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So Hot Right Now #32

25 May

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…

HERE COMES THE SUN TRAP

Wednesday, 10:45pm, BBC ONE

© Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

© Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

This week sees the launch of Sun Trap, the new BBC One sitcom starring Kayvan Novak and Bradley Walsh, with a sizable bevvy of TVO regulars along for the ride in guest roles throughout the six part run.

Novak stars as undercover reporter Woody, who is forced to go on the run by a corrupt editor and finds his old mentor Brutus (Walsh) running a bar in a holiday resort. Together, the pair take on a series of investigations – and a variety of disguises – to keep their newfound paradise in check.

In this first episode, Woody’s life on the run begins, and the wife of a pension’s fraudster asks the duo to help find her husband’s hidden millions. Also starring Jamie Demetriou, Emma Pierson and Bea Segura, there’s something warm and inviting about the show – and we’re not just talking about the climate. It’s a little old-fashioned, especially for alternative comedy nutjobs like us, but stick with it, and you’ll find much to enjoy, including a lot of familiar faces giving it an extra stamp of quality.

The likes of Simon Day, Paul KayeAlex KirkTracy Ann ObermanMorgana Robinson and Tony Way pop up across the series, alongside other big names such as Jack Dee, Keith Allen, Lee Boardman, Clive Swift and Sean Gilder.

Directed by Ben Palmer (Star Stories, Penelope Princess of Pets, Bad Sugar etc), and produced by Neil Webster (Would I Lie To You, Them From That Thing) – the same duo currently working on Morgana’s long awaited sketch-show via their production company Happy Tramp, Sun Trap is a slice of pure fun, that’s on at the unfathomably late time of 10:45pm, starting Wednesday 27th May on BBC One.

HORRIBLE HISTORIES IN DA FOOCHA

Monday, 7:45am / 5pm CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

We thought it was a goner, but this week sees the return of CBBC smash Horrible Histories  for a series of six revamped specials.

Once more featuring series regulars Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick, albeit as the sole remaining members of the previous team, new regulars include Tom Stourton, Adam Riches, Naz Osmanoglu, Natalie Walter and Jessica Ransom. There’s also a number of big name guest stars lined up, including Rowan Atkinson, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kathryn Drysdale, Lorna Watson and The Actor, Kevin Eldon.

This week, Friday Night Dinner star Tom Rosenthal is thrust into the centre of the action, as we look at the life of King Alfred the Great, who defeats the Viking using cunning tactics and summons the spirit of Ed Sheeran. Early birds can see the results at 7:45am on Bank Holiday Monday, but if you can wait a little longer, it’s also repeated at 5pm – and of course, will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

A LITTLE BIT OF SUGAR IN IN SUCCESSVILLE

Wednesday, 10pm, BBC THREE

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Tom Davis‘ madcap, partially-improvised murder mystery sitcom gameshow hybrid Murder in Successville is proving to be a big hit with viewers, and this week will surely sweeten the deal as TV heart-throb Dermot O’Leary is joined by special guest star Ricky Grover (Being Human, The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains, Getting On, Black Books, Red Dwarf and many more), as local sweet-shop proprietor Alan Sugar.

Sugar is just one potential suspect in the murder of Amanda Holden, the PA to town mayor Simon Cowell (the brilliant Liam Hourican). Other suspects include nursing home proprietor Miley Cyrus (TVO regular Cariad Lloyd) and martial arts expert Jessie J (Jenny Bede), and it’s up to Rookie Dermot and the ever unreliable DI Sleet (Davis), to crack the case.

Once again featuring friend of TVO, Nico Tartarowicz as put-upon cop Sid, this is another riotously brilliant episode of MiS that’s bound to go down well with fans of the show. After last week’s slight misstep with grumpy Deborah Meaden, it’s good to have another guest who really goes for it, and gets stuck in to Successville’s bonkers world – and it’s safe to say Dermot gets a bit over-excited. Tune in on Wednesday evening to find out more, and check out a preview clip featuring him grilling Cariad Lloyd below.

STRANGE AND NORRELL GETS STRANGER

Sunday, 9pm, BBC ONE

© JSMN Ltd / Bertrand Calmeau / BBC

© JSMN Ltd / Bertrand Calmeau / BBC

The BBC fantasy epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has been wowing critics since its début earlier this month, and it’s not hard to see why. Impeccable direction from Toby Haynes, a flawless script from Peter Harness, and a pitch-perfect ensemble cast have brought the world of Susanne Clarke’s novel to glorious life, and the series shows no signs of flagging in this third instalment.

This week, Strange (Bertie Carvell) arrives in Spain, only to find Lord Wellington (Ronan Vibert) has no use for him. Frustrated, he demonstrates how his magical talents could be used to help fight the Napoleonic armies in a stunning sequence we’d be really naughty spoiling for you. Meanwhile Mr Norrell (Eddie Marsan) is battling to keep his secrets hidden, while Arabella (Charlotte Riley) discovers the recently resurrected Lady Pole (Alice Englert) has become dangerously unhinged – but when she tries to warn her husband, it turns out her letters are being intercepted by the mysterious figure known only as The Gentleman (Marc Warren).

Also featuring Ariyon Bakare, Samuel West, Enzo Cilenti, Vincent Franklin, Brian Pettifer and TVO regulars Edward Hogg and Paul Kaye, this is a truly wonderful ensemble delivering powerful material that’s hard to resist. You can read our exclusive interview with star Paul Kaye about the show over yonder, and if you like what you see, why not pre-order the Blu-Ray and DVD from our Amazon Store?

CARIAD HAS MORE NEWS FOR YOU

Monday, 10:45pm, BBC ONE

© Hat Trick / Richard Kendal

© Hat Trick / Richard Kendal

Every now and then, we miss something happening, and with recent episodes of BBC One’s long running topical panel show, Have I Got News For You shifting and changing around at a moment’s notice due to strike action and/or producer-thumping former-presenters glimpsed in the background of the above photo, it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of a show that, whilst usually brilliant, rarely has TVO connections.

However, last Friday’s edition saw Cariad Lloyd follow in the footsteps of Tony Law and Graham Linehan, amongst others, by appearing as a guest panellist, poking fun at the latest news stories alongside journalist/author Jon Ronson and regulars Ian Hislop and Paul Merton. Stepping into the host chair was none other than comedian and recent Doctor Who star Frank Skinner.

If you missed it, you’re in luck – as Monday evenings is typically when BBC One air an extended repeat, with more bits packed in for good measure. Have I Got More News For You airs at 10:45pm on Bank Holiday Monday, and will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but as demonstrated this week, also up and down the country. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Rob Grieg

© Rob Grieg

Monday 25th May

Colin Hoult: Sit on the Ledge and Jump Down to the Ground
The Warren, Brighton Fringe
6pm, £8
TICKETS

Lou Sanders, Tiffany Stevenson, Gareth Richards and Stuart Black plus a special guest
The Phoenix, London
8:30pm, £5.50
TICKETS

Tuesday 26th May

Dan Skinner and Alex Lowe in The Angelos and Barry Show Live Podcast
Gunabara Club, London
7pm, £13.75
TICKETS

Wednesday 27th May

Paul Foot: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major
The Courtyard, Hereford
7:30pm, £13.50
TICKETS

Thursday 28th May

Adam Kay, Eric Lampaert, Michael Legge, David McIver and Ian Lane
The Garage, Highbury, London
7pm, £5
TICKETS

Paul Foot: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major
South Street, Reading
8pm, £14.50
SOLD OUT

Friday 29th May

Monkey Toast: Phil Whelans, David Shore, Susan Harrison, Lauren Shearing, Graham Dickson, Richard Soames and special guest Rob Broderick
The Proud Archivist, London
7:30pm, £4-£10
TICKETS

Paul Foot: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major
The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
7:30pm, £13.50
SOLD OUT

© PBJ

© PBJ

Saturday 30th May

Sarah Kendall, David Cross, Jared Christmas, Amir Khoshokhan, Ed Aczel, Joel Dommett, Nish Kumar and Tom Toal
Rich Mix Studios, London
7:30pm, £12
TICKETS

Paul Foot: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major
The Hawth Theatre, Crawley
7:45pm, £14.00
SOLD OUT

Sunday 31st May

The Comedy Store Players: Cariad Lloyd, Phill Jupitus, Josie Lawrence, Neil Mullarkey, Niall Ashdown, Steve Edis
The Comedy Store
7:30pm, £19.00
TICKETS

Paul Foot, Mark Watson, Tim Key & Nish Kumar
Wells Little Theatre, Wells Comedy Festival
8pm, £15.40
TICKETS

ALL WEEK

Tracy Ann Oberman in McQueen
St James Theatre, London
7:30pm (and Saturday matinee at 2:30pm), £25-65
TICKETS

BIG SCREEN FUN

© Handle Productions Oy

© Handle Productions Oy

This week gives you a chance to catch a couple of TVO regulars at the cinema for good measure. Out on general release now is Moomins on the Riviera featuring the voice of Tracy Ann Oberman as Ma Moomin in the revival of an animated classic.

Also out now is family comedy Up All Night which features a cameo from Kevin Eldon, whilst on Friday, Man Up starring Simon Pegg, Lake Bell and Sharon Horgan is released nationwide. You can see trailers for all three films below.

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. This week, we had a Twitter exclusive competition, so if you missed it, start following us now, so you can definitely keep up with the next one. Until next time, keep on peeling!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell go to Comic Con

21 May

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell will be visiting this year’s Comic Con in London this weekend. A panel consisting of Paul Kaye (who plays Vinculus) and Bertie Carvel (Jonathan Strange) as well as writer Peter Harness, director Toby Haynes and producer Nick Hirshkorn will take place at 4pm on Saturday May 23rd. There will also be a promotional signing at the event.

If you’re wondering where you may have heard the latter names before, Toby Haynes is recognisable for his work on Sherlock, The Three Musketeers and Doctor Who and producer Nick Hirschkorn brought us Five Children And It and Skellig.

