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Sky Gets Physical

1 Sep

This week sees the soft-launch of a new range of four one-off comedies for Sky Arts, featuring a selection of TVO regulars and familiar faces.

© King Bert Productions

© King Bert Productions

The quartet of comic nuggets begins with Ruby Robinson (Thursday, 9pm) which stars Hollywood legend Kim Cattrall alongside Mike Wozniak and Cariad Lloyd. Cattrall plays Ruby, who lives in a huge, isolated and dilapidated house with a troupe of unusual acrobat helpers that she has come to take for granted. She yearns for the company of her nephew (Wozniak, who also wrote the piece) and his family but a visit from them spells trouble for Ruby, who comes to learn to appreciate that the people who truly love her are right under her nose. Cariad plays Wozniak’s sadistic wife, and as usual relishes every minute of her time on screen.

© Chris Lobina for Sky Arts

© Chris Lobina for Sky Arts

Next Thursday (10th September) sees the debut of Rotters – which follows a blundering gang of idiots who attempt to rob an auction house owned by an antiques dealer, played by Frank Skinner (Doctor Who, Baddiel & Skinner). Continually stepping on each other’s toes, the motley crew battle against a dazzling array of security devices, a meddlesome traffic warden (stand-up Pat Cahill)their own incompetence in this action–packed slapstick riot of a show. Man of the moment Sam “Fosters Award” Simmons leads the gang, which also comprises former Foster winner Dr Brown (aka Phil Burgers), Top Coppers‘ John Kearns, rising stand-up star Lolly Adefope and House of Fools very own Daniel Simonsen.

© Andrea Southam for Sky Arts

© Andrea Southam for Sky Arts

Also in the season is Brilliantman! – written by and starring Kevin Eldon as a humble council worker Ian Hedge who is also a wannabe suburban superhero. Having assumed his secret identity as Brilliantman, Hedge tangles with a variety of local characters including a mugger, a burglar and a potentially murderous parrot. The legendary Johnny Vegas plays his sour-tempered landlady Mrs Wardle, making this even more of a must-see.

© Justin Downing For Sky Arts

© Justin Downing For Sky Arts

The final production in the run is Three Kinds of Stupid which in fairness, only has secondary connections to TVO, but what impeccable connections they are. Written by Chris Reddy (PixelfaceSorry I’ve Got No HeadThat Mitchell And Webb Look), it follows the misadventures of three community police officers who befriend a blind man, played by Jim Moir… aka the onle and only Vic Reeves. Things go badly wrong when one of the gang accidentally kills the blind man’s guide dog with a prawn sandwich. Unable to tell him about the tragedy, they go to elaborate ends to convince him his dog is still alive and well. Sean Walsh (Monks), Marek Larwood (Murder in Successville) and Jocelyn Jee Esien (The Sarah Jane Adventures) play the hapless CPOs, with Diane Morgan (aka Philomena Cunk) also making an appearance.

All four shows will be broadcast on Thursday evenings starting this week, and will be available on SkyGo and NowTV for some time afterwards, further building the impressive collection of alternative comedy Sky have been building over the past few years. If you’re still missing out on all they have to offer, click here to learn more about a great pay-as-you-go way to access their back catalogue.

The Ape Man Cometh: AAAAAAAAH! Review

28 Aug

unnamedOne of the things that distinguishes the artists that we write about at The Velvet Onion is their ability to think differently and to make waves in a sea of entertainment mediocrity. At their best, they conjure up ideas and dream of worlds so creatively vibrant that they force us, the audience, into a different headspace ourselves. In this respect, Steve Oram‘s AAAAAAAAH! (always written with eight ‘A’s) totally nails it.

The premise of the film is simple: it shows us what human beings would be like if we conformed to the natural behaviour patterns of apes. AAAAAAAAH! presents us with an everyday world that looks like ours but where society has been reduced to little more than factions of fighting, fucking, shitting beasts.

Although I’m no primatologist, I’m fairly sure David Attenborough has said that our simian relatives are more complex than this. But given that the impact of AAAAAAAAH! comes, in large part, from the consistent and gaping absence of anything recognisably ‘human’ in the behaviour of the human forms on screen, let’s embrace the film’s freewheeling approach to natural history.

First things first: the idea upon which the film is built is strange, brave, funny and thought-provoking (more of that later). Conceptually, it’s one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in a long while. The cast are astonishingly good – within minutes you forget that nobody is actually speaking; their grunts, whoops and gestures tell you everything that you need to know about the film’s narrative (as an aside, Tom Meeten told us that the cast were actually given scripts to follow. Wonderful stuff!). Of particular note is the perfectly-observed unspoken camaraderie between Steve Oram and Tom Meeten, the boorish mateyness of Julian Rhind-Tutt and Sean Reynard, and the emotional fragility of a garden-bound Julian Barratt.

It’s also a real pleasure seeing so many of ‘our lot’ working together on a project like this. Proof, if any were needed, that they are a group bound by a shared love of what can best be described as creatively out there. And thank goodness for that!

unnamedBe warned though, it’s not all comedic complexity and anthropological insight. AAAAAAAAH! makes for pretty visceral viewing, sometimes bordering on the gratuitously gross – although it’s generally done for humorous effect, not to offend. The screen is frequently awash with body fluids and body parts, chunks of half-eaten food and unpredictable bloody violence. Within moments of the film starting two key characters defecate in their kitchen, and aggressive, often uninvited sex is never more than a couple of scenes away. Let’s just say it’s probably not a film to take your Mum to.

unnamed-3The overall sense of visual unpleasantness is reinforced by the depiction of a shabby, urban working class existence (I don’t know why, but I suspect that a rural middle-class monkey life might be easier on the eye), and the general look of the film, which is raw and ungraded.

With movie audiences now more used to the anaesthetising effect of Insta filters, it’s actually quite unnerving to watch a film which looks like it might have been shot on video tape.

Perhaps this was a decision born out of budgetary necessity, but by looking less cinematic AAAAAAAAH! feels more real, more immediate. This realism nudges it away from being an artistic concept on a cinema screen, towards a depiction of an authentic world that any of us could easily be part of.

And this is where the film gets really interesting: after watching it I half-expected violent chaos and beastial shrieks to erupt on my tube journey home. The fact that it didn’t, and that every day we unconsciously navigate our way around other people, mindful even of the rights of the strangers in our midst, suddenly seemed astonishing. AAAAAAAAH! provides a fascinating glimpse into what our society could be like if we didn’t follow the intricate set of social rules that have been defined and refined by several millennia of cultural evolution.

unnamed-1Watching people (like us) behave like apes has the effect of re-setting one’s internal gauge of what a ‘normal’ society should be like. We share 99% of our DNA with apes; how incredible it is then that we live in such close proximity to each other, but we rarely fall back on our basic animal instincts to deal with those around us.

AAAAAAAAH! makes you question the validity of the cultural codes by which we live. It forces you to acknowledge how strangely unnatural, transient and man-made our modern lives are. If we were to strip away these superficial social conceits, then really we’re no different to the apes that preceded us. We too are horny, violent, disgusting creatures. It’s no wonder that the news is full of bloodshed and war.

