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Monk-day Approacheth!

12 May

This week sees the broadcast of the new pilot episode for revamped project, Monks, featuring TVO regulars Fergus Craig and Justin Edwards.

© Anna Brabbins / BBC

© Anna Brabbins / BBC

As we’ve mentioned previously, the project has been on-and-off for 14 years, no less – first appearing on radio as Hey Hey We’re The Monks - a one off episode of BBC Radio 2’s Comedy Showcase.  Co-written by Danny Robbins (We Are History) and Dan Tetsell (Mongrels, Lab Rats), this pilot starred none other than future megastars Bill Bailey and Catherine Tate, yet it has never been repeated… lost into the ether (and the BBC Archives, we hope!).

Eight years later, and a non-broadcast tv pilot version featured James Corden, David Bamber, Geoffrey Whitehead and the addition of TVO regulars Fergus Craig (Colin and Fergus, Star Stories) and Justin Edwards (The Thick of It, Lifespam).  Sadly, the show was not commissioned, and that, it seemed, was that.

Until January of this year, that is, when a new attempt at the format was filmed at Elstree.  Standup and Mock The Week regular Seann Walsh is the new leading man, starring as benefits cheat Gary Woodcroft, who joins a religious order to avoid a jail term, only to find his choice of Rudley Abbey is just like prison, but with added praying.

Also along for the ride are Spaced veteran Mark Heap, The Vicar Of Dibley‘s James Fleet, former Have I Got News For You host Angus Deayton and, once more, Mssrs Craig and Edwards.   It’s all gloriously silly fun in the traditional sitcom mould, so any fans of Graham Linehan’s output or more mainstream fair like Miranda and Not Going Out should definitely check it out.  You can see a preview clip below:

The new pilot – For Whom The Bell Tolls – again written by Robbins, airs as the final edition of Comedy Playhouse this Tuesday evening at 10:40pm (11:10pm in Northern Ireland), and will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.  For a smattering of promotional images, look no further. Amen.

 

Weekly Video Round Up

3 May

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

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

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

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

Happy viewing!

Preview Peeling: Cardinal Burns Series 2

29 Apr
© Channel 4

© Channel 4

This week sees the long-awaited return of Cardinal Burns to our TV screens, with Episode 1 airing at 10:30pm.

The madcap sketch show starring Seb Cardinal and Dustin Debri-Burns is, once again, co-written by a large number of comedic talents, including TVO regulars Rufus Jones and Fergus Craig.

But with the show moving to Channel 4 – has it developed stronger legs to survive another run? TVO’s editor in chief, Paul Holmes, sat down with the first two episodes to find out…

Sketch shows are strange beasts. Since the early days of The Goons, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Goodies, right through The Two Ronnies, Not The Nine O’Clock News, The Real McCoy, The Fast Show, Goodness Gracious Me and Little Britain, they’ve been the source of some of the most memorable characters and classic lines in the history of British comedy.

Yet they’re also, by nature, incredibly haphazard and difficult to summarise. We all remember the Dead Parrot or Computer Says No, but we often forget the dregs that fill the gaps in-between the classics: Ed Winchester, anyone?

Such selective memories are often called into play when judging new attempts at the format in an increasingly negative manner – a fate which befell the likes of Beehive and tittybangbang in the last decade.  Cardinal Burns, returning for a second run, has polarised opinion as all sketch shows seem to do, and with the show being upgraded from E4 to parent channel Channel 4, the pressure for a smash hit, it seems, is on.

© Channel 4 / Jules Heath

© Channel 4 / Jules Heath

The pedigree is certainly there.  Hot new talents Seb Cardinal and Dustin Debri-Burns honed their skills at the Edinburgh Fringe and countless live dates on the London comedy circuit, and whilst the first series offered Aisling Bea and Bridget Christie in its supporting ensemble, this year sees Catherine Shepherd (The IT Crowd), Simon Greenall (Alan Partridge) and series co-writer Rufus Jones joining the dynamic duo. Continue reading

Monks On One?

6 Jan

© BBC Comedy

News of a mainstream television pilot from some of TVO’s finest have emerged via our good friends at The British Comedy Guide.

