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So Hot Right Now #23

23 Mar

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

ON THE TELLY AND RADIO THIS WEEK

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

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10pm, BBC Two

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

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

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

COUPLES
Monday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© Alex MacQueen

© Alex MacQueen

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

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

HOUSE OF FOOLS
Monday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

NURSE
Tuesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

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

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

 

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

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

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

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

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

© BBC

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

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

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

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9pm, Sky 1

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

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

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

 

POMPIDOU
Sunday, 6:30pm, BBC Two

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

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

 

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

© Phil Fisk

© Phil Fisk

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

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

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

LOOSE BOOSH

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

HE WORE DREAMS AROUND UNKIND FACES

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

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

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

THAT’S RICH! A TASTE OF FULCHER

© The Velvet Onion

© The Velvet Onion

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

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

PADDINGTON ARRIVES

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

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

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

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

AND THE REST…

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

Success for Harry & Paul and Inside No. 9

18 Mar

Last night saw the ceremony for this year’s Royal Television Society Awards, an evening that celebrates a broad range of fine television, from comedy to drama documentaries.

RTSThere were a few TVO-connected folk amongst the winners: Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse were victorious in the ‘Scripted Comedy’ category for Harry & Paul’s Story of the Twos which saw them beat Him and Her and Moone BoyIt’s always a tough call having two of our favourites nominated for the same award, but we’re sure that’s not the last you’ll be hearing of Moone Boy any time soon, with its third season having only just begun on Sky1.

The award for best ‘Comedy Performance’ went to Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton for the fantastic Inside No. 9, beating Harry Enfield and Sarah Hadland to the top spot in this category. You can read our preview of the first episode of Inside No. 9, which airs on Thursday 26th March at 10pm on BBC Two – don’t miss it!

Preview: Inside No. 9 – La Couchette

17 Mar
© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

Next week sees the long-awaited return of Inside No. 9 - the twisted anthology series from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton.

Episode One airs on Thursday, 26th March at 10pm on BBC Two, and with Alice Lowe and Paul Kaye amongst the big name guest stars this series, TVO was keen to see the results as soon as possible.

This, then, is our preview of the first episode, La Couchette

For more than two decades, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton have been honing their natural chemistry together – first as one half of The League of Gentlemen alongside Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss and Psychobitches director Jeremy Dyson, and more recently with their sublime comedic mystery saga Psychoville. Following the untimely demise of the latter, the duo took on their most ambitious project yet: Inside No. 9, and after a widely acclaimed first run, they’ve crafted six more tales in their inimitable style.

Where The League of Gentlemen mined the laughs in the downright macabre, and Psychoville took audiences on an increasingly preposterous journey into espionage and bad murders, Inside No. 9 showcased a remarkable constraint in Shearsmith and Pemberton. With each episode focusing on a different set of a characters in new locations each week, the pair got to continue flexing their skill as chameleonic character actors whilst also, on occasion stepping back from the big dynamic laughs: allowing the shifting mood and tone of the story to take centre stage, even if it meant a reduced role for themselves.  And with concept leading the way, it allowed the pair to truly experiment – most notably in the impeccable A Quiet Night In episode, which is almost entirely sans dialogue.

The results were quite unlike anything else on television in recent years, and the production of a second run is more than welcome, particularly as it once again comes with a top notch cast. The likes of Sheridan Smith, Alison Steadman, David Warner (who also appeared in The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse) and TVO’s own Alice Lowe and Paul Kaye are among those we will see in this new run.

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

But first: La Couchette. Episode One is set within the ninth sleeper car on a train from Paris to Bourg St Maurice, as a ramshackle bunch of travellers try, in vein, to bed down for the night.  At opposing ends of the spectrum, Shearsmith plays a fastidious doctor, on his way to an important interview – all nerves and twitches not a million miles away from his troubled librarian in Psychoville.  Pemberton, on the other hand is a slobbish, sluggish Germanic drunk – unkempt and full of gas, and seemingly unable to speak a word of English.

Before long, the unlikely companions are joined by a bickering Northern couple – played by those fine bastions of English character acting: Julie Hesmondalgh and Mark Benton.  This particular Northerner could watch these two read the phonebook, and be enthralled, so it’s understandably a delight to see them here: trying, and failing to stay quiet whilst settling in for the night on the way to their daughter’s wedding.

They are soon joined by the brilliant Jessica Gunning as a gung-ho Aussie backpacker, and a little while later by Jack Whitehall playing… well, a Jack Whitehall style yuppie gap-yah hitchhiker. He does it well, of course. Why, we’re even growing rather fond of the Whitehall Archetype now after Cockroaches. The shambolic sextet are perfectly mismatched, and unfortunate company for one another: intolerant of everyone else in the room, and in complete ignorance of their own flaws.

