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So Hot Right Now #24

30 Mar

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

NEW TO TV AND RADIO THIS WEEK

It’s yet another packed week for top notch television and radio material, with a brand new show to savour and one last chance to see three others, so here’s a run-down of what to look out for over the next seven days.

TRAVEL MAN
Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

In recent years, Richard Ayoade‘s career branching would make his former alter-ego Dean Learner very proud indeed – as the Gadget Man becomes Travel Man for this brand new, four part series, starting this week.

Joined by celebrity guests, Richard’s task is to enjoy the most efficient weekend break possible. This week, he is joined by Kathy Burke for 48 hours in Barcelona, sampling adventurous cuisine, a football museum, a guided tricycle tour and a trip to see the surrealist work of Joan Miro.

These two talents will always make for affable company, and to spend half an hour with them is a pleasure. You can catch the show at 8:30pm on Monday evening, and it will be available on 4oD shortly after transmission.

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10:00pm, BBC Two

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The darkly comic anthology series from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton continues with The 12 Days of Christine, guest starring the delightful Sheridan Smith and Da Vinci’s Demons star Tom Riley.

In this thrilling second installment, Christine Clarke brings a man back to her flat from a New Year’s Eve party and her life immediately starts to unravel, as a terrifying stranger keeps appearing in the apartment at night. There’s plenty of scope for Shearsmith to be downright creepy in this one, and it’s yet another great opportunity to see him and Pemberton at their finest.

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9:00pm, Sky 1 HD

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

Series Three of Moone Boy continues on Sky 1 this Monday evening, with the fifth of six new episodes from Chris O’Dowd and the team.

This week, Martin begins renovating his new ‘penthouse’, and the whole town wonders: does Boyle really need a Catholic book shop? Expect more of the usual off-kilter charm and madcap adventures from the gang. This show knows what it does well, and doesn’t plan on breaking the wheel any time soon, and every now and then, that’s exactly what we need.

SLEEPY TIGERS
Monday, 11:00pm, BBC Radio 4

© Alex MacQueen

© Alex MacQueen

Julia Davis and Marc Wooton return with a second one-off comedy, featuring Alex MacQueen and Rosie Cavaliero. Sleepy Tigers features Davis and Wooton as a couple of maternity nurses running their own business, who start taking over the lives of some very new parents.

Following last week’s delightful one-off Couples, which is now available on iPlayer, this is a rare excursion from Davis (currently filming Hunderby‘s festive special) that’s simply not to be missed!

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

© BBC

Justin Edwards returns as the host of long awaited radio improv show Chat Show Roulette on Thursday evening. The former live show, turned tv pilot, turned radio pilot finally came to air a few weeks ago, and has already featured Kevin Eldon in its debut episode.

This week features a strong batch of familiar names: Pompidou star Matt LucasCrims star Cariad LloydMan Down star Mike Wozniak and Fast Show legend Charlie Higson. Bring it on!

HOUSE OF FOOLS
Monday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

We bid a fond farewell to the House of Fools this week, as Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer‘s sublime sitcom madness winds up its second series, with special guest appearances by Sally Phillips and Tony Way.

This week, Vic has a big date with his ex-girlfriend, but when she cancels, his friends set about concocting an ingenious plan to make sure he isn’t left disappointed. It’s another slice of funtime from the bonkers duo, with series regulars Matt BerryDan SkinnerMorgana RobinsonDaniel Simonsen and Ellie White on hand once more to ensure the run finishes on fine form. We’re really going to miss this one…

NURSE
Tuesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

It’s also time to say goodbye to the sublime Nurse - starring Paul Whitehouse and Esther Coles alongside TVO regulars Simon Day and Colin Hoult, and also featuring the incredible Vilma Hollingbery (Psychoville).

In the final installment, Liz’s personal problems come to a head and she is a lot less sympathetic with her ex-husband than with her service users. Elsewhere, former soldier Jack begins to build himself a dug-out in the back garden, Herbert confides that he would like some female company, and Graham manages to rise from his bed and walk.

Nurse has been a timely reminder of the important work done in the name of improving mental health services in the UK, and its sensitive portrayal of the issues on hand have highlighted just how far we still have to go as a nation. Above all else, it’s been delightful to spend time with Whitehouse’s gallery of characters, and Esther Coles has been magnificent as put-upon Liz. Here’s to a second run before too long…

POMPIDOU
Sunday, 6:35pm, BBC Two

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The rather hostile reception that dear ol’ Pompidou has received from certain elements of the press may make Sunday the last chance we have to spend time in the daffy aristocrat’s company. Despite a valiant defence from some quarters, it seems Matt Lucas new show hasn’t quite connected with audiences – which is a huge shame, as once cynicism is thrown out of the window, there’s much to adore here.

In this final installment, the electric heater in the caravan has broken down, and with Pompidou as broke as ever, there’s no chance of fixing it. The only thing left to do to get warm is go on holiday, but without the cash, he and butler Hove (the ever wonderful Alex MacQueen) must get creative. Enjoy it while you can…

THIS WEEK’S NOTEWORTHY REPEATS

© Dave / UKTV

© Dave / UKTV

There’s almost always good shows being repeated on a regular basis, but this week we get a couple of interesting ones to keep a look out for. Rhys Thomas multi-award winning documentary Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender gets a re-airing on Friday night at 9pm via BBC Four, and another noteworthy recent doc airs on Saturday night once again: Rik Mayall: Lord of Misrule is back on BBC Two at 10:45pm, paying tribute to the irreplaceable comedy legend.

Over on Radio 4 this week, the recent Milton Jones led project, Thanks a Lot, Milton Jones begins a re-run. If you missed it earlier this year, it features TVO regular Dan Tetsell alongside Tom Goodman-Hill and Josie Lawrence, and can be heard on Wednesday morning at 11:30am.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

© Dan Clark

© Dan Clark

As is often the case, this week sees a smattering of TVO regulars appearing across London on various stages for your entertainment. So if you’re in the area, here’s where you can see them…

31/03/15 – Joey Page with Michael Stranney and Paul F Taylor – Hemingford Arms, 7:30pm, Free

01/04/15 – Richard Sandling: Perfect Movie Live Podcast Show featuring Brett Goldstein – Betsey Trotwood, 8pm, £3.50-£5.00

02/04/15 – Lou Sanders and Amy Howeska – Cavendish Arms, 7pm, £5

02/04/15 – Dan Clark with Harry Deansway and Holly Burn – Aces and Eights, 7:30pm, £6

04/04/15 – Cariad Lloyd with Brett Goldstein and Jack Barry – The Invisible Dot, 8pm, £10

Of course, if you’re on the other side of the world, then you can see Sarah KendallPaul Foot and Tony Law at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 19th.

AND THE REST…

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

Silly Billies Go Live!

26 Mar
© Live Theatre

© Live Theatre

As we all know, comedy doesn’t just happen in London (or Edinburgh).

Our attention has been brought to a monthly comedy night held at the Live Theatre in Newcastle – Silly Billies Comedy is hosted by Jack Gardner and his friend Sam and is “an alternative comedy night that celebrates the anarchic, strange and surreal“, sounds good to us!

The next night is on Sunday 29th March, with headliner Seymour Mace, star of the sadly missed Ideal (a BabyCow Production, directed by Ben Wheatley, with a film version announced).

Support will be provided by Cheekykitta, Liberty Hodes, Joby Mageean and Andy Clark.

The headliner for the next night on April 19th, is TVO regular Joey Page with support from Heavy Petting, Lee Kyle, Adam Hastings and Sean Turner.

The fun starts at 8pm and the tickets are a very reasonable £5, so what are you waiting for?

Tickets and more information about the shows and venue can be found here.

So Hot Right Now #23

23 Mar

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

ON THE TELLY AND RADIO THIS WEEK

We won’t lie to you: as weeks go, this one is absolutely huge in terms of television and radio broadcasts – with six new sitcoms airing and THREE radio shows to get excited about. There’s all sorts of other news happening too, so stick with us for that below this definitive run-down.

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10pm, BBC Two

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

The second series of the anthology of darkly comic tales, written by and starring Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, starts this week, on Thursday 26th March at 10pm on BBC Two. Each episode explores the goings-on behind a door marked No 9, and the first episode, La Couchette, is set on board the overnight train from Paris to Bourg St Maurice. To see our non-spoilery preview of it click here.

TVO faces Paul Kaye and Alice Lowe will be appearing later in the series, which is doubling the eagerness of our anticipation…plus Reece and Steve have just won the ‘Best Comedy Performance’ gong in the Royal Television Society Awards for the first series of Inside No. 9, so this comes highly recommended. Make sure you tune in!

COUPLES
Monday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© Alex MacQueen

© Alex MacQueen

Couples is a new semi-improvised comedy radio show, written and performed by the very wonderful Julia Davis and Marc Wootton. It starts on Monday at 11pm on BBC Radio Four. In the series they portray a series of couples in therapy with the renowned therapist Dr Tanya Ray-Harding, who is played by Vicki Pepperdine.

You’ll all be familiar with Julia’s creative output, but what you may not be aware of is that Marc Wootton was also responsible for La La Land (which featured narration by Julian Barratt, long ago in our ancient history), plus he was recently in Drunk History with a few of our lovely lot. Also on board, as you can see from the image above, is none other than Alex MacQueen and Nurse and Hunderby star Rosie Cavaliero, so there’s even more reason to tune in.

