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29 Sep

© Rook Films

The good folk at Rook Films have released a limited screen print run of the Aaaaaaaah! movie poster.

There are only 100 copies of the five-layer print made to celebrate Steve Oram‘s directorial debut. In case you’ve missed it, the film stars Oram alongside a cavalcade of TVO regulars: Noel FieldingJulian BarrattTom MeetenWaen ShepherdTony WayAlice LoweShelley LongworthWaen ShepherdSean Reynard and John Hopkins.

Also along for the ride are the brilliant Julian Rhind-Tutt, Holli Dempsey and the legendary Toyah Willcox.

We’ve sung the film’s praises, and a lot of you have fallen in love with it already. Now thwack a bit of it on your wall for good measure, while you still can!

Ellie in Newsjack

24 Sep

Ellie White appeared on this week’s edition of Newsjack on Radio 4.

© BBC / Matt Stronge

© BBC / Matt Stronge

The former House of Fools star, fresh from her critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe, joined Nish Kumar, Keiran Hodgson and Emma Sidi on the topical comedy show on Thursday 24th September.

Produced by Matt Stronge (The IT Crowd, For the Win) and Suzy Grant (Comic Relief, Citizen Khan), the episode can be caught up on via iPlayer for the next 28 days. Get in while you can.

Hear the Herring with Aisling Bea

22 Sep
© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

Aisling Bea is one of the confirmed guests on the next run of Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast.

The long running series is now legendary in the annals of internet comedy, and features the delightful Mr Herring chatting with some of the biggest names in comedy.

Each edition is released on iTunes and via our friends at British Comedy Guide, as well as later on YouTube.

This season, Richard is joined by two guests appear on each recording, which is captured live in front of a real audience at the titular theatre.

Currently confirmed guests for the next run, which starts on 27th September, include Diane Morgan (aka Philomena Cunk), Stuart Goldsmith, Lee Mack, John Robins, Robert Popper, John Finnemore, Grayson Perry, Jack Whitehall, David Mitchell and on 22nd November, Aisling Bea.

Tickets are available now, right up until recordings in November 2016, and these sell pretty quickly once guests have been announced, so get in now while you can.

You can see recordings of previous podcasts featuring TVO regulars Steve CooganRebecca FrontLou SandersSharon Horgan and Jessica Hynes below.

Wunderful Alice: An Interview With Alice Lowe

20 Sep


A wee while ago Velveteer Mog was lucky enough to spend time with the lady we refer to as TVO’s fairy godmother, Alice Lowe. They met to talk about Alice’s various creative projects – past, present and future, and the wider world of comedy in general. Here we bring you Part 1 of the interview, which looks at Alice’s fantasy comedy radio series, Alice’s Wunderland, currently airing on Radio 4:

Alice Lowe is marvellously multifaceted, both in terms of her professional creative output and her general persona. When you first meet Alice, her friendly girl-next-door-ness immediately lulls you into thinking she’s the type of person you’d take home to meet your Mum; someone you might have gone to school with. As the conversation progresses, however, little bubbles of naughty rebelliousness start to emerge from her butter-wouldn’t-melt smile, occasionally punctured by moments of genuinely sinister oddball-ness. If you spend more than a few minutes with her, you begin to see the shadowy shapes of the darkly comic off-kilter characters and story lines that she dreams up. Alice’s Wunderland is one such project, an audio-based fantasy world, “a place in the Nether Regions, the manky Poundland of magical realms”.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

I ask Alice how she approached the leap from stage, TV and film to radio. “I was worried when I did the pilot, because I thought I was a totally visual comedian. It was always about my facial expressions and my physicality. But this made me think in a different way. I love music, so I took that as my start point.” she explains. “A lot of people who do something for radio think it needs to be about words. While words are important, I wanted this to have a poetic quality to it; I wanted it to be about rhythm and music and soundscapes and atmosphere.”

Alice taps into her live performance experience in order to help her imagine the worlds that her characters inhabit: “I can see the environment that I’m in. If I’m acting on stage I’m imagining a setting, and this is the same thing. It’s what I love about radio shows; you can transport people to strange places. You can say ‘we’re on the moon now’ and we’re on the moon. Aural comedy is visual comedy.”

For the new series, Alice considered whether she should make any major changes to the Wunderland concept. In the end she chose to evolve it slightly, rather than fundamentally shift gear. “I know this show and I knew what I wanted to do with it next.” she says. “We’ve made it a bit more narrative this time: each episode is a story in its own right, with one main character – and each episode has a different main character. It was really good fun, because each one is like a silly little adventure.”

Now in its third series, how does Alice feel about its success? “A third series! I never thoughts I’d be saying that, ” she laughs. “People find it hard to believe I have a radio series on Radio 4!”

© Jules Heath

Behind the scenes on Sightseers © Jules Heath

Although said entirely un-selfconsciously, it’s a comment that carries meaning. Alice is one of many artists that we write about at TVO who continually innovate, entertain and inspire with their talent and creativity. Like the others, she has enjoyed periodic mainstream success, but deserves much more.

I ask her why this is and what she thinks binds the group together: “I think it’s because we’re this weird inter-generation.” She explains. “There was a point when BBC3 stopped being about alternative comedy and became more about youth comedy. But none of us were quite young enough to fit into that category! We weren’t the hot young things, but we weren’t comedy establishment either.”

With BBC3 focusing on the younger end of Gen Y and Channel 4 no longer the proud home of alternative comedy, many of the group were left without a TV springboard for their output, still the primary channel for mainstream comedy success.

