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The Peterford Golf Club

15 Nov


Early last month we told you about the revival of Peterford Golf Club, this time as part of Radio 2’s Comedy Showcase.

The show, now called The Peterford Golf Club) written by and starring Simon Farnaby, was broadcast at 10pm on Tuesday evening, with a repeat tomorrow at 10pm. It also starred Barunka O’Shaughnessy, Lucy Montgomery and Tom Meeten.

It is of course also available on BBC iPlayer.

Next weeks Comedy Showcase also has a few TVO connections. The King’s Men is written by Arthur Matthews alongside  Terry Mynott (Toast of London), who also stars in the show with Robert Webb.

The two main characters are policemen Ernest Ridley and Arthur Smyth. The lifelong friends are asked to join the new Secret Service in London, after discovering what they believed to be a German plot to invade The Isle of Sheppey.

Also in the cast are Katy Wix, Ellie White and Alex McQueen.

The show will be broadcast on Tuesday at 10pm on Radio 2  and is available now on BBC iPlayer.

There is another TVO connected Showcase available now and due to be broadcast on Wednesday. Ankle Tag stars Katy Wix and Ellis James as new parents whose lives are interrupted when his Dad appears unexpectedly, wanting to stay.

The episode also features Alice Lowe and is available now, again on BBC iPlayer.

Katy Wix Writes Second Book Of Comic Monologues

14 Nov

51vw0L591SL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_Katy Wix released her first book of comic monologues for women in 2014. Since then, she has been working on a second volume, which is now available to buy from book stores.

Wix has been busy writing audition speeches for drama school students at institutions such as RADA, LAMDA, Drama Centre and The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The aim is to fill a gap in the market that’s calling for attention; and there doesn’t seem to be any resource like this, which provides such original, and of course funny, material to be used by students.

Speaking to The Guardian about her decision to embark on this creative challenge, Wix stated that she, “Found that a lot of performers couldn’t find the material they wanted for auditions… The more I did it, the more I realised that this sort of material doesn’t really exist.”

If you’re an acting type yourself, order yourself a copy of Katy’s handy book from here.


8 Oct

This week saw the launch of new BBC Three sitcom Together – with a smattering of TVO faces tucked in there for good measure.

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

The show is written by and stars Johnny Sweet (Babylon), and follows two young people in the early, fragile stages of a new relationship, played by Sweet and Cara Theobold (Downton Abbey).

Along for the ride are Alex MacQueen and Katy Wix as Tom’s father Ashley and friend Maeve respectively. Episode One, which is available on iPlayer now, also featured brief appearances by Tom Davis and comedy legend Geoffrey McGivern.

Further episodes will be shown every Tuesday evening at 10:30pm on BBC Three, and available via iPlayer. We’ll bring you more on Together soon, so stay peeled. You can see clips from the first two episodes, and the series trailer, below.

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.

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.

So Hot Right Now #28

27 Apr

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…


© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The superlative creativity of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton seemingly knows no bounds, as demonstrated perfectly by the second series of Inside No. 9, which concludes its eclectic run of six one-off tales this week, with special guest appearances by Downtown Abbey star Sophie McShera and Mike Leigh veteran Alison Steadman in the macabre Seance Time.

Tina (McShera) has never consulted the spirit world before, and isn’t quite sure what to expect on her visit to psychic Madam Talbot (Steadman). The medium’s assistant Hives (Shearsmith) seems quite helpful, but there’s already something waiting for Tina on the ‘other side’ and he knows all about it.

To say more would, as ever, ruin the subtle surprises on offer, but we will add that there’s the added bonus of guest appearances by TVO regulars Alice Lowe and Cariad Lloyd, as well as Doctor Who‘s resident Sontaran, Dan Starkey (last seen in Ben Wheatley’s Deep Breath in August, and occasional improv artist alongside Phil Whelans).

For one week only, the show shifts from its usual Thursday night slot to WEDNESDAY at 10pm on BBC Two. We’ll be sorry to see Inside No. 9 go, as this second run has proved to be a telly highlight this year. The campaign for a third run begins here…


© BBC / Jack Barnes

© BBC / Jack Barnes

Spoof documentary series W1A moves to Inside No 9‘s old slot of Thursday at 10pm this week, as Hugh Bonneville and team meet to discuss the troubling rumours that Newsnight presenter Evan Davis is to compete in the next series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Elsewhere, there’s a new Pilates initiative as Anna (the ever magnificent Sarah Parish) puts herself forward for the newly advertised role of Head of Better, and ever put upon Lucy (the inimitable Nina Sosanya) faces yet more tinkering with her as-yet-uncommissioned drama project.

As ever, Rufus Jones and Jessica Hynes are part of the impeccable ensemble cast, and the results are yet more must-see telly.


© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

New ITV sitcom The Delivery Man continues on Wednesday, once again featuring Aisling Bea and Alex MacQueen alongside Darren Boyd, Paddy McGuiness and Faye Ripley.

This week in the maternity ward comedy, a prisoner arrives on release to give birth, but the police need some crucial information, so Ian (McGuiness) tries underhand interrogation tactics on the expectant mother. Elsewhere, Ryan (Joe De Costa) discovers Lisa (Bea) has been lending money to Matthew (Boyd), and heads to the hospital in a rage.

You can catch this latest episode at 9:30pm on Wednesday evening, over on ITV1. Previous episodes are available on ITV Player now.


© Kieron McCarron / September Films / GME / ITV

© Kieron McCarron / September Films / GME / ITV

Okay – we have to admit: this one perhaps understandably slipped by us… but ITV’s latest incarnation of gameshow Celebrity Squares returned recently, with Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short, The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains) at the helm.

The Harry Potter star is now two episodes into the run, which airs on Sunday evenings at 7:15pm on ITV1, and both installments to date have featured TVO regulars or connected artists, so they’re well worth catching up with on ITV Player.

The first show, which aired on 19th April, featured none other than cult duo Anna Crilly Katy Wix amongst its star line-up, whilst the second, which aired yesterday (25th April), featured Jessica Hynes and House of Fools stars Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer.