It’s a claustrophobic environment, captured with great style and panache by guest director Guillem Morales. With a background in horror movies – including the Guillermo Del Toro approved Julia’s Eyes, Morales is an inspired choice to find scope in such an enclosed space, and the many layers of the cabin feel at once constrictive yet never obtrusive to the action on screen.

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

Naturally, this being a Shearsmith and Pemberton creation with a horror movie director, there’s a surprise in store for our travellers, which we understandably won’t spoil.  However, we will say it puts the journey into jeopardy, and gives the more selfish members of the party an excuse to let their own desires get the better of them.

It isn’t perfect – there’s an incident with a shoebox that is almost too revolting for words, even after some of the more twisted aspects of The League… and Psychoville, which adds nothing of note to the episode’s plotting or structure, beyond a rather purile gag that may indeed make you gag yourself. Yet for the rest of the run-time, it works masterfully – building slowly to a climax that is both carefully signposted and hidden in plain sight.

To say more would no doubt ruin the game that has become part and parcel of Shearsmith and Pemberton’s work: wondering what on earth is going to happen next. Audiences deserve to be able to savour the rich characters they manage to build in such a short space of time, and if this is any indication for the rest of the series, we’re in for another solid gold run. Welcome back, Gents… the world is a better place with you in it.

Inside No. 9 – La Couchette airs on Thursday 26th March at 10pm on BBC Two.

So Hot Right Now #22

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

House of Fools welcomes Way & Davis

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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

Nurse continues with Day and Hoult

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

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

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

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

Justin Edwards goes In And Out Of The Kitchen

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

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

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

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

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

More Moone-ing around for O’Dowd and company

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

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

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

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

Pomipidou Continues

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

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

TVO IS FIVE all over again

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

And the rest

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

The Velvet Onion Is Five Again

15 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Nose Day Raises £78 Million

15 Mar

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

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

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

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

© Comic Relief

© Comic Relief

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

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

© Comic Relief

© Comic Relief

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

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

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

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

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

Return to No. 9

14 Mar

BBC Two have released the first trailer for the forthcoming second series of Inside No. 9.

© BBC

© BBC

For those who missed the sublime first series, Inside No. 9 is a twisted anthology series from the brains of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, marking their third major project together following The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville.

With each episode revolving around a different room, flat or house with a connection to the number nine, the first series featured the gifted duo as a string of one-off characters, as well as guest appearances from the likes of Katherine ParkinsonJulian Rhind-Tutt, Kayvan Novak, Oona Chaplin, Conleth Hill, Gemma Arterton, Tamsin Grieg, Rosie Cavalero, Julia Davis and Helen McCrory.

This star-studded policy for guest roles continues apace in Series Two, with TVO’s very own Alice Lowe and Paul Kaye set to feature, alongside Jane Horrocks, Jack Whitehall, Sheridan Smith, David Warner, Julie Hesmondalgh, Claire Skinner, Mark Benton and Alison Steadman amongst others.

You can see the trailer below, and the first episode of the new series will air on Thursday, 26th March. Stay peeled for more info very soon.

Joey Page & Toyah On 6 Music’s Roundtable

13 Mar

© BBC

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

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

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

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

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

 

So Hot Right Now #21

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

NURSE – Tuesday @ 10pm, BBC Two

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

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

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

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

HOUSE OF FOOLS – Monday @ 10pm, BBC Two

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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

MOONE BOY – Monday @ 9pm, Sky 1

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

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

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

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

POMPIDOU – Sunday @ 6:35pm, BBC Two

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

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

COMIC RELIEF – Friday from 7pm, BBC One

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

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

© Comic Relief / Guy Levy

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

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

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

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

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

AND THE REST

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

Caaaaaaaast Revealed at Laaaaaaaast!

7 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Toyah Willcox

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

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

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

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

Whitehouse brings in Hoult and Day for Nurse

7 Mar

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

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

© BBC / Des Willie / Hal Shinnie

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

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

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

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

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

So Hot Right Now #20

2 Mar

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

MOONE BOY RETURNS

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

 Sky Corporate

Sky Corporate

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

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

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

POMPIDOU ON BBC TWO

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

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

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

HOUSE OF FOOLS TEMPORARILY EVICTED

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

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

AND THE REST…

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

Moone Boy & Inside No. 9 Shortlisted For Royal Television Society Awards

1 Mar

© Sky

The Royal Television Society Awards nominations were announced this week, and two TVO-connected shows are amongst those shortlisted.