“We all had to find our own way instead,” Alice explains, “And the way we did that was working with each other and helping each other out [indeed, Alice’s Wunderland features fellow TVO folk Richard Glover and Rachel Stubbings]. All of those people are so creative, but you can get put in a little box on TV. It can hamper the creativity of what you do.”

TV’s loss is radio’s gain, as Alice’s Wunderland continues to weave its wonderful web of the bizarre and bonkers on our airwaves. The first episode of four, featuring the gloriously silly Lady Bowie, is available on iPlayer here (for a further 25 days). Episode 2, which features “the ghost of a child who died in the 1970s” will air on Radio 4 at 11pm on Tuesday 22nd September. So tune in (and drop out).

© Jimmy Crippen

© Jimmy Crippen

Many thanks to Alice for taking the time to chat to us about he new radio series. Look out for Part 2 of our interview, coming soon, in which she talks about Sightseers, the joy of playing baddies, and her other new projects.

A Who’s Who of when TVO Meets Doctor Who

19 Sep

This weekend sees the launch of the latest series of Doctor Who – the ninth since it’s return in 2005, and the thirty-fifth overall since 1963.

© BBC / Simon Ridgway

© BBC / Simon Ridgway

Led once more by Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, with Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald and the sublime Michelle Gomez (Psychobitches) as Missy, this series of twelve episodes will see the time traveller battle Daleks, Zygons and a whole new batch of foes across a series primarily made up of two-part stories, though series head-honcho Steven Moffat has warned that the concept of a two-part story this year is under some degree of flux.

As we’ve reported previously, this series continues the increasing and much welcome association with TVO’s regular roster, as Paul KayeRebecca Front and Reece Shearsmith join the guest cast across the run.

Like most of the world, we’ve little to no idea of exactly what parts the trio are playing, which is of course, rather fun for a change. And so, to celebrate the show’s return, we’ve decided to look back at the various points at which the realm of The Velvet Onion, and the adventures of that runaway Time Lord have crossed over. We thought about doing it in a wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey fashion, but decided good old fashioned chronology was more helpful then. So going way back, come with us now on a journey through time and space – literally.

Alex Kirk



It’s no small secret to know that a large number of TVO regulars are longterm, hardcore Doctor Who fans. The first to fly the flag, way back when was Alex Kirk – star of Mount Pleasant and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains to name but two.

In fact, two of the earliest roles on Kirk’s resume are in fan-produced video productions made during those dark days when the show was taken off the air for a long rest. BBV Productions were one of several small companies providing an outlet for fans to make their own vaguely Who related productions, mostly avoiding any legal wranglings by recasting stars of the show in new roles.

So for 1994’s The Zero Imperative, written by a young fellow called Mark Gatiss, the producers managed to secure the right to use the character of Dr Liz Shaw and brought back the late, great Caroline John to return to the role, but then cast the likes of Jon Pertwee, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred and Louise Jameson in new roles.

Alex Kirk’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role was as an Orderly, but he returned in 1996’s Unnatural Selection as Colonel Ackroyd, opposite John, Jameson, Gatiss and Geoffrey Beavers. Both films are very, VERY lo-fi, but are now available on dvd so you can make up your own minds…

Reece Shearsmith

Left: © BBV | Centre & Right: © BBC

Left: © BBV | Centre & Right: © BBC

Like his League of Gentlemen co-hort Mark Gatiss, it’s no secret that Reece Shearsmith is a huge Doctor Who fan, so when Gatiss became involved in BBV Productions in the mid 90s, so did Shearsmith. And when Gatiss wrote further adventures for Liz Shaw in 1995 and 1996, Shearsmith was cast as troubled student Andrew Powell, who found himself at the mercy of Peter Davison’s sinister Gavin Purcell before succumbing to the evil Greatorex himself.

Both The Devils of Winterboune and The Ghosts of Winterbourne are, like the two earlier films featuring Alex Kirk, available on dvd now. So to, is 1997’s Auton spin-off from BBV, in which Shearsmith played Dr Daniel Matthews. But that wasn’t the end of his association with Doctor Who.

Fast forward to 2013, and Gatiss has written the sublime docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time about the early days of the show’s production, and the failing health of its original star, William Hartnell – brilliantly portrayed by David Bradley. Reece made a cameo at the end of the film as his replacement, Patrick Troughton, and while there’s not much of a physical likeness, Shearsmith hit the ball out of the park pretty well.

So much so, that the production team haven’t forgotten him – he’s making an appearance in Series Nine opposite Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, stating: “I am absolutely thrilled to be filming Doctor Who. It has been so exciting to be part of a very singular episode – which, I can say with authority will be unlike any previous episode of Doctor Who.” We can’t wait.

Kevin Eldon

Left: © Unknown | Right: © BBC

Left: © Unknown | Right: © BBC

In 2001, with The Doctor’s return to television looking more and more uncertain, the BBC’s fledging website teams hatched upon the idea of making new episodes for internet consumption. This would eventually lead to the creation of a new, Ninth Doctor, played by Richard E Grant, and the highly underrated animation Scream of the Shalka, but first, a few baby steps had to be made.

The first of these was a five part story featuring the apparent death of The Doctor, here played by Sylvester McCoy. Ignoring the 1996 TV Movie and eveyrthing Big Finish were doing on audio, Death Comes to Time was designed as a potential grand finale to the series, and both Sophie Aldred and Nicholas Courtney returned as Ace and the Brigadier for good measure.