The pilot, tentatively titled Monks, appears to be an adaptation of one-off Radio 2 Comedy Showcase special Hey Hey We’re The Monks from way back in 2000, which was written by Dan Tetsell (Mongrels, Lab Rats) and Danny Robbins (We Are History), starring Bill Bailey and Catherine Tate.

All these years later, the format – and seemingly some of its characters – will be revived for what has been described as “a brilliantly big, funny and warm-hearted new studio comedy for BBC One centred on a group of monks”.

It features Mock The Week regular and stand-up comic extraordinare Seann Walsh as benefits cheat Gary Woodcroft, who joins a religious order to avoid jail.  Except Rudley Abbey, where he ends up, is just like prison, but with added praying.

Long in gestation, the idea clearly has legs – having previously been piloted back in 2008 for a non-broadcast attempt featuring James Corden in the lead role, alongside David Bamber, Geoffrey Whitehead and TVO’s very own Justin Edwards (The Thick Of It, Lifespam) and Fergus Craig (Colin and Fergus, The Government Inspector).

Edwards is along for the ride this time around too, alongside Spaced and Big Train veteran Mark Heap and Vicar Of Dibley star James Fleet.  The pilot will be filmed at BBC Elstree Studios on Friday, January 31st – and tickets are available now via BBC Shows.

We’ll aim to bring you more news on this third attempt for Monks as soon as we hear it, so stay peeled.

TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part One

1 Jan

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

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

JANUARY

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Storytelling In Camden

3 Nov

© Fergus Craig

For those of you who are able to physically divide yourself in two, there’s another comedy option for Monday night which also features two TVO acts!

The Clump! storytelling night takes place at the Colonel Fawcett pub in Camden and features two of our regulars, Katy Wix and Fergus Craig. Also on the bill are Liam Williams, Lee Kern, Tom Bell, Will Andrews – and more (apparently)!

Tickets cost £4 and should be available on the door.

Now the only dilemma is whether it’s going to be a Monday night in Camden or Shepherds Bush (see below)?…

 

The Actors School

10 Jul

Here’s a fascinating insight into the world of acting from Fergus Craig and Aisling Bea.

Fergus, whose previous viral vids have always been a hoot, portrays a savage old actor turned mentor, as he guides Aisling through the correct way to play scenes from Friends.  A hoot!

Fergus Craig’s Guide To London

28 Jun

We know a great many of our readers come from all over the world.  There’s lots of you lovely lot in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe, South America (we’re pretty big in Mexico, it seems) and Japan to name but a few.

And as such, lots of you out there may have never made it onto our shores just yet, and are itching to visit England.  In particular, you’ll want to visit London, where most of our regulars live and regularly perform live.

So it’s a good thing one such regular, Fergus Craig, has made this handy guide, should you be on your way any time soon.  Enjoy…

Catch Up With Onion Land

4 Apr

© BBC

The last remnants of your Easter Eggs are starting to look like wicked reminders of pure liquid gluttony.  Spring is officially here, though some parts of the country seem to have swapped sunshine for snow.  As you stop to take a breath, you realise this seemingly barren period in Onion Land is actually filled with glorious programming you might have missed!

There’s a number of TVO regulars cropping up in various shows at the moment, and as some of them won’t be on catch-up for very long, we thought it was as good a time as any to give you a brief round-up.

For starters, Colin Hoult and Steve Oram appeared in the Easter Special of Life’s Too Short - the mockumentary series about Multiverse head-honcho Warwick Davis.  Oram’s also been regularly appearing in Heading Out with Sue Perkins, and all six episodes can be caught on catch-up at present.

Then there’s our full blooded TVO shows to savour – with It’s Kevin halfway though it’s initial run, and all episodes available on iPlayer, you can savour Kevin EldonJulia DavisJustin EdwardsMatt Berry, Alex Kirk and many more joining The Actor, Kevin Eldon for some full blooded titting about.  The show continues on Sunday evening.

© Dave King / Roughcut Television

Over on 4oD is every episode of Anna & Katy - the silly channel-hopping style sketch show from Anna Crilly and Katy Wix, which also features appearances from Fergus Craig, Colin Hoult and David McNeill.  The show wraps up next Wednesday.