Moone Boy, The Irish sitcom, created, co-written by and co-starring Chris O’Dowd, has picked up a nomination in the ‘Scripted Comedy’ category, alongside fellow nominees Harry and Paul’s Story of the Twos and Him & Her: The Wedding. 

Fans of the show should note that the new third series of Moone Boy starts tomorrow (Monday 2nd March) at 9pm on Sky1. Sharon Horgan will be guest-starring in the new series, playing the similarly-named Sharon Morgan, a high powered, yoga-loving entrepreneur.

Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton have picked up a nomination for Inside No. 9 in the ‘Comedy Performance’ category. They’re up against Harry Enfield for Harry and Paul’s Story of the Twos and Sarah Hadland for The Job Lot.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Tuesday 17th March at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. For the full list of nominees click here.

Good luck to all of those shortlisted!

 

Onion Talking: James Cook’s Adventures in Ausland Part 2

28 Feb
© James Cook / Media Curve

© James Cook / Media Curve

If you’re a die hard fan of The Mighty Boosh or a lover of alternative music crafted with care for the details, chances are you’ve heard of James Cook. If you haven’t, then perhaps you haven’t been reading TVO properly these last five years.

With his new album out now, Cook has returned to the London music scene in recent months, and sat down to talk to TVO’s editor-in-chief Paul Holmes, about his past, present and future in a revealing two-part interview, ahead of the next round of his club night, Outsiders, on February 26th.

Part One was shared with you in mid February, and you can read the second part of our discussions below…

History tells us that the most famous of men named James Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe, mapping lands from New Zealand to Hawaii to an unprecedented level during his voyages of discovery.  There’s a sense of irony in the way his namesake – cult musician James Cook, formerly of NEMO, has traversed the globe over the past decade.

“The last ten years have been pretty crazy to be honest,” Cook tells TVO, as we continue our first in-depth catch-up since James performed at The Velvet Onion Live night almost three years ago.  “I started touring in 2004,” he continues, “when I was the guitarist in IAMX for about a year. We travelled across Europe, Russia and the USA – a rotating line-up featuring Chris Corner, Noel Fielding, Sue Denim, Dee Plume, Julian Barratt, Julia Davis and myself.  It was an amazing year, and the first time I started earning money from music.  Unfortunately,” he adds, “I couldn’t remain in IAMX because I had to concentrate on NEMO.”

© James Cook

© James Cook

NEMO were the electro-tinged indie darlings who released three albums in four years, concurrently with the televisual run of The Mighty Boosh, with which they were closely linked.  While they never cracked the mainstream in England, the band were particularly successful across Europe, taking James to Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.  However, James decided to disband NEMO in 2008, and move to Berlin.

“I started touring solo,” he recalls, “with just a laptop and electric guitar. This actually enabled me to be even freer with my movements, so I continued my European travels as well as venturing further away to the Americas, visiting Uruguay, Argentina, New York and LA.  I was mostly invited to these places, or I knew people there and sought out gigs and travel. Myspace allowed NEMO to have fans all over the world, so it was a relief and a dream come true to be able to travel through music.”

All of this travel enthused his latest record, Adventures in Auslandnamed after the German word for ‘abroad’. “It can also mean ‘outside’,” Cook notes. “Or ‘otherness’.  Wanderlust is addictive. Once I had a sniff of that lifestyle, I was hooked! There was no question of me not taking every opportunity to escape the comparative confines of London, and the experiences gained from all this travel fed directly into the new album. Songs were written and recorded across several years in LA, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Prague, Berlin, Vienna, Genova and London, now I’m based here again.”

© James Cook

© James Cook

Adventures in Ausland marks James’ second full length solo album, following 2012’s Arts and Sciences and 2013’s covers EP Reverse Engineering.  With three NEMO albums and the full-length record by side-project The Dollhouse behind him, however, the album is technically his sixth complete record, and arguably his best work yet.

“The feedback has been great so far,” Cook states, “which is obviously why you continue releasing new material. The aim is to constantly improve and grow, and hopefully never repeat yourself. I think I am physically unable to repeat myself artistically. I never make the same album twice, and have never even used the same method and techniques twice. I always use new and different musicians and instruments, and the process of recording is as important as the writing stage. It’s basically a series of filters, like distilling alcohol like some sort of electro/chemical process.”