This new fantastical drama began its series last week and the next episode airs this Sunday at 9pm on BBC One. The series is set to be released on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK on 15th June.

You can read our interview with Paul Kaye here and tickets for Comic Con 2015 are still available on the Comic Con website.

Stag: New Dark Comedy for BBC2

20 May
© The Mirror / BBC

© The Mirror / BBC

A new dark comedy thriller commissioned by BBC Two started filming earlier this week on location in Scotland – and the cast features a couple of TVO faces!

Stag is a three-part series about a rather nasty stag weekend. It follows a meek school teacher and his future brother-in-law, plus several obnoxious friends, on a deer-stalking expedition in the Scottish Highlands. As the hunting party realises that they themselves are the prey, sordid secrets begin to emerge and old friendships are tested to the limit in a ruthless battle for survival.

The cast includes Reece Shearsmith and Rufus Jones – plus Tim Key (Inside No 9, Alan Partridge), alongside Jim Howick (Peep Show, Horrible Histories), Stephen Campbell Moore (The Wrong Mans, Our Zoo), JJ Feild (The Musketeers), James Cosmo (Game Of Thrones), Amit Shah (Silent Witness, Jekyll & Hyde) and Sharon Rooney (My Mad Fat Diary).

Jim Field Smith, Producer, Director and Co-writer of Stag has said of the mini-series: “I can’t believe this fantastic roster of talent is joining us for seven weeks of hell in the Highlands, and can only assume they haven’t read the scripts properly.”

As soon as we hear any more about the project, including its intended transmission date, (currently planned for later this year) we’ll be sure to let you know.

Horrible Histories Returns

20 May
© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

Next week sees the return of CBBC smash Horrible Histories – and the revamped show has some impressive casting coups up its sleeve.

The fifth, and at the time presumed final series of the educational sketch show aired in July 2013, wrapping up the award winning show which had featured a bevy of TVO talent since its launch in 2009.  Its regular cast comprised Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond – all of whom left the BBC to create Sky 1’s fantastical comedy Yonderland (due back on our screens very soon), and the long-awaited movie Bill for BBC Films.

The show, which had also featured Alice Lowe in its second, third and fifth series, and Katy Wix in its first four runs, seemed to have reached its natural end, but the sheer popularity and resilience of the format have seen fit to grant it a relaunch, with a Magna Carta special starring Ben Miller airing earlier this year.

With Farnaby and Howick back on board, new regular cast members for the sixth series (dubbed ‘a series of specials’ in trailers) include Tom Stourton, Adam Riches, Naz Osmanoglu, Natalie Walter and Jessica Ransom. To sweeten the deal, there’s also a number of big name guest stars lined up, including Rowan Atkinson, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kathryn Drysdale, Lorna Watson and The Actor, Kevin Eldon.

Eldon plays William I in the new series, and Bhaskar rocks the sandals as Ghandi. Drysdale gets to glam up as Cleopatra whilst Watson channels the spirit of Kate “Maid Marian” Lonergan as Boudica. Atkinson, meanwhile gets to slip into a fat suit and become Henry VIII to sing a number in the style of another portly king, which you can see below.

Horrible Histories returns on Bank Holiday Monday, 25th May, at the unspeakable time of 7:45am, with a repeat at 5pm. It will, of course, be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

You can see a gallery of images from the new series, including shots of Eldon as William I, below.

Sun Trap Is Coming

19 May

BBC One have released the trailer and a batch of promotional images for forthcoming sitcom Sun Trap – and naturally, there’s a TVO face or two to be found lurking within.

© BBC/Happy Tramp/Adam Lawrence

© BBC/Happy Tramp/Adam Lawrence

The series, originally titled Woody when announced last year, stars Kayvan Novak (Four Lions, Inside No. 9, Bad Sugar, Paddington – you name it, he’s probably in it!) as an undercover reporter on the run after being set up by his corrupt editor.

Escaping to a holiday resort, he finds his old mentor (Bradley Walsh) now running a bar, and together the pair take on a series of hilarious investigations by adopting a variety of guises.

Also starring Jamie Demetriou, Emma Pierson and Bea Segura, the show has been described as a combination of MagnumMinder and classic BBC comedy, the show is a madcap, fun-filled adventure in the sun, and features a cavalcade of top notch guest stars, including Jack Dee, Keith Allen, Lee Boardman, Clive Swift, Cavan Clerkin, Sean Gilder and Kara Tointon.

Joining the fun for an episode here and there are TVO regulars Alex Kirk, Tony WayPaul KayeTracy Ann ObermanSimon Day and Morgana Robinson, some of whom can be glimpsed in the trailer below.

Their parts are currently under wraps, and you’ll just have to watch the show to find out more, but as Bradley Walsh’s website let slip that Kaye is playing Frederico Mercury, and the character can be seen in the behind the scenes shots released by the Beeb, it’s safe to tell you you’re in for a real treat with that one!

TVO connections carry on behind the scenes on the show too. The director is Ben Palmer, whose previous directing work has included Star Stories, Penelope Princess of Pets, The Inbetweeners, Milton Jones’ House of Rooms, Bad Sugar and London Irish, all of which had at least some notable involvement from TVO regulars.

On producing duties is Neil Webster, whose work includes Would I Lie To You and The 11 O’Clock Show. Sun Trap marks their second major collaboration together, following Them From That Thing featuring Dan Skinner, Morgana Robinson, Kevin Eldon and lots of other talented folk. Together, they have formed production company Happy Tramp, who are currently working on the forthcoming Morgana sketch-show pilot for the BBC, and have lots of other great things in the pipeline.

Sun Trap begins on Wednesday, 27th May at the rather mental time of 10:45pm on BBC One. Tune in and stay peeled for more info, and enjoy a gallery of images from the first episode below.

 

Comedy Feeds Return

19 May

The BBC have announced six further comedy pilots as part of BBC Comedy Feeds on iPlayer, featuring a sprinkling of names with TVO connections.

© Cave Bear Productions

© Cave Bear Productions

Now in their fourth year, the Comedy Feeds provide a platform for new and emerging comedy talent, both on and off screen. This year’s pilots include a number of familiar faces, starting with a pilot that has spring-boarded off the back of BBC Three’s new hit show Murder in Successville.

Dead Air is written by BBC Radio 1 presenter Greg James, alongside Mark Chappell & Shaun Pye, both of whom worked on cult favourite The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. James stars as Jake Cross – a respected late-night DJ for commerical radio, who is unexpectedly given the opportunity to inherit the coveted breakfast slot when the previous presenter dies.

James – who was the second rookie cop to assist DI Sleet in MiS (the episode is on iPlayer now if you missed it!) – has enlisted the services of Sleet himself, Tom Davis, to play his idiotic best friend in the show. Also along for the ride are Olivia Poulet (The Thick of It), Richard David-Caine and Monserrat Lombard (Ashes to Ashes).

Dead Air has been produced by Tiger Aspect’s new sideline Cave Bear Productions, and behind the scenes talent also have TVO connections to boast. Producer Arnold Widdowson previously produced Crackanory and Grandma’s House, and was a writer on Horrible Histories and Sorry, I’ve Got No Head, whilst director Simon Gibney directed last year’s Horrible Histories special.

© Dwayne Senior

© Dwayne Senior

Fishbowl is a comedy from Bwark Productions about a university dropout who goes back to stay with her weird family.

It features Katherine Rose Morley (Last Tango in Halifax) alongside Mark Benton (Inside No. 9, Early Doors), Sally Lindsay (Mount Pleasant), Felicity Montague (I’m Alan Partridge) and TVO regular Michael Smiley.

Written by Andrew Mettam, who previously wrote for Scallywagga featuring Steve Edge, it’s producer is Rhianna Andrews in her first producing job following many years as a producer’s assistant and later associate producer on The Inbetweeners and its spin-off movies.

© Ellie White

© Ellie White

People Time is a character comedy sketch show written by and starring a ‘new wave’ (see how that’s catching on?) of Britain’s comedy writers and performers.

Many of these names will be familiar to those who follow the live circuit, but one in particular stands out for us: Ellie White of House of Fools fame.

Ellie, who played Erik’s deadpan girlfriend Rachel in the madcap sitcom’s second series earlier this year, will be joined by Jamie Demetriou, who recently played Randal in Cockroaches and will be appearing in BBC One’s new sitcom Sun Trap (more on that soon) and the long awaited movie Bill in a few months time.

Also on board is Jamie’s older sister, Natasha Demetriou, who previously wrote for E4’s The Midnight Beast and, like her brother, is a stand-up in her own right. The cast is rounded out by Liam Williams (Uncle), Claudia O’Doherty (The Inbetweeners 2), Alastair Roberts and Daran Johnson.

Ben Farrell (who previously worked on Toast of London before moving to the BBC) is executive producer on the project, with Andrew Gaynord directing and In and Out of the Kitchen‘s Sam Michell on producing duties.

Three other shorts have also been comissioned: provocative comedy SunnyD from Dane Baptiste (which features Fast Show veteran John Thomson); family friendly comedy game show Funz and Gamez (with House of Fools producer Lisa Clark involved); and Radges – a sitcom pilot by Fern Brady starring Miranda‘s Sarah Hadland and set in a Scottish pupil referral unit.

This latter pilot is  of particular note, as it is being produced by Sam Bryant – whose previous work on radio includes I Regress and Alice’s Wunderland along with many other firm favourites.

All six pilots will be available on iPlayer later this year. Stay peeled for more info.

So Hot Right Now #31

18 May

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…

GO GAGA WITH SUCCESSVILLE

Wednesday, 10pm, BBC THREE

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

BBC Three’s delightfully silly murder mystery sitcom gameshow hybrid Murder in Successville continues on Wednesday, with this week’s guest rookie more used to barking orders than taking them.

Dragons Den star Deborah Meaden joins tough, gruff DI Sleet (the impeccable Tom Davis) to investigate the murder of Lady Gaga – poisoned in her own mansion. Under suspicion this week are her niece, Lady Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (a pitch perfect Cariad Lloyd), her invalid aunt Nicki Minaj (Jenny Bede), retired scoutmaster Boris Johnson (Marek Larwood) and her butler Jay-Z (Jason Lewis).