There was also a new companion – an android named Antimony – voiced by Kevin Eldon. Antimony was unaware of his robotic genesis, and wasn’t around for long enough to find out, either. The story was a curious experiment, also featuring the voices of Stephen Fry, Antony Stewart Head, John Sessions and Jon Culshaw, but these days, it’s mostly swept under the rug as a step too far in the wrong direction.

Matt Lucas

Left: © Big Finish | Right: © BBC

Left: © Big Finish | Right: © BBC

It’s no small secret that Matt Lucas is a big Doctor Who fan. Together with his former comedy partner David Walliams (who himself appeared in 2011’s The God Complex), he jam-packed seminal sketch show Little Britain with references to the show, including characters named after original series stars Matthew Waterhouse and Michael Craze, and of course, Tom Baker’s cheeky narration.

Which perhaps makes it odd that Lucas’ sole brush with actual, proper Doctor Who to date came back in 2001, when he guested opposite Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor in the Big Finish audio, The One Doctor. In this story, the Doctor and Mel (Bonnie Langford) are seemingly being impersonated by Christopher Biggins’ Banto Zane and Clare Buckfield’s Sally-Ann.

It’s all rather silly stuff, but intentionally so, and Lucas’ turn as the sinister alien cylinder is an absolute gem. One to hunt down if you can. And somebody get Matt into the show proper asap.

Jessica Hynes



These days she’s best known as tech-savvy PR buffoon Siobhan Sharpe in W1A, but back in 2002, Jessica Stevenson, as she was then known was one half of the writing team behind the magnificent Spaced, which had recently wrapped up its second and final series on Channel 4. The other half was another young comic actor known by Simon Pegg, and together, they guest-starred in the Eighth Doctor audio Invaders from Mars.

In this story, Jessica played Soviet Spy Glory Bee, whilst Pegg was crime boss Don Chaney, who caused her downfall. But that wasn’t the end of the pair’s association with Doctor Who. Pegg turned up in 2005 episode The Long Game (which TVO’s editor recently recorded a podcast commentary for alongside CBBC’s Chris Johnson), whilst Jess – who had begun using her married name professionally, made her first appearance in the main show itself a few years later.

2007’s Human Nature The Family of Blood two-parter saw David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor use a chameleon arc to hide himself away as a schoolteacher in the early 20th century. Hynes played the school’s matron, Joan Redfern, with whom the ‘man’ the Doctor became fell in love. Whilst the defeat of robot scarecrows and the titular Family led to the erasure of John Smith, The Doctor never forgot Joan, and before he regenerated in 2010’s The End of Time, he visited her great-granddaughter, Verity Newman, to ask if she found happiness. To his delight, Verity (again played by Hynes) confirmed she did.

Michael Smiley



It seems someone at Big Finish was a Spaced fan back in the early naughties (let’s face it – who wasn’t?), as Michael Smiley made his Doctor Who debut opposite Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor and Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa in 2003’s Creatures of Beauty.

With a planetary ecological disaster underway, creating an incurable, disfiguring, genetic disease to contend with, Nyssa and The Doctor are in deep trouble on the planet Veln. A cosmetic surgeon on the planet, Forleon, gets caught up in the Doctor’s misadventures, which is where Smiley’s brief role comes in: he plays Forleon’s security agent Seedleson.

A much bigger role was waiting eleven years later, when Smiley’s regular collaborator Ben Wheatley cast him as Morgan Blue in 2014’s Into the Dalek episode in the ninth series since the show returned to television. Blue was a Colonel in the Combined Galactic Resistance, used to battling Daleks but not quite prepared for the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his sarcasm. He also became one of a small handful of people to ever take on the Daleks and win. Nice one.

Tracy Ann Oberman



It’s June 2006, and all eyes not transfixed by the footie are on David Tennant’s still new Tenth Doctor, as he prepares to bid goodbye to Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). Their separation comes in the form of a cracking two-part story, Army of GhostsDoomsday, in which the mysterious Torchwood – operating out of Canary Wharf – open the void between dimensions, and accidentally let in an army of Cybermen, plus four Daleks for good measure.

It’s all a bit too much for Yvonne Hartman, Torchwood’s head honcho, played by Big Train and Toast of London star Tracy Ann ObermanFinding herself at the mercy of the Cybermen, she’s appalled to discover they have none, and walks to her fate certain she did her bit for Queen and country. That’s not the end for Yvonne, who later manages to help save the day in spite – or perhaps because of – her Cyber-conversion. And as you heard earlier this week, Oberman is returning to the role of Yvonne Hartman for Big Finish’s new Torchwood series, with One Rule being released this December.

Beyond Yvonne, Tracy appeared in a 2007 special edition of The Weakest Link, and her love of audio drama later led to two appearances opposite Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor as Supervisor Temperance Finch, head of Deimos Moonbase in the 23rd century. Both released in 2010, Deimos and The Resurrection of Mars saw Finch square up against the Ice Warriors. Nice.

Harry Peacock



“Hey! Who turned out the lights?”

It’s not often you get to utter a phrase in Doctor Who that becomes something of a catchphrase, but Harry Peacock of Toast of London and Star Stories fame, got to have one of his lines appear on t-shirts and lunchboxes all over the place.

You see, Peacock played “Proper Dave” in the seminal two-part story Silence in the Library Forest of the Dead in the revived series’ fourth run, opposite David Tennant as The Doctor and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. The story famously introduced Alex Kingston as River Song, and also featured Steve Pemberton, Colin Salmon and Talulah Riley.

Sadly, Proper Dave’s days were numbered, as he became one of several victims of the deadly Vashta Nerada: a microscope race of piranha like organisms who latch onto your shadow until they can devour you in a moment. Nasty stuff, but his consciousness survived when The Doctor and River Song managed to save everyone believed dead inside the computer system, to live out an eternal afterlife together.