And that’s why I relished AAAAAAAAH so much: it made my brain whirr. It isn’t necessarily lovely to look at and it’s not perfect – indeed, it seems to flaunts its flaws with a strange sense of pride, but it really makes you think – for long after the end credits have rolled – and for that it deserves to be applauded. With the lions’ share of ‘entertainment’ served up for our online/on-screen pleasure these days unlikely to create the smallest cognitive ripple, anything that forces us to sit up and take notice should be celebrated. AAAAAAAAH! is punk cinema at its best: crude, rude and brain fizzingly provocative. Go see!

The next screening of AAAAAAAAH! Takes place at Picturehouse Central in London on 4th September, and includes a cast Q&A. For tickets for this and for updates on other screenings please visit the Lincoln Studios website.

 

Fried Wix

25 Aug

Katy Wix appears in new BBC Three sitcom Fried which begins tonight.

© Two Brothers Pictures Limited / Bwark Productions Limited / Anne Binckebanck

© Two Brothers Pictures Limited / Bwark Productions Limited / Anne Binckebanck

Written by Harry and Jack Williams, the show stars Matthew Cottle, Mandeep Dhillon, Lorna Gayle, William Melling and Imran Yusuf as the disgruntled staff of a struggling branch of Seriously Fried Chicken in Croydon, led by their eternally optimistic but desperately ineffectual manager, Mary, played by Wix.

In the first episode, Mary is called to head office to answer anonymous complaints about her behaviour, and she decides to go undercover as a Spanish man to find out more.

Originally a Comedy Feed pilot last year, this is pretty mad stuff, with a broad, coarse appeal that, for want of a better term, is ‘pure BBC Three’. But it’s always a delight to see Katy Wix on screen, and for that reason, we’ll be tuning in!

The six part run begins  this evening, Tuesday 25th August, at 10:30pm, and will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission. You can catch the trailer, and a clip from last year’s pilot below.

The Comedian’s Guide To Survival

24 Aug

Paul KayeRichard Sandling and Kevin Eldon are amongst the ensemble cast gathered in a new comedy film all about the world of stand-up, The Comedian’s Guide to Survival.

© James Mullinger / FH Studio / GSP Studios / Solar Productions

© James Mullinger / FH Studio / GSP Studios / Solar Productions

Loosely based on the real-life story of journalist turned stand-up comic James Mullinger, the film stars James Buckley (The Inbetweeners) as Mullinger – a failed comic travelling the world interviewing more successful funny types to find the secret to comedy.

Most of the comedians featuring in the movie are playing a version of themselves, including Omid Djalilli, Jimmy Carr, Gilbert Gottfried, Mike Wilmot and Gina Yashire. However, can reveal that Paul Kaye is playing a character called Phillip, Kevin Eldon is playing Nick Secker, and Richard Sandling is Richard – a stand-up who makes James’ life hell on the circuit.

Also on board are Myanna Buring (Kill List), Tim McInnerny (Blackadder), Neil Stuke (Game On) and Norman Pace (Hale & Pace), making this already impressive cast even stronger. We can’t wait to see the results!

Written by Mullinger alongside the director, Mark Murphy (Awaiting, Movie Kingdom), filming is currently underway in the UK, after a stint at the Just for Laughs comedy festival back in July.

The film will be hitting festivals and events looking for distributors early next year, and we’ll bring you more news as we get it, so stay peeled.

Late Night Laughs With Dan Clark And Aisling Bea

23 Aug
© Dan Clark

© Dan Clark

The Royal Albert Hall has announced a string of live stand up shows with a couple of TVO favourites in the mix. This Autumn sees a whole array of fantastic comedy talent from across the country perform at the Elgar Room at the venue.

Dan Clark will be performing on Friday 16th October alongside Sean Mcloughlin and  the following month, on Friday 27th November, Aisling Bea will be accompanied by Gareth Richards.

Both events, like many of the Late Night Laughs shows, are to be hosted by stand up legend Richard Herring, who has been busy this summer revisiting every single one of his previous twelve Edinburgh shows at the Soho Theatre.

Ticket prices vary from £13 to around £16 depending on the line up so this is the perfect opportunity to see countless of the country’s most popular comedians for a very respectable price! Get your tickets by visiting the Royal Albert Hall’s website.

For more chances to see our regulars live, check out our Listings pages up top!

 

Oniodrome

21 Aug

Richard Sandling and Bob Pipe have joined forces with internet sensation Ashens to promote the recent reissue of seminal David Cronenberg classic Videodrome.

© Arrow

© Arrow

The reissue, which was released on Monday, comes courtesy of every horror buff’s favourite distributor, Arrow Films, who have lavished their usual care and attention on their limited edition blu-ray release, which reviewers note is vastly superior to previous editions, though has sadly already sold out pretty much everywhere: Amazon sellers already want over £60 for a copy, so be prepared to pay if you missed it. We’re hoping a second run follows suit very soon…

In the meantime, console yourselves with the video below: in which self-confessed movie buff Sandling discusses the new flesh, Betamax and everything in between with Ashens. The video was produced, edited and directed by fellow TVO legend Bob Pipe, so you’ve got double the number of reasons to watch it.

Here Comes Pluto

18 Aug
© Edward Moore

© Edward Moore

Richard Sandling has announced details of his new spoken word show, Pluto.

The award winning comedian, poet and actor has been rather busy with his – as he calls them: “usual film based nerdfests” of late, including the sublime Perfect Movie, but Pluto promises to be a more honest, personal show about missed opportunities, professional and personal resilience, hope vs despair, reinvigoration, reinvention, unrequited love, social anxiety, the internet and toast.

Taking place over three nights – Tuesday 29th September, Wednesday 30th September and Thursday 1st October at the Betsy Trotswood, the show promises to be a poignant blend of the funny and the serious, with stories, poems and stand up comedy: all for only £3.50 in advance.

Get your tickets via the hyperlinks above, and see below for a clip of Richard’s character Spak Whitman dishing out some semi-spoof poetic wisdom at The Velvet Onion Live, oh so long ago…

Top Coppers

15 Aug

Next week sees the launch of a new BBC Three comedy series which features a smattering of TVO connections.

© Rough Cut / BBC

© Rough Cut / BBC

Top Coppers follows two uncompromising detectives in the fictional Justice City: John Mahogany and Mitch Rust, as they attempt to rid the city of its deranged criminal underworld.

Starring John Kearns and Steen Raskopolous, the show is a spoof of 70s/80s cop shows set in no specific time or country, and is the brainchild of writer/director Cein McGillicuddy (who previously worked in the Star Stories production team) and comedy editor turned writer Andy Kinnear.

Each week, a different crisis hits Justice City and its up to Mahogany and Rust to fight it out with their JCPD colleagues. From drug lords, 1980s computer hackers, mad scientists, evil twin brothers and retired science fiction actors, there’s a whole host of villains to fight – and that’s where TVO comes in.