HOUSE OF FOOLS
Monday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Episode 5 of the very marvellous House of Fools is on at 10pm on Monday on BBC2, and this week sees Vic and Bob struggling to find a plot for the show. However, things look up when letter arrives from the White House announcing a surprise visit. This episode sees guest appearances by two further TVO faces (alongside the regulars): Rufus Jones and Simon Farnaby, as well as Horrible Histories star Jim Howick.

It also features Beef’s truth-telling turban and a health inspector, who threatens to close down Julie’s bistro when Bosh unwittingly reveals the state of the kitchen. Pretty much everything you could possibly need in a 30-minute telly dose. If you like the comedy we write about and you haven’t watched House of Fools yet, then do so immediately! Trust us – you’ll love it. You can take a look at previous episodes, clips etc here.

NURSE
Tuesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

The third episode of bittersweet comedy drama Nurse airs on Tuesday, 10pm on BBC2.  Simon Day and Colin Hoult also feature in the show, alongside Paul Whitehouse and Esther Coles. Whitehouse’s superb skill at portraying comedic characters is brought to the fore, with Whitehouse starring as a cavalcade of troubled characters. Mental health issues are treated with respect and sensitivity in the series, which has charmed critics with its off-kilter comedy.

This episode sees community mental health nurse Liz wondering why Graham is over the moon, while Jack recalls a grim time in Helmand but retreats to his ‘safe place’. Cat Lady discusses her New Romantic glory days, while Billy tries his hand at preparing vegetables from Liz’s allotment, despite the fact that ‘they are muddy, and I don’t like mud!’.

 

IN AND OUT OF THE KITCHEN
Wednesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

It seems like it’s only just arrived, and already In and Out of the Kitchen is wrapping up this week. Which isn’t surprising, as there were only three episodes of this charming comedy from Miles Jupp and Justin Edwards, so hopefully we’ll be seeing it again very soon.

This week, Anthony tries to persuade Damien to get a lodger to offset some of the costs of their building work. Keen to resist the idea, Damien instead accepts an offer from his literary agent to write a restaurant review for some extra cash. With a bonus appearance from Rachel Stubbings as a waitress, this is a great show you’d be mad to miss – and if you already have, you can catch up on iPlayer now.

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

© BBC

In and Out of the Kitchen isn’t the only chance to hear Justin Edwards dulcet tones this week: he now hosts new improvised radio series Chat Show Roulette on Thursday evenings!

We’ve been getting worked up about this project for some time – firstly as a live show, next as a non-broadcast tv pilot, and then a pilot for radio over a year ago. Finally then, it’s actually happening, and the first episode managed to sneak past us last week, no less! Featuring another TVO favourite, Kevin Eldon – it’s available to listen to on iPlayer here.

The second episode airs on Thursday at 11pm, and Justin’s guests this week are are Mel Giedroyc, Max and Ivan, and Nick Mohammed – with musical accompaniment from James Sherwood.

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9pm, Sky 1

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

Another week, another fantastic episode of Moone Boy, as the third series of Chris O’Dowd‘s sublime comedy about a boy and his imaginary friend in rural 90s Ireland continues – this week featuring a guest appearance from John Sessions.

When crop circles are discovered in Boyle, Martin (the ever wonderful David Rawle) goes UFO-hunting – and ends up telling the local media his donkey has been abducted by aliens. As the town council goes into crisis mode, fearing the gentle image they’ve created of Boyle will be destroyed, the council and church try to strong-arm Liam into suppressing his son’s story. Will he side with Martin or the leaders of Boyle?

 

POMPIDOU
Sunday, 6:30pm, BBC Two

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

Ah, Pompidou, how you have divided critics and audiences alike. The Guardian rushed to defence of Matt Lucas‘ mostly silent comedy last week, and we can’t say we blame them: this isn’t a show for everyone, but turn off your cynicism and there’s much to enjoy, not least the playful dynamic between Lucas’ bumbling aristocrat and his put upon butler, Hove (the ever fantastic Alex MacQueen).

This week, the penniless Pompidou has hoarded too much junk and Hove has had enough – attempting to shift some of the clutter at a church hall fete. However, Pompidou will do anything it takes to ensure he keeps it all.

There’s something delightfully surreal about the image of Matt Lucas dressed as Jack Sparrow, let alone his impression of his beloved Freddie Mercury, and with a wider TVO heritage behind the scenes (puppeteer Andy Heath worked on Mongrels and director/producer Charlie Hanson was reponsible for Darkplace, Snuffbox, Life’s Too Short and many more), this is definitely a show to make your own mind up about.

 

CHAIN REACTION
Wednesday, 7:30am / 10pm, BBC Radio Four Extra
Wednesday, 6:30pm, BBC Radio Four

© Phil Fisk

© Phil Fisk

TVO regular Sharon Horgan is the current link in Radio Four’s long running hostless chat show Chain Reaction, in which last week’s interviewee becomes this week’s interviewer.

In the fifth episode of the series, originally broadcast last week – national treasure and former Bad Sugar co-star Olivia Colman talks to Horgan, and you can hear that again on Wednesday morning and evening via Radio Four Extra.  In Episode Six, Sharon talks to BAFTA nominated & Tony Award winning writer Dennis Kelly, her co-creator on Pulling

Kelly was also involved with Utopia (which included Simon Farnaby and Dan Testell in its cast) and Matilda the Musical (which initially starred Paul Kaye), so he’s clearly got quite a career to discuss!

LOOSE BOOSH

Last week saw two very different Boosh-related events taking place at the exact same time on different sides of London – and TVO was present at both.

HE WORE DREAMS AROUND UNKIND FACES

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

First off, TVO attended the private view of Noel Fielding’s latest art show at the Royal Albert Hall. The place was packed, and our readers will be pleased to know that there were a fair few TVO folk in attendance, including Dave Brown, Mike Fielding, Richard Ayoade, Tom Meeten, Oly Ralfe, David Westlake, Matt Berry, Morgana Robinson, Vic Reeves, Nigel Coan and Joey Page.

Noel’s new watercolours are mind-and-eye-bogglingly wonderful, and although many of the paintings have been sold (a world-famous artist being one of the buyers), parts of the show will be hung at Gallery Maison Bertaux soon so more of you will get the chance to see them. And if you can’t make it there and have some cash to flash, you could even buy one of the pieces for yourself. Watch this space for more news about Noel-related exhibitions taking place at the cool bijou art space in Soho…

THAT’S RICH! A TASTE OF FULCHER

© The Velvet Onion

© The Velvet Onion

Elsewhere in London, Rich Fulcher was back in town filming the non-broadcast pilot episode of his new project, That’s Rich.

We offered our readers a chance to get priority tickets for the free recording, which featured a whole host of weirdly wonderful characters from Rich’s wonderfully deranged imagination.If you missed out, you can read our non-spoilery review of the pilot, and then join us in our prayers to the TV gods that that it evolves into a full series.

PADDINGTON ARRIVES

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

The highest grossing family movie of all time not to come out of Hollywood, Paddington finally arrives on dvd and blu-ray this week just in time for the forthcoming Easter holidays.

And if you’re wondering why we’re telling you this – you clearly haven’t been paying attention! The star-studded movie is directed by none other than Paul King (Bunny and the Bull, Come Fly With Me and a little known show called The Mighty Boosh), and features a cavalcade of TVO regulars in supporting roles.

You can procure yourself a copy via our amazon store, and spot – in order of appearance: Tim Downie (Toast of London, This Is Jinsey), Matt Lucas, Kayvan Novak (Bad Sugar, Four Lions), Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, Doctor Who), Matt King (The IT Crowd, Star Stories), Dominic Coleman (Crackanory, Psychoville), Steve OramTom MeetenAlice Lowe, Simon Farnaby, Will Smith (The Thick of It, Dead Boss), Toby Williams (The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains), Catherine Shepherd (Cardinal Burns, The IT Crowd), Justin EdwardsRufus JonesJames Bachman, Steve Edge (Star Stories) – oh, and the voice of Ben “Pingu from Nathan Barley” Wishaw as Paddington himself. Phew!

AND THE REST…

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

Fabulous Funnies In Wales

20 Mar

The fourth Machynlleth Comedy Festival takes place this May, and it boasts the kind of line up that makes us weep into our hankies for not being able to be there!

1625572_645906562142184_187893790_n-1The festival takes place in a handful of rather charming and intimate venues around Machynlleth in Wales between Friday 1st and Sunday 3rd May. A staggering quantity of brilliant comedians are performing, including several TVO faces.

You can see the list in full here (and do look, because there are some top names!), but please allow us to highlight a few: our very own Colin Hoult, who is performing a marvellous-sounding work-in-progress show called  Sit Down on The Ledge & Jump Down to The Ground, and a character show, featuring a wonderful collection of his favourite characters. Aisling Bea is also doing a work-in-progress show, Lou Sanders is performing Excuse Me; You’re Sitting on My Penis Again, and the always epic Tony Law will be running through some new material at the festival as well. Wowzers.

Although not one of our lot, strictly speaking, we’d also like to recommend that you investigate Jonny Donahoe’s show and the two Johnny & the Baptists shows. We also have it on good authority from House of FoolsMorgana Robinson that Birthday Girls are awesome. So check them all out!