Katherine Parkinson

Left: © Unknown| Right: © Big Finish

Left: © Unknown| Right: © Big Finish

Best known to millions around the world as Jen from The IT Crowd and soon to be wowing audiences in The Kennedys – it’s quite surprising that Katherine Parkinson has yet to show up in televised Doctor Who, especially after her blistering performance in Sherlock a couple of years ago.

However, over at Big Finish productions, Parkinson played a one-story companion to Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor in 2008’s The Death Collectors. Danika Meanwhile was an engineer who prevented the Doctor from dying in an air lock, as he battled a virulent disease that killed millions, and an ancient race of salvagers who collect and preserve the dead.

Lucy Montgomery

Left: © BBC| Right: © PBJ

Left: © BBC| Right: © PBJ

It feels like a lifetime ago, but there was a time when the world was fearful of the large hadron collider at CERN, Switzerland. To celebrate its big switch-on, BBC Radio celebrated Big Bang Day, and this included Lost Souls: a Torchwood audio play set between the second and third series of the Doctor Who spin-off.

Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) were rejoined by former TARDIS-traveller Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) for the story, as the team investigated the disappearance of scientists from the institute. Tittybangbang and Brian Pern star Lucy Montgomery was amongst the guest cast, playing the fictional head of the project, Professor Katrina Johnson.

Johnson got to help Captain Jack reverse the polarity, and save the day, though through a bit of wibbly-wobbly, Montgomery also turned up as a Flight Attendant earlier in the story for good measure.

Katy Wix



Torchwood‘s third series – the five part Children of Earth saga – was pretty harrowing, as every child across the world fell under the possession of the mysterious aliens known only as the 456, who were in fact in big cahoots with the British government.

It’s also infamous for killing off the regular character Ianto Jones (Gareth David Lloyd), who then rather oddly received his own ‘shrine’ at the real-life location for Torchwood Three’s entrance in Cardiff Bay (despite two other series regulars having already been killed off in equally brutal fashion). Said shrine is still there to this day, confusing tourists who have long since forgotten about Ianto.

Before the character was bumped off, we met his sister, Rhiannon Davies, played by Fried star Katy Wix. Rhiannon lived on a council estate with her husband Jonny and their two children, David and Mica – and when Ianto asked for her help following an attack on Torchwood, she proved her loyalty to her brother. After his death, Rhiannon was caught up in the government’s attempts to take ‘lesser’ children to appease the needs of the 456, and helped Gwen and Rhys make a frentic dash for safety, before Captain Jack could save the day at a terrible cost.

Appearing in all five episodes, this technically makes Katy the only TVO regular to also be a ‘series regular’ in a Doctor Who related production to date. And her connection with the Whoniverse was re-established earlier this year, when she joined Tom Baker and Louise Jameson in Big Finish audio play Suburban Hell.  Her character, Belinda, was hosting supper for four, only for The Doctor and Leela to arrive and wind everyone up in an alien plot to put people on the menu. Lots of fun, this one!

Alex MacQueen

© Big Finish

© Big Finish

To many, Alex MacQueen is best known for being regularly shouted at by the Doctor himself, when Peter Capaldi played Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It. His first brush with the Whoniverse, however, came in early 2010, when Big Finish were finally bringing to life a series of stories written for the classic series, but never filmed for various reasons.

MacQueen played the mysterious Gabriel in Paradise 5, welcoming the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) to the titular leisure space station and turned out to be an agent of the Elohim. Alex clearly made an impression on the team, as returned to Big Finish in 2012’s UNIT: Dominion series opposite the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), as “The Other Doctor” – who turns out to be {SPOILER ALERT} none other than The Master himself.

Since then, MacQueen’s interpretation of the role has returned in Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) audio box-sets Dark Eyes 2 (2014), Dark Eyes 3 (2014), and Dark Eyes 4 (2015). We’ve probably not heard the last from him either, and we’d love to see a team-up with Michelle Gomez… The Two Masters, anyone?

James Bachman

© Big Finish

© Big Finish

In 2010, James Bachman – TVO regular and veteran of That Mitchell and Webb LookBBC Nought and The Mighty Boosh to name but a few – very nearly became a bonafide companion.

Bachman played Hugh Bainbridge: one of four potential new companions for the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) in the Big Finish audio production, Situation Vacant. Described as “an amiable public school type who, though perhaps not the brightest tool in the box, is happy to rush where Time Lords fear to tread”, Brainbridge lost the job to Tamsin Drew, played by The Catherine Tate Show‘s Niky Wardley. Oh, to think what might have been.

Kayvan Novak

Left: © BBC| Right: © Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

Left: © BBC| Right: © Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

The SunTrap and Four Lions star is a master of disguise, with his enormous vocal talents first brought to the fore in the now legendary Phonejacker. So it’s perhaps no surprise that his debut in Doctor Who was as this list’s first – and to date only – bona-fide companion: yes, we’re talking about Handles, the decapitated Cyberman head who accompanied the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) in his TARDIS travels and long-standing war on Trenzalore in 2013’s The Time of The Doctor.

Handles stayed by the Doctor’s side for over 300 years, eventually succumbing to circuitry corrosion. Never before has an audience felt such sadness over a metal head, but fear not – he is on display at Cardiff’s Doctor Who Experience which everyone should get to see at least once, twice, and many more times for good measure.