STRANGE & NORRELL RIDE THE STORM

Sunday, 9pm, BBC ONE

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

Following huge acclaim for its first episode, BBC One’s new magical epic returns on Sunday evening, as Eddie Marsan, Bertie Carvel, Paul Kaye and Edward Hogg form a chunk of the incredibly talented ensemble cast bringing Susanne Clarke’s novel to life.

Also featuring Ariyon Bakare, Charlotte Riley, Enzo Cilenti, Samuel West, Alice Englert, Vincent Franklin, Brian Pettifer and a scene stealing turn from Marc Warren, this week’s second installment sees Strange arrive in London to take up an apprenticeship with Mr Norrell, and almost immediately the two magicians are recruited to rescue a stricken ship. Elsewhere, the mysterious Gentleman exerts a sinister influence over Sir Walter Pole’s household, and takes butler Stephen Black to a shadow kingdom where he discovers the price of Lady Pole’s resurrection.

If you missed Episode One last week, you can catch up on iPlayer now, and read our exclusive interview with star Paul Kaye over yonder.

FINAL DELIVERY

Wednesday, 9:30pm, ITV1

© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

ITV sitcom The Delivery Man comes to an end on Wednesday evening on ITV1, as Darren Boyd and company bring the maternity ward to life one last time.

This week, the hospital’s drug cupboard is raided and a police forensic team is called in: one of whom is Matthew’s ex, keen to get back together. Elsewhere, Ryan returns, Caitlin has a date with Luke and one of the midwives receives a proposal of marriage.

Co-starring Aisling BeaAlex MacQueen, Faye Ripley and Paddy McGuiness, The Delivery Man has sadly struggled to find its audience, and this may be the last we see of Matthew and his team, so savour it while you can.

CHATTY REECE

Friday, 10pm, CHANNEL 4

© ITV / This Morning

© ITV / This Morning

With Inside No. 9 now out on dvd, and post-production on High Rise nearing completion, Reece Shearsmith takes some time out of his schedule to sit down with Alan Carr for a chat on this week’s edition of his chat show.

He’s joined by former comedy actress turned reality tv judge, Amanda Holden, and her Britain’s Got Talent co-judge Alesha Dixon, as well as indie band The Vaccines. The show will be filmed later this week, so keep an eye on Alan’s Twitter for more info.

 

AISLING GETS SQUARED

Sunday, 7:15pm, ITV1

© September Films / GME / ITV

© September Films / GME / ITV

Fast becoming a regular on our screens, the delightful Aisling Bea makes an appearance on Celebrity Squares this weekend, joining host Warwick Davis for his revival of the classic game show.

Fellow celebrities having fun this week are Nina Wadia, Katherine Kelly, Frank Skinner, Dane Bowers, Rylan Clark, Alice Levine and regulars Tim Vine and Joe Wilkinson.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but as demonstrated this week, also up and down the country. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Unknown

© Unknown

Monday 18th May

Kevin Eldon, Simon Munnery & Liam Williams
The Soho Theatre, London
7:30pm, £15
TICKETS

Wednesday 20th May

Tony LawPaul Foot, James Acaster, John Robins, Robin Ince, Sara Pascoe & Terry Alderton
The Bloomsbury Theatre, London
7:30pm, £17.50
TICKETS

Richard Sandling & Nick Helm
Betsey Trotwood, London
8pm, £3.50 – £5
TICKETS

Thursday 21st May

Aisling Bea & Sara Pascoe
Market Theatre, Hitchin
8:45pm, £10.45
SOLD OUT

Paul Foot
Bridgwater Arts Centre, Bridgwater
8pm, £13.75
TICKETS

Rachel Stubbings: Shooting the Breeze
Shortwave Cinema
7:15pm, £7.70
TICKETS

© Grand Theft Impro

© Grand Theft Impro

Phil Whelans, David Reed, Susan Harrison & Paul Foxcroft
Wheatsheaf, London
8:30pm, £5.50
TICKETS

Friday 22nd May

Aisling Bea, Tony Burgess, George Zach, John Gibson & Raymond Mearns
The Stand, Newcastle
8:30pm, £6-£12
TICKETS

Kevin Eldon, Elis James, Phil Nichol & Nick Helm
Bush Hall, London
7pm, £16
TICKETS

Paul Foot
The Watermark, Ivybridge
8pm, £12.50
TICKETS

Saturday 23rd May

Aisling Bea, Tony Burgess, George Zach, John Gibson & Raymond Mearns
The Stand, Newcastle
8:30pm, £6-£12
TICKETS

Paul Foot
The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington
8pm, £13.50
TICKETS

Sunday 24th May

Aisling Bea, Tony Burgess, George Zach, John Gibson & Raymond Mearns
The Stand, Newcastle
8:30pm, £6-£12
TICKETS

Paul Foot, Ardal O’Hanlon, John Robins & Sara Pascoe
Comedy Hullabaloo, Staford Upon Avon
9pm, £18.50
TICKETS
ALL WEEK

Tracy Ann Oberman in McQueen
St James Theatre, London
7:30pm (and Saturday matinee at 2:30pm), £25-65
TICKETS

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!

Onion Talking: Paul Kaye on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

15 May
© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

This weekend sees the long-awaited launch of BBC One’s fantasy epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, based on the best selling book of the same name, and adapted by the makers of Wallander, Sherlock and Dotor Who.

Set during the Napoleonic Wars in an alternate England where magic was once commonplace, the show focuses on two very different men who are drawn together by their talents in the art, and an ancient prophecy may just be their making, and their undoing.

The top notch ensemble cast including Bertie Carvel, Eddie Marsan, Enzo Clienti, Alice Englert, Charlotte Riley, Marc Warren and TVO regulars Edward Hogg and Paul Kaye, and the result is an intelligent, magical drama that’s definitely got ‘smash-hit’ written all over it.

As Paul Kaye just so happens to be one of TVO’s biggest supporters, we were itching to catch up with him to talk Strange & Norrell, and we were naturally delighted that one of the busiest men in the industry was very keen to tell us all about it, and offer up exclusive images from his archives for good measure. Enjoy…

© Paul Kaye

Exclusivinculus. 

In a world where magic, at least real magic, is long thought lost, two men are forced to form an uneasy alliance to protect the realms of men – and each other – from the darker side of forgotten secrets that have been brought to the surface.  In our world, where genre television for adults, at least good genre television for adults, is long thought of as a mostly American thing, the BBC has forged ahead with an seven part adaptation of Susanne Clarke’s epic novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell.

With a dynamite cast spearheaded by Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel, and also featuring the likes of Enzo Cilenti, Charlotte Riley, Alice Englert and Marc Warren, and both a screenwriter (Peter Harness) and director (Toby Haynes) having cut their teeth on prestigious productions such as Wallander, Sherlock and Doctor Who, and it’s safe to assume that expectations for Strange & Norrell are high.

For The Velvet Onion’s part, the impressive talent in front of and behind the camera is augmented not just by the presence of the brilliant Edward Hogg, but by a regular stamp of quality, in the form of designer turned musician turned comic turned hugely-in-demand actor Paul Kaye as the street magician and accidental prophet Vinculus.

A man of many talents, Kaye’s work on the whole over the last two decades has quality imbedded right down the middle like Blackpool rock, and – in this post Game of Thrones world, when seemingly everyone and their cousin wants to cast Kaye in their production – to actually bag the man himself is usually a sign of a production worth investigating.  This time around, however, it was remarkably easy to get Paul involved, given his admiration for the source material.

© BBC / Todd Antony

Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel) & Mr Norrell (Eddie Marsan) © BBC / Todd Antony

“I’ve only seen Episodes One and Two, so far,” he tells TVO as we grab a few moments in a rare bit of downtime between roles. “I was a big devotee of the book, and they’ve done a extraordinary job of visualising it and squeezing it all in. It took me a while to read it, because it has all these footnotes, which were really annoying to begin with” He refers to the near two-hundred additions to the novel made by Susanne Clarke, which illuminate her alternate history and provide an entire fictional body of magical scholarship, should you wish to engage with the book in a more ‘enlightened’ manner.

“Slowly but surely they grow on you,” Paul reveals. “You start to look forward to them. If there isn’t a footnote on the next page, you’re disappointed. They substantiate everything, and enrich it. And that book was on set every day. It was like the Oracle. Everybody loved it, and was determined to do it justice.  ”

Having never read the book, TVO is keen to point out that the series stands on its own two feet – taking the source material as a guide, but never a crutch. The first episode builds slowly, with our guide into the world of magic a curious admirer of the practise, John Segundas, played by Edward Hogg, still perhaps best known for his incredible leading performance in Bunny and the Bull. It is through Segundas that we meet Mr Norrell (Eddie Marsan), who is reluctant to demonstrate his knowledge publicly, until he realises that his skills could be of great value to the ongoing war efforts, and moral duty gets the better of him.

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

Vinclus meets Childermass (Enzo Clienti) © JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

However, the connection between Norrell and his titular companion Jonathan Strange is made by Vinculus: a street magician who prophesises the two men will form an alliance, as fortold by the mysterious Raven King hundreds of years previously. Played with Paul’s usual vigour and punk-infused zest, Vinculus has the keys to the engine room as the story ramps up a notch, stealing materials from Norrell’s servant to persuade Strange to pursue his destiny.

Watching Kaye on screen a Vinculus, stealing almost every scene from some of the nation’s finest actors, it’s hard to imagine a universe in which he wasn’t the ideal choice for the role.

“I was playing Vinculus in my head when I read it,” Paul reveals. “I was obsessed with chapter 67, The Hawthorn Tree and read it over and over. But I never imagined I’d ever, ever get to play the part.  I love the way Vinculus floats through the story. He’s such a contradiction, because he is a charlatan, no question about that. And yet there’s real truth about him. He’s carved out a reputation and a repertoire on the street, which includes conjuring up the ‘spirit of the River Thames’!  He lives a chaotic life, he blows with the wind and he is unquestionably full of shit, but he has been blessed.”

