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…
TVO TAKES OVER TELLY ON WEDNESDAY!
As ever, there’s lots to enjoy on TV this week, and if you’re a keen viewer of everything we point you towards, you’ll be very thankful for DVRs and catch-up services this Wednesday, as a bevy of shows vie for your attention across the evening.
MURDER IN SUCCESSVILLE
Wednesday, 10pm, BBC THREE
© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton
The long awaited improv reality game show cop sitcom drama hybrid madness that is Murder in Successville begins this Wednesday on BBC Three.
The six part series stars Tom Davis as hardened detective DI Sleet, forced to solve crimes in the run-down ghetto of Successville with the help of a celebrity guest partner every week, beginning with Made in Chelsea‘s Jamie Laing.
Successville’s inhabitants are loose impersonations of British stars in unusual new occupations: which allows Gordon Ramsay to be the chief of police; Mary Berry to run the local strip joint; the One Direction lads to head up a violent gang; and the Carr Brothers (Jimmy and Alan) to be masterminds of dodgy dealings and hammer blows when folk don’t pay up.
It’s all delightfully silly nonsense, with Davis in particular revelling in making his temporary partners crack up. With the likes of Colin Hoult, Tony Way, Cariad Lloyd, Harry Peacock, Gemma Whelan, Frances Barber, Jason Lewis, Luke Kempner, Liam Hourican and friend of TVO, Nico Tatarowicz on board as the showbiz inhabitants of Successville, and Waen Shepherd on scoring duties (getting the 80s cop vibe just right), Murder in Successville is also a brilliant opportunity to see familiar faces acting the fool on telly, and letting their imaginations run wild.
Part Star Stories style showbiz sitcom, part Cludeo game show, the off-beat format may take some getting used to, but there’s lots of fun to be had, making this a must-see show. Catch it on Wednesday evening at 10pm on BBC Three, or on iPlayer shortly after transmission.
Wednesday, 10:30pm, CHANNEL FOUR
© Channel 4
A new show written by Guy Jenkin is always cause for celebration – over time, his pen has graced Not the Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image, Who Dares Wins and even Life on Mars, and he co-created and co-wrote Drop the Dead Donkey and Outnumbered. Jenkin also recently wrote Channel 4’s election based sitcom Ballot Monkeys, and already he’s back with another show about RAF drone pilots.
Rufus Jones is part of the ensemble cast as Peter: a pilot who is almost back to normal after returning from Afghanistan alongside James (W1A star Hugh Skinner) and Lexi (Lauren O’Neil, Being Human, Phone Shop). With a mission to complete, Peter is unconvinced that their Wing Commander is up to the job.
Also starring Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Vincent Franklin, Fiona Button and the ever brilliant Sacha Dhawan, the black comedy can be close to the bone at times, and potentially farcical at others, but whilst the first episode perhaps could have been stronger, in the hands of this talented ensemble cast the results are still highly enjoyable and well worth sticking with for the rest of the run. You can catch the show this Wednesday on Channel 4 at 10:30pm, or on 4oD shortly after transmission.
CHARLIE BROOKER’S ELECTION WIPE
Wednesday, 9pm, BBC TWO
© BBC / Endemol / Kieron McCarron
Screenwriter, author, columnist, presenter and Professional Grumpy Charlie Brooker is one of those incredible talents firmly, as the Moon would put it, in our peripheral vision. His TVO connections are solid – co-writing the sublime Nathan Barley with Chris Morris, creating and writing the equally fantastic Dead Set (starring Kevin Eldon), and casting several TVO regulars in his recent forays into television fiction – Sky’s nonsensical stroke of genius, A Touch of Cloth, and the truly inspired Black Mirror.
Yet, given his main foray is in solo shows, we’ve never really given him the attention he deserves – after all, if you’re not already watching his shows, it’s safe to assume you’re probably doing something wrong. His latest series of Weekly Wipe earlier this year, however, featured TVO regular Morgana Robinson alongside long-standing regulars Barry Shitpeas (aka It’s Kevin director Al Campbell) and Philomena Cunk (the sublime Diane Morgan).
The team return this week for a one-off, hour-long election special – ripping into not only the politicians on the campaign trail, but the increasingly fevered way the election has been covered across the media. No previews were available as we went to press (most obviously because the show is still being made), but we’re expecting Morgana’s brilliant Russell Brand impression to make a return appearance, and hoping that Philomena Cunk gets to ask: “What is politicians?” in her inimitable way. Catch the show at 9pm on BBC Two this Wednesday, or via iPlayer shortly after transmission.
Wednesday, 9:30pm, BBC ONE
© BBC / Goodnight Vienna Productions
Last week saw the terrestrial launch of Peter Kay’s new sitcom, Car Share, following its successful mini-première on iPlayer recently. A surprisingly charming, if mostly uneventful comedy set almost entirely within the confines of a small car, the show co-stars Kay’s long-term collaborator Sian Gibson – who you may also remember from two appearances in The League of Gentlemen as Al’s girlfriend Trish. We’ve had Bright Eyes stuck in our heads ever since we realised that one…
Anyhew, the reason we bring this up is that this week’s edition features a guest appearance from none other than Reece Shearsmith – who plays demented fishmonger Ray, cadging a lift to work from car-sharing friends John and Kayleigh, the latter of whom had too many cheeky Vimtos last night, and really should have phoned in sick even before the smell of fish made her feel worse.
If you fancy seeing Reece’s star-turn (and really, any chance to watch this masterful actor work has to be a good thing), you can catch Car Share at 9:30pm on BBC One, or on iPlayer shortly after transmission.