Gemma Whelan

Left: © Christine Hayter| Right: © Big Finish

Left: © Christine Hayter| Right: © Big Finish

Best known for her role as Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, it’s fair to say that comedian and actress Gemma Whelan is a woman of many talents, including a highly flexible set of vocal chords. So much so, in fact, that her first brush with the Whoniverse came with the 2013 Seventh Doctor audio story Persuasion.

In this story, the Doctor is looking to loot a very specific secret from a Nazi base during WW2, and Whelan is called upon to voice three different characters: the servant Casta, annoyed computer Sylph, and the alien race Khlecht.

Shortly afterwards, Gemma appeared in two audio plays in the Big Finish spin-off series Counter Measures, which focuses on three supporting characters from the 1988 classic Remembrance of the Daleks. Her character, Emma Waverly, was the result of a eugenics experiment in 20th century England, attempting to create super-soldiers in case of German invasion, and appeared in the stories Manhunt and Sins of the Fathers.

Rhys Thomas

Left: © BBC| Right: © Pete Dadds

Left: © BBC| Right: © Pete Dadds

Now here’s an interesting one. He’s a veteran of The Fast Show and these days is the man behind Brian Pern and some incredible Queen documentaries, but Rhys Thomas is also a big Doctor Who fan, and made a very brief appearance in Peter Davison’s sublime 50th anniversary special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.

Or rather, he didn’t make an appearance as such, but his voice could be heard, as a rather hapless DJ proclaiming his favourite Doctor to be Peter Cushing – much to Davison’s chagrin. The whole half hour is a joyous romp through the annals of Doctor Who history, with more cameos than you can shake a big stick labelled ‘CAMEO’ at, so do check it out if you haven’t already.

Ben Wheatley

Left: © Charlie Gray| Right: © BBC

Left: © Charlie Gray| Right: © BBC

One of the most innovative directors working today, bagging Ben Wheatley for Series Eight of Doctor Who last year was a serious coup for the production team. Hot off the back of his success with A Field in England, and about to make the soon to be released High Rise, Wheatley signed up to make the opening two episodes of Peter Capaldi’s reign as the Twelfth Doctor.

The results were the extended series opener Deep Breath, and the regular length Into the Dalek, both receiving rave reviews, and demonstrating that, when the mood takes him, even Ben ‘Kill List‘ Wheatley can do family friendly drama at its best.

Tony Way



It wouldn’t quite be a Ben Wheatley production if he wasn’t killing off one of his mates, now, would it? Getting the chop for the third time following Down Terrace and Sightseers was Tony Way – best known internationally for his roles in Edge of Tomorrow and Game of Thrones, but known to UK comedy lovers for his appearances in Mongrels, Tittybangbang, Muder in Successville, Spaced, The Fast Show, Black Books, House of Fools… I could go on?

It’s a short and sweet cameo from Tony in Series Eight’s opener Deep Breath, who plays hapless and sceptical Victorian gentleman Alf, who just can’t quite believe that the T.Rex in the Thames is actually real. And he has such good eyes…

Paul Kaye & Rebecca Front

Left: © Fenris Oswin| Right: © Charlie Forgham-Bailey

Left: © Fenris Oswin| Right: © Charlie Forgham-Bailey

Finally for the time being, are a couple of temporary mysteries to whet your appetite. Alongside Reece Shearsmith, both Paul Kaye and Rebecca Front are due to make guest appearances in Series Nine this year. All we currently know for certain is that Kaye appears in Episodes 3 & 4, as a Tivolian called Prentis.

Tivolians were first introduced in 2011’s The God Complex, and as this month’s Doctor Who Magazine puts it: “amusingly revel in being opressed.” The story – Under the Lake Before the Flood is written by Being Human creator Toby Whithouse, and all he’s saying about Kaye’s part at present is that he’s done “a great job” with it. Doesn’t he always? Meanwhile, if IMDB is to be believed, Front will be playing Lady Yates in The Zygon Invasion, one of two episodes dealing with the aftermath of the Zygon/Human peace treaty established in The Day of the Doctor.

Under the Lake / Before the Flood air October 3rd and 10th respectively, and we’ll bring you more news about them, plus the episodes featuring Front and Shearsmith in due course. Until then, here’s the trailer for Series Nine, and we hope you enjoy the ride!

Doctor Who returns Saturday 19th September on BBC One, BBC America and across the world.

Lambo gets High & Dry for Comedy Blaps

18 Sep

The latest batch of Channel 4’s Comedy Blaps are now online, and one of them, High & Dry has a couple of solid TVO connections.

© Dave Lambert / Channel 4

© Dave Lambert / Channel 4

Written by and starring Marc Wootton (La La Land, Drunk History), the short focuses on the survivors of a plane crash on a tropical island as they fight for survival.

Also along for the ride are Jessie Cave (Harry Potter), Asim Chaudry (Hoff the Record), Deborah Findlay (Torchwood) and Harry Peacock – and the whole thing is directed by none other than Dave Lambert (Undercover, The Mighty Boosh).

We don’t want to spoilt too much, so we urge you to go see it, and other new shorts over yonder now.

Excuse Me, You’re Sitting on my Penis Again… in Soho!

17 Sep

Following a smash hit run at the Edinburgh Fringe, stand up genius Lou Sanders is bringing her 2015 show Excuse Me, You’re Sitting on my Penis Again back to London for a celebratory run next month.

© Lou Sanders

© Lou Sanders

The venue is one of our all time favourites: The Soho Theatre and it’s intimate Soho Upstairs space, and there are just four performances between Wednesday 7th October and Saturday 10th October to savour.

And if you’re not sure why you should: well, as Lou explains, “we’ve all had our penises sat on and this lady gonna talk about it”.

