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So Hot Right Now #11

22 Dec

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 below.

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY FOR TVO TELLY FANS!

As Noddy Holder once sang: IT’S CHRIIIIIIISSSTTTTMAAAAAAASSSSS!!!!!! Which means there’s a sudden glut of top notch telly to be savoured, and that naturally includes a bevy of TVO regulars on our screens once again.  We’ve got more news to share with you below this epic round-up, but first off, we’ve got to celebrate just how much we can enjoy this week!

Monday 22nd December

© Sky

© Sky

The crux of that comes on Monday 22nd December, with six new shows and a vintage repeat to savour across the evening. First up at 5:30pm on Sky 1 is Katy Brand‘s Little Cracker getting a welcome re-airing.

First shown in 2012, the episode – like the rest of the Little Cracker series which inspired Moone Boy – focuses on a key event from it’s writer’s childhood Christmasses dramatised and exaggerated for comedic value.  Katy Brand’s edition centres on the moment ten-year-old Katy made an earth-shattering discovery on Christmas Eve, and in one fell swoop the magic and sparkle of the festive season vanished. All is not lost when an unlikely opportunity to save Christmas presents itself.

Stick with Sky1 at 8:30pm for the last in the current series of Trollied featuring Aisling Bea. In tonight’s episode, it’s Charity Day at Valco supermarket, with a big prize draw called into question, a sponsored bike ride, shaved legs and a giant pain-relief tablet costume. Mad as ever.

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Over on Channel 4 at 8pm is the Gadget Man’s Guide To Christmas in which Richard Ayoade presents a gadget-packed guide to the festive season, joined by techno-loving celebrity friends including Jonathan Ross, Stephen Merchant, Robert Webb, Jessica Hynes and Reece Shearsmith.

In this hour long special, Richard and his guests reveal new ways of doing the Christmas shopping, surviving the winter weather, cooking Christmas dinner, wrapping gifts, dealing with snow, handling fog and getting through long nights. They also look at a smartphone breathalyser, a pitch-shifting karaoke machine and Richard makes a festive feast. Bring it on!

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

After Gadget Man, we heartily recommend you switch over to BBC Two, where the new series of The Wrong Mans begins at 9pm. The show featuring writers James Corden and Matthew Baynton as two idiots accidentally caught up in a huge espionage plot, was a smash hit last year, and featured a huge array of incredible guest stars, including our very own Rufus Jones and Dan Skinner amongst them.

This year, Baynton and Corden are again joined by a top notch cast including Dawn French and Rebecca Front, and the show is directed by once more by Jim Field-Smith - formerly a member of criminally underrated sketch troup Dutch Elm Conservatoire alongside Rufus Jones, Dan Skinner, Stephen Evans and Jordan Long, who you may recognise from Junglophilia, World of Wrestling, Mongrels and the first series of The Wrong Mans!

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

The first two episodes are being shown in a double bill on Monday 22nd from 9pm, with Episodes Three and Four – featuring a guest appearance from Fergus Craig as a pilot – airing tomorrow evening at the same time. American fans shouldn’t fret either – The Wrong Mans is a co-production with Hulu, so should be on your screens over there in the New Year.

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

Stick with BBC Two at 10pm for a double bill of musical mayhem. First up is Never Mind The Buzzcocks Christmas special to round off the series in style.  As you can see, the festive edition got everyone in the spirit of Christmas, and you’ll probably never look at turkey the same way again.

Joining host Rhod Gilbert and team captains Noel Fielding and Phill Jupitus for the madness are legendary Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, his polar opposite Louis ‘X-Factor’ Walsh, singer Melissa Steel and comedian Lloyd Langford. There’s even a guest appearance by the actual Snowman. A must see!

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Straight after Buzzcocks is the final episode of Brian Pern: A Life in Rock - the madcap mockumentary from Rhys Thomas and Simon Day which features a massive ensemble cast of real life celebrities and great comic talents.  Michael Kitchen, Paul Whitehouse, Nigel Havers Lucy Montgomery and Tony Way are joined this week by Mel C, Chrissie Hynde, Roy Wood, Roger Allum and loads more as Brian tries to record a Christmas album.

There’s a glorious set of pastiches of past pop favourites on offer in this week’s episode, including Simon and Lucy’s homage to Barcelona, the Thotch lads getting all Chas N Dave on us, and the glorious Black Christmas.  Mel C and Pepita get to fight it out over the microphone, Roy Wood’s producer wants to put a till on everything, and the best is saved till last as Peter Gabriel makes another appearance.

As we bid Brian a fond farewell, don’t forget to catch up on our interview with him, as well as series creators Rhys Thomas and Simon Day, and we hope he’s back for more soon!