Well, quite. Indeed, the album adds brass elements to Cook’s impressive canon, The usual degree of classy strings and James’ curious ability to sound both impassioned and distant at the same time remain, but this album feels less immediate and more mature than ever before.  James’ natural influences – Lou Reed, David Bowie, Scott Walker – remain at the heart of his work, and as the years have progressed, other artists have crossed James’ path and made an enormous contribution to his style. TVO notes that there appear to be strong traces of Neil Hannon’s work across Cook’s catalogue, and James is quick to own up to an admiration for the songwriter.

© James Cook

© James Cook

“It’s hard to disguise formative influences,” he notes, “and the first two Divine Comedy records were definitely a big influence on me, and it took me a while to shake the influence off! I initially discovered them whilst living in Paris and was blown away by something that seemed to me to come from another universe. I then investigated Scott Walker and Jacques Brel as a result of listening to them, so I owe Mr Hannon quite a debt!

The mention of Brel draws conversation to an intriguing aspect of Adventures in Ausland: Cook’s voice has often been compared to Marc Almond, and the album features a new interpretation of Brel’s magnificent Jacky, which was infamously given a camp disco makeover in the early 90s. James was aware that this could draw closer comparisons to Almond’s work, but his love for the original song overrode any reservations he had. It was time, he suggests, to finally do it justice.

“Brel was one of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters,” James explains. “People like Scott Walker brought his amazing songs to an English speaking pop audience in a way he could never have done himself. However, as a university student of politics and French, I became obsessed with how badly his songs are actually translated into English. Most of them totally miss the point, or just simply don’t make much sense, and it is perhaps impossible for anyone who doesn’t speak French to understand that.”

“They’re very satirical songs,” he continues. “Very personal, very dark and very funny, so doing a proper translation is really no mean feat. I had always dreamt of doing my own modern translations of his song. Scott Walker’s version of Jacky was my main reference, but so was Momus 1986 version, Nicky.”

“People have been saying I sound like Marc Almond for years,” he sighs. “I’ve never really been a fan. I think that first Soft Cell record is great, but I think it’s more that we had a similar music and cultural upbringing. We definitely share similar tastes and influences in our music, so that’s probably where it comes from. But Marc Almond’s version of Jacky is pretty crap and pointless really, so I decided to pluck up the guts to go for my own version. It’s a very personal song, so you have to make it about yourself – which is why my version is called Jamie, after my childhood name. Then you have to have the appropriate cultural references, and requisite irony, correctly translated and updated. When I sing it live, I update the words to fit current situations. That’s how it should be done.”

© James Cook

© James Cook

We’re suddenly touching on ground that has come up in the Cook’s work previously: a sense of frustration about the abandonment of art and discovery, hand in hand with the rise of technology and the era of disposability. It is something TVO is only too acutely aware of, and James shares our frustration and apprehension about the way society is headed.

“Without sounding too depressing,” he explains, “I genuinely feel we are in some sort of cultural nadir right now. Technology should be allowing us to create more and more insanely mindblowing art, but all we seem to be doing as a collective community is tweeting nonsense, and posting up pics of ourselves, our food and our pets. The idea that we have all the information known to man inside our pockets, is something that would have been inconceivable even fifteen years ago.  Somehow that potential access has frozen us in fear, mediocrity and narcisism.”

“Music has been devalued to virtually nothing,” Cook continues. “Disposable, vacuous art permeates popular culture. Narrative creativity seems to be anachronistic. Attention spans are at an all time low. Our technology is controlling us right now, rather than the other way round. Let’s hope we snap out of this dystopian Orwellian nightmare and take control of our lives and collective destiny!”

TVO proposes that one way independent artists are trying to do exactly that, is by abandoning traditional release structures, and turning to pledge culture to release their work via fundraisers and special releases. Could the future for James involve making albums through this method?

“I am open to it,” he suggests, considering the angles. “I’ll try anything and everything I can with my future releases. I’m currently working on three new albums, and must find new ways for people to experience them. Unfortunately, I have a small fanbase, and am not really very good at self-promotion or asking for money when it comes to my own music. Those Kickstarter type situations seem unappealing to me, somehow, but I’m looking into them.”

There’s an interesting honesty about Cook. He is perhaps, his own worst critic, yet acts also as his own personal champion. Proud of his achievements, but keen to downplay his abilities, there’s a sense of an artist who still has so much left to give and an awful lot more to say. As conversation moves briefly onto science fiction, and Cook and TVO share a mutual moment of Doctor Who admiration, he teases about a treatment he is working on for an animated time-travel detective spy thriller. There’s a sense that he has so much more to give, and TVO could listen to him talk about his plans for hours. Sadly, it is time for James to disappear into the early dusk of a Winter’s day. Before he goes, however, TVO suggests that, in an ideal world, Cook would be utilising his delicious string arrangements, cryptic lyrics and silky smooth vocals on the next James Bond theme. “Oh, god, yeah! That would be another dream come true,” he beams. “But I guess I’ll have to join the queue for that one!”