To be more exact, the show is about a grown woman trying to get into Eton College for boys, but she had to hook you in, and penises are just the ticket – so go enjoy her full colour hour of entertainment while you can. Tickets are on sale now over yonder.

And if you can’t make it for any reason, console yourselves with a downloadable copy of her previous show, Lou Sanders in Another Great Show Again, which is available from Go Faster Stripe for only £5. Or, you know, buy both. That’d make people happy. Including you, we wager. Get on it.

First Look at The Kennedys

16 Sep
© BBC / Adam Lawrence

© BBC / Adam Lawrence

Forthcoming BBC One sitcom The Kennedys is almost upon us, and while we wait for a confirmed transmission date, we’ve got this bevvy of promotional images to share with you.

As we reported back in March, the six-part series is set in the 1970s, and is based on the memoirs of actress, writer and TV presenter Emma Kennedy.

Her parents Brenda and Tony are played by Katherine Parkinson and Dan Skinner respectively, while family friend Tim (a typical 70s alpha male) is played by Harry Peacock.

Emma herself, aged 10, will be played by Lucy Hutchinson (Inside No. 9), and the cast is rounded out by Emma Pierson (Suntrap), Clive Rowe (Doctor Who) and Shola Adewusi (Catastrophe) as neighbours David and Dee.

In the first episode, Brenda is determined to be the first person on Jessop Square to throw a dinner party. Giddy with possibilities, she invites best friends Tim and Jenny and new neighbours the Palmers for an evening no-one will ever forget. Having never cooked anything other than an egg, Brenda quickly shifts all responsibility for the dinner party and cooking the lasagne on to Tony.

Meanwhile, Emma is put out when arch-rival Julie gains control of the play fort – which nobody is allowed in to unless they know her secret whisper. Emma realizes that in order to wrestle control from her nemesis, she needs to create a secret whisper to end all secret whispers.

It’s all sounding very delightful, and we can’t wait to see the results. We’ll aim to bring you a more in-depth preview in the coming week, so stay peeled. In the meantime, there’s a gallery of images to savour below.

Wunderland Returns

16 Sep

We’re late. We’re late. For a very important date. No time to say Jasaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, we’re late, we’re late, we’re late!

© Lewes Herriot

Yes, it’s not often we’re behind the times, but somehow, a bubble in the Onionverse caused a rift in the comedy continuum yesterday, and everyone involved with the long awaited Series Three of Alice’s Wunderland forgot to tell you it was back on the air at 11pm last night!

In fairness, both Alice and TVO managed to sneak in a ten minute warning on Twitter, so well done to any late night Tweeters who caught it and tuned in.

For the uninitiated, the radio series, which began life as a 2011 pilot before full series runs in 2012 and 2013, features Alice Lowe as a variety of characters who comprise the main inhabitants of Wunderland: the ‘Poundland of magical realms’.

Also along for the ride are series regulars Richard GloverRachel StubbingsClare Thomson, Simon Greenhall (I’m Alan Partridge) and Marcia Warren. The results are as magical as ever, as Lady Bowie goes on an adventure to a ‘tights spot’ and the narrator meets some other weirdos.

Please adjust your pants accordingly, and listen without orifice via iPlayer now. Three further episodes will air over the next few Wednesdays at 11pm only on Radio 4.

Shooting the Breeze is Back!

15 Sep

This week sees the long-awaited return of Rachel Stubbings fronted film night Shooting the Breeze after a lengthy Summer sabbatical, and there’s some exciting details for TVO readers to savour.

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

First up, the event will feature an early preview of a new short film called One Tw*t written by Stubbings, directed by Ben Mallaby, and starring Stubbings, Mike Wozniak and Tom Meeten. A romantic comedy with a twist, we’ve got a couple of exclusive behind the scenes stills for you across this post.

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

The night will also feature the first screening of Mosquito starring Stubbings alongside Alice Lowe, Richard Herring and Michael Spicer, as well as contributions from Steve OramAlex MacQueen, Diane Morgan, Brett Goldstein, Alistair Green, The Blaine Brothers, Andrew Laurich, Gabriel Miller. MP Cunningham and even more – all packed into one stuffed hour of awesome film.

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

© Rachel Stubbings / Ben Mallaby

As ever, Shooting the Breeze takes place at Shortwave Cinema in Bermondsey Square, and tickets for the show this Thursday, 17th September are just £7 over yonder.

Cardinal Burns Presents

15 Sep

Cardinal Burns are to host their own monthly club night starting early next month.

© Channel 4 / Jules Heath

© Channel 4 / Jules Heath

The duo, Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns, toured the UK last year following the second series of their Channel 4 sketch show, and have now teamed up with Knock2Bag to curate the evening, offering up the best up-and-coming and interesting comedians, with a few little treats thrown in.

Grilled about their plans, Seb revealed: “It’s going to be an impulsive night of new characters and new material from us with plenty of surprises and some top guests too.”

And they’re true to their word, too, with the opening night line-up including Ellie White of House of Fools fame, and People Time collaborators Jamie Demetrio and Natasia Demetriou too. Oh, and a very special headliner to be announced.

It all takes place, rather fittingly, in Hackney (get your minicabs ordered now), at MOTH Club, which Dustin described as “the perfect setting for the new night.”

Tickets are just £8 in advance, and are available now via Follow up nights will take place on Thursday 12th November and Thursday 10th December. We’ll bring you more news on those as we get it, so stay peeled.

Lowe & Stubbings In New Short

10 Sep

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 22.10.25Two TVO faces, in the shape of Alice Lowe and Rachel Stubbings, feature in a new short film called Mosquito.