Both Buzzcocks and Brian Pern happen to clash with another TVO favourite, but thanks to the wonders of 4+1, that’s not necessarily a problem. At 10pm on Channel 4 (or 11pm on 4+1), is the special final episode of Derek starring Ricky Gervais.

© Channel 4 / Ray Burmiston

© Channel 4 / Ray Burmiston

The second series introduced characters played by Tony Way and Colin Hoult, and Colin features in this grande finale, in which Broadhill regulars are busy planning the wedding of the year.  However, Kev’s behaviour proves too much for Hannah, while Vicky prepares to fill her boss’s shoes, and Derek is just trying to hold everything together.

Previous finales from Gervais have tended to tackle surprisingly weighty issues in brilliant dramatic form – whatever anyone thought of Extras or Life’s Too Short, for example, there’s no denying they went out with a bang, so we’d definitely recommend you give this one a chance.

Tuesday 23rd December

If you’ve caught everything from Monday 22nd live, or you’re fully up to date from catchup services, then stick near your remote, cos there’s more to savour throughout the week. On Tuesday 23rd, at 9:30pm, we have the final episode of Psychobitches Series Two to savour over on Sky Arts HD, and it’s set to be as magnificent as the rest.

© Sky Arts

© Sky Arts

The highlight of the show looks set to be Richard E Grant’s guest appearance as Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as he interrupts a psychiatric session for grotesque witches played by Matthew Baynton, Kevin Eldon and Cardinal Burns star Dustrin Demri-Burns.  Also visiting Rebecca Front’s psychoanalyst this week are Gracie Fields (The IT Crowd guest star Frances Barber), Fanny Cradock (the other half of Cardinal Burns, Seb Cardinal), Hildegard of Bingen (Doctor Who’s Michelle Gomez), the Statue of Liberty (Toast of London‘s Doon Mackichan), Shirley Temple (Benidorm’s Sheila Reid), Daphne du Maurier (House of Fools star Morgana Robinson), Zeus’s wife Hera (Goodness Gracious Me legend Mera Syal) and Hindu goddess Kali (La La Land‘s Marc Wootton). Phew!

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

That’s not all, either, as 10pm brings us the festive special of Man Down on Channel 4.  The show, starring Greg Davies as idiotic teacher Dan, is produced by Spencer Millman (of The Mighty BooshMan to Man and The Inbetweeners fame), and the first series was hugely popular on its initial airing late in 2013.

However, the show suffered a near-fatal blow earlier this year, with the tragic death of co-star Rik Mayall - who injected so much life into proceedings (as always) taunting Dan as his vindictive father in a pitch-perfect casting choice.  Nevertheless, the show must go on, and this special – ahead of a second series – is the first chance we have to see the show without him.

Stephanie Cole guest stars as Aunt Nesta, and there are a few familiar faces for TVO fans on board too: with Justin Edwards making an appearance as a solicitor, and the excellent Ramon Tikaram (star of This Life, brother of singer Tanita Tikaram, and Mighty Boosh guest star as Banoo) also involved.  Al Campbell – aka Barry Shitpeas – is directing once again, and it looks set to be another fine addition to the festive canon.

Also on telly that evening are the aforementioned third and fourth episodes of The Wrong Mans, plus Sky 1 are repeating Treasure Island across Tuesday and Wednesday at 5pm each day. This adaptation starring Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood and Donald Sutherland from 2012 also featured a cavalcade of British telly talent, including Philip Glennister, Daniel Mays, Shaun Parkes, Nathan Barley star Nina Sosyana and our very own Julian Barratt as Thomas Redruth.

Christmas Eve

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

Speaking of Wednesday, Christmas Eve brings us the Not Going Out Christmas Special, in which the will-they-won’t-they tension between Lee (Boosh radio series star Lee Mack) and Lucy (Sally Bretton) reaches unseen new highs, and Lee’s pint-sized dad Frank (Bobby Ball) takes him for a night on the tiles.

As ever Katy Wix co-stars, and there’s a guest appearance from Phil Cornwell as a police officer (only a week and a bit after his role as a police officer in Brian Pern, actually!). Lee Mack has indicated this may be the final ever episode, so expect it to go out on a happy note, just in case.

One last treat for Wednesday – if you happen to be watching Film Four’s repeat of Saint Trinians - see if you can spot Richard Glover as a put upon telly bod. Nice little cameo, there…

Christmas Day

©  BBC / David Venni

© BBC / David Venni

Christmas Day itself is a little short on treats, but like the rest of the country (we hope), we’ll be settling down to watch Nick Frost as Father Christmas in the Doctor Who special, Last Christmas.  Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman return as The Doctor and Clara, alongside guest stars Michael Troughton (of The New Statesmen fame), Faye Marsey and Natalie Gumede (who appeared in sitcom flop The Persuasionists with Simon Farnaby).