Alongside the likes of James Fleet (The Vicar of Dibley) and Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf), these villains include Simon Farnaby and Kayvan Novak. Both can be glimpsed in the official  extended trailer above, which follows a shorter variant which has been doing the rounds on BBC TV for the last week.

And that’s not all, with Rich Fulcher in a ‘Featuring’ role as Mayor Grady, who is confirmed as being in the first episode’s cast, and other unknown episodes. You can see a selection of images of Rich in the role – a rare UK excursion for him since he moved back to the US – below.

TVO hasn’t had chance to see a preview before this article went to press, but consider us intrigued. We can all find out for ourselves what it’s like when the first episode airs on Wednesday 19th August at 10:00pm via BBC Three.

Onion Talking: Messing With Colin Hoult

8 Aug
© machcomedyfest.co.uk

© machcomedyfest.co.uk

If any of you are lucky enough to have experienced Colin Hoult live, you’ll know why we’re getting a bit over-excited that he has a new show starting next week at Soho Theatre. Messing about with Ouija Boards is described by the theatre as “the terrifying true tale of what happened when Colin Hoult’s mum made contact with the spirit world.” 

Sounds pretty intriguing, huh? Indeed, our curiosity was sufficiently piqued that we simply had to ask Colin all about it. Here’s what he had to say:

Some of your previous live shows have taken audiences to fantastical nether-worlds, while others are semi-autobriogaphical. Where does ‘Messing with Ouija Boards’ sit on the spectrum?

It’s a ‘ha-ha-bonk’ exploration of my family and background. Sort of Colin Hoult – year one, an origin tale! It’s loads of little stories that revolve around the time we all did a Ouija Board on Christmas Day and something genuinely weird happened. (Spoiler: we didn’t get Jesus).

It’s also about Nottingham where I’m from, and loads of bits about horror movies and spooky stuff that I love. Its also about dealing with illnesses of the mind and hopefully gives a bit of courage and comfort for that.

It’s my first proper stand up show. Having flirted with it in the past – I’m going the whole hog as myself (with Anna Mann popping out in the event of hecklers), but fear not, I use a lot of characternesses as well.

What was your inspiration behind the show?


Mainly my family and brain for the actual stories, but in terms of this type of show probably a few different stand ups: Greg Davies’ amazing story-telling, also Rhod Gilbert and others. Richard Pryor for his jumping in and out of character, and Dave Allen for his calm relaxed manner. Not that I’m like any of these greats, just I think they’ve filtered in a bit.

Visually, I’m sort of going back to my first show, Carnival of Monsters, and embracing a bit of that Victoriana spooky, but in a more subtle way – Buster Keaton, and all that lovely silent world.

Do you have any plans to take the show on tour, given your fan base extends well beyond zone 1?

I’m not sure yet – it’s a bit different doing it this way, as in the past I’ve done Soho Theatre after an Edinburgh run. I’m really proud and excited about the show, so I’d definitely want to take it further – whether I’ll be able to do Edinburgh next year I’m not sure.

Who creates your props and costumes?


My amazing wife, Kat, always helps to design my shows, She’s actually responsible for a lot of what made my first shows do well. I’ve been lucky to have some great help from arty friends in the past; I think it’s a lot more interesting to use people from outside the comedy world. This show is going to be very much stripped back, so won’t use much design – but might develop that way later.

BBC

© BBC

You have many strings to your bow: you write and perform live comedy, you’re a successful TV comedy actor and a stage actor; what do you prefer doing?


That’s a tricky one! I love the thrill of live comedy probably better than anything – I think the moment when I’m connecting with an audience and conveying something funny or interesting, and they get it, is the sweetest of joys!

That said, this year I’ve been doing a lot of different things – I’ve just finished doing a run of the Seagull by Chekhov – and it’s been great to really go back to acting, which is where I started. But I don’t think I’d ever want to give up live comedy.

The last time we chatted you told us that your latest ambition was learning to dance. Has it changed?

No I still want to do more dancing! My biggest dream is to do Shakespeare. This may seem an odd way to go about it, but I swear to you you will see my Dane!

How difficult is it for a comedian to break through to the mainstream, and do you think it’s the big deal that it’s made out to be?

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

I don’t know really – it’s probably all a bit of an illusion. I think I’ve had lots of little breakthroughs that have eventually amounted to me being able to do what I love and survive on it.

It’s the kind of thing you can waste years worrying about – as I have in the past. Nowadays I try to be more philosophical about it all; I think as long as you are really enjoying and believing in what you do then you’re luckier than a lot of people.

There’s no point thinking ‘is this my breakthrough?’ It’s all about a lot of factors you can’t control, so just make sure your own work is saying what you want to say, how you want to say it.

Thanks, Colin. Before we finish, is there anything else you’d like to tell us that we haven’t asked?

Yes. Life is Beautiful. Also check out a man called Dave Edwards in Edinburgh this year – he’s a living legend.

You can see Colin’s new show Messing about with Ouija Boards from Thursday 13th – Saturday 15th August at Soho Theatre, with performances starting at 9.15pm. Tickets are £10 (Thurs), £12.50 (Fri – Sat). Further information and tickets are available here.

Many thanks to Colin for taking the time to answer our questions, and we wish him the best of luck for the Soho Theatre run!

Sean Signs

4 Aug

A new video has been released by Sean Reynard (aka Sean the Prawn). He stars in the video as Quentin Smirhes, who appears in an excerpt from See Hear circa ’83.

If that has piqued your interest you can see Sean’s other videos by clicking the Vimeo button, where there is a gallery of previous uploads, including Quentin reciting 2 poems from  the 17th and 19th centuries with a twist.

Onion Review: The Last Sparks of Sundown

28 Jul
lastsparksposter

© Black Shark Media

This week saw the limited cinema release of The Last Sparks of Sundown – the debut feature from James Kibbey which features The Pajama Men, Emily Bevan, Miles Jupp and Kayvan Novak in its ensemble cast.

Ahead of a wider release, TVO got a sneaky peak of the picture, and here’s our onion-shaped verdict.

In this digital age, when multi-millionaires are forged of people who talk at a webcam and put it on YouTube, and auto-tuned ‘singers’ are packaged to make millions, it can sometimes be hard to see exactly what the magic ingredient is. Here at TVO, we’ve seen countless comedy productions come and go, on stage, television, radio, the web and even the big screen, and a lot of them fell by the wayside, never to make that break into the mainstream. Given how many people of questionable talent make a fortune these days, it can be incredibly frustrating to watch real talent trying the old fashioned way to make a dent.

Of course, there are ways that work can reach a wider audience over time, and we can only hope that The Last Sparks of Sundown and its writer/director James Kibbey is one of the lucky ones. His path has crossed TVO’s way before: an experienced commercials director, he was responsible for the Southampton FC viral videos featuring Tom Davis as a stripe-obsessed coach earlier this year. And in his first feature, following his award-winning short House Cocktail two years ago, he’s roped in Kayvan Novak in a supporting role. Naturally, TVO was intrigued.