The narrative tells the bizarre story of a man whose life is transformed as a result of a mosquito bite. Experimental in tone and content, the film includes some nicely nuanced, deeply dark comedy performances.

The short was directed by BAFTA-nominated Ben Mallaby and written by Writer Michael Spicer, who also acts in the film. The collaboration came about after Ben saw Michael in Rec.601, a sketch with Rachel which we covered on The Velvet Onion a while back.

Michael spoke to us about working with the two comedians: “Working with Alice was surreal but brilliant. Surreal because I’ve seen and heard just about everything she’s been in, and brilliant because her performance was effortless and pitch-perfect. Rachel, as usual, was extremely good and great fun to be around; she gave the whole crew a lift – something that all crews need once in a while. She’s destined for greatness, that one.”

Ben and Michael’s ultimate goal is to develop Mosquito into a feature length film. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer below. The 10-minute short will be screened in full at comedy film night Shooting the Breeze (hosted by Rachel) at Shortwave Cinema on 17th September; tickets and information here.

You can see more of Ben Mallaby’s work here, and more of Michael Spicer’s work there. Enjoy!


Onion Talking: Steve Oram Opens Wide & Says AAAAAAAAH!

8 Sep

unnamedIf you’re a regular reader of The Velvet Onion you’ll know that we’ve been getting pretty excited about Steve Oram‘s unique simian comedy horror AAAAAAAAH! for a while now. Thought-provoking, hilarious and frequently downright disgusting, AAAAAAAAH! enjoyed a triumphant World Premier at Frightfest last month and is being screened at a number of festivals over the coming weeks. Trust us when we say that you really need to see it.

Earlier this week Steve kindly found the time to chat to us about the film:

AAAAAAAAH! portrays a world in which humans behave like apes – but how accurate are those ape-like behaviours? Were you down at the zoo, taking notes, Steve?

The idea of them behaving like apes isn’t strictly what I was intending – they’re actually more like cavemen. I was creating a world where language, in particular, isn’t so advanced in evolutionary terms. So they don’t have all of the things that language gives us, and those subtleties are played out in different ways.

I think AAAAAAAAH! a very open thing that exists in its own world, but we decided to describe it as “behaving like apes” because it’s a concise and easy way of describing it. It’s for everyone to interpret how they wish.

We see some pretty out there behaviours on screen. If your intention wasn’t to directly mimic the ape world, how did you come up with them?

There’s a strong internal logic to it – they’re all slightly-skewed social rituals. For example, the fact that they use their hands to eat [instead of cutlery] is about etiquette; that’s just what they do in their world, it’s a custom. And when Toyah and Lucy [the mother and daughter of the family] poo on the floor, that’s just something that mothers and daughters do; it’s social ritual bonding thing that they do when they’re cooking.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 22.20.27

With AAAAAAAAH!, are you trying to say something significant about modern society, or is the construct simply an idea that you liked?

It’s just something I found funny; I didn’t set out to make something that was a satire or a commentary. I just really enjoyed creating an intricate world, and creating the interactions and the characters – making them do silly, extreme things.

10291146_10152555044887673_1890467153980958974_nYou’ve worked with many of the cast members multiple times before, but how did you decide on which new faces to bring on board, like Toyah and Julian Rhind-Tutt? 

With Toyah, I loved her work in Jubilee and Quadraphenia – I’ve been a massive fan of hers for years. I was trying to cast a lady in her 50s who wouldn’t mind having to do embarrassing sex scenes and have blancmange thrown at her face. There’s not that many of them! I didn’t know her before, but I sent her the script and she loved it.

I was working with Julian on a TV film called Wipers Times over in Northern Ireland, coincidentally while I was writing AAAAAAAAH! on my days off.

I started thinking about him for the film, and he was one of the first people I attached to the script. He was keen to play against type – as a horrible washing machine repair man!

The dynamic between you and Tom, who plays your beta male, is pretty special. Do you think anyone else could have played that role apart from Tom?

Absolutely not, and not just because of his balls – although that is always a consideration [Tom’s familiar testicles have a supporting role in the film]. I was so pleased to work with Tom on this, and it was so much fun doing it with him. There’s a shorthand for the things we do and have done for years; when we started the film it made me feel really confident and happy that he was in it and that we were doing something together.

10418463_10152143892116526_4047534245763507909_nThere’s no actual speaking in the film, but you wrote a script for the actors to follow. How did that work?

The script was all written out in English. The scenes had English dialogue in them for the actors, so that they got a sense of what each scene was about and what they were trying to do and say. On the day we read it through with the dialogue, and then we ‘went ape’. We threw the scripts away and instead of speaking everyone went “Ughhhhh”. No one will ever know what that script contained because it is full of filth!

Did your experience on Sightseers influence how you approached AAAAAAAAH!?

In terms of writing, I got better at it with this film; I did it very quickly and spontaneously. We had a long drawn-out development period with Sightseers, and this was a chance for me to do something very quickly and to do it myself.

I learned a lot from Ben Wheatley about being quick. With Sightseers we moved about a lot, so we had to do the scenes very quickly. That really influenced me, and I started making more short films after that which incorporated a fastness of movement. If you’re not standing around repeating everything fifty-million times, but you’re shooting scenes in one or two takes, it gives the film energy.

10479132_10152143890811526_7908757513103856445_nWhat do you prefer doing: directing, writing, acting, stand-up?

I love them all! At its heart it all stems from writing – that’s probably the single thing that links it all together. As an actor you need to understand writing and interpret scripts…they all feed into the same thing.

