

As this weekend marked five years since we became a dotcom, and we had some bonus birthday messages that came in too late to be in our first round-up, we’ve extended our TVO IS FIVE video to include lots of new treats. You can see the results below.

And the rest

As ever, there’s so much going on in the realm of the Velvet Onion, it’s quite easy to miss things. As well as our News pages, the best way to keep track is with our Twitter feed, and here’s a few highlights from throughout the week gone by. Until next time, keep on peeling!

The Velvet Onion Is Five Again

15 Mar

The Velvet Onion is proud to bring you an updated version of our TVO IS FIVE video for your perusal, featuring a cavalcade of comedy legends wishing us a very happy birthday.

Some of you may remember at the end of January, The Velvet Onion marked its official fifth anniversary with a string of birthday messages from regular faces on these pages for the last five years.

The very next day, we got our first late message. And they kept coming in – so much so that we decided we’d soon have to either make a second instalment, or extend the original video. As well as these extra clips, a handful of names who wanted to get involved tried to move the earth to get a video to us, but for various reasons from technological breakdowns to hectic work schedules to full blown flu-outbreaks, just didn’t quite manage to get a message across.

As a result, we made the decision to delay the second video for as long as possible, in the hope that a few more people could get involved. This weekend just gone by marks, in essence, our second birthday – as we became a real, fully fledged .com on March 14th 2010, following six weeks of vibrant positivity around our initial activities. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Queen to have two birthdays, it’s good enough for us, too!

So here, at long last, is Version 2.0 of the TVO IS FIVE video. New to this collection are birthday messages from Paul FootRich FulcherRichard GloverJohn HopkinsPaul KayeTom MeetenRichard SandlingMichael Smiley and Dolly Wells.

Also included in the video are the previous messages from Katy BrandDave Brown, Neil ColeJames CookStephen EvansColin Hoult (and his various alter-egos), Rufus JonesDave McNeill, Spencer MillmanBob Pipe, Holly Jane ShearsWaen ShepherdRachel Stubbings, Tony WayPhil Whelans, James Wren and Jacqueline Wright.

Once again, enormous thanks to everyone who sent us a message and is included in the video. We love you from the bottom of our hearts, and really appreciate your efforts. Whilst we’re here we must say a huge thank you to the wonderful Tracy Ann Oberman, who tried to get a video message to us THREE TIMES, only for technology to block her attempts at every turn. We also greatly appreciate everyone else who wanted to get a message to us, but had various reasons for not managing it in time – we know you tried, and are grateful for that at least.

To still be doing this over five years after we started is a testament to the love we’ve received from those we cover on our pages, and the fact that you, dear reader, keep on coming back for more. Here’s to the next five, eh?

Blunt Talking Doll

15 Feb

© Dolly Wells

Dolly Wells is currently filming in LA for Starz brand new comedy Blunt Talking alongside the legendary Sir Patrick Stewart.

The star of Doll & Em and Luxury Comedy will be appearing across the forthcoming series focusing on a British import (Stewart) intent on conquering the world of American cable news and the fallout from his well-intentioned but mostly misguided decision-making — both on and off the air.

Also along for the ride is another familiar face from British comedy: Adrian Scarborough. Perhaps best known for his recurring role in Gavin & Stacey, Scarborough was also two generations of Councillor Crabbe in Coogan’s Run and Mr Jolly in Psychoville, while his wider credits include Up The WomenDoctor Who and The King’s Speech.

Starz has been given a two-season commission, and is making both batches of ten episodes at present. We’ll bring you news on airdates as soon as we can.

So Hot Right Now #2

20 Oct
Hello, dear Peelers, and welcome to The Velvet Onion!  For your regular news updates you used to find on our home page, click here.  But below, here’s what Dolly would say is sooo hot right now in Onion Land.

AN EVENING WITH NOEL FIELDING BEGINS!

© Noel Fielding / Dave Brown

The big news this week is that An Evening with Noel Fielding – the UK tour featuring the titular Mr Noel Fielding, alongside Mike Fielding and Tom Meeten – is officially underway.  Hopefully, you’ll have all bought your tickets via our exclusive pre-sale earlier this year, and we’d love to see you out enjoying the show.

The tour runs through the rest of the month, across November and most of December, and takes in various dates across the UK – so if you’re going along, send us a photo of yourself at the gig via our Facebook or Twitter pages (particularly if you’re in costume), with the hashtag #TVOSHOW and we’ll put our favourites on site at the end of the year.