He laughs, and deadpans: “That last bit’s not a bad description of myself, really.”

LEFT IMAGE: © Paul Kaye | RIGHT IMAGE: © HBO

Dennis Pennis & Thoros of Myr LEFT IMAGE: © Paul Kaye | RIGHT IMAGE: © HBO

Of course, in recent years, Kaye’s stock as an actor has risen tenfold. Where once the shadow of a certain loud-mouthed, red-haired former alter-ego would precede the very mention of his name, these days he is far more likely to be referred to as ‘Game of Thrones star Paul Kaye’, following his six episode stint in the sprawling fantasy epic, which may just about be the biggest show on television. “I think you’re being kind,” he laughs when TVO mentions the shift, “‘cos I’ve read on several occasions that it’s ‘Dennis Pennis’ who’s is in Game of Thrones, not me.”

Nevertheless, Paul’s been busy of late, spurred on by settling down from his wilder days to raise a family and write TVO random emails in the midle of the night to keep us updated. Recent activities have included parts on radio (including Tracy Ann Oberman’s Mrs Robinson, I Presume), and in Reece Shearsmith & Steve Pemberton’s superlative Inside Number 9, playing Richard Two Shoes in The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge. “Those guys are on another level,” he states. “It was a writing and performance masterclass working with them.”

This week, he’s filming on Sky’s new adaptation of Fungus the Bogeyman alongside Timothy Spall, Victoria Wood, Andy Serkis, Keeley Hawes and his longstanding friend and occasional collaborator Marc Warren – who also appears alongside Kaye in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

Marc Warren as The Gentleman © JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

“I love working with Marc,” Kaye tells TVO, proudly. “No-one does dark like Marc. He was Mike Strutter’s lawyer, for fucks sake! He’s got such an extraordinary energy on set. We’ve got this great scene together later on in the show, and on the day, his intensity pushed me into doing it in a completely differently way to how I’d planned on playing the scene. I had no choice, he just turned from being a mate into a monster on a sixpence and he spooked the shit out of me.  I remember seeing him in Oliver Twist [the 1999 BBC prequel series] on the telly and it was one of those Gary Oldman moments. He turns up on screen and I think: “Who the hell is this guy?” He blew my head off, and within 24 hours of seeing that I bumped into him in Tescos, and I had to say something to him. We became great friends after that.”

Warren isn’t the only familiar face for Kaye in the production, having worked with both its leading men on previous productions: Eddie Marsan on the sublime Radio 4 series Love in Recovery, and Bertie Carvel in Tim Minchin’s highly acclaimed musical adaptation of Matilda at the RSC and in the West End.

© Jean Goldsmith

Kaye & Carvel, 2014 © Jean Goldsmith

“It’s great working with Bertie again,” Paul states. “We shared a dressing room on Matilda The Musical. That was our first taste of magic together. And Eddie,” he quips, “Dear Eddie is just about as lovely and adorable as a Tottenham Hotspur fan can be. Bertie and Eddie’s relationship in Strange and Norrell has wonderful echoes of Mozart and Salieri.”

TVO wonders if the familiarity allows for a more rewarding experience on a shoot. Kaye thinks for a moment, and suggests the reason Strange & Norrell worked so well was that all involved had a shared goal. “You feel like you have an obligation,” he states. “And a duty to bring it to life in the best way possible. I know Bertie had read the book 10 years ago and felt he was born to be Strange! Toby Haynes fought so hard to direct it as well, and he was such a joy to work with. Such incredible enthusiasm. Marc Warren was told he was destined to play the Gentleman by Richard and Judy! When everyone’s pushing in the same direction for the greater good it’s like being part of one of those ginormous balls of herring, which might be my favourite thing in nature!”

Next time you see Paul going hell for leather in a role, think of those herrings. There’s a delicious moment in the first episode of Strange & Norell where Vinculus is awoken from his slumber under a bush. In a matter of moments, he manages to completely befuddle and bewitch Jonathan Strange in equal measure, before tumbling off into the distance, dancing a merry jig of his own design in the middle of a field, all by himself. It’s a moment, TVO opines, that perhaps only someone with a spirit as fiery and energetic as Kaye could pull off.

“There’s a scene in episode 6 I think,” he reveals, chuckling, “where I fell backwards and landed badly on this rock. Everyone on set thought: ‘That’s it. He’s out’, but I groaned for a while, dusted myself off and carried on. It reminds me of when I used to hurt myself at school sports days doing the high jump. I’d do the Fosbury flop onto a fucking sand-pit! I’d wind myself after every jump but it was worth it because I could jump higher using that technique than the other kids who did ‘the scissors’. I loved all the drama and attention of doing a great jump, getting injured, recovering heroically and then doing it all over again. Bit of a twat, really.”

© Paul Kaye

Mike Struter live on stage © Nickie Divine

“Basically,” he affirms, with all the wisdom of a man who actually broke his neck pratfalling with a hat during the first run of Matilda The Musical, “I always thought that if I didn’t put myself in A&E on a shoot, I hadn’t worked hard enough. Things have changed now slightly. The titanium bolt I now have in my neck post-Matilda has sadly meant I’ve had to knock things like the Mike Strutter Group on the head.” Kaye’s live punk-rock cabaret carnage featuring his alter-ego of the same name was a huge underground hit five years ago, with celebrities in the audience and Oram & Meeten’s Wingnut as regular guests. “I miss it dearly,” Paul explains, “but you can’t be fronting a car-crash band anymore if you’re not prepared to go through the windscreen”.

Following Strange & Norrell, Kaye will be seen in Gareth Tunley’s secretive movie debut The Ghoul, alongside Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe and Waen Shepherd, but more on that another time. He also makes a glorious cameo in Kayvan Novak’s new comedy Sun Trap. Again, we’re keeping schtum on that one for now! Perhaps most excitingly, following that, Kaye will next be seen on our screens making a two-part guest appearance in Doctor Who. Whilst his role is understandably shrouded in secrecy, Paul was quick to sing the praises of its production team.

© Olivia Hemmingway

RIP, Walter Sabchak © Olivia Hemmingway

“They’re so committed and passionate about that show ” he reveals, “Peter Capaldi is just the warmest man, right from the read through he gives you a big hug and you feel really buzzed about being part of it all.  I had one of those moments when I walked past my first Dalek in the corridor and thought “Jesus Christ, I’m in Doctor Who!” It was quite odd because one of the locations we filmed at was a huge semi-deserted army base out in the Welsh countryside. As we were shooting this rather intricate scene, there were territorial army guys running after fake ‘insurgents’ in robes and keffiyehs accross the hilltops. I don’t know about national security, but it looked like a Benny Hill sketch.“

And should Susanne Clarke ever finish her sequel to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which is set to focus on Childermass and Vinculus, would Kaye return to his role?

“Finish it?” he asks. “I’m not sure she’s started it yet, has she? But in the event of that happening…” He pauses for a moment and grins. “Oh yes,” he confirms. “With a trillion bells on.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell begins on Sunday, 17th May at 9pm on BBC One and is released on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK on 15th June. The show also airs in the US from Saturday, June 13th from 10pm (9pm Central) on BBC America, and you can read our preview of Episode One now.

Preview: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

14 May
© BBC / Todd Antony

© BBC / Todd Antony

This weekend sees the long-awaited launch of BBC One’s fantasy epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, starring Bertie Carvel, Eddie Marsan, Enzo Clienti, Alice Englert, Charlotte Riley, Marc Warren, Edward Hogg and Paul Kaye.

Set during the Napoleonic Wars in an alternate England where magic was once commonplace, the show focuses on two very different men who are drawn together by their talents in the art, and an ancient prophecy may just be their making, and their undoing.

TVO recently caught the first episode ahead of transmission, and to whet your appetites, there’s a spoiler-free preview peeling below.

Ten years is a long time in television, and it’s now over a decade since Doctor Who returned to our screens, bringing back with it not only the intrepid wandering in space and time, but also the notion that good quality, fantasy television could co-exist with game-shows, reality programming and chat-host ego trips in the realm of prime-time TV.

And whilst the boom in the industry has blossomed worldwide in the years since, production companies within the UK have generally struggled to find a genre show which would have a sizeable impact since Merlin, commissioned in the post-Who flurry, called it a day three years ago. For all it’s shared DNA with Doctor WhoSherlock is hardly science-fiction and far removed from fantasy – beyond the notion of why the cleverest man in England elects to take a taxi everywhere in London when the Tube would be much faster.

The truth of the matter is this: expectations are high for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The push for the show to be a roaring success isn’t helped by the BBC’s previous wobbles in fantasy adaptations: Gormenghast, we’re looking at you in particular, here. The greatest cast in all the land can’t save a production that doesn’t get it right behind the scenes and on the page.

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

Which may be why the makers of Strange & Norrell, as we’ll call it for shorthand, are led by familiar names for fans of BBC Wales’ recent output. In the directing chair is Toby Haynes: who cut his teeth on Being Human and Spooks before heading up the five successive episodes that made up the end of Doctor Who‘s fifth series, it’s 2010 Christmas Special, and the start of it’s sixth ‘nu-Who’ run. Haynes was also responsible for probably the most talked about drama episode in the last five years, as he led Sherlock‘s titular detective to his apparent death in the sublime The Reichenbach Fall.

He’s not the only Who allumni on board, either, as the adaptation of Susanne Clarke’s novel comes from Peter Harness, writer of 2014’s Kill the Moon episode, and two further episodes to air later this year. Harness was also responsible for the underrated Frankie Howerd biopic, Rather You Than Me, starring David Walliams as the troubled comic, and his last adaptation of a popular novel turned out to be the Kenneth Branagh smash Wallander.