The festival organisers have said of the event: “When we first talked about starting  above of all we wanted to create somewhere where people came to have fun, and get away from it all, whether this be the attendees, the comedians or the festival team. It was all about taking a different approach with an aim of creating a spirit of experimentation and intimacy. We’re passionate about the thrill of seeing live comedy in intimate places, and the glorious, picturesque and enchanting town of Machynlleth gave us a wealth of interesting and unique performance spaces in which to do this. Most of all we want people to laugh, have a great time and find a warm welcome in the heart of Wales.”

So if that sound alike your cup of tea – and you appreciate good comedy, head over west to take it all in. For more information, visit the festival website.

So Hot Right Now #22

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

House of Fools welcomes Way & Davis

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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

Nurse continues with Day and Hoult

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

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

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

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

Justin Edwards goes In And Out Of The Kitchen

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

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

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

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

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

More Moone-ing around for O’Dowd and company

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

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

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

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

Pomipidou Continues

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

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

TVO IS FIVE all over again

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

And the rest

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

The Velvet Onion Is Five Again

15 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Nose Day Raises £78 Million

15 Mar

Friday’s Red Nose Day in aid of Comic Relief raised £78 million in aid of the charity, taking the total figure raised over the last 30 years to more than £1 billion – with the aid of a few TVO regulars along the way.

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

As we reported on Monday, the night featured the long-awaited return of Mr Bean, and the legendary Rebecca Front joined Ben Miller and, of course, the inimitable Rowan Atkinson in the sketch, in which Mr Bean went to a funeral, and learnt about the many ways grief can be expressed – and how it probably isn’t the best place to try a spot of one-up-man-ship. Probably.

Eagle-eyed viewers, however, will have spotted that, in the final part of the sketch, Bean ended up sat beside another TVO regular, in the form of Colin Hoult: star of Carnival of Monsters, Being Human, Derek and most recently, Nurse. As this little slice of info wasn’t revealed in advance, this made a genuinely wonderful surprise on the night!

© Comic Relief

© Comic Relief

If you missed it, the sketch is currently available for viewing on BBC iPlayer during the first part of the Face The Funny evening, and we’ll let our international readers know if we discover it being made available elsewhere as soon as possible.

Also featured in that first part of the evening, was a brand new edition of The Vicar of Dibley in which Dawn French’s Geraldine Grainger was invited to an interview to become a female bishop by none other than Richard Ayoade!

© Comic Relief

© Comic Relief

This sketch also featured Vicar of Dibley regulars James Fleet and John Bluthal, alongside special guest stars Annette Crosbie, Marueen Lipman, Emma Watson, Ruth Jones, Jennifer Saunders and Fiona Bruce. Again, it’s currently only available to UK viewers via iPlayer, but we’re sure it will be more accessible internationally soon.

That wasn’t the end of the evening’s TVO involvement either. Matt Berry lent his fruity vocal talents to the evening’s narration – or so we thought, as it turned out to be his alter-ego Steven Toast at the helm. Below, you can see the result when presenter Claudia Winkleman questioned the pronunciation of her surname…

There was one other surprise in store for the evening, as in the twilight of the television broadcasts, Cardinal Burns stepped into the shoes previously occupied by The Mighty Boosh (as in – the time when most sane viewers have given up and gone to bed), to perform a sketch as their banter loving characters Metcalfe and Jonesy.

All of this, and everything else that happened on the evening – including Vic Reeves, Johnny Vegas & Nick Helm taking part in a One Direction spoof, and David Walliams joining forces with Catherine Tate and Sir Stephen Hawking for a new Little Britain sketch – took place, of course, in aid of the fantastic causes that Comic Relief supports.

If you enjoyed any of the above material, and have a few quid spare, please donate it to Comic Relief now. To learn more about the great work the charity supports, visit their website.

Joey Page & Toyah On 6 Music’s Roundtable

13 Mar

© BBC

We love to see an unexpected mash-up of TVO-connected folk – and yesterday saw one such combo: comedian Joey Page and iconic actress/singer, Toyah Willcox!

We’ve been showcasing Joey’s comedic output on these pages for some time, but if you’re wondering what links Toyah to TVO, for those of you not currently in the know she features in Steve Oram‘s new film, Aaaaaaaah! alongside a bevy of ‘our lot’ (Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Shelley Longworth, Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, Sean Reynard, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Waen Shepherd, Tony Way and Steve himself ).

Joey and Toyah joined 6 Music presenter, Steve Lamacq and fellow guest, Gideon Coe, for this week’s Roundtable, where they reviewed new releases by Mumford and Sons, Mini Mansions featuring Alex Turner, Sharon Van Etten, Streets of Leredo, Johnny Marr, Pins and Gang Of Four.

You can hear the show on BBC iPlayer, where it’s available for your aural pleasure for a further 29 days.

Fans of Joey Page will be pleased to know that he has offered to do five previews of his new show Catastrophe Party in people’s living rooms. Awesome stuff! If you want to be one of the select few to enjoy a private performance of Joey’s new show, get in touch with him via twitter.

 

So Hot Right Now #21

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

NURSE – Tuesday @ 10pm, BBC Two

This week sees the launch of Paul Whitehouse‘s new show Nurse - featuring Simon Day and Colin Hoult in it’s ensemble cast.

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

As we explained in detail recently, the four part series features Esther Coles (Tittybangbang, House of Fools) as community psychiatric nurse Liz, who is visiting her various patients – most of whom are played by Paul Whitehouse.

With the series also featuring Rosie Cavalero (Hunderby) and Vilma Hollingberry (Psychoville), the cast list alone is reason enough to give it a chance. Thankfully, the resulting bittersweet comedy is a subtly nuanced gem that deserves your attention.  You can catch Episode One on Tuesday evening at 10pm on BBC Two.

HOUSE OF FOOLS – Monday @ 10pm, BBC Two

After a week off, Series Two of House of Fools returns this week with its third episode on Monday evening at 10pm, again on BBC Two.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

The show stars Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer alongside Matt Berry, Dan Skinner, Morgana Robinson, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White, with this week’s episode featuring a guest appearance by Alex Lowe (Barry From Watford, The Peter Serafinowicz Show).

This time around, Julie asks Vic to create a promotional video for her new bistro, but he writes his script on the back of a moth – which escapes into the kitchen and begins gorging on everyone’s underwear. Meanwhile, a pop star with a striking resemblance to Bob’s son arrives in the country and Beef suggests they take advantage of the media interest by planting Erik in the restaurant to generate publicity. As madcap as ever, then.

MOONE BOY – Monday @ 9pm, Sky 1

The third series of Moone Boy also continues apace over on Sky One this Monday evening at 9pm.

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

In this week’s edition of Chris O’Dowd‘s imaginary friend sitcom, Padraic finds himself caught in the middle of his warring parents and decides to escape his troubles, leading his worried mum and dad to raise the alarm following his disappearance. Unaware of the chaos he is causing, the lad embarks on a life of crime with the help of Martin. Meanwhile, Crunchie’s friends stage an intervention after he resorts to drowning his sorrows.

Featuring the return of the unstoppable might that is Johnny Vegas, this week’s episode is another jewel in the award-winning sitcom’s crown.

POMPIDOU – Sunday @ 6:35pm, BBC Two

The bonkers visions of Matt Lucas return early on Sunday evening, in Pompidou‘s third episode.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

This week, the penniless aristocrat is watching Heirloom Roadshow on TV and realises an antique Chinese bowl he gave to his friend Merrick (TVO regular Tony Way) for Christmas is worth £1million. Deciding he must reclaim the bowl, Pompidou has an idea to swap it with an imitation and heads to a charity shop with his butler Hove (Alex MacQueen).

With special guest appearances by Jane Asher and Bella Emberg, this episode sounds like a blast, and while Pompidou has been dividing audiences so far, there’s life in the daffy old sod yet.

COMIC RELIEF – Friday from 7pm, BBC One

Finally this week, Friday sees the return of Comic Relief to our screens, and while there are few of our regulars taking part (at present), we nevertheless feel this worthy cause is something we should celebrate.

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

Most excitingly for us, the delightful Rebecca Front joins Ben Miller and, of course, Rowan Atkinson in a brand new Mr Bean sketch. Elsewhere, David Walliams revives Lou from Little Britain, now taking care of Sir Stephen Hawking, and there’s a return appearance from The Vicar of Dibley team.  All alongside lots of surprises on the night, and films raising awareness of the plight of those Comic Relief supports.

As ever, there are many ways you can take part – from direct fundraising, to wearing a red nose, or simply donating your cash.  To be amazing and donate to this year’s appeal, CLICK HERE.

Another chance to see: BURKE & HARE – Sunday, 11:05pm

If you’ve not yet had a chance to see John Landis’ 2010 black comedy Burke and Hare - starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis, you can catch it on BBC Two next weekend. Alongside the likes of Isla Fisher, Tim Curry, Tom Wilkinson, Sir Christopher Lee and Hugh Bonneville, the film features a cavalcade of top notch talent from the world of British comedy.

These include Jessica HynesReece Shearsmith and Michael Smiley, alongside Bill Bailey, Ronnie Corbett, Paul Whitehouse and Stephen Merchant, as well as a brief cameo from Simon Farnaby and Tom Meeten. Get in! If you’d rather buy the film, you can get it on dvd and blu-ray now.

AND THE REST

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

Caaaaaaaast Revealed at Laaaaaaaast!

7 Mar

If you’re an avid Twitter user, you can’t help but have noticed the buzz mid-week when the poster for Aaaaaaah! was revealed.

Now that the details are out in the open, we can confirm that Steve Oram‘s directorial debut will star a cavalcade of comedic talent and a post-punk icon for good measure.