There’s currently no word on whether Ben Wheatley will be returning to direct further episodes of Doctor Who in the new year, but with filming set to begin in January, we’re sure to know soon enough. Last Christmas, which has been getting rave reviews so far, will air at 6:15pm on BBC One.

Over on Channel 4 in the early hours – midnight to be exact – is the Father Ted Christmas Special, A Christmassy Ted. This festive classic, written by Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews sees Ted and his fellow priests trapped in the lingerie section of a major department store, and Ted’s quick thinking resulting in him staging an award-winning rescue.  The episode is also shown on More4 across the festive season, so keep your eyes peeled if you miss it, or catch it on 4od. And really, you should own the dvd by now!

Boxing Day

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

Boxing Day brings with it another Big Fat Quiz of the Year - and whilst Noel Fielding is absent this year, his old cohort Richard Ayoade is on hand to add a bit of Onion into the mix.  He joins David Mitchell, Mel B, Sarah Millican, Kevin Bridges and Micky Flanagan as well as regular host Jimmy Carr.

There’s also guest appearances from Michael Palin, Rio Ferdinand, Lily Allen and the stars of The Inbetweeners, plus some surprises in store, so check in to Channel 4 from 9pm.

Sunday 28th December

© Pett Productions / Chris Baines

© Pett Productions / Chris Baines

Lastly, but by no means leastly, Sunday 28th December brings us the Christmas Special of House of Fools on BBC Two at 10:05pm.  This special episode of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s sublime sitcom is set on Christmas Eve, but when Bob’s present for Erik is unexpectedly engulfed in flames, the housemates go on an underground boat journey to Phil Collins’ mansion.

It’s typically glorious madness from the team, which features Matt BerryDan Skinner, Morgana Robinson and Daniel Simonsen, as well as a guest appearance once more by Reece Shearsmith – as Santa no, less. We’ll have a full preview of the episode later this week, and interviews with the cast (and new regular Ellie White) ahead of Series Two launching early next year.

SECRET SANTA SHOCKER FOR NEIL COLE

Of course, we’re celebrating all this telly, but it’s too late for Christmas. Neil Cole has exposed him, as we revealed over yonder.  Kris Kringle himself is launches his revealing autobigoraphy Secret Santa, but Neil wouldn’t take no for an answer…

Absolutely scandalous.

COLIN KEEPS ON COLLAB-ING

Another week goes by, and Colin Hoult continues his five-times-a-week quest to vlog in character.  Last week saw Anna Mann discuss credit card debt, Andy Parker tackle the Twilight saga, Eddie Cartizean dance his way into some beetroot, Thwor suffer from Season Affective Disorder, and Dom Fez tell us all about the girls that make him go CWOR!

With more videos uploaded every weekday, there’s a treat in store every day. Visit Colin’s YouTube channel now to subscribe.

AND THE REST…

There’s so much going on, a lot of which is featured on our News Page, but here’s some of what you may have missed in the last seven days.

We’ll see you throughout this week – and hope you have a very, very, Merry Christmas. Peace and love and all that jazz. Keep on peelin’.

Secret Santa

22 Dec

The delightful Neil Cole is a man of many talents – actor, stand-up comic, television presenter and now, top-notch biographic interviewer!

Rather excitingly, he’s only gone and bagged himself an amazing subject to interview, in the form of Kris Kringle himself – Santa Claus, as he launches his revealing autobigoraphy Secret Santa! You can see this challenging interview below.

It’s clearly this generation’s Frost/Nixon, even if Santa sounds suspiciously like former Eastenders star David Spinx. Enjoy.

So Hot Right Now #10

15 Dec

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 below.

TVO ON TELLY

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

This week sees a drop in the number of TVO related shows on our screens, as both Toast of London finished its latest runs last week.  However, with Psychobitches (Sky Arts, Tuesdays, 9pm) and Trollied (Sky One, Mondays, 8:30pm) still going strong, there’s life in the Onion yet.

Most excitingly, we’ve still got the mighty Brian Pern: A Life in Rock to savour – with Episode Two (airing on Tuesday 16th) featuring the titular prog-rock legend (played by Simon Day) trying to bring his long-mooted adaptation of The Day of the Triffids to life on stage.

© BBC / Neil Barnes

© BBC / Neil Barnes

Once again featuring co-creator Rhys Thomas alongside Michael Kitchen, Paul Whitehouse, Nigel Havers, Lucy MontgomeryTony Way and Steve Burge, this episode also features a truly hilarious cameo from Sir Roger Moore, and is one you’d be mad to miss.

Last week, TVO spoke not only to Brian Pern via an exclusive email catch-up, but also to Simon Day and Rhys Thomas. You can catch up on our interview with those fine gentlemen over yonder.

Those of you who set your DVRs way in advance should take note – Episode Three next week airs on Monday, right after Never Mind the Buzzcocks, rather than the usual Tuesday slot. You have been forewarned.