The third show, which will air on Sunday 3rd May, will feature comedy legend Doon Mackichan – best known for her work on shows such as The Day Today, Smack the Pony and most recently, Toast of London. And we will never rule out ITV gameshows for potential connections ever again.



There’s a whole lot more TVO goodness to savour this week if you know where to look on tv and radio, thanks to a healthy dose of repeats – and a sneaky little spot of guest starring here and there.

BBC Two repeats Noel Fielding‘s 2013 appearance on QI XL on Saturday 2nd May at 11pm, whilst over on Channel 4 an hour earlier, there’s another chance to see the excellent British sci-fi action movie Dredd, which memorably features heavy usage of Matt Berry‘s theme for Snuffbox.

On radio, duo Max and Ivan continue their series The Casebook of Max and Ivan with a guest appearance from Reece Shearsmith this Tuesday evening at 6:30pm on Radio 4. Last week, they sneaked in an appearance from Jessica Hynes, whilst Matt Lucas joined them the previous week. You can catch up with the whole run on iPlayer now.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4 Extra are revisiting a firm TVO favourite in the form of Lucy Montgomery’s Variety Pack – which also features Waen Shepherd and was written by Montgomery with Steven Burge and Dan Tetsell. The first two episodes of Series 1 are on iPlayer now, with Episode 3 airing again on Wednesday evening at 11:30pm.

If you’re in the US, and feeling left out, don’t forget that Steve Coogan continues his run in Happyish on Sunday evenings exclusively on Showtime at 9:30 pm ET/PT.


As we reported last week, this Friday sees the relaunch of Rachel Stubbings web series, Stubbing Out Problems

The stand-up comic’s first run of S.O.P. videos began in May 2011, and featured Rachel’s disinterested alter-ego (Dr Stubbings, that is, not Rachel from Friends) trying – and failing – to help a series of clients sort out their issues, all played by fellow comedians. TVO regulars Stephen Evans, Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, Alex Kirk and Aisling Bea joined the likes of Luke McQueen, Brett Goldstein, Katherine Ryan and Margaret Cabourn-Smith as clients across the series.

Following Rachel’s debut Edinburgh run with a show based on Stubbing out Problems in 2012, the concept was retired except for a handful of rare live revivals – but now at long last, it’s back with a bang! For the whole of May 2015, Dr Stubbings has pledged to heal at least one problem per day (except weekends), which is really impressive. The results will be uploaded to Vimeo every day* throughout May, and will feature a whole host of new clients – some of whom you can see in the teaser above.


© Tony Law

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on the London stage, and whilst this week is a bit of a quiet one, there’s still a few chances to see great people this week.

27/04/15 – Joey Page with Craig Murray – The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 8pm, £8

29/04/15 – Richard Sandling with Bec Hill, Brett Goldstein, Chris Coltrane, Howard Read, Tiernan Douieb (new material night) – Betsey Trostswood, 8:00pm, £3.50-£5

30/04/15 – Tony Law with Sara Pascoe, Zoe Lyons and Brett Goldstein – 99 Club, Leicester Square, 8:30pm, £9-£12

30/04/15 – James Cook: Outsiders Alternative Pop Cabaret with special guests – Aces and Eights, 8:00pm, £5

01/05/15 – SPANK! featuring James Wren and Leon Fleury, plus special guests Abandoman, Marcel Lucont, David Morgan and In Cahoots – Udderbelly, 10:45pm, £15.50


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!

A Wild Valentine’s Night: iPlayer Previews

11 Feb

With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, the BBC have announced a new set of nine iPlayer comedy shorts, based around the theme of love, for our delectation. TVO took a sneak peak, as Becca Moody reports…

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

If you watched the BBC iPlayer shorts from June 2014, you’ll have seen for yourself how these miniature comedy installations really do open up a new style of viewing. Last year’s six hilarious bitesize programmes allowed us to sample a whole range of funny creations from the likes of Matt Berry, Reece Shearsmith, Micky Flanagan and Meera Syal, and it’s no surprise that the news of a brand new set this month was more than welcome.

Matt Berry‘s Wild Love is certainly wild, shockingly funny and crude. In the sequel to last year’s Lone Wolf, Berry narrates the mating antics of various creatures ranging from golden frogs to “colonial hopping dogs”. This undiscovered world is absolutely crazy, and even our beloved narrator himself seems to get carried away by the absurdity of it all, which makes for hilarious listening. Writer, Bob Mortimer, and Berry have come together yet again, to create something fantastic, and it’s not too difficult to visualise this becoming a series one day. Watch out David Attenborough!

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

Aisling Bea also stars in Romesh Ranganathan’s Valentine’s-related comedy short, Rom Com, as one half of the world’s seemingly most awkward ever first date. The episode follows Romesh as he is rigorously prepared for the evening by his very own verbally abusive relationship guru, who also happens to be a figment of his own imagination. Rom Com is a dark and oppressive comedy, and is made bitterly funny thanks to both of its stars.

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

© BBC / Pett Productions / Guy Levy

Katy Wix‘s Dear Jean Pierre is a silly story of a quaint French romance, as it reaches its emotional final moments. In this remarkable tale, Wix relives the moments where the relationship began to decline, and brings her wonderfully childish humour along for the ride. With her trademark hopeful and innocent nature, and a knack for surprising us with various twists and turns along the way, Dear Jean Pierre is a complete comedy delight.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, there’ll be a whole array of episodes available as well as these TVO related ones (featuring the likes of Bill Bailey, Sara Pascoe, Nick Helm, Esther Smith, Emma Thompson and Russ Abbot) which will be on BBC iPlayer as of February 13th.

Matt Berry’s Lone Wolf Sequel

24 Jan
Matt Berry


Matt Berry will be starring in a follow-up wildlife ‘documentary’ to last year’s iPlayer comedy short, Lone Wolf, in which he talks us through the courtships and mating rituals of creatures in the wild – in typical Berry-style of course.

With Lone Wolf having been nominated for Best Internet Comedy Short in the British Comedy Awards 2014, the sequel Wild Love is set to be a comedy delight.