In alphabetical order then, Aaaaaaah! will star: Julian Barratt, Holli Dempsey, Noel Fielding, Lucy Honigman, Shelley Longworth, Alice LoweTom MeetenSteve Oram, Sean Reynard, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Waen Shepherd, Tony Way and Toyah Willcox.

The names in bold, we’re sure need little introduction from us – with Barratt & Fielding being the spearheads of The Mighty Boosh, and Longworth, Lowe, Meeten, Oram and Shepherd all being Ealing Live veterans and regulars on our pages, alongside a certain Mr Way.

If you’re unfamiliar with the name Sean Reynard, you may perhaps know him as Sean the Prawn: a regular on the live circuit often found appearing in Oram & Meeten’s Club Fantastico shows, as well as the man behind often disturbing yet compelling short films like 321-(2.6.78).

Of the other four names: Holli Dempsey will be familiar to viewers of Derek as Vicky, and she’s also appeared in BreathlessDoctor Who and the forthcoming Dad’s Army movie.  Lucy Honigman, on the other hand, is a young Australian actress best known for her role in Mr & Mrs Murder, and Aaaaaaah! marks her first leading role in the UK.

Julian Rhind-Tutt needs little introduction: perhaps best known as Mac in Green Wing, he’s also appeared in A Touch of ClothInside No 9, HippiesBlack Books, Oliver Twist and drama-of-the-moment, Banished.

© Toyah Willcox

Toyah Willcox, of course, has been crossing over between a successive music career and acclaimed roles on stage and screen for over 35 years now, with roles in Jubilee, QuadropheniaThe Tempest, Barmy Aunt Boomerang and Secret Diary of a Call Girl showcasing her range, and a string of classic albums including Anthem, The Changeling, Prostitute, Velvet Lined Shell and In The Court of the Crimson Queen behind her, she still tours the UK regularly with her live band, and records with her side-project The Humans. Like many of the stars of Aaaaaaah!, TVO is a bit of a fan…

Excitingly, Toyah’s inclusion in the production has paved the way for the music in the film to be a collaboration between King Crimson Projekcts (featuring her husband, Robert Fripp) and David Westlake: formerly of Sneakerpimps and the Boosh live band.

All of this is shaping up to make Aaaaaaah! the TVO-related event of the year, and as Steve Oram has been locked in the edit suite honing his masterpiece for some time now, we’ve yet to see a single frame of footage from the production… so we’re in that rare position of being just as much in the dark as you, dear readers. As soon as Mr Steve opens the door a little bit to get a draft going, we’ll let you know everything we can, so stay peeled!

For a wee bit more info, why not check out our previous posts about the film – here and there?

Whitehouse brings in Hoult and Day for Nurse

7 Mar

Next week sees the launch of Nurse - the brand new comedy from the legendary Paul Whitehouse – and a couple of familiar faces are on board.

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

The four part series – a spin-off from the BBC Radio show of the same name – focuses on community psychiatric nurse Liz, played by former Peak Practise star Esther Coles, who TVO readers may recognise from her guest roles in Tittybangbang. She’s also set to appear in the current series of House of Fools on 16th March.

Liz’s rounds involve meeting a variety of patients – most of whom are played by Paul Whitehouse, fully utilising his talent as a man of many, many personas. Shifting his facial expressions, vocal chords and body movements, Whitehouse becomes (at times) almost unrecognisable: thanks to a bit of handy prosthetics along the way.

Also on board for the show are regular collaborator Simon Day as Tony Beckton, and fellow TVO regular and similar man-of-many-faces Colin Hoult as Terry. Rosie Cavalero - of Hunderby and Saxondale fame – also appears as a variety of characters, and our readers may also recognise her from appearances in Inside No. 9It’s Kevin and Crackanory amongst others.

Fans of Psychoville will have also spotted the delightful Vilma Hollingbery, who charmed audiences as Mrs Wren alongside Reece Shearsmith’s Mr Jelly, in the lead image above. Hollingberry’s other credits include Not Going OutGrass and Doctor Who, so it’s naturally a pleasure to see her again!

The result is a bittersweet comedy that laughs with, rather than at the kind of people it presents to an audience, and is remarkably poignant as a result.  A real breath of fresh air on our airwaves at the moment, it arrives on Tuesday evening at 10pm over on BBC Two, and will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

So Hot Right Now #20

2 Mar

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

MOONE BOY RETURNS

This week sees the long awaited return of Moone Boy to Sky 1 HD, once again starring Chris O’Dowd and David Rawle.

 Sky Corporate

Sky Corporate

For the uninitiated, Moone Boy tells the story of young Martin Moone (Rawle) as he grows up in rural Ireland in the early 1990s, and his best friend Seán Murphy (O’Dowd), who happens to be imaginary.

Semi-autobiographical, the show is the brainchild of O’Dowd and co-writer Nick Vincent Murphy, and has garnered numerous awards and a strong cult following through its first two series in 2012 and 2014 respectively. With none other than Sharon Horgan set to make guest appearances this time around, it’s once more something you’d be mad to miss.

Series Three begins on Monday, 2nd March at 9pm, exclusively on Sky1 HD.  In the first episode, Liam and Debra abandon the kids for a romantic break to celebrate their 20th anniversary, but it all threatens to fall apart after a chance encounter with Liam’s old flame. Meanwhile, Martin and Padraic are in Dublin, where they soon discover new talents.

POMPIDOU ON BBC TWO

The madcap adventures of Matt Lucas magnificent aristocrat nutjob Pompidou continue on Sunday 8th March.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The show stars Lucas as the titular aristocrat, who is as pompous as he is penniless, as loveable as he is tubby and eccentric. He is all of those things in abundance – an elderly oddball who has fallen on hard times, and is forced to live in a knackered old caravan in front of his now crumbling estate, alongside his dog Marion, who is the handywork of former Mongrels puppeteers Andy HeathIestyn Evans and Yvonne Stone.

This week, Pompidou thinks he’s won the lottery, but it turns out that it’s Hove who has actually hit the jackpot and he has no intention of sharing it. With Pompidou evicted from his caravan because he hasn’t been keeping up with his bills, Hove offers him a place to stay – but now it is he who must earn his keep.

You can catch Episode Two on Sunday evening at 6:30pm over on BBC Two.

HOUSE OF FOOLS TEMPORARILY EVICTED

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Due to Let’s Play Darts For Comic Relief taking place this week, House of Fools has been given a week off, and will return on March 9th.  If you haven’t read them yet, you can pass the time by catching up on our trilogy of interviews with the cast of the show: Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White, and Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson.

As a result of this, full blown TVO offerings are a little thin on the ground this week – but you’ll be pleased to know there’s still material of note to savour.  First up, Uncle on BBC Three (Tuesday, 10pm) features the talents of Nicholas Burns and Daniel Lawrence Taylor.  Cockroaches star Tom Davis is making regular appearances in The Keith Lemon Sketch Show (Thursday, 10pm) for ITV2, and Saturday evenings provide a rare repeat for Bellamy’s People on UK Gold (11pm), starring Rhys ThomasLucy Montgomery and Simon Day.

However, this quietness does give us time to pause, reflect, and catch up on a couple of shows we missed recently. Cardinal Burns star Dustin Demri-Burns has been appearing alongside Ben Miller and Kayvan Novak in Asylum - with all three episodes available on iPlayer for the next 12 days.  Elsewhere, the delightful Jessica Hynes and the equally fantastic Rebecca Front have been appearing in Series Two of Up the Women on BBC Two, and most of the series is still available to view on iPlayer as we went to press.

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

So Hot Right Now #19

23 Feb

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

POMPIDOU BEGINS…

This week sees Matt Lucas new show Pompidou, co starring Alex MacQueen and Tony Way, begin its run on BBC Two.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The show stars Lucas as the titular aristocrat, who is as pompous as he is penniless, as loveable as he is tubby and eccentric. He is all of those things in abundance – an elderly oddball who has fallen on hard times, and is forced to live in a knackered old caravan in front of his now crumbling estate.

Episode One airs at 6:30pm on BBC Two, on Sunday, 1st March. You can see a selection of preview images over on our news pages.

HOUSE OF FOOLS CONTINUES…

The delightfully bonkers House of Fools continues its second run at 10pm on Monday 23rd February via BBC Two.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

In this week’s episode, Vic steals some unused botox equipment and decides to test it out on Julie and Bosh, while Bob tries to get into Erik’s good books by making Rachel’s brithday a special day. Elsewhere, Beef’s saucy past catches up with him, as he is forced to hide the consequences of his actions from a very irate butcher – brilliantly played by guest star Johnny Vegas.

As ever, starring Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer alongside Matt BerryDan SkinnerMorgana Robinson, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White, this second episode is a much funnier affair that last week’s admittedly hilarious opener, so if you’ve not checked into the House of Fools yet, now’s as good a time as any.

If you missed us shouting from the rooftops recently, TVO was graciously invited to be one of the few publications to speak to the cast of House of Fools at one of the Salford filming dates late last year. You can read our trilogy of interviews over on our news pages now, but if clicky links are more your thing, you’ll like the highlights over the names ‘Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer‘, ‘Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White‘, and ‘Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson‘.

CATASTROPHE ENDS…

Sadly we say goodbye to Catastrophe this week, with Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney going out on fine form on Monday 23rd March at 10pm on Channel 4.