So far, so good, and collating a cast that includes Bertie Carvel (Les Mis, Sherlock), Eddie Marsan (God’s Pocket, The World’s End), Enzo Clienti (In the Loop, The Theory of Everything), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) and Charlotte Riley (Edge of Tomorrow) was an impressive coup. Adding the ever sublime Marc Warren to that cast was the cherry on top, and by adding in Bunny and the Bull star Edward Hogg and the legendary Paul Kaye: Well, now you’ve really got our attention.

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

Hogg’s role is our way into the story: as John Segundus, he channels innocence and devotion to his cause, as a determined scholar of magic curious to find out why conventional practise of the art died out three centuries ago. Travelling to York to join a gentlemen’s society of magicians, he is instructed that magic can never be performed, only studied, until, that is, he discovers Mr Norrell.

Played with world-weary heart by the eternally impressive Eddie Marsan, Norrell is content to keep himself to himself and practise magic only when he needs to do so, but Segundas’ curious soul manages to persuade him to demonstrate his powers to a flustered society in a sequence which features CGI so impressive, it may finally blur the lines between what Hollywood does as standard and the Beeb can do with a little effort.

Then, as if by magic (sorry, couldn’t help that one), we’re taken out of this narrative, and introduced to the other half of our title: Jonathan Strange. A drifter and clear romancer, he is enthused with ‘posh-toff-charm’ yet for all his flaws, is immediately a likeable soul, thanks in no small part to the nuances of Bertie Carvel’s portrayal. Sure, he’s hopeless, hopping about on his perpetual holiday from responsibilities, but a brief look into his family life demonstrates whose side the audience is meant to be on, and when the inevitable plot-device to free him of his predicament arrives, things begin to look up for ol’ Jonny-boy.

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

The connection between these two men is in the hands of a street magician, Vinculus, played by Paul Kaye with all his usual punk-rock gusto. He’s charming yet threatening, likeable yet disgusting at the same time, and Kaye has long since been a master of turning grubby little shits into characters you can’t help but root for.

Vinculus has received a prophecy concerning two magicians, and he approaches first Norrell, then later Strange, in his attempts to push the two together. The former has become embroiled in London’s high society, uneasy at his new-found fame after ‘The Miracle of York’, and is immediately cautious of Vinculus. Strange, on the other hand, is fascinated by his visitor, and thus begins a chain of events that could make or break everyone involved.

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

We could say more. There’s the entire matter of Marc Warren’s character, and how he becomes involved in the plot, that we haven’t even touched upon. There’s a sequence involving a pack of tarot cards that offers Kaye and Enzo Clienti a wonderful sparring match to savour. There’s the involvement of a cringeworthy society-luvvie, desperate to cling onto NorrrrrrELL for a moment in the spotlight, brilliantly brought to life by The Thick of It and Cucumber star Vincent Franklin. And there’s the story of Sir Walter Pole (Mr Selfridge star Samuel West), whose initial scepticism is disproven in ways he could never have dreamed.

But to say more would rob the opening episode of its strongest gambits. What we will say is that, though beautifully shot, and subtly scripted, the tale of Strange & Norrell is slow to get underway, and certain impressive sequences seem at odds with the majority of the episode. This is a dialogue-heavy show, and whilst said dialogue is richly nuanced, it is very much of the period and its half-truths and political implications could be hard to follow if you’re not giving it your full concentration.

Then again, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a show which deserves your full concentration. In an age where Twitter offers a live commentary of every programme, an awful lot of viewers on Sunday evening won’t really be paying attention, and that’s a worrying thought. Because Strange & Norrell rewards your efforts, and by the climax of the first episode, those who stick with it will be itching to find out what happens next.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell begins on Sunday, 17th May at 9pm on BBC One. It airs in the US from Saturday, June 13th from 10pm (9pm Central) on BBC America, and is released on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK on 15th June.

Discounted Tickets For Kevin Eldon – Next Week!

13 May
© The Sun

© The Sun

Fans of Kevin Eldon will be seriously chuffed to discover that there are two opportunities to see him live during the next 9 days. What’s more, we have special discount codes which you can use to benefit from reduced price tickets – so you can afford to go to both shows.

First up, you can catch Mr Eldon at Fylm School (“where comedy meets maverick cinema”), this Monday, 18th May at Soho Theatre. Hosted by Simon Munnery, this monthly night promises a night of visual, live, film-based comedy; and this month’s guests are Kevin and  Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee, Liam Williams.

For more information about Fylm School and to buy tickets click on this. If you use the promo code AND6, you can get tickets for the bargain price of just £10 (a massive 50% discount)!

Next up, is an appearance on Friday 22nd May at Bush Hall. Uncle man, Nick Helm headlines, with Kevin as support. For more information and to book tickets head on over here. And if you use the promo code SHOW6, you can get these tickets for the magical price of £10 too (an even more massive 60% discount on the standard price).

Get in!

English Tongue

12 May
© Dan Massie

© Dan Massie

Paul Kaye appears in the video for Palma Violets new single English Tongue.

The comedian and actor – set to wow audiences in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell this weekend – is a keen music lover and occasional musician himself, first releasing records in the 1990s as part of TV Eye.

In 2013, Kaye also formed alt-rock ambient band ZanG: a collaboration with Marc Warren and Adie Hardie who have currently released one song, Yogibogeyboxexclusively via The Velvet Onion. Paul is currently working on new material of his own inbetween his many acting projects, which we’re itching to hear the results of!

Back to English Tongue, however, and the video is directed by punk and reggae legend Don Letts, and features Kaye as a leering preacher man. Released in support of Palma Violets second album, Danger in the Club, which is out now via Rough Trade.

The album is produced by acclaimed producer John Leckie, whose work spans Beatles solo abums (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, All Things Must Pass, Red Rose Speedway) and Pink Floyd records (including Wish You Were Here) as a Tape-Operator and Balance Engineer at Abbey Road, before producing work for Simple Minds, Public Image Ltd, XTC, The Fall, The Stone Roses, Kula Shaker, The Verve, Radiohead, Muse and Rodrigo y Gabriela to name but a few.

Impressive stuff, and the song’s not bad either. You can see and hear the results below.

So Hot Right Now #30

11 May

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…

 

MAGIC UNLEASHED WITH STRANGE & NORRELL

Sunday, 9pm, BBC ONE

This week sees the long awaited launch of BBC One’s new fantasy drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell which features Paul Kaye and Edward Hogg amongst its hugely talented ensemble cast.

© BBC / Todd Antony

© BBC / Todd Antony

The show is based upon Susanne Clarke’s bestselling novel, and there’s a strong pedigree behind the camera, with writer Peter Harness and director Toby Haynes having previously worked on Doctor WhoWallander and Sherlock between them. Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel lead the cast, which also includes Charlotte Riley, Alice Englert, Enzo Clienti, Vincent Franklin, Brian Pettifer and Marc Warren in full on ‘spooky bastard’ mode.

We’ll have a full spoiler free preview of the first episode for you later this week, as well as a catch-up with star Paul Kaye. In the meantime, we can tell you that while the serial may be slow to get going at first, the mystery and intrigue builds as the episode proceeds, the cast act their socks off, and it leaves you wanting more. Which you’ll receive each Sunday for the following seven weeks.

For now, then, set your DVRs, put a reminder in your phones or keep an eye on iPlayer, because we guarantee this is one not to be missed. Episode One airs on Sunday evening at 9pm on BBC One. US audiences can see the show from June 13th. In the meantime, you can see a trailer below.

FRESH MURDER IN SUCCESSVILLE

Wednesday, 10pm, BBC THREE

BBC Three’s new partially improvised sitcom-gameshow-hybrid Murder in Successville continues this week, with Radio 1 DJ Greg James the new rookie partner for Tom Davis unorthodox DI Sleet.

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

This week, the murdered celeb in the run-down town of Successville is none other than Reese Witherspoon, here the owner of Successville’s biggest chain of bars, in one of the daftest puns we’ve heard in a while. As ever, one of the town’s inhabitants did it – but is it the right honorable Reverend Gary Barlow (Colin Hoult), strip club owner Mary Berry (Frances Barber), or casino boss Justin Bieber (Cariad Lloyd)?

For some, the delightful aspect of Murder in Successville is watching the immersed celeb guest crack under pressure, and with Tom Davis ripping him to shreds with his gruff, no-holds barred madness, there’s plenty of that on display. For us, though, the real delight is watching the impressive cast improvise characters around the bewildered star, which never gets old when your cast is this good.

Radio 1 DJ Greg James is the poor rube dropped into the entertaining, immersive murder mystery. He’s got to work out why Reese Witherspoon, owner of Successville’s biggest chain of bars (see what they did there?), has been murdered. Playing junior to the gruff, unorthodox-verging-on-insane DI Sleet (deadpanned brilliantly by Tom Davis), he’s criticised for being “a bit camp and weird”.

Also featuring Liam Hourican, Luke Kempner and Nick Mohammed, and music by Waen Shepherd, you can catch Episode Two on Wednesday evening at 10pm. Episode One, which also featured Tony Way, is available on iPlayer now. You can see a preview clip of this week’s episode, in which Greg James is forced to tackle an unexpected phone call, below, and catch our interview with Tom Davis over yonder.

W1A WRAPS UP

Thursday, 10pm, BBC TWO

The second series of the critically acclaimed W1A ends this week, days after star Jessica Hynes received a BAFTA for her work on the show.

© BBC / Jack Barnes

© BBC / Jack Barnes

In this fourth and final instalment, the corporate merry-go-round continues to turn as the recent appointment of David Wilkes (Rufus Jones) to the post of Primetime Factuality Executive hasn’t improved his ability at actually making shows work, and it’s up to Izzy (Ophelia Lovibond) to provide inspiration for content to fit inside his new title One Big Family.

Elsewhere, personable Lucy Freeman (Nina Sosanya) has been persuaded to stay at the BBC by being made Head of Inclusivity, but a difficult situation involving a BBC London weather man and a female present threatens to blow up and take the management team with it, and Freeman’s feelings towards Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) are now rivalled by those of the brutal Anna Rampton (Sarah Parish).