TOURING ONIONS

Of course, Noel isn’t the only TVO regular on tour right now.  Tony Law and Paul Foot are traipsing across the land each week, with various dates on offer from other regulars, such as Aisling Bea, Richard Sandling and Colin Hoult.  There’s all sorts to see, as always, so keep your eye on our new Listings page which we’ll have up and running this week!

Again, if you’re off to a gig with TVO connections, why not send us a photo of yourself with the hashtag #TVOSHOW on Facebook or Twitter, and we’ll share them here for everyone else to enjoy!  And don’t be afraid to go say hello to people after the shows – they’re all lovely, and welcome your support.

THE DAY THEY CAME TO SUCK OUT OUR BRAINS… AGAIN!

The big news this week has been the announcement of The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains being adapted into a movie!  The B-movie pastiche started off as a web series from the minds of Bob Pipe, James Wren and Phil Whelans, and featured a cavalcade of TVO regulars in its huge ensemble cast.

© Bob Pipe

There’ll be more info available at TDTCTSOOB’s official website soon, but first up the team are launching the movie at this weekend’s London Comic Con – so get on down there to find out the news first, and pick up some funky badges along the way.

And if you can’t wait until then, you can catch up with the web series – and read our exclusive archive interview with the team over yonder.

NEW TELLY COMING SOON

The news that Doll & Em – the amazing comic drama starring Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer – has been recommissioned for a second series is just the tip of the ice berg!

November 3rd is the date to etch into your diary, as you get not one – but TWO new series to savour.

First up is series four of Sky One’s hit sitcom Trollied – now with added Aisling Bea and Doctor Who star Samuel Anderson in its ensemble cast.

© Sky

© Sky

After that, hop over to Channel 4 to see Series 2 of the ever brilliant Toast of London written by and starring Matt Berry.  If you haven’t seen the show before, pick up Series One on dvd, pronto!

© Kuba Wieczorek

Matt will also be joining Dan Skinner once more in Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer led sitcom House of Fools – which is recording its second series at MediaCityUK from this week.  We can expect that on our screens in early 2015.

Equally exciting is the impending release of Moone Boy series three, which is due on Sky any time now – alongside the news that it is to get a US remake… as is The IT Crowd!

Plus, there’s the continuing adventures of Katy Wix & Lee Mack in Not Going Out on BBC One, the delightful tales of Crackanory on Dave, and more Never Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC2 each week, so even if you can’t make it to a show there’ll be something to watch in the comfort of your own home for a while yet.  As for BuzzcocksAisling Bea will be making an appearance on there soon – that gal gets everywhere, eh – so stay tuned!

BOOK TIME WITH ONION LAYERS

As we mentioned last week, there’s a whole batch of new books from TVO regulars out now, so if you’re after the perfect Christmas gifts, pop on over to our Amazon Store by clicking on the pictures below.

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

http://astore.amazon.co.uk/thevelvetonion-21/detail/1783520345

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

 

ALL THIS & MORE

There’s so much going on, we’re using Twitter to keep you posted on things faster that we could before.  So here’s a selection of other news from this week you may have missed…

For more news, stay glued to our News Page and Twitter feed throughout the week. Keep on peeling!

– Team TVO

Dolly Does It Again (With Em)

15 Oct

© Sky Living

We LOVED Doll & Em at TVO; and we’re particularly excited that a second series has been confirmed!

The highly personal comedy drama, penned by and starring Dolly Wells and her real-life friend Emily Mortimer, originally aired on Sky Living in February.

In the show, Emily plays a successful, if insecure, Hollywood star, with Dolly as her somewhat naive friend…and assistant.  It provided an uncomfortably honest, but hilarious perspective on female friendship. It also included some brilliant A-lister cameos, including Bradley Cooper and Susan Sarandon!

Sky Living Channel Director Antonia Hurford-Jones said: “I am extremely pleased to be able to confirm that Doll & Em will be returning to Sky Living next year. I’m so proud to have such an outstanding series on the channel. The extraordinarily smart, brilliantly funny way Dolly and Emily bring the universal theme of female friendship alive makes it the perfect series for Living. I hope our customers are as excited as I am about series 2.”

Whether series 2 passes the Bechdel Test as effectively as the first series remains to be seen (but we suspect it will!).

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to chat to Dolly about the show and how the first series came about; to read our interview click here.

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.

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