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

In the series finale, a heavily pregnant Sharon picks Rob up at the airport after a trip to Boston and tells him she has invited an old friend from Ireland to be her maid of honour. Rob decides to ask his fiancee’s brother to be his best man, but Fergal has more important things to worry about – his wife has left him and taken their children. The bride and groom later split up to enjoy their hen and stag nights, both of which spiral out of control.

It’s a great end to a bold and inventive series, which is thankfully returning for a second run in the not too distant future. There’s also an appearance from none other than John Hopkins as Sandy Laybourne, so if you haven’t caught up yet, get on 4oD and savour the magic.

CASUAL VACANCY FILLED…

The star studded mini series The Casual Vacancy concludes on Sunday 1st March, once again featuring Rufus Jones and Richard Glover.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

In this third and final episode, tensions rise as the Pagord parish council election approaches and each side steps up its campaign. It’s another meticulously crafted edition that lets this mini-series go out on a high, and if you enjoyed it, you can pre-order the dvd for £10.50 in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

REPLAY THE GAME…

It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that Game of Thrones is set to return in April. With the fourth season (featuring Tony Way) currently nesting at the top of the dvd and blu-ray charts, Sky Atlantic have started their campaign to prep audiences for Season Five – and this may give us a chance to revisit a couple of TVO faces.

© HBO

© HBO

Not only does Tony Way appear in the second and fourth seasons as Sir Dontos Hollard, but Paul Kaye turned up as Thoros of Myr in the third season (we wonder if the GoT team were Mongrels fans like the guys at Pixar?), and the recurring role of Yara Greyjoy is played by actress Gemma Whelan: who also gigs regularly as a stand-up comedian and appeared in cult TVO smashes Cardinal Burns and The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains.

So in brand new clipshow Game of Thrones: Greatest Moments, there’s every possibility we’ll see these three characters once more, as cast members and celebrity fans count down the 20 most thrilling moments from the fantasy drama. You can see it at various times throughout this week, and the show is also available on SkyGo and Now TV.

TOUCHDOWN IN SOHO…

This week sees Sarah Kendall bring her highly acclaimed stand-up show Touchdown to The Soho Theatre.

© PBJ

© PBJ

The show, which toured the festival circuit last year, features Kendall deconstructing the key joke from her previous stand up show, which focuses on real life experiences back in 1992: a year of broken hearts, broken friendships, and broken orthodontic elastics.

Touchdown is a moving and often hilarious coming-of-age story that explores the clumsiness of adolescents, their awkward relationships, and painful need for friendship and love. If that’s not reason enough to pop along to the run between 24th-28th February, then why not read our interview with Sarah, in which she discusses the show at length, as well as Beehive, women in comedy and her obsession with Jaws 4

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

Royal Comedy

22 Feb
© Royal Free Comedy

© Royal Free Charity

Aisling Bea and Lou Sanders are part of a fantastic line-up at a fundraising night of stand-up for a great cause in April.

Set up in 1993 by Keith Hunt MBE, Fund 270 provides massage therapy to all referred patients at the Royal Free Hospital, and money raised from Royal Comedy will be used to support mothers of premature babies who can’t take their babies home.

The event takes place at the Bloomsbury Theatre on April 23rd, and also features Isy Suttie, Brett Goldstein, John Robins, Grainne Maguire and Mae Martin, plus special guests still to be confirmed.

Last year’s event was a sell-out, so with tickets, priced £15, available now, it might be an idea to grab ‘em while you still can!

Wow Wow Show Now!

17 Feb
© Dan Clark / Soho Theatre

© Dan Clark / Soho Theatre

Once upon a time, Kylie Minogue sang a song called Wow, in which she seemingly described being a horny insect (whose antennae were sensing you up, no less). Now, though, she could very well be going “Wow, wow, wow, wow!” for a whole other reason, as Dan Clark is to host a brand new monthly comedy night at the ever wonderful Soho Theatre.

The Wow Wow Show! will feature the former How Not to Live your Life star as the frontman for an evening of satnd-up and sketches from “the new wave of comic talent in the UK”: their words, not ours, but we love that they’ve adopted New Wave Comedy as a thing.

Promising a very British take on the American late-night talk show vibes of Letterman and Fallon, there’ll also be set pieces, a house band and some very special guests.

Who those guests are we cannot yet reveal, but given Clark’s reputation from six years of his own self-named club night, it’s going to be a pretty fantastic line-up, and at long last brings a regular club night back to the heart of London’s comedy scene with a velvety vibe to savour.

Tickets for the first show on Saturday, March 7th at 9:30pm are on sale now for just £15. Get in there fast, because this is going to be an event you’ll wish you were at afterwards!

Hunderby & Partridge Return!

16 Feb
© Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic

Now there are two more reasons to get Sky Atlantic – and they come in the form of two productions from Baby Cow.

The award-winning Hunderby, Julia Davis‘ darkly comic homage to Daphne Du Maurier, will be returning to the channel for a Christmas special. Co-written with fellow TVO-er, Barunka O’Shaughnessy, the two-part special will precede another (hush-hush) new project from Julia for the channel, which is due to air in 2016.

© Sky

© Sky

Head of Sky Atlantic, Zai Bennett, has also confirmed that Steve Coogan will be back on the channel as Alan Partridge, as part of his attempt to dial up the comedy content of the channel (alongside dramas like Fortitude and Game Of Thrones).

In today’s Media Guardian Bennett said: “Game of Thrones and Banshee are brilliant but they are quite visceral and hard. That’s why landing the comedy is important, it will give us emotional breadth. A lot of our drama can be … heavy going, it can be hard work. People might draw breath before coming to Atlantic; I want them to come a little bit more.’

Sky’s head of comedy, Lucy Lumsden, has said of Hunderby’s return: “We couldn’t be happier…Julia Davis is such a rare talent and Sky Atlantic the perfect home for her unique voice and vision.”

The special will introduce two newcomers to the cast: a French sexpot and a homophobic locum pastor with a taste for hanging. At TVO we’re hoping that Rufus Jones will be reprising his role as Dr. Foggerty and Julian Barratt as the Narrator. Series one also featured Kevin EldonArnab Chanda and Antony Elvin, so we’re holding out for a few other familiar faces in the Christmas special!

 

So Hot Right Now #18

16 Feb

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

COME ON IN…

Monday evening puts out the Welcome mat for the long awaited second series of House of Fools, which airs at 10pm on BBC2.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Vic and Bob’s artily homemade and brilliantly daft take on a sitcom has gone down a storm with both their hardcore audience and casual viewers alike, and it was only natural it would return for a second run. In the first episode of the new series, Bob’s reclusive son, Erik (Daniel Simonsen) emerges from his bedroom long enough to stop dry-retching and go on a blind date, meeting the equally calculated Rachel (Ellie White). Vic and Bob form a band with Beef (Matt Berry) and fall out over the name of their act before their debut gig, while Julie (Morgana Robinson) attempts to teach Bosh (Dan Skinner) the art of waiting tables. Clever, silly, and just as surreal as the first series, this episode also includes the best use of an Owen Wilson photo that you’ll ever come across!

If you missed them last week, TVO was graciously invited to be one of the few publications to speak to the cast of House of Fools at one of the Salford filming dates late last year. You can read our trilogy of interviews over on our news pages now, but if clicky links are more your thing, you’ll like the highlights over the names ‘Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer‘, ‘Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White‘, and ‘Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson‘.

CLOSE THE DOOR…

As one show arrives, another must sadly depart, and this week it’s the turn of both Cockroaches and Count Arthur Strong to say a (we hope short-lived) farewell.

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

At 10pm on Tuesday over on ITV2, the final episode of Cockroaches brings the post-apocalyptic comedy to a close, with dramatic results. This week Tom (Daniel Lawrence Taylor) and Laura (Jessica Emily Rose) are imprisoned by a gang of cannibals led by the villanous Ash (Jaime Winston), and it’s up to Suze and Felix (Esther Smith and Tom Davis) to save them from becoming supper.

With its top notch cast including Dan Skinner, Jack Whitehall, Robert Bathurst, Rich Hall, Nigel Planer and Alexander Armstrong, it does feel strange even in this digital age for Cockroaches to be tucked away on ITV2, but we’re hopeful we haven’t seen the last of Tom and the gang just yet. The full first series is available on dvd from next week.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

We must also say goodbye to Count Arthur Strong, whose second series goes out with a bang at 10:45pm on Tuesday evening over on BBC One. Unless you’re in Northern Ireland or Wales, in which case it does so at 11:10pm. Or if you’re in Scotland, in which case there’ll be a slightly smaller bang (it’ll be more of a bump, really), at 10:40pm on Wednesday evening instead.

Anyway, after years of plugging away, Arthur (Steve Delaney) finally hits the big time this week when he gets a job as a TV psychic – only to let the fame go to his head. Meanwhile, Michael (Rory Kinnear) has a rather unique reaction to a tempting job offer, one that causes his health to suffer. Given Kinnear’s fate in The Casual Vacancy, we’re rooting for him here!

Of course, whilst the Graham Linehan co-penned series is coming to an end (for now), Delaney is current out on tour with the Count, and you can catch a full list of dates over on his website. He’s also recently released a book, which you can get here.

TAKE A SEAT…

Whilst we have new shows to savour and others to say goodbye to, there’s a few others that continue their successful runs this week.

© Tim Bret Day

© Tim Bret Day

Catastrophe - the smash hit show from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney continues apace on Monday evening at 10:05pm, though House of Fools fans may want to catch up via 4+1 at 11:05pm instead!