Speaking of Buzzcocks, this week’s edition features Irish actress Yasmine Akram, American musician and producer Steve Aoki, Canadian stand-up comedian Bobby Mair and singer-songwriter Rumer – and for those uncertain of who any of those people are: this is the one with the lads covered in cake, as seen on all those pictures doing the rounds with the Tumblr crowds. Enjoy.

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

CATCH UP WITH COL

Last week saw the launch of Colin Hoult‘s new YouTube channel, featuring a brand new in-character vlog five days a week.  Anna Mann, Andy Parker, Eddie Cartezian and Thwor bring us weekly updates Monday through Thursday, with a special treat each Friday.

If you missed any of last week’s editions, you can catch up now over yonder, and we’ve included this week’s first video, in which Anna Mann discusses credit card debt, below.

PADDINGTON STILL TOPS

Paul King‘s delightful Paddington is still sat atop the UK box office, having taken £10.33m in just ten days. Figures for last weekend have yet to be revealed, but we’re sure the film, which features a bevvy of TVO cameos alongside its big name cast, will still be firing on all cylinders – and rightly so!

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

Elsewhere, Chris O’Dowd can be seen in St Vincent and Michael Smiley pops up in Black Sea - both of which opened fairly modestly last week, so do get out to see them if you haven’t already!

TWEETS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

Brains Movie is a (indy) Go-Go!

24 Oct

© Bob Pipe / Channel Flip

It’s the news we’ve been waiting for… The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains is becoming a movie – and YOU can get involved with the production!

Written and created by Bob Pipe (the man behind The Forgery Club) and James Wren (the man behind The Hen & Chickens), the film will be an adaptation of the cult web series, which featured a whos-who of TVO and beyond.

Phil WhelansRichard GloverColin HoultStephen EvansAlex KirkNeil ColeGareth Tunley, Waen ShepherdAntony ElvinWill Summers and Richard Sandling were joined by Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short), Chris Kendall (Crabstickz), Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), Ricky Grover (Red Dwarf), Phil Nichol (Holy Flying Circus), Marny Godden, Thomas Nelstrop, Lizzie Roper, Nick Helm, Katy Derby and many, many more for the 50s B-movie homage.

If you haven’t seen it, and really, with all the love we gave it at the time, you really should have, you can see the each individual episode – including several off-shoots featuring Colin Hoult as egotistical actor Eric Shepherd and Warwick Davis as preposterous movie mogul Stanley Chester, over yonder – or right below this sentence.

Now the team are gearing up for a full length version of the tale, and are asking for pledges from fans and supporters through Indiegogo.

PLEDGE FOR THE MOVIE HERE!

For £5, you get a simple thank you, and £10 gets you a social media based thank you.  Where it gets interesting, is if you want to stump up a little more…

If you fancy a Brain Drain goody bag, you can have one for just £25.  If you’d prefer a unique, personalised picture of James and Bob holding hands in bathing shorts thanking you – and frankly, who doesn’t need one of those in life – it can be yours for just £40.

Pop your bid up to £50, and get all of the above, plus a movie poster – which you can have signed if your bid reaches £75.

© Bob Pipe

Those budding filmmakers out there may want to bump their bids up to £100, you get online access to the whole production and making of process – including scripts, storyboards and edits.  And if you have even more cash, £500 will give you a daily skype chat update with the film makers during film festivals, whilst £750 will get you pints and chats with the film makers AND the stars about the production at Shoreditch House.

For really flashy types, £5000 will get you the pints, and also the opportunity to be an extra in the film… and £10,000 will make you an associate producer with an invite tot he film festival of your choice.

All in all – this is a great opportunity to support independent film makers and see a brilliant project reborn as a whole new adventure.  So get involved now!

Weekly Video Round Up

3 May

This week we’ve been mostly spotting the occasional TVO-related video on the World Wide Web. And we thought it was only right and proper to round them up and share them with you:

First up is Fergus Craig, with his useful guides to (1) talking Geordie (a dialect “with a desperation to it”, according to Craig); and (2) Talking Liverpudlian (probably better not to watch it if you have any personal connection to the city yourself):

Next up we have Rachel Stubbings with her Kitchen Gym idea, which amazingly enough already has 8 backers on Kickstarter! Born out of the mind of Stubbings’ alter-ego, Rybekah Roxton-Sandbach, Kitchen Gym is a fitness programme which combines exercise and recipes for smoothies. To watch the video click here, and to visit the not-entirely-serious Kickstarter page click there. Go on, she needs £6K by the end of the month.

Finally, is this video about people’s book collections, which includes Neil Cole amongst its stellar cast. To find out what his book collection says about him (and to hear all about David Attenborough’s and Joanna Trollope’s book shelves too) click on the clip below:

Happy viewing!