© Black Shark Media

© Black Shark Media

The film itself is a vehicle for cult sketch comics The Pajama Men – Shenoah Allen and Mark Chave – who play Harvey and Matthew Sparks: two out of work, down and out, pretty crappy actors who inherit a massive house in the English countryside from their recently departed grandfather, Sir Buster Sparks. They also happen to be brothers, though the exact reasons for their non-resemblance remain a mystery until a beautifully nonsensical info-dump in the middle of the movie.

Heading over to the UK, the duo plan to sell the house and make a tidy profit fast. Matthew wants to get back to the woman he loves, and Harvey has managed to run up an ever increasing debt to a camp, flamboyant, and dangerous gangster known only as Seven (a typically pitch perfect Kayvan Novak).

Upon arrival, however, they find the house is far from empty: Lucy Fairweather, allegedly Buster’s servant, has moved in alongside her dear old Nana, Lydia (played by The Casual Vacancy‘s Emily Bevan and Olivier Award winning actress Sara Kestelman respectively).

© Black Shark Media

© Black Shark Media

Naturally, this being a movie, the timid and awkward Matthew begins to fall for that West Country gal Lucy, while the increasingly paranoid Harvey refuses to trust anyone. After all, he keeps having flashbacks to his brutal treatment from the hands of Seven, and knows that pretty soon, he’s going to pay the brothers a visit.

The weirdest part of all of this is seeing the Pajama Men, who are famed for their flights of nonsensical fancy, in someone else’s world – and quite a natural world at that. Of course, there are a few contrivances along the way, as the boys attempt to sell the house to a posh English gent (Christian McKay, The Theory of Everything). And around their “humble and gout ridden” agent Jeffrey H Chicken (a very likeable Miles Jupp) as he tries to find them acting work whilst simultaneously spying on his wife in a bizarre sub plot that, at a pinch, could probably have been excised if we have to be picky.

© Black Shark Media

© Black Shark Media

Yet the charm of the film comes out of that fusion of seeing these naturally bonkers performers in a more human environment. Placing two Americans – one brash, sweary and hard to like; the other in essence like Steven Wright after a few too many energy drinks – in this quaint countryside, the sun drenched hues highlighting all the detail in the oak and brick of the house, just somehow works.

Of course, Allen and Chave are a love-or-loathe act, and while they have huge amounts of critical acclaim and a cult following, it’s fair to say they won’t appeal to everyone. Yet they have a natural chemistry, and a penchant for being enchantingly silly: witness for example the moment one says to the other: “Listen with your ears, not your face.” and the timid reply: “My ears are part of my face.” – and you get every inch of their long-standing relationship coming across on screen.

Okay, so they’re not the best actors in the world, and a few dramatic beats stumble when they’re asked to do too much, but whether it’s levelling with one another (literally) or discussing the childhood game of Find the Vacuum, they’re hard not to fall for if alternative comedy is your thing.

© Black Shark Media

© Black Shark Media

Throw in a mad final act that involves a helpful accident, some surprise treachery, an antelope costume (or is it a moose?) and a startling resurrection, and you’ve got yourself an engrossing, and downright likeable comedy. Maybe at times it’s a bit contrived how one character gets from A to B, but at others, Kibbey’s script is throwing you curveballs so you truly don’t see the end coming the way it does.

TVO can only hope that the film’s initial run – at one admittedly fantastic cinema in that there London – is followed up with a wider release, perhaps buoyed by the presence of Miles Jupp, Kayvan Novak and the voice of British TV legend Geoffrey Palmer as the tale’s not-so-humble narrator. If, in this world of web-cam superstars we need to get a little slaggy to sell a movie to audiences, so be it: because this is a film that audiences should see. And hopefully, most of you will.

The Last Sparks of Sundown is showing at The Prince Charles Cinema in London until 30th July. For more info on the film, visit the official website

 

CrackaMOREy! Dave’s anthology series to return for Series Three

27 Jul

Crackanory – the anthology show for adults featuring a host of famous faces reading short tales, which are re-enacted by top notch comedy talent – is to return for a third series in the Autumn.

© UK TV / Tiger Aspect

© UK TV / Tiger Aspect

Back to the Future legend Christopher Lloyd joins the likes of Simon Bird, Sarah Millican, Greg Davies and Tamsin Grieg as some of the guest narrators for the new run, which will once again feature two stories per episode brought to life via a mix of narration, live action and animation.

Confirmed writers for the series include Kevin EldonNico Tatarowicz, Holly Walsh and Toby Davies, and given the show’s current standing as one of the most TVO-connected shows of the last few years, we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re joined by a few more names along the way.

Series One narrators: © UK TV / Tiger Aspect

Series One narrators: © UK TV / Tiger Aspect

Across the first two series, the stories were brought to life with an impeccable cast of comedy talent, including our very own James Bachman, John Willie Hopkins, Alex Kirk, Alice Lowe, Cariad Lloyd, Tom Meeten, Lucy Montgomery, Steve Oram, Tony Way and Katy Wix.

And all of this was enhanced by big name guest narrators, with the full run so far featuring Stephen Mangan, Sally Philips, Sharon Horgan, Hugh Dennis, Jessica Hynes, Harry Enfield, Jack Dee, Sarah Solemni, Charlie Higson, Kevin EldonRebecca Front, Richard Hammond, Vic Reeves, Simon Carllow, Ruby Wax, Sue Perkins, David Mitchell, Ben Miller, Katherine Parkinson, Meera Syall, Warwick Davis, Emilia Fox, Johnny Vegas and the late, great, Rik Mayall in his last on-screen role.

Series Two narrators: © UK TV / Tiger Aspect

Series Two narrators: © UK TV / Tiger Aspect

The connections extended behind the scenes too, with Eldon, Way and Nico Tartarowicz writing instalments, Gareth Tunley directing several and the entire run featuring the music of Waen Shepherd, whose haunting melodies will be heard again in the third season.

Also returning on production duties for Series Three is Arnold Widdowson (Grandma’s House), who previously wrote for Sorry I’ve Got No Head, School of Comedy and Horrible Histories and was script editor on Beehive and Roman’s Empire way back when.

Naturally, we’ll bring you more news on Crackanory‘s return as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can catch up on the previous 12 episodes via UKTV Play right now.

Colin Hoult is Messing with Ouija Boards

25 Jul
© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

Colin Hoult returns to the London comedy scene with his brand new show, Messing with Ouija Boards next month at The Soho Theatre.

August may traditionally seem like the time when the comedy industry decamps to Scotland, but for those staying behind, there’s a chance of a weekend appointment to see the Murder in Successville star up close in the delightfully cozy Soho Upstairs.

In this terrifying true tale of what happened when Colin Hoult’s mum made contact with the spirit world, you can expect to see all new material from the master of the macabre, the strange and the downright weird.

Tickets for the three night run between Thursday 13th and Saturday 15th August are available now, with prices starting at £10. Get in.