In this fifth episode, Rob and Sharon plan their wedding, but Rob’s plans to throw a surprise birthday party are scuppered when his Boston bosses fire him during a video call, and his mother (special guest star Carrie Fisher) reveals a big secret of his to Sharon.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

On Sunday evening, part two of The Casual Vacancy airs at 9pm on BBC One. The star-studded adaptation of JK Rowling’s novel of the same name features Richard Glover and Rufus Jones in its ensemble cast, with the former particularly playing against reality as a real nasty piece of work!

Sadly as we went to press on this week’s SHRN, images from this second episode remain under embargo, so stay tuned for those later this week. What we can tell you, however, is that it picks up straight from where the last one left off: with the townsfolk of Pagford left shocked by posts online that are seemingly coming from a dead man.

With the various factions of the town on tenterhooks at one another, a dinner party is scheduled, but things quickly spiral out of control. Elsewhere in the Fields, an addiction appears to be weakening, giving Krystal fresh hope for the future of her family.

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

© Baby Cow / Chris Brock

The new series of Uncle also continues on Tuesday evening at 10pm (again, clashing with Cockroaches – thank gawd for catchup services, eh?) on BBC Three.  Starring Nick Helm and Elliot Spencer Gillot, alongside Nicholas BurnsDaniel Lawrence Taylor and the criminally underrated Daisy Haggard, the show is as puerile yet oddly touching as ever.

This week, Andy (Helm) tries to prove how mature he is to his latest love interest, while Errol (Spencer Gillot) wants to show a girl how cool he is, and Sam (Haggard) is desperate to impress Ben’s girlfriend, Veronica (Burns and special guest star Gemma Whelan of Game of Thrones and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains fame). Unfortunately their efforts do not go well, forcing the trio to resort to deception in order to make a good impression.

ENJOY THE SHOW…

Londoners have it good at the moment! Not only do they have a Kim Noble residency at the Soho Theatre to savour at the moment, but this week sees them get a Rachel Stubbings fronted film night too. And next week brings the return of Richard Sandling‘s live nights, and a mini-residency for Sarah Kendall. For more news on live events, check out news page!

TVO IS FIVE

We’ve been celebrating our fifth anniversary this month, with a couple of reflective articles on our news pages, and a number of our regulars sending us video messages wishing us a very happy birthday. Kind of. The video below features, in order of appearance: Rachel StubbingsColin HoultDave BrownJames CookBob PipeDave McNeillKaty BrandNeil ColePhil WhelansJames WrenSpencer MillmanWaen ShepherdJacqueline WrightHolly Jane ShearsRufus JonesStephen Evans and Tony Way.

Our huge thanks to all involved – and we’ve got a few more messages coming through to give you Part Two very soon, so stay peeled!

AND THE REST…

As always, here’s some of the news you may have missed during the last week, via our Twitter feed. We’ll see you again next Monday, and throughout the week for more news, reviews and interviews. Keep on peeling!

Hayden Talks Gen Zed

14 Feb
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© Hayden Black

TVO regular and sporadic Rich Fulcher collaborator Hayden Black is about to unleash a new animated show, Gen-Zed! - which is making headlines as the first ever animated show to feature a trans actress in a leading role.

Hayden took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about Gen Zed and the folk involved with it, and the resulting Q&A is below.

Where did you get the idea for the show?

I was wondering how younger people just emerging out of high school and college were going to handle life now they’d grown up immersed in tech and the bazillions of choices it gave you. It’s a double-edged sword, tech. These days you can find anything you want, download it, listen to it, play it, watch it – but it can also bury you alive. Plus I was hungry to tell a story with a Transgender woman in it. Transparent got there first and they did an absolutely magnificent job. Gen Zed is aimed at a much younger audience .

What were your main influences when writing Gen Zed?

First influence is “The Young Ones” – the anarchic, rebellious spirit that formed my childhood. I wanted to do a show that WASN’T for your parents. Something “the kids” (thanks, Rik) could own. The second is “Spaced”; specifically the flights of fancy that Edgar Wright did so brilliantly. I actually wrote the pilot as live-action but I always had animation in the back of my mind. I got talking to an animator who thought it was a great show to animate but her busy schedule prevented her from coming on board. And then the magnificent Alex Bradley showed up and BAM.

How did you come up with the characters?

Shona, the young Trans girl, is based on a Trans girl I know who’s hysterical, witty, beautiful, amazing and brilliant. I wanted to capture her; both her beauty and her pain. Living your life that way, the only way you can live if you’re born in the wrong body, takes such bravery because of how some shitty, ignorant people choose to live theirs. I always think that men who make fun of Trans women aren’t really men at all. Irony! The other characters were mixtures of various things; Cameron’s a shit poet which is based loosely on The Young Ones’ Rik. Living in LA, I know a few people like Betsy who are a little too dependent on prescription drugs but don’t think they have a problem. And Huey’s just a complicated nutter; sort of like The Young Ones’ Vyvyan but with a bit more depth.

Did you set out to write a Trans character, or did they naturally fit with the rest of the characters?

Yes, I did. Shona was the first character to emerge. The rest followed her lead.

And so is it true that this is the first-ever animated series to feature a Trans actress in a lead role?

Yes!! It’s astonishing that no one’s done it before. In fact, the only animated shows thus far to feature trans characters in lead roles are Anime series and so they’re all about magic turning boys into girls – nothing realistic that portrays Trans women as real people has ever been done in this format. Which is such bullshit. But as I’ve written and researched this show, I’ve come to realize that by creating a strong role model, Trans people might have something to help them realize that they’re NOT alone and that SHIT GETS BETTER! The tragic story of Leelah Alcorn the kind of things we want to stop from happening ever again.

KevJulieMarcelo

© Hayden Black

How long did the scripts take to write?

I wrote a 28-page pilot in June 2014, in about 2 weeks. It sort of sat there while I worked on other things but Gen Zed began picking up steam around October. For the next few months, it became re-write city, involving table reads, etc., and it just got better and better. I also decided to change the pilot presentation into a web series so I let it grow from 28 pages to about 54, knowing I’d split it into roughly 7 x 5 minute webisodes.

How do differences in cultural references in Britain and America have an influence on your writing? Do you feel you can only use American ones?

I write for an American audience because that’s where I live. But at the end of the day, I can’t (and don’t want to) escape my mother culture, so both cultures go into my writing. I look at both styles of comedy – American and British – and try to use both. So there’s wit, intelligence and smarts along with bad puns, toilet humour, and physical comedy. Hopefully it’s a good mashup. 

Do you use your British humour in your writing, and do the American audiences ‘get it’?

I always use some British humour but I’m all about writing a comedy that everyone can get. I won’t get too self-indulgent because what’s the point? I do like a handful of earned jokes though; something you don’t get at first but when you do, you go “Ah!” So I’ll pepper in a few jokes here and there that not everyone will get but if you’re one of the few who do, you’ll know I was writing specifically with you in mind.

Emily

© Hayden Black

Did you have actors in mind for the role or did you just see who turned up for auditions?

I had no actors in mind – I never do, to be honest. I just write it. Actors come to the table with their own talents; their take on their character can add something you didn’t realize was there. I got very lucky with Gen Zed because I cast it so quickly.

Julie Rei Goldstein was the first trans actress I auditioned and she just nailed it! She got the character, got my humour, and delivered Shona so quickly I was amazed. Shona is a complex character – they all are, really – but Julie knew just how to drive it. There are moments of snarkiness, moments of over the top silliness, and moments of sadness and horrible things and she knows when to put her foot on the pedal and when to hit the brakes.

John M. Keating was referred to me by America Young (of Goodnight Burbank) and he’s so talented and such a great bloke. Emily C. Chang I met a few years ago at a comedy festival here in LA. I watched a short of hers that she starred in and it was clear how talented she is. So I made sure to add her to Facebook in case there was ever a time when we could work together and I’m glad I did! She just batted it out of the park with her first read.

Kevyn Richmond was recommended to me by a producer friend and the moment I saw his reel I knew he was Cameron. And then there’s Marcelo Tubert who plays Miguel, their landlord. He’s a very established character actor so what you get with Marcelo is a huge talent and a man full of ideas that he brings to the table. I even sneaked in a line for the girl who Shona is based on! So she gets to cameo alongside the character based on her.

KevJulie

© Hayden Black

How did Jane Wiedlin become involved?

We follow each other on Twitter and so I sent her a DM asking if she’d like a cameo. She agreed to read the script then responded with an email that said she wouldn’t do a cameo. She’d only do a recurring character because she loved the script so much. I created a brand new character for her that wasn’t in the pilot; she plays the girl who works with Cameron in the video game store that he has a mad crush on. She even flew down from San Francisco just to record with us in person and she was SO lovely.

SONY DSC

© Hayden Black

What about the music? Did you write your own theme tune again?

Yup! I co-wrote this with James Semple, a British composer. And I also wrote pretty much all of the incidental music that you hear in the show too. Have I made a stupid joke about playing with my organ in public yet? –  because this would be the place to do it!

How long has it taken from when you first had the idea for the show to actually recording the voices for the first episode?

Really quickly – about 8 months. I wasn’t planning on shooting Gen Zed when I first wrote it so it’s all taking off rather fast. But that’s how these things usually happen. It’s the stuff you least expect.

How long does the animation take to complete?