It will be part of a new batch of nine online comedy shorts, which will be available on BBC iPlayer. Other stars who will feature in the shorts include TVO regular Katy Wix, as well as the likes of Bill Bailey, Russ Abbot, Sara Pascoe and Nick Helm. Aisling Bea will also be starring in Romesh Ranganathan’s short, A Tale of Two Roms.

The previous batch of comedy shorts, from June 2014, is still available on iPlayer here. This new set, written around the theme of Valentine’s Day, will be available from the 13th of February.

So Hot Right Now #11

22 Dec

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 below.


As Noddy Holder once sang: IT’S CHRIIIIIIISSSTTTTMAAAAAAASSSSS!!!!!! Which means there’s a sudden glut of top notch telly to be savoured, and that naturally includes a bevy of TVO regulars on our screens once again.  We’ve got more news to share with you below this epic round-up, but first off, we’ve got to celebrate just how much we can enjoy this week!

Monday 22nd December

© Sky

© Sky

The crux of that comes on Monday 22nd December, with six new shows and a vintage repeat to savour across the evening. First up at 5:30pm on Sky 1 is Katy Brand‘s Little Cracker getting a welcome re-airing.

First shown in 2012, the episode – like the rest of the Little Cracker series which inspired Moone Boy – focuses on a key event from it’s writer’s childhood Christmasses dramatised and exaggerated for comedic value.  Katy Brand’s edition centres on the moment ten-year-old Katy made an earth-shattering discovery on Christmas Eve, and in one fell swoop the magic and sparkle of the festive season vanished. All is not lost when an unlikely opportunity to save Christmas presents itself.

Stick with Sky1 at 8:30pm for the last in the current series of Trollied featuring Aisling Bea. In tonight’s episode, it’s Charity Day at Valco supermarket, with a big prize draw called into question, a sponsored bike ride, shaved legs and a giant pain-relief tablet costume. Mad as ever.

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Over on Channel 4 at 8pm is the Gadget Man’s Guide To Christmas in which Richard Ayoade presents a gadget-packed guide to the festive season, joined by techno-loving celebrity friends including Jonathan Ross, Stephen Merchant, Robert Webb, Jessica Hynes and Reece Shearsmith.

In this hour long special, Richard and his guests reveal new ways of doing the Christmas shopping, surviving the winter weather, cooking Christmas dinner, wrapping gifts, dealing with snow, handling fog and getting through long nights. They also look at a smartphone breathalyser, a pitch-shifting karaoke machine and Richard makes a festive feast. Bring it on!

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

After Gadget Man, we heartily recommend you switch over to BBC Two, where the new series of The Wrong Mans begins at 9pm. The show featuring writers James Corden and Matthew Baynton as two idiots accidentally caught up in a huge espionage plot, was a smash hit last year, and featured a huge array of incredible guest stars, including our very own Rufus Jones and Dan Skinner amongst them.

This year, Baynton and Corden are again joined by a top notch cast including Dawn French and Rebecca Front, and the show is directed by once more by Jim Field-Smith – formerly a member of criminally underrated sketch troup Dutch Elm Conservatoire alongside Rufus Jones, Dan Skinner, Stephen Evans and Jordan Long, who you may recognise from Junglophilia, World of Wrestling, Mongrels and the first series of The Wrong Mans!

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

© BBC / Hulu / Coco Van Oppens

The first two episodes are being shown in a double bill on Monday 22nd from 9pm, with Episodes Three and Four – featuring a guest appearance from Fergus Craig as a pilot – airing tomorrow evening at the same time. American fans shouldn’t fret either – The Wrong Mans is a co-production with Hulu, so should be on your screens over there in the New Year.

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

Stick with BBC Two at 10pm for a double bill of musical mayhem. First up is Never Mind The Buzzcocks Christmas special to round off the series in style.  As you can see, the festive edition got everyone in the spirit of Christmas, and you’ll probably never look at turkey the same way again.

Joining host Rhod Gilbert and team captains Noel Fielding and Phill Jupitus for the madness are legendary Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, his polar opposite Louis ‘X-Factor’ Walsh, singer Melissa Steel and comedian Lloyd Langford. There’s even a guest appearance by the actual Snowman. A must see!

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Straight after Buzzcocks is the final episode of Brian Pern: A Life in Rock – the madcap mockumentary from Rhys Thomas and Simon Day which features a massive ensemble cast of real life celebrities and great comic talents.  Michael Kitchen, Paul Whitehouse, Nigel Havers Lucy Montgomery and Tony Way are joined this week by Mel C, Chrissie Hynde, Roy Wood, Roger Allum and loads more as Brian tries to record a Christmas album.

There’s a glorious set of pastiches of past pop favourites on offer in this week’s episode, including Simon and Lucy’s homage to Barcelona, the Thotch lads getting all Chas N Dave on us, and the glorious Black Christmas.  Mel C and Pepita get to fight it out over the microphone, Roy Wood’s producer wants to put a till on everything, and the best is saved till last as Peter Gabriel makes another appearance.

As we bid Brian a fond farewell, don’t forget to catch up on our interview with him, as well as series creators Rhys Thomas and Simon Day, and we hope he’s back for more soon!

Both Buzzcocks and Brian Pern happen to clash with another TVO favourite, but thanks to the wonders of 4+1, that’s not necessarily a problem. At 10pm on Channel 4 (or 11pm on 4+1), is the special final episode of Derek starring Ricky Gervais.

© Channel 4 / Ray Burmiston

© Channel 4 / Ray Burmiston

The second series introduced characters played by Tony Way and Colin Hoult, and Colin features in this grande finale, in which Broadhill regulars are busy planning the wedding of the year.  However, Kev’s behaviour proves too much for Hannah, while Vicky prepares to fill her boss’s shoes, and Derek is just trying to hold everything together.

Previous finales from Gervais have tended to tackle surprisingly weighty issues in brilliant dramatic form – whatever anyone thought of Extras or Life’s Too Short, for example, there’s no denying they went out with a bang, so we’d definitely recommend you give this one a chance.