Neil Joins Richard The Lionheart

18 Mar
© Neil Cole

© Neil Cole

Action man Neil Cole is starring in a new film: – Richard The Lionheart: Rebellion, which is a sequel to the 2013 film Richard The Lionheart.

The latest film continues the adventures of Richard (Gregory Chandler), as he rebels against his father, Henry the Second.

Neil’s character is known as ‘Captain’, and he is busy filming in Romania, as he reported on Twitter – “Finished filming such an epic battle scene today, I half expected an ewok party at the end of it” – so you can expect a lot of action in the film!

There’s no release date scheduled yet, but we’ll be sure to let you know when we hear more.

Neil Cole In New Film

21 Jan

Neil Cole is starring in a new comedy drama feature, Stag Hunt.

The film features a group of mates on a stag do on Dartmoor, and it quickly turns into something rather more messy than anything the group had planned! Cole plays the part of Pete, one of the main characters.  

Production has been completed on the film, although a date and media channel for its release have not yet been confirmed. In the meantime, here’s the trailer to give you a wee taster of what’s to come:

Neil Cole’s The Last Of Us

5 Jan
© Dave Brown

© Dave Brown

Neil Cole has crafted a new documentary dedicated to smash hit survival game The Last Of Us for online gaming portal, Ginx.

Already a stand-up comic, actor, dj, presenter and real-life Man of Action, Cole has also been spending much of his time working on reviews and interviews for the website, its YouTube channel, and on occasions, their tv series for digital channel Challenge.

Tackling the award winning Playstation 3 game The Last Of Us, however, has proved to be a different challenge.

The game has made a resounding impact on the industry, with a film adaptation strongly rumoured, and critics falling over in praise at the various, era-defining leaps in narrative, characterisation and gameplay it offers.

As such, Cole has spoken to a number of gamers about why this particular title – an impressive five years in the making – has succeeded in just about every possible way, and the results can be seen below, in a special 48 minute documentary, presented by Neil.

Even for non-gamers like us, this is fascinating stuff… enjoy…

TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part One

1 Jan

2013 has been a funny old year in Onion Land. We’ve seen our regulars scoop bucketloads of awards, from Best British Film at the Empire Awards to International Emmy Awards and everything in-between. Some names on our roster have reached new heights of success, becoming household names to people who have no idea of their cult origins. Others have just continued being quietly amazing, but all of them have been worthy of your attention.

As a result, we’ve been ploughing through the 12 months of TVO, to pluck out the best bits from over 700 news stories across 2013. This first instalment of our round-up covers January-March, and is jam packed with forgotten treasures and instant classics alike.  Enjoy.

JANUARY

The year began quietly, with the only key new show on the box being, on the surface, designed for kids. FIT was a sports-based sketch show on CBBC from the team behind Sorry, I’ve Got No Head, and featured TVO regulars Tony WayRufus Jones and Aisling Bea in its ensemble cast. For the most part, however, it was the involvement of Peter Serafinowicz – reprising his beloved cult character Brian Butterfield – which got everyone’s attention…

On the other end of the spectrum, Michael SmileyDan Tetsell and Simon Farnaby turned up in the very-much-for-grown-ups cyber-thiller Utopia on Channel 4. The show concerned itself with attempts to trace the only known copy of a graphic novel which left a trail of bloody carnage in its wake. With Four Lions star Adeel Akhtar part of its ensemble cast, as well as Kill List actor Neil Maskell as a creepy hitman, and The Thick Of It‘s Paul Higgins as a blackmailed civil servant, the show became an instant cult hit, and will be returning for a second series in 2014.

Closer to home, and the good folk of Onion Land seemed keen to dish out advice. Comedic agony aunt Rachel Stubbings was offering specially crafted miniature versions of herself for sale to anyone in need of a friendly ear. Or, to be more exact, a bit of unemotional plastic which happened to look a bit like her, in a variety of costumes. The Stubby Buddy was a quick sell out, though something tells me we won’t be seeing them in the shops next year…

Elsewhere, conceptual artist and Luxury Comedy star Kim Noble was offering handy tips on how to buy an oven

And as Bowie-fever gripped the world, James Cook released his own, haunting interpretation of Mr Jones’ classic track, Ashes To Ashes

Continue reading

Onion Talking: Neil Cole is… Man Vs Ride!

16 Oct

Tonight sees the proper UK launch of Man Vs Ride – the new science adventure show featuring Neil Cole taking on some of the biggest and best rollercoasters, thrill rides, races and unusual modes of transportation in the world.

© National Geographic

© National Geographic

The show airs on National Geographic at 10pm, and to celebrate, we thought we’d catch up with one of the busiest of TVO’s regular faces.