 

Bad Education in the Summer Holidays

17 Jul
© Cave Bear Productions / Tiger Aspect Productions

© Cave Bear Productions / Tiger Aspect Productions

In most cases, the kids break up from school this week, for 49 days of freedom. We don’t need no education, indeed. (Yes, we know we just used a double negative.)

What we will need, however, is some Bad Education – as the hit BBC Three sitcom which starred Jack Whitehall, Mathew Horne, Michelle Gomez and Harry Enfiled amongst others, returns as a fully-fledged movie across UK cinemas.

The show – which closed its doors for the last time at the end of its third series last October – was never a favourite with the critics, yet has a very large and very loyal following eagerly awaiting its big-screen debut, and there’s a trio of TVO names making cameo appearances in the film to prick our interest, too.

And so, in the cleverly titled The Bad Education Movie, Alfie Wickers (Whitehall) continues to be probably the worst teacher to (dis)grace the English education system, but no one cares about their pupils quite as much as Alfie does. Having completed their GCSEs, Alfie is keen for his class to join him on one last hurrah and what follows is a coming of age story like no other… the best school trip ever!

You can see the trailer for the film below.

So far, so ‘only-vaguely-TVOy’, but the film features cameos from Tom Davis (reprising his role as Big Tom from an episode of the series), Steve Oram (as Officer Rowe) and Richard Glover (as a tour guide).

In fact, dig a little deeper, and there are more TVO connections to be found. Over the last year, Jack Whitehall, has made guest appearances in Cockroaches, Psychobitches, Inside No. 9 and The Life of Rock with Brian Pern, whilst one of his earliest appearances was in cult favourite Beehive. The movie also stars Iain Glen (Game of Thrones), Talulah Riley (The Boat That Rocked), Steve Spears (Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire), Marc Wootton (Inside No. 9, La La Land) and Sheila Reid (Psychobitches).

Also along for the ride are regular cast members from the series: including Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of It), Mathew Horne (Gavin & Stacey, Roman’s Empire, Hey Diddly Dee), Sarah Solemni (Psychobitches) and Harry Enfield (Ruddy Hell it’s Harry & Paul, Star Stories, and a genuine comedy legend!).

This stuff extends behind the scenes as well. Director Elliot Hegarty returns from the Bad Education series, but previously directed Zimbani, Lizzie and Sarah, FM, Star Stories and Roman’s Empire. Co-writer Freddy Syborn also wrote for Cockroaches and Psychobitches, whilst producer Pippa Brown is also a Psychobitches veteran – and produced both Julian Barratt and Julia Davis’ Little Cracker episodes.

There’s a bit of a pattern emerging here too, as fellow producer Ben Cavey also worked on Psychobitches, Zimbani and Roman’s Empire. And if that’s not enough, the film is also made by his new production company, Cave Bear Productions – who recently made Dead Air. Neat, eh?

You can see The Bad Education Movie in cinemas from 21st August.

Comedy Feeds Return Tonight

13 Jul

This evening sees the launch of the latest batch of Comedy Feeds on BBC iPlayer, and naturally, there are plenty of TVO links making the shows worth your attention.

The Comedy Feeds started life as a method of showcasing potential future series. Launched in 2012, previous one-offs have included: Dawson Bros. Funtime (featuring Cariad Lloyd); For the Win (featuring John Hopkins, Richard Glover and Rich Fulcher); The Cariad Show (featuring Cariad Lloyd and Tom Davis); Fried (featuring Katy Wix); Parents Evening (featuring Kayvan Novak); The Vodka Diaries (featuring Cariad Lloyd and Aisling Bea); In Deep (featuring Paul Kaye); and Otherworld (from the minds of Adam Miller and Nico Tatarowicz).

Whilst none of these, sadly, have been migrated to a full series commission, the scheme has led to Impractical JokersPeople Just Do Nothing and Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment getting full runs on BBC Three, so our hopes are high for many of this year’s outings, which are as follows:

Dead Air

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Radio 1 DJ Greg James makes his writing debut with this self-starring sitcom pilot, developed in collaboration with Mark Chappell & Shaun Pye (The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, A Young Doctor’s Notebook). James stars as late-night commercial radio DJ Jake Cross, who is unexpectedly given the opportunity to inherit the coveted breakfast slot when the previous presenter dies on air.

With an idiotic best-friend (Richard David-Caine, Skins); a sleazy, do-anything-that-moves agent (Tom Davis); a neurotic producer (Olivia Poulet, The Thick of It) and a very enthusiastic fan (Nico Tatarowicz), Jake must battle his own ego, the whims of those around him, his affection for the breakfast show host’s widow (Montserrat Lombard, Ashes to Ashes), and the attention of his bitter rival (stand-up veteran Jared Christmas) to maintain his credibility in the face of selling out.

TVO connections extend behind the scenes too. The show is the first fruits from Cave Bear Productions, set up by Psychobitches producer Ben Cavey, whilst production duties fall to Arnold Widdowson (Crackanory, Sorry I’ve Got No Head). Both Widdowson and direct Simon Gibney have worked on Horrible Histories, and the score for the show comes from none other than Waen Shepherd. Get in.

To read our exclusive in-depth interview with Greg James about Dead Air, click here.

Fishbowl

© Bwark Productions / Mark Johnson

© Bwark Productions / Mark Johnson

Fishbowl is a comedy from Bwark Productions about a university dropout who goes back to stay with her weird family.

It features Katherine Rose Morley (Last Tango in Halifax) alongside Mark Benton (Inside No. 9, Early Doors), Sally Lindsay (Mount Pleasant), Felicity Montague (I’m Alan Partridge) and TVO regular Michael Smiley.

Written by Andrew Mettam, who previously wrote for Scallywagga featuring Steve Edge, its producer is Rhianna Andrews in her first producing job following many years as a producer’s assistant and later associate producer on The Inbetweeners and its spin-off movies.

People Time

© BBC

© BBC

People Time is a character comedy sketch show written by and starring a ‘new wave’ (see how that’s catching on?) of Britain’s comedy writers and performers.

Many of these names will be familiar to those who follow the live circuit, but one in particular stands out for us: Ellie White of House of Fools fame.

Ellie, who played Erik’s deadpan girlfriend Rachel in the madcap sitcom’s second series earlier this year, will be joined by Jamie Demetriou (Sun Trap, Cockroaches, Bill).  Also on board is Jamie’s older sister, Natasha Demetriou, who previously wrote for E4’s The Midnight Beast and, like her brother, is a stand-up in her own right. The cast is rounded out by Liam Williams (Uncle), Claudia O’Doherty (The Inbetweeners 2), Alastair Roberts and Daran Johnson.

Ben Farrell (who previously worked on Toast of London before moving to the BBC) is executive producer on the project, with Andrew Gaynord directing and In and Out of the Kitchen‘s Sam Michell on producing duties.