Tuesday 23rd December

If you’ve caught everything from Monday 22nd live, or you’re fully up to date from catchup services, then stick near your remote, cos there’s more to savour throughout the week. On Tuesday 23rd, at 9:30pm, we have the final episode of Psychobitches Series Two to savour over on Sky Arts HD, and it’s set to be as magnificent as the rest.

© Sky Arts

© Sky Arts

The highlight of the show looks set to be Richard E Grant’s guest appearance as Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as he interrupts a psychiatric session for grotesque witches played by Matthew Baynton, Kevin Eldon and Cardinal Burns star Dustrin Demri-Burns.  Also visiting Rebecca Front’s psychoanalyst this week are Gracie Fields (The IT Crowd guest star Frances Barber), Fanny Cradock (the other half of Cardinal Burns, Seb Cardinal), Hildegard of Bingen (Doctor Who’s Michelle Gomez), the Statue of Liberty (Toast of London‘s Doon Mackichan), Shirley Temple (Benidorm’s Sheila Reid), Daphne du Maurier (House of Fools star Morgana Robinson), Zeus’s wife Hera (Goodness Gracious Me legend Mera Syal) and Hindu goddess Kali (La La Land‘s Marc Wootton). Phew!

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

That’s not all, either, as 10pm brings us the festive special of Man Down on Channel 4.  The show, starring Greg Davies as idiotic teacher Dan, is produced by Spencer Millman (of The Mighty BooshMan to Man and The Inbetweeners fame), and the first series was hugely popular on its initial airing late in 2013.

However, the show suffered a near-fatal blow earlier this year, with the tragic death of co-star Rik Mayall – who injected so much life into proceedings (as always) taunting Dan as his vindictive father in a pitch-perfect casting choice.  Nevertheless, the show must go on, and this special – ahead of a second series – is the first chance we have to see the show without him.

Stephanie Cole guest stars as Aunt Nesta, and there are a few familiar faces for TVO fans on board too: with Justin Edwards making an appearance as a solicitor, and the excellent Ramon Tikaram (star of This Life, brother of singer Tanita Tikaram, and Mighty Boosh guest star as Banoo) also involved.  Al Campbell – aka Barry Shitpeas – is directing once again, and it looks set to be another fine addition to the festive canon.

Also on telly that evening are the aforementioned third and fourth episodes of The Wrong Mans, plus Sky 1 are repeating Treasure Island across Tuesday and Wednesday at 5pm each day. This adaptation starring Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood and Donald Sutherland from 2012 also featured a cavalcade of British telly talent, including Philip Glennister, Daniel Mays, Shaun Parkes, Nathan Barley star Nina Sosyana and our very own Julian Barratt as Thomas Redruth.

Christmas Eve

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

© Avalon Television / Pete Dadds

Speaking of Wednesday, Christmas Eve brings us the Not Going Out Christmas Special, in which the will-they-won’t-they tension between Lee (Boosh radio series star Lee Mack) and Lucy (Sally Bretton) reaches unseen new highs, and Lee’s pint-sized dad Frank (Bobby Ball) takes him for a night on the tiles.

As ever Katy Wix co-stars, and there’s a guest appearance from Phil Cornwell as a police officer (only a week and a bit after his role as a police officer in Brian Pern, actually!). Lee Mack has indicated this may be the final ever episode, so expect it to go out on a happy note, just in case.

One last treat for Wednesday – if you happen to be watching Film Four’s repeat of Saint Trinians – see if you can spot Richard Glover as a put upon telly bod. Nice little cameo, there…

Christmas Day

©  BBC / David Venni

© BBC / David Venni

Christmas Day itself is a little short on treats, but like the rest of the country (we hope), we’ll be settling down to watch Nick Frost as Father Christmas in the Doctor Who special, Last Christmas.  Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman return as The Doctor and Clara, alongside guest stars Michael Troughton (of The New Statesmen fame), Faye Marsey and Natalie Gumede (who appeared in sitcom flop The Persuasionists with Simon Farnaby).

There’s currently no word on whether Ben Wheatley will be returning to direct further episodes of Doctor Who in the new year, but with filming set to begin in January, we’re sure to know soon enough. Last Christmas, which has been getting rave reviews so far, will air at 6:15pm on BBC One.

Over on Channel 4 in the early hours – midnight to be exact – is the Father Ted Christmas Special, A Christmassy Ted. This festive classic, written by Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews sees Ted and his fellow priests trapped in the lingerie section of a major department store, and Ted’s quick thinking resulting in him staging an award-winning rescue.  The episode is also shown on More4 across the festive season, so keep your eyes peeled if you miss it, or catch it on 4od. And really, you should own the dvd by now!

Boxing Day

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

Boxing Day brings with it another Big Fat Quiz of the Year – and whilst Noel Fielding is absent this year, his old cohort Richard Ayoade is on hand to add a bit of Onion into the mix.  He joins David Mitchell, Mel B, Sarah Millican, Kevin Bridges and Micky Flanagan as well as regular host Jimmy Carr.

There’s also guest appearances from Michael Palin, Rio Ferdinand, Lily Allen and the stars of The Inbetweeners, plus some surprises in store, so check in to Channel 4 from 9pm.

Sunday 28th December

© Pett Productions / Chris Baines

© Pett Productions / Chris Baines

Lastly, but by no means leastly, Sunday 28th December brings us the Christmas Special of House of Fools on BBC Two at 10:05pm.  This special episode of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s sublime sitcom is set on Christmas Eve, but when Bob’s present for Erik is unexpectedly engulfed in flames, the housemates go on an underground boat journey to Phil Collins’ mansion.

It’s typically glorious madness from the team, which features Matt BerryDan Skinner, Morgana Robinson and Daniel Simonsen, as well as a guest appearance once more by Reece Shearsmith – as Santa no, less. We’ll have a full preview of the episode later this week, and interviews with the cast (and new regular Ellie White) ahead of Series Two launching early next year.


Of course, we’re celebrating all this telly, but it’s too late for Christmas. Neil Cole has exposed him, as we revealed over yonder.  Kris Kringle himself is launches his revealing autobigoraphy Secret Santa, but Neil wouldn’t take no for an answer…

Absolutely scandalous.