Hynes role as PR guru Siobhan Sharpe is, by her own admission at Sunday’s BAFTA ceremony, just one part of the talented ensemble, which also includes fellow BAFTA winner Jason Watkins, acclaimed actress Monica Dolan, and up and coming talent Hugh Skinner. The award win means we’ve unlikely seen the last of the team, and that’s no bad thing, as this episode demonstrates the show doesn’t so much go out on a high, but stays consistently magnificent from start to finish. More, please.

Catch the final episode on Thursday evening at 10pm, and previous editions on iPlayer now. The first two series are also released on dvd at the end of the month, and can be ordered for £14 from The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

THE DELIVERY MAN CONTINUES

Wednesday, 9:30pm, ITV

Episode Five of The Delivery Man airs on Wednesday evening, once again starring Darren Boyd alongside Faye Ripley, Paddy McGuiness, Aisling Bea and Alex MacQueen.

© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

This week, former policeman turned midwife Matthew (Boyd) discovers a baby abandoned in one of the hospital’s cupboards. As he desperately tries to track down the mother before the authorities are called in, he must fend off senior consultant obstetrician Luke (MacQueen), who can sense something is up. Elsewhere, Lisa (Aisling Bea) plays agony aunt and Pat (Llewella Gideon) shows her colleagues a startling artwork she has created.

You can catch the latest episode on Wednesday at 9:30pm on ITV, and previous episodes are available now via ITV Player. There’s currently no sign of a dvd release, so if you’re a fan of the show, it’s probably a good idea to savour these while you can.

ALSO ON TV THIS WEEK

There’s a chance to see Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa if you haven’t already bought it (and really, you should have done a long time ago!), as the long-awaited debut feature-film for Steve Coogan‘s irrepressible broadcaster airs on BBC Two on Saturday from 9:20pm.

© BabyCow

© BabyCow

That’s followed an hour after it finishes by another chance to watch the sublime In the Loop – which put The Thick of It‘s Malcolm Tucker (the incomparable Peter Capaldi) on the big screen, sparring against the late James Gandolfini as US Army General Miller. Coogan makes a memorable guest appearance as irate constituent Paul Michaelson (“Five megapixels”), and regular members of TToI team also make appearances, including Tom Hollander, Chris Addison, Joanna Scanlan and TVO regular Alex MacQueen.  Catch it at 11:45pm on BBC Two.

Elsewhere, Spaced legend Simon Pegg makes a guest appearance on The Graham Norton Show on Friday evening, discussing his new film, Man Up, which features Sharon Horgan and is released in UK cinemas on 29th May. We love a bit of Peggy-goodness, as his work often draws him into our peripheral vision, so if you’re in on Friday night, you could do a lot worse than tune in for this, starting at 10:35pm on BBC One.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but as demonstrated this week, also up and down the country. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Paul Foot

© Paul Foot

Monday 11th May

Aisling Bea with David Elms, Evelyn Mok, Jack Barry and John Hastings – The Pleasance, Islington, 8pm, £5

Tuesday 12th May

Aisling Bea and Diane Morgan – The Old Queen’s Head, London, 8pm, £7

Aisling Bea with Carey Marx, Chris Coltrane, Imran Yusuf & Joe Wells – Union Chapel, London from 7:30pm, £15
Wednesday 13th May

The Colin Hoult Comedy Collab – The Warren, Brighton, 6:30pm, £8.50

Cariad Lloyd as part of the Comedy Store Players – The Comedy Store, London, 8pm, £17

Thursday 14th May

The Colin Hoult Comedy Collab – The Warren, Brighton, 6:30pm, £8.50

Paul Foot: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon Sharp Minor – Slaughterhouse, Liverpool, 8pm, £12.50

Friday 15th May

Alien with Science Commentary by Richard Sandling and Adam Rutherford, hosted by Helen Arney – Old Town Hall, Chelsea, 6:30pm, £11.00

Channel 4 Comedy Gala with Aisling Bea, Alan Carr, Jack Dee, Jason Byrne, Jon Richardson, Josh Widdicombe, Katherine Ryan, Kevin Bridges, Michael McIntyre, Paul Chowdhry, Rich Hall, Rob Becektt, Romesh Ranganathan, Sara Pascoe, Sean Lock, Seann Walsh and Shappi Khorsandi – o2 Arena, London, 7:00pm, £44.75 to £165.75

Cariad Lloyd – The Camden Head, London, 8pm, Free

Paul Foot: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon Sharp Minor – Alhambra Studio, Bradford, 8pm, £14

Saturday 16th May

Paul Foot: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon Sharp Minor – Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, 8pm, £12.50

Sunday 17th May

Paul Foot: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon Sharp MinorNuffield Theatre, Southampton, 7:30pm, £10-£15

Cariad Lloyd as part of the Comedy Store Players – The Comedy Store, London, 8pm, £17

Kevin Eldon & Tony Law with Adam Buxton, Adam Hess, Bec Hill, Benny Boot, Darren Walsh, Marcel Lucont, Mat Ewins, Nick Helm, Pete Johansson, Sophie Hagen and Michael Legg – Leicester Square Theatre, London, 7:30pm, £20-£25

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!

BAFTA’s for Berry & Hynes as both win for Comedy Performance

11 May

Matt Berry and Jessica Hynes celebrated wins at the 2015 British Academy Television Awards this weekend, for their roles in Toast of London and W1A respectively.

© BBC

© BBC

The duo were the real toast of London on Sunday evening, alongside other winnners including Jason Watkins (Being Human, Psychoville, Trollied) for his performance in The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries, and Mackenzie Crook (Game of Thrones, The Office, Ant Muzak), who wrote, directed and starred in winning sitcom Detectorists.

Up for Male Performance in a Comedy Programme, Matt Berry was up against stiff competition in the form of Hugh Bonneville (for W1A), Tom Hollander (for Rev) and Brendan O’Carroll (for Mrs Brown’s Boys), but the award went to the great man himself, currently knee deep in preparation for the third series of his runaway smash hit.

Collecting his award, Matt’s surprise was and constant humility was apparent. “Good god,” he began. “I certainly didn’t expect this to happen. I’ve got to pay tribute to the other nominees, who are all fantastic. I sort of came in through the back door, so this is kinda something else. But I was also very, very lucky in that I got to work with the best. I worked with Graham Linehan, Arthur Matthews, Vic and Bob. I’ve been very lucky there.”

Berry went on to thank Channel 4 for making the show, and above all else, his mum and dad, Charlie and Pauline, who he explained “have had a roughish time, this year”, and dedicated the award to them. Ever the gentleman, and we’re naturally chuffed about this most deserved award.

© BBC / BAFTA

© BBC / BAFTA

Jessica Hynes, winner of Female Performance in a Comedy Programme, had even tougher competition: Olivia Colman (for Rev), Tamsin Grieg (for Episodes) and Catherine Tate (for Nan). All incredible talents, of course, but Hynes was triumphant, and as well as praising her fellow nominees and thanking the W1A team, took the opportunity to tackle the austerity cuts facing the arts.

Collecting her award, she stated: “I am from a single-parent family, and my mum was a full-time worker to support me and my sister. I’m really worried about the cuts that are coming to state education for people in low-income families. Because I don’t think low-income means low talent or low education or low intelligence. Without organisations like [mentoring scheme Arts Emergency], people who have supported me all the way through my career – thank you, everyone, this is for you – without them, I wouldn’t be here.” Right on.

Elsewhere, TVO had a good innings in the Situation Comedy catagory, with all four nominations having links to our pages. However, Chris O’Dowd‘s Moone Boy, action-comedy The Wrong Mans (directed by Jim Field Smith and starring Matt Baynton & James Corden alongside Rebecca Front and a host of TVO regulars making guest appearances), and Harry & Paul’s Story of the Twos (featuring Justin EdwardsKevin Eldon and Lucy Montgomery) all came home empty handed. The winner was Mackenzie Crook’s brilliant Detectorists, which also starred Toby Jones, Lucy Benjamin and Simon Farnaby, and currently has a second season expected to air later this year.

Other winners on the night included The Lost Honor of Christopher Jeffries, which won the Mini-Series BAFTA, and Leading Actor for Jason Watkins; Marvellous, which won both Supporting Actress for Gemma Jones and Single Drama. Also winning two awards was Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, whilst The Graham Norton Show beat Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, Would I Lie To You and Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle (which featured Chris Morris in a rare TV appearance) to the prize of Comedy & Comedy Entertainment Programme.

For a full list of winners, check out the BAFTA website. And check out their YouTube channel for a series of videos from the event, such as this one featuring Chris O’Dowd, below.

We Are The Humans

9 May

Channel 4 has released an extended trailer for forthcoming science-fiction drama Humans.

humansKPRF

The series airs in June, and is set in an alternate present day world in which owning your own Synth – a highly-developed robotic servant – is the height of fashion. It features a hugely impressive ensemble cast, including Katherine ParkinsonRebecca Front, Gemma Chan (Submarine, The IT Crowd, Doctor Who), Tom Goodman Hill (Ideal, Dead Boss, Spy), Colin Morgan (Merlin, The Fall), William Hurt (Damages, The Incredible Hulk) and Will Tudor (Game of Thrones, In The Club).

Also along for the ride are legendary British character actor Danny Webb – star of productions as diverse as Scott & Bailey and  Alien³; former Torchwood star Naoko Mori; Kill List and Utopia star Neil Maskell; and another TVO veteran, Dan Tetsell: as seen in the unnerving trailer below.

Co-produced by American broadcaster AMC and British production company Kudos, Humans is an English language adapation of Swedish series Real Humans, which has aired two seasons since 2012 and been sold to 50 countries worldwide.  It is set to air ‘this summer’ in the US, and UK audiences can see the eight part series next month. As soon as we hear of a confirmed tx date, we’ll let you know.

Magic is Coming: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell UK & US Air Dates Revealed

9 May
© BBC / Todd Antony

© BBC / Todd Antony

Brand new BBC fantasy saga Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is confirmed to air later this month in the UK, and US audiences can see the show from June.