Radges

© BBC / Des Willie

© BBC / Des Willie

Set in a pupil referral unit in Scotland, Radges stars Miranda‘s Sarah Hadland and a string of relative newcomers including Lois Chimimba, Lauren Lyle, Nick Preston, Samantha Foley and Ryan Paterson as the youngsters trying to negotiate being ‘weirdos’ in small town Scotland.

Written by stand-up comic Fern Brady and directed by Simon Hynd (Bob Servant), Radges is produced by Sam Bryant, whose previous successes on radio include I, Regress with Matt Berry, and Alice Lowe’s sublime Alice’s Wunderland.

Sunny D

© BBC / Des Willie

© BBC / Des Willie

Sunny D is a vehicle for stand-up comic Dane Baptiste, who writes and stars in the pilot as an exaggerated version of himself: he’s 29, ambitious, frustrated and very funny. Still living with his parents in a cramped box room he shares with his Mum’s cleaning equipment, he is desperate to follow his dream and break away from his privacy-free homelife and the boss he hates. And today could finally be the day when everything is about to change.

Co-starring Liz Hume-Dawn, Sasha Frost, Gbemisola Ikumelo and Tommy Rowson, Sunny D also stars two veterans of comedy: The Fast Show‘s John Thomson and Rising Damp‘s Don Warrington, and is directed by Rich Hall’s regular collaborator Chris Cottam.

Fun & Gamez

© BBC

© BBC

In a first for Comedy Feeds, Fun & Gamez is a family-friendly comedy game show. Written and hosted by comic Phil Ellis, the laughs are more important than the prizes as happy families join Phil and his gang in a series of simple but somewhat twisted games and challenges, all played out in front of the studio audience.

Ably assisted by Bonzo the Dog (Janice Connolly), Jim the Elf (Will Duggan) and the rather more unsavoury Uncle Mick (Manchester stand-up legend Mick Ferry), Phil surprises unsuspecting audience members and even treats one lucky family to a surprise holiday… but what will they have to go through to get there?

Interestingly, Fun & Gamez is produced by Lisa Clark, whose previous credits include House of Fools, Matt Berry Does…, Shooting Stars, Steve Coogan: The Inside Story, Catterick and Spaced. Directing the pilot is none other than John L Spencer, who is a veteran of Never Mind the Buzzcocks and was responsible for several episodes of seminal 90s comedy Fist of Fun, so its safe to say this one is worth the adults watching as much as the kids!

All six pilots will be available on iPlayer from this evening, and last year’s pilots are still available until the end of the week. To view them all, click here.

Onion Talking: Greg James on Dead Air

11 Jul
© BBC / Ray Burmiston

© BBC / Ray Burmiston

Monday, 13th July sees the launch of the latest batch of BBC Comedy Feeds – taster pilots for potential new shows launched exclusively on BBC iPlayer.

Naturally, there’s a whole host of TVO talent involved on both sides of the camera, with the likes of Michael Smiley, Ellie White, Alice’s Wunderland producer Sam Bryant and House of Fools producer Lisa Clark involved in various productions across the set.

The biggest TVO conglomerate however, is in Dead Air – Tiger Aspect’s sitcom featuring Radio One DJ Greg James alongside TVO regulars Tom Davis and Nico Tatarowicz, and music by Waen Shepherd.

Intrigued by the project, TVO readily agreed to talk to one of the biggest names in broadcasting about his move into comedy. Here are the results.

Mick Jagger’s accent in Ned Kelly. David Bowie’s package in Labyrinth and Lily Allen’s ill-fated chat show – showbiz history is littered with moments a star tried to do something different, and faced derision evermore. Doing something different, when audiences know you as one thing, can be tricky, and only a select few make it out the other side in one piece. If there’s any justice in the world, Greg James will be one of them.

Best known for his work on Radio One since 2007 – he’s presented the Drive Time show since 2012, and recently took over the revamped Radio One Chart Show – James has fused his radio broadcasting with work presenting a string of BBC Three shows and last year’s Invictus Games closing ceremony. To the outside world, he’s following the path of a standard BBC radio presenter. You could almost smell a stint on The One Show lurking in his future.

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Yet there’s a lot more to Greg James than first meets the eye, and this year has provided him with not one, but two opportunities to begin the second stage of his career. Following a guest appearance in BBC Three’s sublime Murder in Successville alongside Tom Davis, Colin Hoult and Cariad Lloyd earlier this year, James is about to unleash his debut as a writer: the sitcom pilot Dead Air, which launches as part of this Summer’s latest batch of Comedy Feeds, and reunites him with Davis and fellow Murder in Successville alumni Nico Tatarowicz and Waen Shepherd, the latter of whom scored both productions.

“For me, it’s not a shock,” Greg tells TVO as we catch up to talk about his first steps into alternative comedy. “The shock for me would be to not try it out. I’ve always been acting. I did a drama degree. I did the National Youth Theatre, and all that stuff. But I understand it will be to a lot of other people. It’s very difficult to not be put in a box, but I’m going to try my best.”

Dead Air is certainly an impressive starting point. The 17-minute taster features James, perhaps understandably as a cool, late-night DJ called Jake Cross, working for a commercial radio-station with a loyal fan-base and real credibility. But when the brash, loud-mouthed breakfast DJ dies on air, there’s an opportunity for Jake to take over his show, and he must battle the moral dilemma that potential fame and fortune in return for doing fart jokes, prank calls and silly voices first thing in the morning offers. Does he make the move and lose his credibility, but get to hang out in exclusive nightclubs and savour the massive boost to his public image?

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

“Obviously, the inspiration for it,” Greg explains, “comes from everything that I’ve experienced and been part of for the last eight years on Radio One. I heard an interview with Ricky Gervais, and he said you’ve got to write about what you know. I realised about two years ago that this industry is funny. The people in it are funny, the conversations are funny. The real jumping off point was when the breakfast show gig at Radio One did come up. I’d just been given the Drive Time show, and was incredibly happy, because things had gone better than I ever thought they would do. Everyone else was going: ‘Oh my god, you should do the breakfast show!’, and that made me go: Should I? Do I want it? I thought that dilemma, and that peer pressure was an amazing basis for a show, so I elaborated on it and took it to really strange places.”

It would, perhaps, have been easy for Dead Air to be a cheap bit of filler, but Greg’s passion for the project and determination to take it seriously has led to the assembly of an impressive team making his idea come to life. The production is being made by Psychobitches producer Ben Cavey’s new company Cave Bear Productions, produced by Arnold Widdowson (Crackanory, Grandma’s House) and directed by Simon Gibney (Horrible Histories, Watson & Oliver). On co-writing duties are Mark Chappell and Shaun Pye, who previously collaborated on Daniel Radcliffe and John Hamm vehicle A Young Doctor’s Notebook and before that, cult favourite The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret starring Sharon Horgan and David Cross. Even for a broadcaster as established as James, it could be very easy to be overwhelmed by the interest in his concept from the get-go.