Another week goes by, and Colin Hoult continues his five-times-a-week quest to vlog in character.  Last week saw Anna Mann discuss credit card debt, Andy Parker tackle the Twilight saga, Eddie Cartizean dance his way into some beetroot, Thwor suffer from Season Affective Disorder, and Dom Fez tell us all about the girls that make him go CWOR!

With more videos uploaded every weekday, there’s a treat in store every day. Visit Colin’s YouTube channel now to subscribe.


There’s so much going on, a lot of which is featured on our News Page, but here’s some of what you may have missed in the last seven days.

We’ll see you throughout this week – and hope you have a very, very, Merry Christmas. Peace and love and all that jazz. Keep on peelin’.

So Hot Right Now #9

8 Dec

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 below.


© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

This week sees the long awaited return of Brian Pern to our screens, in the brand new series Brian Pern: A Life in Rock.  As always, the show is the brainchild of Fast Show veterans Rhys Thomas and Simon Day, the latter of whom plays the titular prog-rock legend turned hapless world music pioneer and obscure charity fundraiser.

Whilst the first series, The Life of Rock with Brian Pern focused more on telling the story of rock across the generations in documentary format, the second shifts its tone to be more of a candid look at the life of Brian, and those around him.  This includes his luxury yacht loving manager John Farrow (brilliantly brought to life by Michael Kitchen), world music goddess Pepita (TVO regular Lucy Montgomery), Brian’s former bandmates in Thotch (including Paul Whitehouse and Nigel Havers as Pat Quid and Tony Pebble) and his driver Ned (Tony Way).

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Also along for the ride this series are big name guest stars Martin Freeman, Jack Whitehall, Kathy Burke, Roger Allum, Kevin Eldon, Chrissie Hynde, Mel C, Roger Taylor, Roy Wood, Rick Parfitt and more. TVO devoured all three episodes in one sitting, and can confirm this is a joyous continuation of a much loved character, with a wonderful set of supporting characters filling out his world, and once more – some glorious tunes (courtesy of Steve Burge) in the mix.

You’d be mad to miss it. And if you tune in to BBC Two on Tuesday evening at 10pm, you won’t.  Stay peeled this week for an exclusive interview with creators Simon Day & Rhys Thomas, and maybe a word or two from Brian Pern himself…


© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

If you haven’t caught up with Colin Hoult‘s unique blend of dark humour and outright silliness yet, you’ve probably not been reading TVO properly. First coming to our attention via his work with Julian Barratt & Dave McNeill on Zimbani, the character comedian has crafted numerous sell out live shows and appeared on our screens in shows as varied as House of RoomsDerekLife’s Too Short and Being Human.

Now he’s back with some of his most beloved live favourites, preparing for an onslaught of sheer characterness on his own YouTube channel.  Five days a week, Colin will be posting a new vlog from one of the strange people in his mindtank, starting today!

Mondays will bring us a new video from the delightful (if failed) actress Anna Mann, whilst Tuesdays are a chance to get some expert tips on survival, scriptwriting and what movies you must all watch on pain of a poke in the eye, from Ninja Turtle fan Andy Parker.

On Wednesdays, everything will be coming up Saint Germain, as we get a little jazzy with our favourite beret wearer, Eddie Cartizian. And on Thursdays, its time for care in the community, as the Mighty God Thwor weilds his powerful hammer in our direction. Bang, bang.

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

Finally, each Friday will bring us a surprise guest from Colin’s oeuvre, including new characters and old favourites – some of whom you may remember from his excellent radio series Carnival of Monsters, which is due back on Radio 4 soon. You can see the first episode, featuring Anna Mann discussing her old actress friend Miriam Crotch below, and don’t forget to subscribe to see more!


© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

As we’re keen to keep reminding you, there’s a large bevvy of shows currently airing with TVO connections.  Monday nights see not one, not two, but three new shows to savour beaming into your homes: Trollied on Sky One at 8:30pm featuring Aisling BeaNever Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC Two at 10pm, featuring Noel Fielding alongside Phill Jupitus and Rhod Gilbert; and Toast of London on Channel 4 at 10:35pm, featuring Matt Berry.

©  Sky

© Sky

But wait – there’s more on telly this week! Psychobitches continues on Sky Arts every Tuesday evening, featuring Sharon Horgan, Katy BrandReece Shearsmith and many many more, whilst Not Going Out featuring Katy Wix returns to BBC One on Friday evening. It’s a good time to be an Onioner, eh?


Don’t forget that Paddington – directed by Paul King and featuring a host of TVO cameos amongst is big-name cast – is currently wowing the crowds in UK cinemas, having taken a whopping £5.1 million in its opening weekend alone!

© Studio Canal

Alongside Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman et al, are little sneaky guest appearances by Alice LoweSteve OramTom MeetenJames BachmanSimon Farnaby and Justin Edwards – so you’d be mad to miss it.

Also out at the moment are Bill Murray vehicle Saint Vincent, featuring Chris O’Dowd, and a film which almost sneaked past our radar – submarine-based action thriller Black Sea starring Jude Law, Tobias Menzies, David Threlfall and Michael Smiley. US readers can see the film, alongside Paddington in January. Check out the US trailer below.


Finally this week, the campaign to get a movie version of The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains off the ground needs your help to reach its goal, and we’ll leave you with this clip of TVO regular Stephen Evans to explain why.


Keep on peeling, and we’ll see you back here soon!


So Hot Right Now #5

10 Nov

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 below.


This week sees the continuing adventures of Trollied (featuring Aisling Bea) on Sky One, and Toast of London (written by and starring Matt Berry) on Channel 4, whilst Not Going Out – the BBC One sticom featuring Katy Wix alongside Lee Mack, takes a break for Children In Need, returning next Friday (Nov 21st).

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

Miss Bea also makes an appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks alongside pop veterans Lisa Stansfield and Ana Matronic, and fellow comedian Joe Lycett, and the regulars Rhod Gilbert, Phill Jupitus and Noel Fielding.

If you missed it last week, there’s also the opportunity to catch up with Richard Ayoade joining David WalliamsCatherine Tate, Dame Shirley Bassey and Annie Lennox on The Graham Norton Show via iPlayer, which is available until Friday evening.