Alex is telling me a month per episode, so all I can do is hold my breath. His preliminary artwork has been rather fantastic so I know I’m going to be gob-smacked when I see it all come together.

When will the episodes be available to watch?

I’m hoping it’s ready to go by late Autumn 2015. But we’ll have snippets and scenes to promote the show much sooner than that. If you follow the twitter @Gen_Zed and find us on Facebook, you can be up-to-the-minute and take place in competitions, win prizes like signed scripts, etc.

The Velvet Onion would like to thank Hayden for taking the time and trouble to answer our questions. If you’d like to know more about Hayden and his other work, please visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.When Gen Zed is available to watch we’ll be the first to let you know!

Onion Talking: Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson on House of Fools

13 Feb

Next week sees the launch of Series Two of House of Fools - the brilliantly surreal sitcom from the minds of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.

L-R: Daniel Simonsen, Dan Skinner, Ellie White © Pett TV / Christopher Baines

L-R: Daniel Simonsen, Dan Skinner, Ellie White © Pett TV / Christopher Baines

To celebrate its return, TVO sat down with the main cast during the filming of Series Two to discuss the show. Yesterday, we spoke to Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White. The day before saw our chat with Vic & Bob themselves unleashed. Today, we bring you our catch-up with Bob’s regular house guests, Matt Berry and Morgana Robinson.

It is fair to say that, to readers of these pages at least, Matt Berry needs no introduction. When The Velvet Onion began five years ago, he was a much loved figurehead of alternative comedy, making waves on the music scene with a succession of tours, and was one of the first people to actively encourage and support the development of TVO.  He’s been good to us, over the years, and we’ve been delighted to continue to support him as his star has risen. Thanks to the runaway success of Toast of London, huge critical acclaim for his Kill the Wolf album, and numerous other projects Berry is edging closer and closer to the mainstream. Matt may not yet be a household name, but he’s certainly more beloved than ever, and his role as randy house visitor Beef in House of Fools has introduced his charms to a whole new audience.

Today, he greets TVO fondly, and in an moment part made of showmanship, part of his natural instincts as a gentlemen, he introduces us in style to his fellow interviewee with a hand flourish, a side step and a powerful rendering of her name: Morgana.  The name may not be familiar to you just yet, particularly for our international readers. But make no mistake about it: this is one formidable comic talent, whose rise to meteoric stardom is surely just around the corner.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Born in Australia and raised in Britain,international awareness of Morgana Robinson at the moment is mostly down to her half-sister being none rock star Brody Dalle, formerly of The Distillers. Dalle’s husband also happens to be Josh Homme – frontman for Queens of the Stone Age and occasional Matt Berry collaborator. Following initial appearances in mainstream comedy fair like The Green Green Grass and My Family, in 2010 Robinson was given her own five-part sketch show on Channel 4: The Morgana Show.

A delightfully bonkers showcase for this unique comic mind, the show also featured Kill List star Neil Maskell and one of today’s guest stars, Tom Davis, in his own big break. While the show did not return for a second run, a Comic Strip Presents appearance and a prominent BBC iPlayer short have bolstered Robinson’s reputation, and her recent work has included a guest slot on Toast of London and her own impressions show: Very Important People.

As you read this, she’ll also appearing as a recurring segment host on Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, spoofing the likes of YouTube bloggers and Russell Brand. It may be early days for her, but it’s clear that she’s going to go far, and much like most of the cast, she’s overjoyed that – as camera-wielding nymphomaniac neighbour turned bistro owner Julie – Reeves & Mortimer are keen to give her a platform.

“They’re amazing like that,” she tells us as we sit down. Matt Berry agrees.

“They can spot good stuff,” he states, before questioning himself. “That’s not for us to say, is it?”

“They put money on good horses,” Morgana adds. “They do love to channel new talent up. I’m extremely grateful for that, you know.”  Matt agrees. “Oh, whatever!” she mocks in return.

“No, I bloody am!” he says with genuine passion. “Of course I am.”

“You’ve been around for donkeys years, haven’t you?” Morgana asks him, at which point TVO reminds her that Matt is, according to the British Comedy Awards 2014, a ‘breakthrough artist’. Matt laughs.

“Nine years…” he shakes his head. “Ten years. Breakthrough. A breakthrough ten years.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

And what a ten years that has been, as anyone who follows his career, or reads TVO, for that matter, as the two are so intertwined, can attest. Following his real breakthrough in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Matt has gone on to star in The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd. He also created legendary one-off AD/BC: A Rock Opera, internationally renowed favourite Snuffbox and the multi-award winning Toast of London - the latter set to return for a third series in 2015. That fact that is still top secret as we meet, yet impossible for Matt not to be understandably keen to tell us in strictest confidence.  He’s also appeared in productions as varied as The Peter Serafinowicz Show, Duncan Jones’ Moon, Portlandia and even Spongebob Squarepants, all whilst carving out a career as an incredible multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter.

Returning to House of Fools for Matt, who is seemingly in demand constantly at present, is in part based on the joy of working with Reeves and Mortimer, but also the positive response to the first series.

“We hit the ground running last year,” he explains. “I don’t think this year has changed much at all. There’s no real difference, it’s a continuation of what we started.”

“I’ve got a bistro!” interjects Morgana. “And a few more lines.”

“The bistro works out,” Matt suggests, “because it’s sort of a community centre. You can do storylines that aren’t in someone’s house. It’s like a town hall, or something.”

“Mmmm,” Morgana nods. “It’s like our Central Perk.”

The Friends comparison is an interesting one, TVO notes, particularly as it feels a world away from what Vic & Bob are doing with House of Fools. For starters, Friends and most other US sitcoms would be written by a huge team of staff writers, with very little room for cast additions to the scripts. Whilst Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) and Bob Mortimer were keen to stress the importance of getting it all on the page before shooting for practical reasons, Dan Skinner spoke of how flexible they were with developing comedic voices within their work, and both Ellie White and Daniel Simonsen revealed they had rewritten their scene together with Bob ten minutes before the afternoon record had started. Clearly, there’s scope for a lot more flexibility when you’ve got a cast of comedy writers and performers, rather than regular actors.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“Yeah, they’re quite cool like that,” Morgana notes. “They’re open to suggestions. If they like a joke, they’ll go: ‘Oh, put that in!’ It’s not exactly sign language but it works.”

Matt agrees. “They’re very generous. They know what’s going to work, and you know what’s going to work, and what wouldn’t be right for this. There’s nothing subtle. There’s nothing underplayed. That’s not what they do.”

Despite the occasional pre-filmed flight of fancy, there’s no denying the lack of subtlety and the vibrant cast would make a potential House of Fools stage show a real delight. As Bob’s already mentioned the possibility in passing, TVO decides to get Matt & Morgana’s feedback on the idea.

“Yeah!” Morgana exclaims, her eyes lighting up at the prospect. “I’d love it!”

“But not like tonight,” Matt notes, referring to the over-running, mistake-laden first run of the day. “We didn’t get the fucking thing finished. That wouldn’t be great live!” He bursts out laughing. “It’d have to be rehearsed, put it that way!”

Aware today’s problematic filming, plagued by the lack of a camera rehearsal due to the complexity of the pre-shoot, had been a worry for the whole cast, TVO can’t help but calmly note that the first shoot of the day was a little ‘fluffy’. “We all were tonight,” Matt suggests, “cos we didn’t get to finish it.”

Perhaps worried he may be appearing negative, he adds: “But it’s not always like that. Don’t get the wrong impression about it. The last one was fucking perfection.”

Morgana nods. “It was pretty perfect,” she reasons. “It’s normally a well-oiled machine. I’d love to take it out on the road.”

“It could totally work in the Wyndham,” suggests Matt, a sprinkling of Steven Toast bubbling to the surface before fading away once more. “Oh, I don’t know,” he adds. “Whatever they want to do, I’m up for it.”

“We just let them do whatever they want,” Morgana states, before drifting off. “I’m sure none of it will make sense.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Sadly due to the over-run on filming, our time with the delightful duo is running out. Poor Matt and Morgana have mere minutes left to get some food and a short break before going back into the studio for another record session. Ever the caring type, TVO elects to cut our pre-arranged interview slot short by a few minutes, so that the pair can talk freely, and make it to the canteen before they head back to work. However, there’s still just enough time for a quick round of our brilliant new game: Rent, Mortgage, Evict – which we have in no way pilfered from the not at all similar game, Snog Marry Avoid. To avoid awkward conversations, given we know the cast are clearly enamoured with one another, we ask Matt and Morgana, as their characters, who would they chose to live with, buy a house with, and ask to leave the premises. Straight away, Matt’s in with a surprisingly blunt answer.

“I’d kick ‘em all out,” he states, firmly, before worrying that sounded worse than it was intended to.

“Not as people!” he adds. “I’d kick all the characters out. But I think they’d all answer like that, and just want a house of their own.”

“I’ve no idea,” admits Morgana. “I’d live with all of them. It’s like a jungle out there. They all work very well together, like a very strange family. I couldn’t throw them all out, could you?”

“Probably no, no,” Matt considers. “She’s right. They’re all real fuckwits on their own. They can’t do anything.”

“You’d be bored shitless with just one of them,” Morgana concludes. “It’s a bit like a circus.”

And with that, they must be on their way once more. T-minus 15-minutes until the second record begins, and like the rest of the circus, Matt and Morgana have to go and put on a damn good show. But first tea and cake. There’s always time for cake before the madness begins once more.