James Cook returns with Outsiders on 26th March. His new album, Adventures in Ausland is available now via Bandcamp

Get Inside Inside No. 9 – With Steve & Reece!

27 Feb
© BBC

© BBC

As we mentioned last month, a second series of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton‘s Inside No. 9 is in the offing – and you can see the first two episodes before everyone else at a preview screening.

What’s more, Reece and Steve will be there, along with series producer, Adam Tandy, for a Q&A. Exciting stuff!

The special screening of episodes 1 and 2 of the critically-acclaimed and award-winning BBC2 anthology series takes place at BFI Southbank in London, on March 11th at 6:15pm. They will be screening ‘La Couchette’, which features Jack Whitehall in its cast and takes place in compartment No. 9 of a night train, and ‘The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge’, which features another TVO-er, Paul Kaye. This time the action takes place in barn no. 9 as two of England’s most notorious witch-finders try a defenceless old woman.

And now for the important bit (if you want to be there). Tickets go on sale at 11.30am TOMORROW, SATURDAY 28th FEBRUARY right here. We suspect they’ll sell out fast – so  be quick!

As yet there’s no firm confirmation of the series 2 transmission date, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we hear something.

So Hot Right Now #19

23 Feb

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

POMPIDOU BEGINS…

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

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

HOUSE OF FOOLS CONTINUES…

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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

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

CATASTROPHE ENDS…

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

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

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

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

CASUAL VACANCY FILLED…

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

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

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

REPLAY THE GAME…

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

© HBO

© HBO

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

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

TOUCHDOWN IN SOHO…

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

© PBJ

© PBJ

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

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

AND THE REST…

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

Presenting Pompidou

22 Feb
© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

A series of promotional images for Pompidou - the new (mostly) silent comedy from the brain of Matt Lucas - have been released.

Earlier this weekend, you may have noticed TVO get a little weird, as our language barrier collapsed into Pompidou territory, in celebration of the release of the first Pompidou trailer. The show stars Lucas as the titular aristocrat, who is as pompous as he is penniless, as loveable as he is tubby and eccentric. He is all of those things in abundance – an elderly oddball who has fallen on hard times, and is forced to live in a knackered old caravan in front of his now crumbling estate.

Alex MacQueen (Hunderby, The Thick of It, Doctor Who) stars as Pompidou’s crusty butler Hove, and the series also features appearances from Tony Way, Alex Lowe (Barry from Watford), Jane Asher, Bella Emberg, Anita Dobson and Roy Barraclough.

It all looks utterly bonkers in the most charming manner, and the curious amongst you won’t have to wait much longer: The show begins its first series at 6:30pm on Sunday, 1st March on BBC Two. You can see a gallery of images from the first episode below.

Pompidou

21 Feb

Ah trahlorh fuh deh Pompidou, ehsnu avehbehl teh vuw ohnlihn.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

Pompidou eh deh brahnchil deh Mah Luhcah, ahn ahlsuh stur Ahleh MehQueh, Tehne Weh, Aleh Loh eh Reh Bahrahcluh. Luhcah stur ah Pompidou – ah tehbeh, pehmpahs, pehnnileh, exentreh, yeh lahvbah ahristohcrah, lehvin ihn ahn ohl cahrvahn.

Eh wihl beh sehngin “pompibompidoudou” frem Mehrch Fehrs ohn BehBehCehTuh. Yeh cah seh trahlorh behluh.

Reece’s Chain Reaction

20 Feb
© bbc.co.uk

© bbc.co.uk

Reece Shearsmith is interviewed by Adam Buxton in the first of the new series of BBC Radio 4’s tag team interview show Chain Reaction. Each week the interviewee from the week before becomes the interviewer.

The 10th series of the chat show carries on from the end of the last series, when Adam Buxton was interviewed by Graham Linehan.

During the show the pair discuss the League of Gentlemen, Psychoville and Inside No 9 and Reece’s strange job making models.

Next week Reece interviews House of Fools legend Bob Mortimer, the following week Bob interviews his comedy partner Vic Reeves, and Vic then interviews three-time Bafta award winner Olivia Colman.

Chain Reaction is broadcast on Wednesdays on Radio 4 at 6.30pm, followed by repeats on Radio 4 extra at 7.30am and 10pm the following Wednesday. It is also available after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.

Wow Wow Show Now!

17 Feb
© Dan Clark / Soho Theatre

© Dan Clark / Soho Theatre

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

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

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

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

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

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