THE DELIVERY MAN
Wednesday, 9:30pm, ITV
© Monicker Pictures
ITV’s maternity ward sitcom, The Delivery Man continues apace on Wednesday evening, though with a critical mauling of its early episodes, it may be time for fans of the show to savour it while they can.
This week, an incognity reality TV star arrives on the ward and asks Matthew (Darren Boyd) to help hide her pregnancy from the public. But when Facebook updates get the word out to the press, the staff need to come up with a way to trick the paparazzi.
Whilst it’s fair to say that this comedy from two of the writers of Green Wing doesn’t quite live up to potential, there’s still lots of fun to be had from watching the talented ensemble – including Aisling Bea, Alex MacQueen and Fay Ripley – handle the material with their usual gusto. It may not be for everyone, but if you give it a chance, The Delivery Man may just find a place in your heart. Make your own minds up at 9:30pm on ITV, or catch up via ITV Player shortly after transmission.
W1A GETS ‘BETTER’
Thursday, 10pm, BBC TWO
© BBC / Jack Barnes
Series Two of W1A continues on Thursday evening, as John Morton’s BBC-based mockumentary continues to gain fans left, right and centre. A huge part of that, it seems, is down to Jessica Hynes dynamite precision as PR guru Siobhan Sharpe: truly, a master of sprouting so many technobabbling media-savvy buzzwords that no-one really notices she has no idea what she’s doing.
But then, that’s the BBC in a nutshell, according to W1A, as this week Anna Rampton (the incomparable Sarah Parish) is made Head of Better, and David (TVO regular and irrepressible talent Rufus Jones) continues his own rise through the organisation. Poor old Ian (charming Hugh Bonneville) is feeling awfully sidelined, as the Head of Values is forced to bring out his own creative vision.
You’d be mad to miss this one, and thankfully, it’s not on on Wednesday to confuse matters further! Catch the latest episode on Thursday at 10pm on BBC Two, or via iPlayer shortly after transmission.
A LONG NIGHT FOR CHANNEL 4
Thursday from 8:25pm, CHANNEL FOUR and MORE4
© Channel 4
It can’t have escaped your attention that the general election takes place this Thursday, and Channel 4 is offering a full blown nine hours of live comedy and comment in their Alternative Election Night, recruiting a cavalcade of stars to make a long game of counting a lot more entertaining.
Led by David Mitchell (Peep Show) and former Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman, the team will also include the likes of Richard Osman, Romesh Ranganathan, Cathy Newman and TVO’s very own Aisling Bea.
This includes special election themed editions of The Last Leg and Gogglebox and appearances from Kayvan Novak, Sara Pascoe and Henning Wehn. If this doesn’t rock your boat there’s also a live broadcast of star-studded play The Vote from Donmar Warehouse over on More4 from 8:25pm, featuring Nick Burns, Mark Gatiss, Catherine Tate, Dame Judi Dench, Nina Sosanya, Kadiff Kirwan and many more.
PANEL-SHOW POP-UPS FROM DAVIS & LAW
© Channel 4
Monday night’s edition of Channel 4’s panel show, Virtually Famous features an appearance from Tom Davis.
The show celebrates the latest viral sensations on the internet, and is hosted by former Glee star Kevin McHale, with Seann Walsh and Chris Stark as regular team captains. Tom, riding the wave of publicity for Murder in Successville pops up alongside fellow comedians Rob Beckett and Sarah Callaghan, and TV ‘personality’ Rylan Clark.
You can catch this edition on Monday evening at 10pm, or via 4oD shortly after transmission.
© September Films / GME / ITV
Tom isn’t the only TVO regular to crop up on a panel show this week, as Tony Law makes a guest appearance on ITV’s Celebrity Squares revival on Sunday evening.
Presented by Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short, The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains), and featuring regular panelists Tim Vine (Not Going Out) and Joe Wilkinson (8 Out of 10 Cats), this new incarnation of the hardy perennial is drawing guests not only from the world of mainstream telly and pop charts, but also the realms of alternative comedy. The first couple of episodes have featured the likes of Anna Crilly, Katy Wix, Jessica Hynes, Doon Mackichan, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, and this week gives Tony Law the rare opportunity to appear on Sunday night, prime-time ITV, which in itself is a delightful notion.
Joining Tony are Jonathan Ross, Laura Whitmore, Gabby Logan, Nina Conti, Shappi Khorsandi and Union J. With any luck, the contestants will have no idea what to expect from a man who seemingly prides himself on never giving a completely straight answer, so no doubt Warwick has his work cut out as the ToneZone clashes with reality. We can’t wait to see the results.
ON STAGE THIS WEEK
© Lauren Taylor
There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on the London stage. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week.
06/05/15 – Richard Sandling‘s Perfect Movie Podcast Recording with Deborah Frances White – Betsey Trotswood, 8pm, £3.50-£5
07/05/15 – Lou Sanders with Ahir Shah, Joshua Ross, Rob Carter, Orry Gibbens, Matthew Kelly & Robin Hill – The Pipeline, Middlesex, 8pm, £8-10
07/05/15 – Joey Page with James Dowdeswell, Paul F Taylor, Dan Hoy, Junior Campbell & Sion James – The Bread and Roses, Clapham, 8:30pm, £7-£9
Also this week, friends of TVO Johnny and the Baptists bring their UK tour to a close at the Soho Theatre on Wednesday and Thursday evening. Join them if you can!
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!