The results are below…

Neil Cole’s resume has to be one of the most varied in the business.  By day, he’s an alternative comedian, a theatrical actor of stage and screen, a radio dj, journalist and television presenter.  In his time, he’s presented Olympic Games coverage and the World Rally Championships, interviewed celebs on the red carpet for NME, and played Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  One could almost suggest “Renaissance Man” be his middle name.

© Dave Brown

© Dave Brown

To TVO, it’s his comedy work that has attracted the majority of our attention.  A long-standing friend of The Mighty Boosh, Neil first shared the stage with them back in 1998, when Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt & Rich Fulcher guested in his Edinburgh show Psycho Vertigo Disco.

Over the years, he’s also worked with Dave Brown (on his 2011 Edinburgh show Neil By Mouth), Tom Meeten, Steve Oram, James Bachman, Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Waen Shepherd and The Actor Kevin Eldon to name but a few.  He opened for Russell Brand on tour, popped up in The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains, starred in Uxbridge Swain with James Wren & Richard Glover, and was a founder member of seminal cult sketch troupe Pros From Dover.

Today, we’re catching up with him to discuss his latest project – the epic Man Vs Ride for National Geographic.  Already airing in Australia, the series sneaked onto the UK version of National Geographic last week, without anyone – least of all Neil – noticing.

As such, TVO and Cole have decided to treat tonight’s airing, with a bit more prep time, as the (un)official launch.  It is, after all, a show worthy of our – and your – attention.

Asked to describe this globe-trotting documentary series in a nutshell, Neil suggests: “In a nutshell, it’s about everything you do to get OUT of your nutshell. It’s a popular-science look at thrill rides, adrenaline, roller coasters etc and what effects they have on our bodies.”

“Of all the amazing jobs I’ve done in my life,” he continues, “THIS is the one that everybody says “You call that WORK?!” – and I am very aware that there are rollercoaster fanatics who spend all their spare time and money to make a couple of theme park pilgrimages per year, maybe even per lifetime.  As someone who already travels a lot for work, this was pretty special.” Continue reading

Man Vs Ride Reaches The UK

11 Oct
© National Geographic / Neil Cole

© National Geographic / Neil Cole

Neil Cole‘s brilliant new documentary series Man Vs Ride is now being shown in the UK.

We first told you about the show last month, when it received its world première on Australian channel Nat Geo Adventure.  The show sees Cole – an early collaborator of Julian Barratt, and a founding member of Pros From Dover – take on the world’s roller-coasters, thrill rides, race cars, camels and more.  Yes, that says camels.

It’s fun stuff, though it seems late last week the show quietly sneaked into the schedules for UK channel National Geographic, so quietly that not even Neil was aware of it!

The good news is that the first episode is being shown again on Wednesday 16th October at 10pm.

In the meantime, enjoy the exclusive behind the scenes production still atop this post, as Neil explains: “This shows just how shitscared I was, about to do a record-breaking 5th consecutive indoor 70m free-fall in a Soweto cooling tower!”

For more info, a video of Neil racing a rollercoaster in a race car, and a rather fetching photo from Blackpool’s sea-front – visit their website over yonder!

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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Neil Cole Is… MAN VS. RIDE!

2 Sep

© National Geographic

Neil Cole‘s new documentary series, Man Vs. Ride, will recieve its world première on Australian television next weekend.

The comedian – an early collaborator of Julian Barratt and – alongside Richard Glover & Phil Whelans – a founding member of Pros From Dover - has been doubling up in recent years as a television and radio presenter, with stints fronting the World Rally Championship on Dave, NME Radio’s daytime show and a roving reporter for the 2012 Olympic Games, to name but a few of his endeavours.

Since late last year, he has been crafting Man Vs. Ride for National Geographic – which will look into the science behind the biggest and best rides on earth.

The self confessed adrenaline junkie has toured the planet to take on the most terrifying rides he can find, and the results will be coming to a NG channel near you soon!

Australia is the first country to air the series, starting this Sunday evening at 8pm exclusively on Nat Geo Adventure.

For more info, a video of Neil racing a rollercoaster in a race car, and a rather fetching photo from Blackpool’s sea-front – visit their website over yonder!

RIP Mel Smith: 3 December 1952 – 19 July 2013

21 Jul
© BBC

© BBC

The Velvet Onion would like to extend its sympathies to the family and friends of Mel Smith, who died this weekend aged 60.

First bursting onto television screens in anarchic, topical sketch show Not The Nine O’Clock News, alongside Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson and his later double-act partner Griff Rhys Jones, Smith was a considerable comic mastermind, a gifted performer, and hugely influential writer and director.

In 2003, he directed his final feature film – the cult comedy Blackball - starring Paul Kaye as a young, rebellious bowls player, alongside Johnny Vegas and Vince Vaughn.  This was not his only direct brush with the TVO family, as Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthew’s first tv sketches were written for Alas, Smith And Jones.  You can see one of them below.