Set during the Napoleonic Wars in an England where magic once existed and is about to return and two great men begin a dangerous battle against one another through the dark arts.  Based on Susanna Clarke’s bestselling novel, the adaptation comes from Peter Harness (Wallander, Doctor Who) and director Toby Haynes (Sherlock, Doctor Who), and features a stellar cast to catch your attention.

Eddie Marsan (The World’s End, God’s Pocket) and Bertie Carvel (Matilda, The Crimson Petal and the White) lead the way, and are joined by TVO favourites Paul Kaye and Edward Hogg, plus Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders), Alice Englert (New Worlds), Enzo Clienti (The Theory of Everything), Vincent Franklin (The Thick of It), Brian Pettifer (Rab C Nesbitt) and Kaye’s regular collaborator Marc Warren (The Musketeers, Hustle).

Little has been revealed about Edward Hogg’s role, at present, with the Bunny and the Bull actor playing Segundus in all seven episodes, but it’s clear that Paul Kaye’s character, Vinculus, is integral to the plot: a vagabond magician of Threadneedle Street who tells Norrel he is destined to be a great magician.

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

If you’re intrigued – fear not… we’ll have a full spoiler-free preview here on TVO soon, and if that simply isn’t enough, we’re also planning an exclusive catch-up with Paul Kaye for you to savour before the series launches.

UK audiences can see the show every Sunday evening on BBC One at 9pm, starting 17th May. US viewers fear not: BBC America will be airing JS&MN at 10pm (9pm central) starting Saturday June 13th. In the meantime, there’s a gallery of images from the first episode below.

Onion Talking: Tom Davis on Murder in Successville

6 May

8503896-high_res-murder-in-successvilleThis week sees the launch of brand new, madcap BBC Three comedy Murder in Successville, with Tom Davis right in the middle of it all as tough, uncompromising hardman of crimesolving, DI Sleet.

Each week, a celebrity guest is made rookie partner, and asked to solve a murder in a town where famous faces have alternate lives, and are all played by top notch comedians.

Naturally, we’re very excited, and in the middle of an almighty press campaign, we quickly caught up with the busiest man of the moment, Tom Davis, to find out more.

Hi, Tom. Welcome to TVO. First off, how would you describe Murder in Successville to someone who has no idea what it’s all about?

It’s an immersive, improvised comedy centred around the town of Successville. The town is made up of weird celebrity impressions, every week there’s a murder and me and a celebrity sidekick have to solve it. Simple? It’s funny and bat shit crazy.

Your character, DI Sleet, is the epicentre of the madness. Is he someone you’ve been working on for a while?

The character has grown over time. We’ve been working on him for about three years. He’s gone through many changes and grown into what you see today. I love playing him. I spend about three months a year, talking like him, acting like him… it’s a lot of fun. 

You get to say all sorts of things to your celebrity guests. Does it feel good to baffle them with comedic gold?

One of favourite parts of the show is that twist. The show works because all the guests were willing and up for the ride. My job is to pretty much pull the rug from under their feet as soon as they think they have worked the show out. 

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Do you have a favourite guest?

That’s like picking your favourite child or pet, they’re all great in their own way. We wanted a mixed bag, each of them brought something brilliant to the show that gave every episode a unique feel. Their personality is driving the show most of the time, none of them disappointed. 

The show is almost like a fusion of Star Stories and that old 90s telly version of Cluedo done properly. Did you and the writing team have any inspirations you drew upon to make this world work?

Both of those shows for a start were, but there’s a wide scope of inspiration. The writing process is a fun one. Alongside the brilliant writing team we have a production team that are very creative. Our director has a brilliant eye and has created this amazing look for the show. Added to this the cast are superb and all bring their own vision to it.

How much of what you all say is scripted? There are some dynamite lines in there!

We work through every scene with the writers beforehand in an intensive rehearsal. The scripts are all top notch and give us a point to jump of from. The nature of the show means that it changes from scene to scene. Sleet’s relationship with the rookie can change, which ultimately means so can individual lines and the feel of the show. As much we work through and prepare, nothing can ready you for Deborah Meeden going rogue on Cariad as Cheryl Cole (or whatever her new name is.)

One thing we really loved about the show was how many familiar faces are involved. How was it improv sparring with the likes of Tony Way, Cariad Lloyd and Colin Hoult?

I love it. The cast on this are immense. All of them completely smashed it, committing to character. That’s what makes the show for me. The “celeb” “rookie” has to feel like they are completely in that moment. We usually only have one or two takes so nothing can go wrong. Surprise is a big part of the show: the moment they come face to face with the impressionist for the first time is the reaction we want and the reaction you see. 

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Of course, you’ve been working with familiar faces so often lately we’ve kind of adopted you. Gooblegarble one of us, and all that. Does the world of comedy feel like a big family to you?

Yes, for the most part it’s a supportive world. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with most of this cast on other bits. I did Cariad’s sketch show, I’ve done a few bits with Jenny Bede and I did one of my first jobs with Tony Way. He played an arm pit and I was a big alien on some crazy kids show. 

Recently you’ve managed to be in several of the more high profile shows of the year, from The Keith Lemon Show to Cockroaches and House of Fools. Are you starting to get recognised more frequently?

Not really, I like that the characters all look so different. Sometimes people stare and ask for pictures and I think they must recognise me, but then it turns out they just want a picture with a giant.

With any luck, people will be quoting Sleet at you before long. Any particular requests for the line they’ll shout across the street?

GREAT MEN DON’T SHIT THEIR PANTS…

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Tom Davis, thank you. Murder in Successville starts Wednesday, 6th May at 10pm on BBC Three.

So Hot Right Now #29

4 May

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

TVO TAKES OVER TELLY ON WEDNESDAY!

As ever, there’s lots to enjoy on TV this week, and if you’re a keen viewer of everything we point you towards, you’ll be very thankful for DVRs and catch-up services this Wednesday, as a bevy of shows vie for your attention across the evening.

MURDER IN SUCCESSVILLE
Wednesday, 10pm, BBC THREE

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

The long awaited improv reality game show cop sitcom drama hybrid madness that is Murder in Successville begins this Wednesday on BBC Three.

The six part series stars Tom Davis as hardened detective DI Sleet, forced to solve crimes in the run-down ghetto of Successville with the help of a celebrity guest partner every week, beginning with Made in Chelsea‘s Jamie Laing.

Successville’s inhabitants are loose impersonations of British stars in unusual new occupations: which allows Gordon Ramsay to be the chief of police; Mary Berry to run the local strip joint; the One Direction lads to head up a violent gang; and the Carr Brothers (Jimmy and Alan) to be masterminds of dodgy dealings and hammer blows when folk don’t pay up.

It’s all delightfully silly nonsense, with Davis in particular revelling in making his temporary partners crack up. With the likes of Colin HoultTony WayCariad LloydHarry PeacockGemma Whelan, Frances Barber, Jason Lewis, Luke Kempner, Liam Hourican and friend of TVO, Nico Tatarowicz on board as the showbiz inhabitants of Successville, and Waen Shepherd on scoring duties (getting the 80s cop vibe just right), Murder in Successville is also a brilliant opportunity to see familiar faces acting the fool on telly, and letting their imaginations run wild.

Part Star Stories style showbiz sitcom, part Cludeo game show, the off-beat format may take some getting used to, but there’s lots of fun to be had, making this a must-see show. Catch it on Wednesday evening at 10pm on BBC Three, or on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

BUGSPLAT!
Wednesday, 10:30pm, CHANNEL FOUR

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

A new show written by Guy Jenkin is always cause for celebration – over time, his pen has graced Not the Nine O’Clock NewsSpitting ImageWho Dares Wins and even Life on Mars, and he co-created and co-wrote Drop the Dead Donkey and Outnumbered. Jenkin also recently wrote Channel 4’s election based sitcom Ballot Monkeys, and already he’s back with another show about RAF drone pilots.

Rufus Jones is part of the ensemble cast as Peter: a pilot who is almost back to normal after returning from Afghanistan alongside James (W1A star Hugh Skinner) and Lexi (Lauren O’Neil, Being Human, Phone Shop). With a mission to complete, Peter is unconvinced that their Wing Commander is up to the job.

Also starring Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Vincent Franklin, Fiona Button and the ever brilliant Sacha Dhawan, the black comedy can be close to the bone at times, and potentially farcical at others, but whilst the first episode perhaps could have been stronger, in the hands of this talented ensemble cast the results are still highly enjoyable and well worth sticking with for the rest of the run.  You can catch the show this Wednesday on Channel 4 at 10:30pm, or on 4oD shortly after transmission.

CHARLIE BROOKER’S ELECTION WIPE
Wednesday, 9pm, BBC TWO

© BBC / Endemol / Kieron McCarron

© BBC / Endemol / Kieron McCarron

Screenwriter, author, columnist, presenter and Professional Grumpy Charlie Brooker is one of those incredible talents firmly, as the Moon would put it, in our peripheral vision. His TVO connections are solid – co-writing the sublime Nathan Barley with Chris Morris, creating and writing the equally fantastic Dead Set (starring Kevin Eldon), and casting several TVO regulars in his recent forays into television fiction – Sky’s nonsensical stroke of genius, A Touch of Cloth, and the truly inspired Black Mirror.

Yet, given his main foray is in solo shows, we’ve never really given him the attention he deserves – after all, if you’re not already watching his shows, it’s safe to assume you’re probably doing something wrong. His latest series of Weekly Wipe earlier this year, however, featured TVO regular Morgana Robinson alongside long-standing regulars Barry Shitpeas (aka It’s Kevin director Al Campbell) and Philomena Cunk (the sublime Diane Morgan).

The team return this week for a one-off, hour-long election special – ripping into not only the politicians on the campaign trail, but the increasingly fevered way the election has been covered across the media. No previews were available as we went to press (most obviously because the show is still being made), but we’re expecting Morgana’s brilliant Russell Brand impression to make a return appearance, and hoping that Philomena Cunk gets to ask: “What is politicians?” in her inimitable way.  Catch the show at 9pm on BBC Two this Wednesday, or via iPlayer shortly after transmission.