House of Fools returns on Monday 16th February at 10pm on BBC2. The first series is available on dvd from 23rd February.

Onion Talking: Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White on House of Fools

12 Feb

Next week sees the launch of Series Two of House of Fools - the brilliantly surreal sitcom from the minds of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.

L-R: Daniel Simonsen, Dan Skinner, Ellie White © Pett TV / Christopher Baines

L-R: Daniel Simonsen, Dan Skinner, Ellie White © Pett TV / Christopher Baines

To celebrate its return, TVO sat down with the main cast during the filming of Series Two to discuss the show. Yesterday, we gave our chat with Vic & Bob themselves. Today, we bring you our catch-up with Bob’s regular house guests, Dan Skinner, Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White.

“Has Bob left his dinner?” Dan Skinner asks, incredulously, pointing at the remains of Bob Mortimer‘s potato-based dish in a polystyrene tray on the table in front of him. “Jim’s left his fags as well!” he adds, prodding Vic Reeves‘ packet on the table as he sits down to chat with TVO, alongside co-stars Daniel Simonsen and Ellie White. TVO explains that the pair were in a bit of a hurry, on a shortened lunch-break slash press-junket after an over-running shoot. “Nah,” Dan grins. “They leave things everywhere they go.”

Like the figureheads at the helm of House of Fools, time is short for Skinner, Simonsen and White this evening. A problematic afternoon shoot would soon be followed by a swift and smooth second run, nailing another episode of the superbly ridiculous sitcom. Now, as they tuck into their rather unappetising looking lunches, they’re happy to discuss what’s new this year for their characters.

“I’ve changed my character, completely,” states Skinner, chuckling. Completely, TVO asks. “Yeah. The twats are still there, though.”

“I talk about diarrhoea a lot,” chips in Daniel, before scooping some of the canteen slop into his mouth – mere seconds before his co-star is about to inhale a forkful of sickly brown curry. “Thank you mate. Just as I’m about to tuck into this! Oh – and Erik’s got a girlfriend!”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

He points at Ellie with a big grin, who grins right back at him. A relative newcomer, both to the show and to comedy in general, White made her Fringe debut alongside Oscar Jenkyn-Jones in 2013, before returning with her debut solo show, Humans, as part of last year’s Free Fringe. The show garnered rave reviews from The Independent and Time Out, and the doors opened: taking part in Newsjack on Radio 4, developing her own sketch shows for tv and radio, and then the House of Fools came a-knocking.

In comparison, her nearest countpart in the show, Daniel Simonsen, may only recently be gaining traction in England, but he’s been performing stand-up in his native Norway since 2004. TVO knows, of course, that the entire cast of House of Fools are warm-hearted, wonderful people, but playing devil’s advocate somewhat, we ask how Ellie feels fitting herself into their already established world for this second run.

“It’s really scary,” she admits. “Very intimidating, and very daunting! But everyone is incredibly nice, and I’m learning a lot. It’s nice to be with Daniel, really. I just sort of based myself on him. He’s given me loads of tips.”

“She’s learning, yeah,” states Daniel, in full on deadpan mode. “It’s really hard to be as cold as you are, isn’t it?” asks Dan. “It is,” he replies. TVO tries to confirm this isn’t all just an act, and Daniel stares into our soul, replying: “I’m very damaged.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Moving on – half for time, half for fear of possession by the Norwegian wonderboy, conversation turns to Vic & Bob’s role in providing a platform for new and emerging talents. The duo took Dan Skinner under their wing when he was still part of sketch troop Dutch Elm Conservatoire alongside Rufus Jones (set to appear in House of Fools this series), Stephen Evans, Jim Field Smith and Jordan Long. His character Angelos Epithemou, first brought to life as part of DEC, became a regular guest on Shooting Stars, before taking over point-scoring duties following the departure of Matt Lucas.  This in turn led to his own show, a hugely successful podcast with ‘Barry from Watford’, and Dan becoming one of the most in-demand comic actors around.

“Jim [Moir – Vic’s real name] and Bob have their own audience,” Dan explains. “They’re very, very loyal. And anyone that they add to their world is accepted pretty much straight away by their audience. But they’re usually right, too. They find really interesting people.”

“I swear, I’ve spoken to so many people,” Ellie adds, “who say the first thing they ever did was Vic and Bob. Esther Coles, who played Mrs Moody today – she was a serious actor, and the first comedy she did was with Bob.”

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

It’s true: Coles, a former Peak Practise regular, turned up in several episodes of TVO favourite Tittybangbang. For those who don’t quite recall, that show starred Lucy Montgomery, Debbie Chazen, Tony Way, Katy Brand and loads more – and it was in part, written and directed by Bob Mortimer, as well as being made by Pett Productions: the company Reeves and Mortimer set up with Lisa Clark to make their own shows, and the ones they wanted to see made. That same company is behind House of Fools now, and Esther is back working with Bob all these years later.

“Bob’s really, really good at sending the lift back down,” Dan states. “He goes to find other people and brings them to Vic. Then when executive producers chip in and ask: ‘Are you sure?’, they’ll both go: ‘Yeah’.”

“Like Romesh [Ranganathan] today,” suggests Daniel. “And Tom Davis. They’re also quite new. It’s just what they do.”

They’re also keen to allow these new talents the chance to experiment and develop within their own world. As one of those who has had prime opportunity to do exactly that, Skinner is perhaps best placed to summarise their outlook.

“They’re pretty confident with what they do,” he tells TVO. “They’re got their own brand, and if they like you and think you’re funny, they’ll let you swing it any way that you like. They’re artists, essentially.”

Simonsen is quick to back this up. “I think it’s a very seldom thing to do,” he confirms. “It’s rare. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but today I didn’t even know my lines.”

Ellie chips in. “We rewrote out scene ten minutes before we went on,” she reveals. Dan is pragmatic about the situation.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“That’s the good thing about Jim and Bob,” he states. “They’ll let you do that, you know? They’ll invite you onto their show, and then go: Do what you want. Within reason, obviously. If it’s not funny, they’ll say you can’t do it, but as long as you make it work, they’re happy for you to do what you want. It’s a nice freedom.”

TVO is sensing that time is running short. Like Vic & Bob before them, the trio have a show to get back to, and could really do with getting a bit of a break beforehand. So, we figure there’s just enough time for a round of our brand new game: Rent/Mortgage/Evict. As we explain the rules, and the uncanny similarity to Snog/Marry/Avoid, Dan, Daniel and Ellie’s eyes light up at this most glorious of concepts.

“Wow!” Daniel exclaims as they take a moment to think about the sheer magnificence of the game at hand.

“Well,” Dan begins, cautiously. “I think I’d rent with Vic, cos he’s my brother in the show, though I don’t think we ever mention it in the second series! So, you know, he would have to forgive everything. What’s the next one?” TVO reminds him it’s Mortgage, which Ellie notes is for a serious relationship, and Dan changes his tactics.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“Can I just say then,” he asks, pointing at Daniel, “that I would rent with this one? I reckon I could manipulate him. Mortgage with Vic, and avoid probably living with Beef. Loose cannon that man. Loose cannon.”

As laughs erupt around the table, attention turns to Daniel’s thoughts on the matter. “With Rachel, of course,” he says, smiling. Ellie smiles back. “So loyal…” she whispers.

“Oh yeah,” Daniel confirms. “That’s the mortgage.”

“Hang on,” interrupts Ellie. “It might be a bit early to mortgage.” Daniel considers this for a moment.

“Yeah,” he decides. “Probably Vic.”

“Oh yeah,” Dan chips in. “You like him don’t you?”

“I like him a lot,” Daniel confirms. “Seems like he has a lot of money. He’s got his stuff together.”

“Who would you avoid, Dan?” asks Dan to Daniel, confusing our name situation a little.

He replies with rapid fire precision.

“Beef. It’s a risk.”

“You’d avoid Bob, surely,” suggests Ellie, “cos you hate him?”

Daniel turns to her, and with his deadpan style intact, looks her in the eye and says with no degree of uncertainty: “I could probably use him, though.” Queue huge laughs from Dan, Ellie and TVO, while Daniel turns back to us, still straight-faced and adds: “I’m his child, so… You can’t expect a child to pay a mortgage.”

“How old are you meant to be?” asks Ellie, the thought seemingly crossing her mind for the first time. Daniel doesn’t know, but the table agrees he’s probably about 29, before we move onto Ellie’s turn.

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

“Er…” she thinks. “I would rent with Eric.” Dan approves. “I don’t really know,” she adds. “I haven’t really established any kind of relationships, yet.”

“Well, this is going to be much harder for you, then!” Dan exclaims, laughing.

“I’d evict Bob,” Ellie considers. “Cos I hate him. And maybe mortgage with Vic.”

Dan is surprised. “Everyone wants to mortgage with Vic,” he notes, before adopting a Mockney accent. “He’s got somethink anhe?”

“It’s a kind of stability, I suppose,” Ellie opines. “I’d feel safe with Vic. He’d be like a father figure to me.”

Dan grins, and in full on Bosh-mode, sums up: “He’s a good lad, is our Vic.”

And with that, it’s time for the trio to go back to work for the evening’s record session. As both incredible talents and genuinely good people, TVO can’t help but be sad to see them go, but after a few quick words on what they’re up to next so we can keep our usual tabs on events, we’re sure that we haven’t heard the last of them yet.

House of Fools returns on Monday 16th February at 10pm on BBC2. The first series isavailable on dvd from 23rd February.

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