“I was quite daunted to begin with,” he reveals. “I’d known their work, and they came highly recommended. I went to see [Chappell & Pye], fully expecting them to think I was just a radio knob who didn’t know what he was doing. It was really lovely, actually. They were very supportive of the idea, and realised quite quickly that I wasn’t just doing this for a laugh, and I wanted to take it very seriously. They were very generous letting me take the reins, offering support and helping me shape it into a story. That was what I didn’t have enough experience doing and needed help with. I could write jokes, and come up with character ideas, but actually coming up with a beginning, middle and end is, I suppose, what I was struggling with.”

“I found the whole thing absolutely the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done,” he continues, full of genuine enthusiasm. “It was a pinch yourself moment when we sat in a room at the BBC for nights on end. One of us would stay at the computer, and the others would just walk around and say ideas and lines, and all the rest of it. It was a really brilliant, collaborative effort, and I was quite sad when it ended.”

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

It may come as a surprise to many, but James is a self-confessed comedy nerd, even down to choosing to base the writing sessions in the ‘Basil Fawlty Room’ at the BBC, due Fawlty Towers kick-starting his fascination with comedy at an early age.

“My first ever real obsession,” he explains, “to the point where I would get my mum to go and buy me the script book was Fawlty Towers, and it made me realise how incredible a story you have to create. As a kid, I just thought: Who is that funny tall man running around? I like this, and I like how he hits that man over the head with a spoon. As I grew up and read about John Cleese, and learnt about Monty Python and Michael Palin and all that, I realised I love the way they’d write things and the characters they created.”

Indeed, it was Palin who inspired Greg to take the plunge into making Dead Air a reality. “Really, Cleese and Palin are my real heroes,” he gushes, with the sense he could talk about Python for hours on end, “particularly Michael Palin, because what I learnt a few years ago after reading and then, nerdily re-reading his diaries – which I can’t really say much on Radio One because it’s not relevant to that audience – is that you don’t have to just stay doing one thing. I think he was a real idol of mine, because I saw him as the guy who did Around the World in 80 Days, but as I got older I realised he was also in Monty Python, he was a writer, an actor, a director, he’s also a playwright… he’s everything! Reading about people like him made me go: Okay, I’ve done one thing, but I don’t just want to be the Radio One guy forever.”

“To a certain extent,” he adds, “I’ve always loved performing. Radio One is an amazingly creative place, because they let you do stuff. I know I wouldn’t have wanted to do it as long as I have if I’d been on a station where it’s all about reading the travel news then playing the hits. For want to a better phrase, I’ve always liked arsing around. It really started out of student radio, where I’d get some mates in and we’d just do stuff. It was a dream of mine to be on Radio One, but now it’s happened, I feel it’s a good time to explore some of my other passions as well. I’m an absolute nerd on everything I’m passionate about, whether its comedy, or cricket, or the radio. Those are my passions and they’re the things that keep me going. But I love creating stuff that wasn’t there before. That’s what really drives me to carry on.”

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Back to Dead Air, then, and another stand-out point is the impressive cast. Alongside James and Tom Davis as his disgusting agent Perry, are an impressive team: from The Thick of It’s Olivia Poulet as his neurotic producer to Ashes to Ashes star Montserrat Lombard as the widow of the late breakfast show host. Also along for the ride are Richard David-Caine (Skins) as Jake’s idiotic best friend; Nico Tartarowicz as an over-enthusiastic fan; and stand-up veteran Jared Christmas as a rival DJ from another station. Understandably, Greg is full of praise for the team.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have been surrounded by those people,” he affirms. “It was really helpful for me, because I needed people with experience around me. I had confidence I could do it, but I couldn’t possibly have been there worrying about the other cast members as well. I had to leave the writing at the door, and go and try and be this person. I got on really well with [Tom] on Murder in Successville, so to have him there as my co-star was great. And Jared is someone I’d watched doing stand-up over the last couple of years, and always thought he’d be great as a big brash Aussie, even though he’s from New Zealand. Then to get a touch of class with people like Olivia and Montserrat. When we got a yes from them, I thought: this is getting real now. I’m very happy, because they’re a talented bunch.”

“One of my favourite characters in the whole thing,” he continues, “who we’ll definitely revisit if he wants to do it, is Nico. He completely got it. He absolutely nailed that character, and if the full series comes about he’s the first name on the call sheet for me. The most amazing thing about the day we filmed with Nico was that we did it outside the BBC, and when we finished and walked through the main exit, there was a guy who was the spitting image of Nico, actually waiting for me outside the BBC. It was art imitating life with the most ridiculous thing ever.”

Programme Name: Comedy Feeds: Dead Air - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Perry (TOM DAVIS), Jake Cross (GREG JAMES) - (C) Tiger Aspect - Photographer: Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

It’s also safe to say, TVO asserts, that following Murder in Successville earlier this year, Dead Air continues the rise of James and Davis, one of TV’s great power-couples, to which Greg is reduced to giggles.

“We get on very well,” he states when he calms down a bit. “We met when we did the taster tape for Murder in Successville, which was just as I was starting to write Dead Air. I always had the idea for Perry [Jake’s agent] to be an absolute shitbag. He’d be really nasty and gross, but the audience would love him and want to see more of him.” He stops and laughs again. “I think Tom is one of those people in real life. He looks very frightening. He’s very imposing, and quite scary when you first meet him, but then you realise he’s actually very soft, and very warm. And he’s a brilliant performer, which goes without saying. I had him in mind as we were writing. I really wanted him to say those lines. And genuinely, one of my favourite things I’ve ever done was doing Murder in Successville with him.”

For the uninitiated, Murder in Successville saw Tom Davis play a gruff, useless detective partnered with a different celebrity ‘rookie’ each week, as the two investigated a murder in the fictional titular town. The culprit was inevitably one of the various showbiz inhabitants they’d meet along the way, played by a variety of comedy legends – with Tony Way, Harry Peacock, Tom Meeten, Gemma Whelan and many more popping up throughout the run. In Greg’s episode, he would meet three potential suspects: local priest Gary Barlow (Colin Hoult), casino owner Justin Bieber (Cariad Lloyd) and strip-club baroness Mary Berry (Frances Barber): and the result is an experience Greg will never forget.

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

“It was the most enjoyable thing I’ve done in front of a camera really, until Dead Air¸because that’s my baby. I had no script, so I felt very liberated. I’d done [improv] at university, putting on sketches and shows and all that, so it was just amazing to go in and be the bumbling sidekick. They genuinely don’t let you know anything about it.”

It must be weird, TVO opines, to see familiar faces like Frances Barber never dropping character with you.

“That was the weirdest one,” Greg agrees. “All I knew was I was at the door of Mary Berry’s strip club. I walked in, and looked at this lady, and in my head I’m going: ‘I quite recognise… on my god, it’s Frances Barber.’ So for the first take, I was just sort of fascinated that Frances Barber was sat in a warehouse in Middlesex, dressed as Mary Berry and smoking, touching me up, talking about my cock like it was a Toblerone. I had to get over that quite quickly.”