There’s also the brand new series of Game Of Thrones featuring Paul Kaye airing on Sunday evenings, which is available on catch-up exclusively to Sky customers, alongside Dan Clark and Katherine Parkinson in Love Matters.

If radio is more your thing, don’t forget that Matt Berry returned for Series 2 of I, Regress last night on Radio 4, who are also in the middle of a rerun of Knowing Me Knowing You… With Alan Partridge.

And if repeats are all you crave, you’ll be pleased to know that Mongrels will be heading to freeview channel Dave from April 12th. All this, plus the release of Sightseers on dvd and blu-ray, and a wealth of archive materials available from our TVO Amazon Stores now!  Get stuck in!

Hear From The Sexperts

20 Feb

If you’re in need of some advice on how to pull and also the secret to being the best in the boudoir, then Sophie Black chats to the expert on all things sexy, Devon Cornwall – who does look suspiciously like Fergus Craig.

Some wise words are said and apparently even tomatoes can be sexy.

Have a look at BBC Three’s latest Feed My Funny sketch just below.

Fergus Dongs

7 Sep

© Fergus Craig

Fergus Craig is to make an appearance at this month’s Dong comedy night in Bethnal Green.

The star of Star StoriesThe Government Inspector and much more will be sharing the stage with Jarred Christmas, Jamie Demetriou, Ian Smith and beatboxer Hobbit for what promises to be “a sick line up of super-fresh comedians, videos, Dong Dancers, badass beats from Sony Award winning ex-Kiss FM radio show presenter Big Ted and the heaviest Hip Hop Karaoke this side of Brooklyn.”

Tickets are available now for the show on Friday 21st September – with £6 early bird tickets selling rapidly, and £8 tickets ready to replace them soon.  It’ll be a tenner on the door, so grab em while you can.  For more info visit the Dong website.

Funny Fortnight Forthcoming!

20 Jul

© Channel 4

Channel 4 have released more details of their Funny Fortnight next month, which features more than a smattering of TVO regulars and influences.

Over 30 hours of programming across two weeks of television, the season promises brand new shows, excellent stand up and familiar faces staging their returns to the channel.

A new video preview over on the Channel 4 press website showcases highlights from some of the channel’s flagship shows, and offers an exclusive look at a number of exciting specials.

© Tiger Aspect Productions

Amongst these new shows is Bad Sugar – written by Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong of Peep Show and Four Lions fame.  It combines three of comedy’s biggest names of the moment – Julia DavisSharon Horgan and Olivia Colman, and centres on a dysfunctional, wealthy mining dynasty, with an ailing patriarch and some greedy siblings.

The show also stars David Bradley, Peter Serafinowicz, Kayvan Novak and Reece Shearsmith, and it’s producer is Derren Schlesinger – who was previously responsible for both Four Lions and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy.  Undoubtedly one of the most exciting shows on telly in some time, this Tiger Aspect Productions show has real potential to be a smash hit.

© Objective Productions

Also set to première is Toast Of London, the new sitcom pilot by Matt Berry and Father Ted/Big Train creator Arthur Matthews.  Matt stars as successful actor Steven Toast, who has recently made a career faux pass by electing to star in a controversial west end stage play.

Recently divorced, and attacked in the street by members of appalled public, the previously much loved actor auditions for a role in the long running television series, Inspector Somerset.  However, it’s producer has been imprisoned for racial chanting on set, so Toast auditions for the part of a gay corrupt detective during prisoner’s visiting time.  Made by Objective Productions, we’re keen to see if this show lives up to its potential.

Other new shows include: Them From That Thing  – a two part sketch show featuring Kayvan Novak, Sally Phillips and many more, co-written by one Charlie BrookerThe Function Room - a traditional looking sitcom featuring the likes of Reece Shearsmith, Kevin Eldon, Simon Day and James Fleet; Lucky Sexy Winners - a new panel show from Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer; Very Terry - a Phonejacker spin off from Kayvan Novak focusing on car salesman Terry Tibbs; Harry Hill: The Reunion - in which the madcap comic seeks out the cast of his old Channel 4 show to find out “where are they now?”; The Boyle Variety Performance  – a spoof of the annual royal-attended show from Frankie Boyle; Just Around The Corner  – from the creators of Drop The Dead Donkey; and I’m Spazticus  – a prank show featuring disabled performers which has been seven years in development since its pilot aired in 2005.