© BBC / So Television

© BBC / So Television

There’s one other little treat for TVO fans out there this week, with a round of popular quiz show Pointless featuring Cult Sitcoms, which aired on Tuesday, November 4th.  The question asked 100 people to name actors who appeared in two or more episodes of SpacedThe Mighty Boosh and French & Saunders oft-neglected 80s sitcom Girls On Top.  Surprisingly, those polled were clearly not regular readers of The Velvet Onion – as quite a number of our regulars came up as pointless answers! Check it out, 36 minutes in, over yonder.


The nominations for this year’s British Comedy Awards were announced this weekend, with a huge number of shows having TVO connections.  As we noted in our news post, the nominations include a whopping – and totally deserved – eight nods for Matt Berry via Toast of London and his recent short The Lone Wolf.

© Kuba Wieczorek

© Kuba Wieczorek

With Toast currently in the midsts of its second series, as mentioned above, there’s no better time to check out what all the fuss is about!

In fact, the nominations go a long way to proving what we’ve been telling you all for almost half a decade now: that Onion Land is a talented place indeed.  All four nominations for Best Sitcom and three of the four for Best New Comedy Programme have TVO connections, as do fellow nominees, The Inbetweeners 2, Harry and Paul’s Story of the Twos and How To Make A Hit Pop Song.  It’s a glorious time for British Comedy indeed.

Our huge congratulations go to all the nominees, but especially our regulars Matt BerryAisling BeaKatherine ParkinsonReece ShearsmithDan Skinner, Spencer MillmanSimon FarnabyChris O’Dowd and Steve Coogan.  Good luck to you all!


Three stories caught the public’s imagination this week in ways we didn’t quite expect.  First up, Paul King‘s forthcoming Paddington movie – featuring cameos from Steve Oram and Tom Meeten amongst its star studded cast – began the biggest part of its publicity campaign, with a series of statues of the titular bear being erected across London.

© John Furniss / Studio Canal

© John Furniss / Studio Canal

The full blown Paddington Trail, detailed on the official Visit London website, features a whole host of Paddingtons designed by celebrities: with the likes of Peter Capaldi, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Sheen, John Hurt, Emma Watson and Julie Walters amongst those making their mark on the famous bear.

The film itself is due out on November 28th, and there’s a new trailer for it below.

On the subject of all things film related, the bad news this week was the closure of Teddington Studios, which will be demolished to make way for a series of luxury homes, as reported here by The Express.

Starting life as a film studio in the 1910s, Teddington was at one time a home for Warner Brothers productions of quota-quickies, before being taken over by ABC, and later Thames Television – in that time making shows as diverse as THe Avengers and Morcambe & Wise.  It became an independent studio in the mid 90s, and was leased to Pinewood for the last decade or so – but with the expiry of their lease, time is up for the legendary studio.

© Talkback

© Talkback

In recent years, Teddington has housed The IT CrowdHarry Hill’s TV BurpBlack BooksMan To Man With Dean LearnerBrass EyeNot Going OutStarlings and Dick And Dom’s Funny Business – all featuring a bevvy of TVO regulars.  It will be missed by the industry, but its legacy will live on.

Whilst Teddington leaves behind a positive legacy, the one ITV2 are making at the moment has been the source of much concern over the weekend, with friend of TVO (and cult comedian) Nathaniel Tapley being on the receiving end of abuse – alongside his collaborator Abi Wilkinson – after they dared to criticise ITV2 star Dapper Laughs for his remarks about women and the homeless.  The furore shows no signs of slowing down, but if you’ve missed it all, we recommend you start catching up here, then read the follow up pieces from BBC News and Huffington Post.  We’re firmly on Team AbiTap, here…


The campaign for The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains fundraising continues apace – and you can help make the movie happen! Join the campaign over yonder, and watch the splendid Neil Cole make a tit of himself in the name of moviemaking below.


As always, there’s so much going on, that we’re using Twitter to keep you informed quicker these days. Join the other 11,900+ of our regular readers by following us there, and get regular updates such as these:

See you next week… until then, keep on peeling!

So Hot Right Now #2

20 Oct
Hello, dear Peelers, and welcome to The Velvet Onion!  For your regular news updates you used to find on our home page, click here.  But below, here’s what Dolly would say is sooo hot right now in Onion Land.


© Noel Fielding / Dave Brown

The big news this week is that An Evening with Noel Fielding – the UK tour featuring the titular Mr Noel Fielding, alongside Mike Fielding and Tom Meeten – is officially underway.  Hopefully, you’ll have all bought your tickets via our exclusive pre-sale earlier this year, and we’d love to see you out enjoying the show.

The tour runs through the rest of the month, across November and most of December, and takes in various dates across the UK – so if you’re going along, send us a photo of yourself at the gig via our Facebook or Twitter pages (particularly if you’re in costume), with the hashtag #TVOSHOW and we’ll put our favourites on site at the end of the year.


Of course, Noel isn’t the only TVO regular on tour right now.  Tony Law and Paul Foot are traipsing across the land each week, with various dates on offer from other regulars, such as Aisling Bea, Richard Sandling and Colin Hoult.  There’s all sorts to see, as always, so keep your eye on our new Listings page which we’ll have up and running this week!

Again, if you’re off to a gig with TVO connections, why not send us a photo of yourself with the hashtag #TVOSHOW on Facebook or Twitter, and we’ll share them here for everyone else to enjoy!  And don’t be afraid to go say hello to people after the shows – they’re all lovely, and welcome your support.


The big news this week has been the announcement of The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains being adapted into a movie!  The B-movie pastiche started off as a web series from the minds of Bob Pipe, James Wren and Phil Whelans, and featured a cavalcade of TVO regulars in its huge ensemble cast.

© Bob Pipe

There’ll be more info available at TDTCTSOOB’s official website soon, but first up the team are launching the movie at this weekend’s London Comic Con – so get on down there to find out the news first, and pick up some funky badges along the way.

And if you can’t wait until then, you can catch up with the web series – and read our exclusive archive interview with the team over yonder.