CAR SHARE
Wednesday, 9:30pm, BBC ONE

©  BBC / Goodnight Vienna Productions

© BBC / Goodnight Vienna Productions

Last week saw the terrestrial launch of Peter Kay’s new sitcom, Car Share, following its successful mini-première on iPlayer recently. A surprisingly charming, if mostly uneventful comedy set almost entirely within the confines of a small car, the show co-stars Kay’s long-term collaborator Sian Gibson – who you may also remember from two appearances in The League of Gentlemen as Al’s girlfriend Trish. We’ve had Bright Eyes stuck in our heads ever since we realised that one…

Anyhew, the reason we bring this up is that this week’s edition features a guest appearance from none other than Reece Shearsmith – who plays demented fishmonger Ray, cadging a lift to work from car-sharing friends John and Kayleigh, the latter of whom had too many cheeky Vimtos last night, and really should have phoned in sick even before the smell of fish made her feel worse.

If you fancy seeing Reece’s star-turn (and really, any chance to watch this masterful actor work has to be a good thing), you can catch Car Share at 9:30pm on BBC One, or on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

THE DELIVERY MAN
Wednesday, 9:30pm, ITV

© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

ITV’s maternity ward sitcom, The Delivery Man continues apace on Wednesday evening, though with a critical mauling of its early episodes, it may be time for fans of the show to savour it while they can.

This week, an incognity reality TV star arrives on the ward and asks Matthew (Darren Boyd) to help hide her pregnancy from the public.  But when Facebook updates get the word out to the press, the staff need to come up with a way to trick the paparazzi.

Whilst it’s fair to say that this comedy from two of the writers of Green Wing doesn’t quite live up to potential, there’s still lots of fun to be had from watching the talented ensemble – including Aisling BeaAlex MacQueen and Fay Ripley – handle the material with their usual gusto. It may not be for everyone, but if you give it a chance, The Delivery Man may just find a place in your heart. Make your own minds up at 9:30pm on ITV, or catch up via ITV Player shortly after transmission.

W1A GETS ‘BETTER’

Thursday, 10pm, BBC TWO

© BBC / Jack Barnes

© BBC / Jack Barnes

Series Two of W1A continues on Thursday evening, as John Morton’s BBC-based mockumentary continues to gain fans left, right and centre. A huge part of that, it seems, is down to Jessica Hynes dynamite precision as PR guru Siobhan Sharpe: truly, a master of sprouting so many technobabbling media-savvy buzzwords that no-one really notices she has no idea what she’s doing.

But then, that’s the BBC in a nutshell, according to W1A, as this week Anna Rampton (the incomparable Sarah Parish) is made Head of Better, and David (TVO regular and irrepressible talent Rufus Jones) continues his own rise through the organisation.  Poor old Ian (charming Hugh Bonneville) is feeling awfully sidelined, as the Head of Values is forced to bring out his own creative vision.

You’d be mad to miss this one, and thankfully, it’s not on on Wednesday to confuse matters further! Catch the latest episode on Thursday at 10pm on BBC Two, or via iPlayer shortly after transmission.

A LONG NIGHT FOR CHANNEL 4

Thursday from 8:25pm, CHANNEL FOUR and MORE4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

It can’t have escaped your attention that the general election takes place this Thursday, and Channel 4 is offering a full blown nine hours of live comedy and comment in their Alternative Election Night, recruiting a cavalcade of stars to make a long game of counting a lot more entertaining.

Led by David Mitchell (Peep Show) and former Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman, the team will also include the likes of Richard Osman, Romesh Ranganathan, Cathy Newman and TVO’s very own Aisling Bea.

This includes special election themed editions of The Last Leg and Gogglebox and appearances from Kayvan Novak, Sara Pascoe and Henning Wehn. If this doesn’t rock your boat there’s also a live broadcast of star-studded play The Vote from Donmar Warehouse over on More4 from 8:25pm, featuring Nick Burns, Mark Gatiss, Catherine Tate, Dame Judi Dench, Nina Sosanya, Kadiff Kirwan and many more.

PANEL-SHOW POP-UPS FROM DAVIS & LAW

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Monday night’s edition of Channel 4’s panel show, Virtually Famous features an appearance from Tom Davis.

The show celebrates the latest viral sensations on the internet, and is hosted by former Glee star Kevin McHale, with Seann Walsh and Chris Stark as regular team captains. Tom, riding the wave of publicity for Murder in Successville pops up alongside fellow comedians Rob Beckett and Sarah Callaghan, and TV ‘personality’ Rylan Clark.

You can catch this edition on Monday evening at 10pm, or via 4oD shortly after transmission.

© September Films / GME / ITV

© September Films / GME / ITV

Tom isn’t the only TVO regular to crop up on a panel show this week, as Tony Law makes a guest appearance on ITV’s Celebrity Squares revival on Sunday evening.

Presented by Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short, The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains), and featuring regular panelists Tim Vine (Not Going Out) and Joe Wilkinson (8 Out of 10 Cats), this new incarnation of the hardy perennial is drawing guests not only from the world of mainstream telly and pop charts, but also the realms of alternative comedy. The first couple of episodes have featured the likes of Anna Crilly, Katy Wix, Jessica Hynes, Doon Mackichan, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, and this week gives Tony Law the rare opportunity to appear on Sunday night, prime-time ITV, which in itself is a delightful notion.

Joining Tony are Jonathan Ross, Laura Whitmore, Gabby Logan, Nina Conti, Shappi Khorsandi and Union J.  With any luck, the contestants will have no idea what to expect from a man who seemingly prides himself on never giving a completely straight answer, so no doubt Warwick has his work cut out as the ToneZone clashes with reality. We can’t wait to see the results.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

© Lauren Taylor

© Lauren Taylor

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on the London stage. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

06/05/15 – Richard Sandling‘s Perfect Movie Podcast Recording with Deborah Frances White – Betsey Trotswood, 8pm, £3.50-£5

07/05/15 – Lou Sanders with Ahir Shah, Joshua Ross, Rob Carter, Orry Gibbens, Matthew Kelly & Robin Hill – The Pipeline, Middlesex, 8pm, £8-10

07/05/15 – Joey Page with James Dowdeswell, Paul F Taylor, Dan Hoy, Junior Campbell & Sion James – The Bread and Roses, Clapham, 8:30pm, £7-£9

Also this week, friends of TVO Johnny and the Baptists bring their UK tour to a close at the Soho Theatre on Wednesday and Thursday evening. Join them if you can!

AND THE REST…

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

New Thomas & Way Podcast – At Last!

3 May
© Thomas and Way

© Thomas and Way

After an unplanned 18 month gap, Rhys Thomas and Tony Way have finally released their latest (21st) podcast for your listening pleasure.

The lads drink some questionable wine, talk about Doctor Who, discuss the General Election and there’s a surprise guest. They also reminisce about the good old days and generally have a good time.

This latest podcast (and all the others) can be found here.

If there’s anything you’d like to ask for the next podcast you can contact them at thomasandway@gmail.com or on Twitter @tonypaulway or @rhysthomasOBE.

Sneak Peak at Successville

1 May
8503870-high_res-murder-in-successville

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Next weeke sees the launch of new BBC Three comedy Murder in Successville, and TVO is understandably rather excited to find out what you make of it.

The show, which begins on Wednesday 6th May at 10pm, features Tom Davis (Cockroaches, The Morgana Show, House of Fools) as DI Sleet – a hardened, grizzly detective forced to solve crimes in the run-down ghetto of Successville, which just so happens to be populated by celebrities as you’ve never seen them before.

The rest of Successville’s inhabitants, you see, are ‘loosely’ portrayed by comedians including TVO regulars Colin Hoult (Jimmy Carr, Gary Barlow), Tony Way (Harry Styles), Cariad Lloyd (Darcy Bussell).  Also along for the ride are Harry Peacock (Toast of London), Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), Frances Barber (Psychoville), Jason Lewis (Bellamy’s People) and up & coming impressionist Luke Kempner.

Each week, Sleet is also joined by a celebrity guest: Jamie Laing, Greg James, Deborah Meaden, Dermot O’Leary, Kimberly Wyatt and Louis Smith all take a turn at solving crimes throughout the run.

The result is a delightful mash-up that’s part Star Stories style showbiz sitcom, part Cludeo game show. Striding right through the middle of it is DI Sleet himself, with Tom Davis absolutely revelling in making his guest detectives feel uncomfortable, even before they meet the madcap locals.

The format is off-beat, and it may take a while before it feels quite right, but if you go with the flow there are laughs a-plenty to be found inside, not least of which is Colin Hoult’s chilling impersonation of Jimmy Carr. You’ll never look at either man the same way ever again.

Factor in some delightful scoring from another TVO regular, Waen Shepherd, and you’ve got next week’s must see show in a nut-shell. While we wait impatiently to see what you make of it, we’ve got a collection of stills to share with you below, including some exclusive shots of Colin Hoult and Cariad Lloyd for good measure.


Murder in Successville airs from Wednesday 6th May at 10pm on BBC Three.

Eldon & Law Live

30 Apr

Kevin Eldon and Tony Law will be appearing on the same bill at a forthcoming comedy night at Leicester Square Theatre in London.

© BBC

© BBC

After two previous sell-out shows, A Well Known Comedian & Some Colleagues  returns with its annual comedy night for  The Neuro Foundation.

It’s quite a line-up! In addition to Eldon and Law, you can also see: Nick Helm, Adam Buxton, Michael Legge, Pete Johansson, Benny Boot, Adam Hess, Sofie Hagen, Marcel Lucont, Christian Talbot, Darren Walsh, Bec Hill and Mat Ewins.

It all takes place on Sunday 17th May from 7.30pm. Tickets are £25 (£20 conc.); for more information bout the line up and to book tickets, take a wander over here. Go on, it’s for a great cause – and tickets are going fast.

The Neuro Foundation is a charity that aim to improve the lives of those affected by Neurofibromatosis. To find out more about the great work that they do visit their website.

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