© Avalon Productions

And that’s not all!  As we previously reported, Channel 4 are counting down their 30 Greatest Comedy Shows, which will feature the Onion flavoured vehicles Garth Marenghi’s DarkplaceThe IT CrowdBrass EyeFather TedStar StoriesSpacedBlack Books, and Friday Night Dinner. 

These classics will be up against the likes of The Comic Strip Presents, Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, The Adam & Joe Show,  Da Ali G Show, Trigger Happy TV, Pheonix Nights, Bo’ Selecta!, Peep Show, Green Wing and The Inbetweeners and more.

© Talkback Thames

The channel have also turned to the writers of classic shows to name their favourite episodes, which will air across the fortnight.  These include Graham Linehan‘s favourite ever The IT Crowd  and Father TedChris Morris‘s legendary Brass Eye; mockumentary series Star Stories which featured Fergus CraigAlice Lowe, Tom MeetenLaura PatchRhys Thomas and Dolly Wells in it’s expansive cast; plus episodes of Spaced, The Inbetweeners, Peep Show and Vic Reeves Big Night Out.

There’s also a chance to catch tv premieres of live shows from Alan Carr, Peter Kay, Lee Evans and Micky Flanagan, plus the early and rare Vic & Bob special The Weekenders, Harry Endfield one-off Norbert Smith: A Life and Peter Cook’s interview with Clive Andersonplus editions of Comedy Labs featuring Dynamo, Peter Kay, Karl Pilkington and TVO’s very own Anna And Katy!  Plus we’ll still have The Midnight Beast featuring Simon Farnaby every Thursday too!

Phew – we think we’ll need a lie-down after all that!  Exciting times indeed.  We’ll aim to bring you a complete run-down of exactly when each show will air as soon as possible, so stay peeled.  In the mean time, check out the video preview over on the Channel 4 press website – and you can pick up a string of Channel 4 classics in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

Dan’s Time Travels

25 Jun

© BBC Comedy

The pilot of Dan Tetsell‘s new radio show, The 21st Century for Time Travellers, airs this Thursday (28 June) at 11pm, on BBC Radio 4.

Set in a future where there are personal time machines, Dan also stars as the host,  crotchety Wilson Thomas, forced to guide us on behalf of the 21st Century Tourist Board. Also appearing are Fergus Craig, Bridget Christie, Rufus Jones and Katy Brand.

To read a bit more about the show, have a look at our previous post.

Meanwhile Dan has been busy with a very different type of writing, a Dad’s Army fanfic! It’s a fantastic piece of writing, but be warned, you will never be able to watch Dad’s Army in the same way again.

Edit  The 21st Century for Time Travellers is now available on BBC iPlayer until Thursday 5th July.

Occasional Sketches

3 Jun

© facebook

Marek, Fergus, Dave and Sophie’s Occasional Sketch Night is happening tomorrow (Monday 4th June) at 7.30pm at The Wilmington Arms in London.

Acts appearing include Marek Larwood, Fergus Craig, Dave McNeill, Arnab Chanda, Sophie Black and ex Aston Villa striker Julian Joachim. They will be trying out material for their Edinburgh shows.

Tickets are a bargain £5, for more information go to the Facebook event page.

Hoult! Who Goes There?

6 Dec

© Rob Grieg

TVO favourite Colin Hoult will be performing as part of the Knock2Bag bill on Wednesday 14th December.

The gig takes place at Bar FM in London and starts at 7.30pm; tickets are priced at £8 and can be purchased by clicking on this here link. Hoult will be joined by Doc Brown, Bob Slayer, Totally Tom, Fergus Craig and Sam Simmons at what promises to be a seriously good night.

If you’re new to TVO and you haven’t come across Colin Hoult before, why not take a look at this interview or that interview with the man from earlier this year?