The news that Doll & Em – the amazing comic drama starring Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer – has been recommissioned for a second series is just the tip of the ice berg!

November 3rd is the date to etch into your diary, as you get not one – but TWO new series to savour.

First up is series four of Sky One’s hit sitcom Trollied – now with added Aisling Bea and Doctor Who star Samuel Anderson in its ensemble cast.

© Sky

© Sky

After that, hop over to Channel 4 to see Series 2 of the ever brilliant Toast of London written by and starring Matt Berry.  If you haven’t seen the show before, pick up Series One on dvd, pronto!

© Kuba Wieczorek

Matt will also be joining Dan Skinner once more in Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer led sitcom House of Fools – which is recording its second series at MediaCityUK from this week.  We can expect that on our screens in early 2015.

Equally exciting is the impending release of Moone Boy series three, which is due on Sky any time now – alongside the news that it is to get a US remake… as is The IT Crowd!

Plus, there’s the continuing adventures of Katy Wix & Lee Mack in Not Going Out on BBC One, the delightful tales of Crackanory on Dave, and more Never Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC2 each week, so even if you can’t make it to a show there’ll be something to watch in the comfort of your own home for a while yet.  As for BuzzcocksAisling Bea will be making an appearance on there soon – that gal gets everywhere, eh – so stay tuned!


As we mentioned last week, there’s a whole batch of new books from TVO regulars out now, so if you’re after the perfect Christmas gifts, pop on over to our Amazon Store by clicking on the pictures below.

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!



There’s so much going on, we’re using Twitter to keep you posted on things faster that we could before.  So here’s a selection of other news from this week you may have missed…

For more news, stay glued to our News Page and Twitter feed throughout the week. Keep on peeling!

– Team TVO

So Hot Right Now #1

13 Oct
Hello, dear Peelers, and welcome to The Velvet Onion!  For your regular news updates you used to find on our home page, click here.  But below, here’s what Dolly would say is sooo hot right now in Onion Land.


The former Nemo frontman returned with his new album Adventures in Ausland recently, which you can buy over yonder.  He’s just released the music video for his single Lily (A Lover’s Dream), which you can see below.



Alan Carr, Davina McCall and Dr Christian Jessen host this year’s live event on Channel 4 this Friday evening, with an all star cast of contributors joining the fundraising efforts.

Along for the ride are Will Ferrell, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington, Taylor Swift, Derren Brown, Nicole Scherzinger, McBusted and many more – including a number of comedy legends – including our very own Dan Skinner as Angelos Epithemiou and Richard Ayoade – with the latter joining Andy Murray in a sketch about a movie adaptation of the tennis star’s life jam-packed with BIG NAMES!

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

All money raised will help finance clinical trials around the UK, including the most sophisticated bowel cancer trial ever to be undertaken in the world. The aim is to reach the point where three in four people will survive cancer in the next 20 years – so join in the good fight from 7pm this Friday.



Everyone has at least one novel in them, they say – and no sooner have we received Katy Brand’s excellent debut novel Brenda Monk Is Funny, we’re treated to three more books from TVO regulars.  None of which are novels, but all are worthy of your attention.  Buy them via our Amazon Store by clicking on the pictures below.

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!

Buy this book by clicking on the image above!



That’s not all going on either – with Never Mind The Buzzcocks continuing, appearances from Tony Law and Simon Farnaby currently up on iPlayer, the return of Not Going Out (starring Katy Wix) this Friday, Tom Cruise blockbuster The Edge of Tomorrow co-starring Tony Way being released on blu-ray, 3D blu-ray and dvd this week, and Tony Law, Paul Foot and Noel Fielding gearing up their UK tours.

For all the latest news as and when we find it, visit our News Page and keep your eye on our Twitter Feed!  Keep on peeling!

Comedy In The Buff (Not Quite)

7 Oct

© Effra Social

Every so often a new comedy night springs into being which we know is going to be awesome. And here’s one that promises great things!

Comedians In Swimsuits is a weekly comedy club that takes place every Thursday at Effra Social (89 Effra Road London SW2). The list of regulars that will be appearing at the club reads like a who’s who of TVO: Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Katy Wix, Rufus Jones, Lucy Montgomery…the list goes on!

Katy Wix will be on the bill at this week’s inaugural night, along with Lou Sanders, Lee Kern, David McNeill and Sophie Black. It all kicks off at 7.30pm this Thursday and it’s FREE – so don’t be late, or you might not get in. Exciting stuff!

For more information and to keep tabs on future evenings, follow the event Facebook page. Please be aware that comedians may not actually be in their swimsuits…

Crackanory 2 – Starting Soon

3 Sep

As we mentioned last month, the second series of Crackanory, the popular storytelling series on Dave, features a story read by the late, great Rik Mayall. The iconic comedian reads The Weatherman by TVO regular Tony Way.

It has now been confirmed that this will be the first story of the new series, alongside a story read by Vic Reeves called In Space No One Can Hear You Clean.

As in the first series, each half-hour episode contains 2 stories, narrated by guests and illustrated with either live action or animated sequences.

Katherine Parkinson will also read a story, and series 1 veteran Kevin Eldon, has written his second story for the series and will also make an appearance in Man’s Best Friend written by Alex Kirk.

Other stories will be read by  David Mitchell, Simon Callow, Emilia Fox, Meera Syall, Warwick Davies, Ben Miller, Sue Perkins, Johnny Vegas, and Ruby Wax; all providing their vocal talents to dark and intriguing stories written by comedian Holly Walsh, Ali Crockett and David Scott, Nico Tatarowicz, Melissa Bubnic and Katherine Jakeaways, and Yonderland scriptwriter Toby Davies .

The new series starts on Dave at 10pm on 24th September and you can see the new trailer below. If you missed the first series of funny, twisted tales then they are all available on demand from Dave.


Feast of Feeds

31 Jul

© Richard Gilligan

The BBC have released a series of brand new comedy pilots in the 2014 wave of Comedy Feeds. Showcasing emerging new talent, TVO regulars are involved many of the shows.