Together with Griff Rhys Jones, Smith’s influence on comedy grew beyond his writing, performing and directing, when they founded Talkback Productions in 1981.  The company went on to produce some of the most seminal works of the last three decades, including The Day TodayBig TrainI’m Alan Partridge and Never Mind The Buzzcocks to name but a few.  When Smith & Jones sold the company, it was merged with Thames Television to become Talkback Thames in 2003 (until early last year), and the company went on to make The IT Crowd, Green Wing and Celebrity Juice amongst others.

IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan led tributes from our regulars on Twitter, stating: “Very sad to hear news of Mel Smith’s death has been confirmed. He and Griff gave Arthur and I our break. Was always so kind & generous to us.”  Matthews replied to this, adding: “Well said. Mel and Griff couldn’t have been kinder to us. And Mel was a brilliant, brilliant comic actor.”

The pair were joined by Rhys Thomas, who added: “Terrible news about Mel Smith. A funny man. Growing up Smith and Jones’ BBC One sketch show was one of my favourites.  He was an underrated director too. The Tall Guy sex scene is one of the funniest things ever.”.  Thomas’ former collaborator Steve Burge (later of Burge & Way and Tittybangbang), responded: “R.I.P. “Colin’s Sandwich” star, Mel Smith.”

Rufus Jones – who followed in Smith’s footsteps at Cambridge – also offered his thoughts on Mel: “RIP Mel Smith. Revered his jowly brilliance. An old boy at my school – he encouraged me to goon about onstage. He was terrific.”  Jones’ regular collaborator Katy Brand was also moved to comment: “Very sad to see the news about Mel Smith. He was a family friend as well as a brilliant comedian/writer/director/actor/bon viveur.”

Yet more names paid tribute, with US based, Salford-born comic Hayden Black adding: “RIP to a comic that was hugely influential to me – Mel Smith.”, and the head of Sky Comedy, Lucy Lumsden stating: “Just heard the sad and shocking news about the multi-talented Mel Smith. Wonderful comic who I grew up watching. A great loss.”

One of those in the outer layers of The Velvet Onion, Peter Serafinowicz, also supported the views of Linehan & Matthews, stating: “Very sad to hear about Mel Smith. He did something very kind for me early in my career even though he hardly knew me. Such a funny man.”  His brother, producer James Serafinowicz, added: “Oh no just heard about Mel Smith. Was so lucky to work for him. Such a lovely man.”

Finally, quite prophetically considering the comedic legacy the great man leaves behind, Neil Cole‘s tweet was simple, but effective, drawing on one of Mel Smith’s finest moments: “I like trucking, I like trucking, I like trucking and I like to truck; I like trucking, I like trucking, if you don’t like trucking…”

RIP Mel Smith. Your work will live on… Kinda Lingers.

Brains Redux

1 Jul

Just as we had started to miss The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains - there’s a brand new version of it to savour!

The sitcom-sketch-hybrid from the minds of Bob PipeJames Wren and Phil Whelans arrived on YouTube channel The Multiverse earlier this year, and featured a whole bevvy of TVO regulars in the cast.

Now some of the best bits from the short episodes have been put together into a 30-minute version, which demonstrates how wonderfully the concept would work on television.  Revisit the magic below…

If you missed it earlier this year, you can read our interview with Bob, James & Phil about all things Brains right here

Onion Talking: The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains!

5 Jun
© Bob Pipe / Channel Flip

© Bob Pipe / Channel Flip

You’d have to have been living under a rock these last few months not to notice us banging on about a brilliant new web series called The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains.

Jam-packed with TVO regulars, the show is the brainchild of Bob Pipe, and as the show comes to the end of its first run, TVO spoke to Bob and co-writers James Wren and Phil Whelans for the scoop on …Brains.

They came from outer space. Ok, not really. They live in London, but outer space sounds more exciting. Their mission: to suck out our brains. Again, this may be a lie. They’re more interested in stimulating our limbic systems within said organs to make us laugh.

When Forgery Club head honcho Bob Pipe got the call to create his own web-series, he turned to two regular collaborators – Hen & Chickens guru James Wren and improv legend Phil Whelans – to help develop it. The trio are jacks of all comedic trades and masters of several, and the resulting series became The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains, which premiered exclusively on YouTube earlier this year.

The cast list for …Brains reads like a who’s who of alternative comedy, with Richard Glover, Colin Hoult, Waen Shepherd, Alex Kirk, Stephen Evans, Gareth Tunley, Richard Sandling, Neil ColeAntony Elvin and Will Summers all furthering the TVO connections. Phil Whelans is also on hand as recurring scientist Professor Langhorne, who pops up to offer invaluable advice on avoiding brain sucking with his esteemed colleague Dr Von Busey (Glover). Alex Kirk plays the hapless Prime Minister with no clue how to handle the crisis, which sees everyone from Army heroes to spaced out teenagers to simple Northern Folk facing the wrath of the alien invaders. It’s all gloriously silly, and insanely addictive.