Christmas Comedy Extravaganza

21 Nov

© Idil Sukan / Draw HQ

Kick off the Holiday season with a comedy extravaganza featuring Kevin Eldon and Peter Serafinowicz!

The line-up at this Knock2Bag Christmas party is beyond amazing. Come and be festive with Kevin Eldon (Four Lions, This Is JinsyNighty Night), Peter Serafinowicz (This Is Jinsy, Spaced), Robert Popper (Peep Show, Look Around You), John Shuttleworth, Brian Gittins and Fergus Craig (Sorry, I’ve Got No Head).

You can see this stellar comedy line-up at the Mermaid Theatre in London on Saturday, December 10 at 8PM.

Tickets to witness these comedy legends in action can be purchased over here for £25.

DONG

17 Jun

© Channel X / BBC / Rich Fulcher

Londoner’s get another chance to catch Rich Fulcher live at the end of July.

Hot on the heels of his gigs at the end of June and the first weekend of July, Rich tops an impressive bill at the appropriately named Rich Mix venue on Bethnal Green Road, on July 30th.

Entitled DONG, the night promises to collide comedy and hip-hop – so who better to join Rich on the bill than Abandoman, who so brilliantly tore the roof off at November’s Fulchfest, and appeared on Dick And Dom’s Funny Business alongside a whole host of TVO favourites?

Factor in an appearance from Colin Hoult’s former partner in crime, Fergus Craig – as well as Nick Helm, Romesh Ranganathan and host Doc Brown, the night also offers videos from the likes of Isy Suttie and Brian Gittins, and a chance to engage in a spot of hip-hop karaoke!  It’s going to be one to remember…

Tickets are available now from the Rich Mix website for £10 – a saving of £5 from the door-price on the night.  This will be your last chance to see Fulcher before the Scottish steal him for a month and make him perform Tiny Acts of Rebellion in their faces, so book now!

Now, is it too much to hope that Rich will bring back that hardy perennial, Rapper With A Baby? You can make it happen, Fulchy!

The Rehearsal Of The Inspector

18 May

© Keith Pattison

As most regular peelers know by now, Julian Barratt will star in Government Inspector at The Young Vic theatre from 3rd June to 9th July.

The Young Vic have posted some pictures of the rehearsals on their Facebook Page, featuring Julian, Doon Mackichan, Kyle Soller, and others. Go and take a look for some behind-the-scenes realness.

Interviews with the cast of the production can also be found at the aforementioned Facebook page. Similarly, you can find the interviews on the Young Vic Blog.

For more information about the play and to book your tickets visit the Young Vic’s website.

Sorry I’ve Got No Head

15 May

© BBC

A new series of Sorry I’ve Got No Head started last Friday on kids’ channel CBBC.

The show is written by, and stars, some familiar faces: James Bachman (The Mighty Boosh), Tony Paul Way (Mongrels), David Armand (How Not To Live Your Life) and Fergus Craig, who works with Colin Hoult and is starring with Julian Barratt in Government Inspector. You may also recognise most of the rest of the cast from various other comedy shows.

Episode 1 features Colin and Malcolm, the airline trolley dollies who can’t stop eating from the trolley, and Tony who lives down the back of a sofa, and it can now be viewed on iPlayer. The remainder of the series will air on Fridays at 5pm on CBBC (repeated at 9am on Sundays and on iPlayer). The show may be on a children’s channel but don’t let that put you off – it’s very well put together with some real laugh-out-loud moments!

Hoult From The Vaults

28 Mar
Colin and Fergus

© BBC

We’ve just noticed that Colin Hoult’s radio series with former partner in crime Fergus Craig from a few years ago is being repeated on BBC Radio 7.

It’s the second series of Colin and Fergus’s Digi Radio, dating back to 2007, and the repeats are currently around half way through the series.   We’re just a bit gutted we managed to let this one slip through the net, but thankfully you can still catch the latest episode on iplayer – with the remaining episodes broadcasting on Sunday evenings at 11.30pm.

There’s also an interesting archive interview, from 2006, with Colin and Fergus on the BBC 7 website – and if you missed it recently, you can catch TVO’s own exclusive interview with Mr Hoult right here!

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