The highlights from the Onion crowd are:


Written and directed by Mongrels creator, Adam Miller, OtherwOrld is a surreal sketch show set in a parallel universe populated by puppets. Starring Tom Bell, the show features sketches about alien parasites, mismatched pandas and a blow-up doll.

Vodka Diaries

Four women in their late twenties, played by Aisling Bea, Cariad Lloyd, Gwyneth Keyworth and Rosamund Hanson, share a flat and misbehave. The Vodka Diaries follow the lives of the four women and their very different perceptions on life.

In Deep

An action comedy about two young police constables, bored of life on the bottom rung of the ladder, who get in deep when an unexpected case falls suddenly into their laps. Their boss and nemesis, DCI Lehane is played by Paul Kaye.


Katy Wix plays Mary, the manager of Specially Fried Chicken, who abandons hapless shop assistant Joe to the knife-point of a hungry nugget-demanding hoodie. The sitcom follows life in the shop as she attempts to regain the respect of the staff.

Other pilots in the scheme feature the talents of Jenny Bede, Josh Widdicombe, Jack Dee, Elis James, Tom Rosenthal, Beattie Edmondson and Kayvan Novak (who has a TVO connection through his appearance in Four Lions, amongst others).

All of this year’s Comedy Feeds are available exclusively on iPlayer will be available for a whole year. To watch them and find out more, head to the Comedy Feeds website.

TVO Favourites In New Roles

22 Jun


This week has seen news of new roles for some TVO folk.

July sees the launch of nine new Comedy Feeds pilots exclusively on BBC iPlayer, with a cast including Aisling Bea and Katy Wix. The pilots will be available on iPlayer from 20 July.

Speaking about the Comedy Feeds, Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, says: “This exciting range of shows and new talents cement BBC Three’s place as the key place for emerging comedy talent on and off-screen. With so many spin-off series springing from these, the Comedy Feeds show serious commitment to finding the next best writers, directors and faces of British comedy.”

This year’s Comedy Feeds include:

A new manager tries to motivate the staff of a fried chicken shop. Starring Katy Wix, Mandeep Dhillon, Simon Greenall and Imran Yusuf. Written by Jack and Harry Williams (Roman’s Empire, Full English, Bamboo). Produced by Sarah Hammond. Directed by Nick Collett. Executive Produced by Harry Williams and Jack Williams. A Two Brothers Pictures production.

Vodka Diaries
Four girls share a flat and get up to no good. Starring Aisling Bea, Cariad Lloyd, Rosamund Hanson and Gwyneth Keyworth. Written by Rachel Hirons (Powder Room). Produced by Iona Sweeney. Directed by James De Frond. Executive Produced by Lawrence Bowen. A Feelgood Fiction production.

Surreal sketch show set in an alternative universe populated by puppets. Written by Mongrels’ Adam Miller and Nico Tatarowicz. Produced by Chris May. Directed by Adam Miller. Executive Produced by Helen Williams. Hat Trick Productions.

The other Comedy Feeds will be Josh –  Sitcom based on the stand up of Josh Widdicombe, In Deep, Parents Evening, Flat TV. Rude Boys and Access all Areas with Jenny Bede.

In other news Aisling Bea is also joining the cast of Sky 1’s hit supermarket based comedy Trollied, as Charlotte, the hopeless daughter of the owner of Valco.

We have also heard that Tony Way will be a guest in the much-anticipated new Matt Lucas visual comedy Pompidou, which started shooting this week and will be aired in early 2015. The show stars Lucas as Pompidou, who has fallen on hard times and lives in a caravan outside his dilapidated estate, with his faithful butler Hove (Alex MacQueen) and Marion, an elegant Afghan Hound.

Bird Island Returns

9 May

Bird Island – the radio sitcom from Katy Wix – returned to BBC Radio 4 this week, and you have exactly one week to catch Episode One via iPlayer.


As we mentioned earlier this week, the show is an atmospheric comedy about Ben: a cheery scientist working in Antarctica, played by Reece Shearsmith.  The show focuses on his chirpy Dictaphone diary, populated by his fellow scientists, played by Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing, A Touch of Cloth), Alison Steadman (Gavin and Stacey, Fat Friends) and Katy Wix herself.

It’s delightfully silly fun, and you can hear it every Friday night via BBC Radio 4 Extra.  Tonight’s broadcast on Episode Two is at 10:00pm, and it will be available online shortly after transmission – alongside Episode One, which is over yonder now.

Bird Island

5 May


Bird Island, starring Reece Shearsmith, started a second series on BBC Radio 4 yesterday. We missed the first series of the  15 minute comedy, which is written by and also stars Katy Wix alongside Julian Rhind-Tutt and Alison Steadman.

The four-part series follows the adventures of Ben, a young scientist working in Antarctica, who tries to adapt to the loneliness by keeping a cheery audio diary on his Dictaphone. In the first episode he becomes obsessed with cereal bars.

The show is repeated on Radio 4 extra on Friday at 7.30am and 10pm, or you can catch up anytime on BBC iPlayer.

Wix’s Monologues

28 Apr

© Oberon Books

Katy Wix has collected her comedy monologues for the publication of a new book, available for pre-order now.

The star of Anna & Katy, Not Going Out, Time Trumpet and Torchwood has spent the past few years creating audition speeches for students at drama schools including RADA, LAMDA, Drama Centre and The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, alongside her own career in comedy and drama.

Designed to offer fresh and funny audition material specifically written for women, the 40 original comic creations have been collected together to provide aspiring female actors and comedians with the kind of wonderfully warm and interesting characters that they need – and deserve.

Each piece runs for two to three minutes, and are aimed at various age ranges and a variety of styles and comedic approaches, which look set to become a must-own book for any up and coming performer.

Comedy legend Jennifer Saunders – who cast Wix in a recent Absolutely Fabulous special has written the book’s foreward, in which she says: “So Katy Wix has written this book of comic monologues and I may have to steal some of them. Although written for the female voice, I dare say they would stand up very well if you were a gentleman and changed the odd word or two… Each piece is bubbling with the quirky genius that makes Miss Wix one of the funniest performers / writers around.”

 The book is available for pre-order now in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store for just £9.99, and a Kindle option is also available, with both released on 30th May.


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