“To be fair,” Phil Whelans explains, when asked where it all began, “it was all Bob Pipe’s idea. But if it’s successful, then I’ve always wanted to do it. If not, then I thought it was a terrible idea. This concept is called ‘Schrodinger’s Answer’ – the theoretical concept that, in a lead-lined box with a decaying radioactive particle, my answer to this question exists in two distinct states at the same time.”

Bob Pipe directs Will Summers & Antony Elvin [© Bob Pipe]

“Bob is a go-to guy for filmed comedy,” he adds on a more serious note. “For people who are used to turning up at a venue with a bag of props and just walking on stage, filming stuff can be a bit daunting, but Bob knows how to make it happen.”

…Brains has been gestating in Bob Pipe’s mind for many years, with an early version of it forming Bob’s end of year project in his Media Studies HND back in 1999. “We only had a shitty S-Video camera, video deck editing and no proper actors at our disposal,” Bob remembers. “I knew I was limited at what I could make, so I decided to make a B-Movie! I tried to remake it when I was the In-House Director for [now defunct website] ComedyBox, but I never got round to it. Me and a friend tried to pitch it to Channel 4’s Comedy Blap initiative a few years ago but it never got picked up.  But I’ve never given up on the idea, so I pitched it again to Channel Flip when I heard about The Multiverse, who loved it. The rest is history. Or perhaps, the future?” Continue reading

Forged Hope

10 May

The latest installment in the gloriously silly web series The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains has emerged online.

This week’s episode from the minds of Bob PipeJames Wren and Phil Whelans features the return of the latter and Richard Glover, with more brain sucking victims including a Blackpool cabaret singer, played by Waen Shepherd and Wren’s chain smoking live wire surgeon.  Meanwhile, Mason Philips minister is not so lucky…

If you’re enjoying …Brains, don’t forget that the team behind it are staging two cult comedy nights in the coming weeks.

Bob Pipe is bringing back his wonderful on-off club night The Forgery Club on Friday, May 17th at The Udderbelly, Southbank.  The 80s special will see the return of swash-buckling time travelers Umbrage Swain & Burton Latimer (played by Wren & Glover), on a mission to solve the Mystery of the Missing Giant Purple Upside Down Cow.

They’ll be accompanied by the mighty Gary Le Strange, along with Dave McNeill, Modern Dreams, Terry Alderton and some surprises, so grab your tickets whilst you can over yonder!

James Wren is also reviving his own popular club-night, Spank in June and July at the same venue, with the show on June 7th featuring Isy Suttie, Vicki Stone, David Armand, Rhys Mathewson and No Son Of Mine – aka Rufus Jones and Alex Kirk.  The following show on July 5th features Tony LawHot Brew, Phil Nichol and Anil Desai, and more info and ticket links can be found over there.

How To Survive Without Your Brain

3 May

In this next installment of the Brain Sucking Saga, Earth people are standing up to the Alien Invasion.

Tips on how to avoid having your brain sucked out include wearing the latest in tin foil headgear, and staying indoors.

Richard Sandling and Neil Cole join in the fun this week, as you can see below.

The Road To Death!

19 Apr

Not a nasty case of Motorway Madness, but the latest episode of The Day They Came to Suck out Our Brains from The Multiverse – the new online portal for sci-fi related silliness from Warwick Davies.

The ten part web-show is from the genius minds of Bob Pipe, James Wren and Phil Whelans, and features music from Waen Shepherd.

The new episode tells us what happens when a woman has her brain sucked out! All is revealed below.

Umbrage Swain & The Magical Diamond Of Ramtutiti

18 Jan

© James Wren

Richard Glover and Neil Cole have joined the cast of a revival of comedy play Umbrage Swain & The Magical Diamond Of Ramtutiti at legendary venue The Hen & Chickens, later this month.

The play is the brainchild of friend of TVO, James Wren – head honcho at the venue, who was involved in our live night last year.  First staged back in 2008, the play – written by Wren & Alan Freestone, is set in the 1980s with the world in deadly peril.

An evil bastard called ‘The Darkness’ is intent on world domination, but needs the Magical Diamond of Ramtutiti to fulfil his dastardly plans. There is only one hope for mankind… A New Romantic hope!

Glover has returned to the cast, alongside Wren, and they will be joined by Cole,  Millie Reeves, Mark Johnson and Marny Godden for the five night revival, between January 29th and February 2nd.  Tickets are available now for just £8, right over yonder, so there’s no excuse if you’re nearby and want a great night out.

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