So what’s next for Steve Oram?

I’m writing the next one, which we’ll hopefully film next year. It’s another weird, dystopian comedy sci-fi…believe it or not!

I’m really driven by people saying “You can’t do that, it’s too strange”. I just go “Of course you can,” and do it. Film is just a collection of sound and images – you can do whatever you want. It’s sad that we’re so paralysed and narrow in the way we make films, and art generally. If someone says you can’t do it, just do it.

Here here. A big thank you to Steve for taking the time to talk to us about AAAAAAAAH!

You can catch the film at various festivals and screenings over the coming weeks – including dates in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Los Angeles, Belfast, Dorset, Leeds and Nottingham. They’ve even had a Paris screening this week! To find out where and when you can see it and for further updates, check out Lincoln Studios website. 

AAAAAAAAH! will also be available on VOD via Icon Film Distribution and FrightFest from 19th October. 

More About Dangermouse

7 Sep
© Freemantle Media / CBBC

© Freemantle Media / CBBC

We’ve mentioned the new series of Dangermouse a few times before, given that it features a TVO-connected artist as one of the main characters: the very wonderful Kevin Eldon will be starring as the voice of Penfold. Today, however, we discovered that two more of the people we get excited about will be in the Dangermouse reboot!

Richard Ayoade will be voicing the part of The Snowman, who we understand is a secondary character (possibly featuring in the Christmas episode, which also includes Brian Blessed as Santa). And Kayvan Novak will be bringing to life a host of different characters throughout the series.

A new interview with Kevin Eldon has recently been released, in which he talks about taking on the role of Penfold. Of his approach to voicing the nervous rodent, Kevin said: “When I was auditioning for it, the brief was, ‘you needn’t go along the lines of Terry Scott who played the original Penfold’. I tried a few voices at home and the neighbours think I’m insane. But I just kept on going back to what Terry Scott did, and nothing in the lower register works because he’s a little guy and he’s nervous. I thought that Terry Scott had it right. I guess – if anything –because Terry put a bit of a poshness into Penfold’s voice. But yes, it’s up in the upper register and I have to have plenty of honey before I do the job and after.” To read the interview win full click here.

There’s also a new trailer for the show – as you can see below:

Dangermouse launches on CBBC later this month, although an exact date hasn’t yet been confirmed.

Exclusive: The Ghoul Teaser Trailer

4 Sep

The Velvet Onion is proud to bring you the first official glimpse of The Ghoul in this tantalising teaser.

The Ghoul is written and directed by Gareth Tunley and stars a whole bevvy of his regular collaborators. Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Rufus Jones, Paul Kaye, Dan Skinner, Waen Shepherd and Sean Reynard join Naimh Cusack (Heartbeat, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time), James Eyres and veteran comedy legend Geoffrey McGivern in the film. Shepherd has also provided the movie’s score.

The film marks the directorial feature debut of Tunley, who has previously directed shorts (such as TVO favourite The Baron) and the groundbreaking making of web-portal for A Field in England.

And whilst the cast is primarily made up of Tunley’s comedy friends and collaborators, The Ghoul is a psychological thriller that follows Tom Meeten’s detective as he goes undercover as a psychotherapy patient in an attempt to solve a murder case. As he delves further, he begins to lose his grip on reality, eventually questioning whether the entire investigation may just be a fabrication of his mind.

Described as a dreamlike narrative by the director, the film fuses the visual trappings of suburban film noir with the narrative rug pulls of science fiction, and was shot in sixteen days earlier this year. With finishing touches to the film almost complete, we’ll be bringing you more news on The Ghoul very soon.

Yara Returns

2 Sep
© Home Box Office Inc.

© Home Box Office Inc.

Gemma Whelan will be returning to Game of Thrones next year, according to fansite Winter Is Coming.

The comedian and actress, most recently seen on our screens in Murder in Successville, plays Yara Greyjoy – fierce warrior and loyal sister to the tormented Theon (Alfie Allen). First introduced in the show’s second season, Yara commands the Greyjoy fleet and was last seen – MILD SPOILER ALERT – trying, and failing, to rescue her brother.

It has long been mooted that Whelan’s time on the show was not over, with her agents page suggesting she would appear in the fifth season earlier this year, to no avail. However, the rumoured casting of several new members of the Greyjoy family has led to widespread speculation that Yara would return in the sixth season in 2016.

Yesterday, Winter Is Coming, the web’s biggest GoT fansite (they’re just like us, except they talk about Westeros more often), confirmed that the production team filmed a scene in Ballingtoy Harbour, which stands in for the Iron Islands, and Whelan was present.

Further rumours around the show’s mysterious sixth season, the first to be mostly featuring material from currently unpublished books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, suggest that a character yet to be introduced from the novels, Lady Stoneheart, will also be making an appearance next season. Given that, in the books, this character is accompanied by Thoros of Myr, who was played by Paul Kaye in the third season, we’re hoping he’ll be spotted in Northern Ireland too, once his current stint at the National Theatre is complete.

As always, as we hear more, we’ll let you know. Game of Thrones returns in the Spring.

Sky Gets Physical

1 Sep

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

© King Bert Productions

© King Bert Productions

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

© Chris Lobina for Sky Arts

© Chris Lobina for Sky Arts

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

© Andrea Southam for Sky Arts

© Andrea Southam for Sky Arts

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

© Justin Downing For Sky Arts

© Justin Downing For Sky Arts

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

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

The Ape Man Cometh: AAAAAAAAH! Review

28 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fried Wix

25 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Comedian’s Guide To Survival

24 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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