“It was quite a brave thing for the BBC to commission,” he continues, “because it’s not an instant get. You have to invest in it. I imagine for every person who gets it and loves it, there’s a person who goes: What the hell is this? I think you have to really invest in it, and then you get a lot out of it.”

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Such is the case with Dead Air. There will be those who dismiss it as the whims of a celebrity DJ, just as there will always be people who can’t see past Bowie’s tights in Labyrinth to find the delightful adventure all around them. As an iPlayer Comedy Feeds pilot, those who watch will have to make the effort to do so – there’s no accidentally stumbling upon it, unknowing, and realising its hilarious. People will have to leave their prejudices at the door when they hit ‘play’.

TVO urges you to do so. With the help of an impressive team of creative talents, Greg James has made a confident and assured debut, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Jake, Perry and the rest of the team again very soon. He’s got lots of ideas for the show, and says the book of them is being added to every time he walks into his day job. Perhaps the final word should rest with Greg, and the way he explained his pet project to the cast when he approached them: “This is not a whim. I’m very serious about it. We’d love you to come in and give it a go.”

Dead Air is available to view on iPlayer from Monday 13th July.

B-B-Cee-Again as the Beeb announces BBC Store

8 Jul
© BBC

© BBC

The long awaited BBC Store will launch this Autumn, according to a report by The Independent.

Launched through BBC Worldwide, the Store will sell permanent downloads of hit programmes – often within hours of their television broadcast.

The proposed catalogue of releases will build to around 10,000 hours of content, including material from the BBC archives and independent production companies, some of which have never received a commercial release, which will hopefully include a number of TVO related productions such as Gas, Is It Bill Bailey?, Dead BossCrimsBrian Pern and Lifespam to name but a few, as well as long out of print titles like AD/BC: A Rock Opera and Perfect World.

It will also mark the first time that BBC Worldwide will directly sell HD copies of most of their recent comedy output. Despite being early adopters to blu-ray, the company has all but abandoned the format except for big budget releases (such as Sherlock and Doctor Who), with shows such as Inside No. 9House of Fools and SunTrap all being released on dvd only this year. HD downloads are currently only available through iTunes and Google Play.

We’ll aim to bring you a round-up of what’s available of interest when the store launches. In the meantime, here’s a vintage clip of a very young Noel Fielding alongside an equally young Mark Gatiss in Alexei Sayle’s Merry Go Round – a 1998 sketch series from the legendary Comic Strip veteran, directed by a pre-Spaced Edgar Wright and featuring pre-fame appearances by Jessica Hynes, Paul Putner, Reece Shearsmith, David Walliams and Peter Serafinowicz. We’re hoping this finally gets a release in the Autumn!

Editors Note
An earlier version of this story suggested – via the original source, The Independent – that the initial launch catalogue would include 10,000 hours of content, and indicated that the store will “hope to recoup the loss” of licence fee money from recent changes to the infrastructure. BBC Worldwide have since clarified to The Velvet Onion that neither of these things are strictly the case. The catalogue will build to c.10K hours of content, and the licence fee shortfall is far greater than the money BBC Store can hope to recoup, but will contribute towards it, and TVO would like to apologise to any readers who were potentially misled by our report.

The Last Sparks Of Sundown

8 Jul

Kayvan Novak stars in a new British comedy film released later this month.

lastsparksposter

© Black Shark Media

The Last Sparks of Sundown is a vehicle for cult comedy duo The Pajama Men (Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen), who star as a pair of out-of-work brothers whose dream of Hollywood success faded ten years ago and whose lives have now hit rock bottom.

Bequeathed a country mansion, Sundown House, from their late English grandfather Sir Buster Sparks, the brothers fly to England with plans to sell the house and build a new life with the money. Yet the house is mysteriously occupied, and as they become acquainted with their house guests they soon realise nothing is as it seems. Besides, Harvey is harbouring a secret debt that will put all their lives in jeopardy…

Also starring Miles Jupp (Rev, The Thick Of It), Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles, Rush), Emily Bevan (In The Flesh, The Thick Of It), Olivier Award winner Sara Kestelman, plus a cameo from the legendary Geoffrey Palmer, the film is the debut feature film from writer/director James Kibbey and producer Adam Dolman, following their award-winning 2012 short House Cocktail.

The film itself has already won the title of Best Film at this year’s Chicago Comedy Film Festival, and Best Micro-Budget Film at the London Independent Film Festival, and now audiences in London will have a chance to see it on the big screen.

Following the première at Regent St Cinema on Thursday 23rd July, the film will be appearing for four nights at the famed Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square, from Monday 27th to Thursday 30th July. Tickets for these screenings, with Monday night followed by a cast Q&A, are available now.

We’ll have more news on further screenings or home media releases as we hear it. In the meantime, the good folk behind the film have shared with us a series of stills from the film, and its theatrical trailer, which you can see below. For more info, check out the film’s official website.

 

World Premiere & Q&A For Aaaaaaah!

5 Jul

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 12.47.33As our regular readers will be aware, we’ve been getting more than a little over-excited about Aaaaaaah! for some time – and now the details of the World Premiere have been announced.

Steve Oram‘s directorial debut comedy horror, about a world inhabited by apes in human form, will star a cavalcade of comedic TVO-connected talent (and post-punk icon Toyah Wilcox), including Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding (or “Noah Fielding” according to this site), Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, Steve Oram, Sean ReynardWaen Shepherd, John Hopkins and Tony Way.

The film premieres at Film 4 FrightFest at Leicester Square – and you can be there to experience it on the big screen in person! What’s more, the event will feature a Q&A with some of the cast. Steve and Toyah are confirmed for this, but there’s on news yet as to which other cast members will be there.

The film will be screened at 18:35 on Friday 28th August on the Discovery 1 screen. A festival pass costs £185 (eek) and day passes for the Friday are £60 (still eek) – these are available here. Single tickets at £13.25 per film will go on sale on 25th July, but unfortunately there are no guarantees what will be available then. Festival and day passes went on sale yesterday and it looks like demand so far has been very high.

In the meantime, to remind yourself how flipping exciting this is (and it really is!), take another look at the Aaaaaaah! trailer below:

Laugh Out Loud in Islington

5 Jul
© Ditto Productions

© Ditto Productions

Edinburgh is just around the corner, and our pals at Laugh Out London are taking over The Old Queens Head in Islington to put on a seven night series of previews starting on Tuesday.

Each night will be a double-bill, featuring some of the biggest and best names in the business. Shows on offer include Aisling Bea‘s new show Plan Bea, and Murder in Successville/Crims star Cariad Lloyd‘s new improv show Cariad and Paul (with Drifters star Paul Foxcroft).

Others making appearances include Stewart Lee, Max and Ivan, Simon Munnery, Katherine Ryan, James Acaster and Phill Jupitus – the latter of whom will be appearing at a live recording of Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown podcast.

All shows take place upstairs at The Old Queen’s Head, 44 Essex Road, a ten minute walk from Angel tube station, and as the shows are already starting to sell out, we suggest booking in advance! To book, visit Laugh Out London’s website now.

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