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The Ape Man Cometh: AAAAAAAAH! Review

28 Aug

unnamedOne of the things that distinguishes the artists that we write about at The Velvet Onion is their ability to think differently and to make waves in a sea of entertainment mediocrity. At their best, they conjure up ideas and dream of worlds so creatively vibrant that they force us, the audience, into a different headspace ourselves. In this respect, Steve Oram‘s AAAAAAAAH! (always written with eight ‘A’s) totally nails it.

The premise of the film is simple: it shows us what human beings would be like if we conformed to the natural behaviour patterns of apes. AAAAAAAAH! presents us with an everyday world that looks like ours but where society has been reduced to little more than factions of fighting, fucking, shitting beasts.

Although I’m no primatologist, I’m fairly sure David Attenborough has said that our simian relatives are more complex than this. But given that the impact of AAAAAAAAH! comes, in large part, from the consistent and gaping absence of anything recognisably ‘human’ in the behaviour of the human forms on screen, let’s embrace the film’s freewheeling approach to natural history.

First things first: the idea upon which the film is built is strange, brave, funny and thought-provoking (more of that later). Conceptually, it’s one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in a long while. The cast are astonishingly good – within minutes you forget that nobody is actually speaking; their grunts, whoops and gestures tell you everything that you need to know about the film’s narrative (as an aside, Tom Meeten told us that the cast were actually given scripts to follow. Wonderful stuff!). Of particular note is the perfectly-observed unspoken camaraderie between Steve Oram and Tom Meeten, the boorish mateyness of Julian Rhind-Tutt and Sean Reynard, and the emotional fragility of a garden-bound Julian Barratt.

It’s also a real pleasure seeing so many of ‘our lot’ working together on a project like this. Proof, if any were needed, that they are a group bound by a shared love of what can best be described as creatively out there. And thank goodness for that!

unnamedBe warned though, it’s not all comedic complexity and anthropological insight. AAAAAAAAH! makes for pretty visceral viewing, sometimes bordering on the gratuitously gross – although it’s generally done for humorous effect, not to offend. The screen is frequently awash with body fluids and body parts, chunks of half-eaten food and unpredictable bloody violence. Within moments of the film starting two key characters defecate in their kitchen, and aggressive, often uninvited sex is never more than a couple of scenes away. Let’s just say it’s probably not a film to take your Mum to.

unnamed-3The overall sense of visual unpleasantness is reinforced by the depiction of a shabby, urban working class existence (I don’t know why, but I suspect that a rural middle-class monkey life might be easier on the eye), and the general look of the film, which is raw and ungraded.

With movie audiences now more used to the anaesthetising effect of Insta filters, it’s actually quite unnerving to watch a film which looks like it might have been shot on video tape.

Perhaps this was a decision born out of budgetary necessity, but by looking less cinematic AAAAAAAAH! feels more real, more immediate. This realism nudges it away from being an artistic concept on a cinema screen, towards a depiction of an authentic world that any of us could easily be part of.

And this is where the film gets really interesting: after watching it I half-expected violent chaos and beastial shrieks to erupt on my tube journey home. The fact that it didn’t, and that every day we unconsciously navigate our way around other people, mindful even of the rights of the strangers in our midst, suddenly seemed astonishing. AAAAAAAAH! provides a fascinating glimpse into what our society could be like if we didn’t follow the intricate set of social rules that have been defined and refined by several millennia of cultural evolution.

unnamed-1Watching people (like us) behave like apes has the effect of re-setting one’s internal gauge of what a ‘normal’ society should be like. We share 99% of our DNA with apes; how incredible it is then that we live in such close proximity to each other, but we rarely fall back on our basic animal instincts to deal with those around us.

AAAAAAAAH! makes you question the validity of the cultural codes by which we live. It forces you to acknowledge how strangely unnatural, transient and man-made our modern lives are. If we were to strip away these superficial social conceits, then really we’re no different to the apes that preceded us. We too are horny, violent, disgusting creatures. It’s no wonder that the news is full of bloodshed and war.

And that’s why I relished AAAAAAAAH so much: it made my brain whirr. It isn’t necessarily lovely to look at and it’s not perfect – indeed, it seems to flaunts its flaws with a strange sense of pride, but it really makes you think – for long after the end credits have rolled – and for that it deserves to be applauded. With the lions’ share of ‘entertainment’ served up for our online/on-screen pleasure these days unlikely to create the smallest cognitive ripple, anything that forces us to sit up and take notice should be celebrated. AAAAAAAAH! is punk cinema at its best: crude, rude and brain fizzingly provocative. Go see!

The next screening of AAAAAAAAH! Takes place at Picturehouse Central in London on 4th September, and includes a cast Q&A. For tickets for this and for updates on other screenings please visit the Lincoln Studios website.

 

Our Country’s Good

25 Aug

This week sees the opening of The National Theatre’s new production, Our Country’s Good – with Paul Kaye in its ensemble cast.

© Simon Annand / National Theatre

© Simon Annand / National Theatre

Directed by Natalie Fall and featuring music by Cerys Matthews, the play tells the story of the first convict ship to arrive in Botany Bay in 1788, crammed with England’s outcasts, observed by a lone, mystified Aboriginal Australian. Colony discipline in this vast and alien land is brutal. Three proposed public hangings incite an argument: how best to keep the criminals in line? The noose? Or a more civilised form of entertainment.

The ambitious Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark steps forward with a play. But as the mostly illiterate cast rehearses, and a sense of common purpose begins to take hold, the young officer’s own transformation is as marked and poignant as that of his prisoners.

Based on a true story, Trimberlake Wertenbaker’s piece celebrates the redemptive power of art, and features an impeccable cast, including Jonathan Coote, Matthew Cottle (Game On), Jonathan Dryden Taylor (That Mitchell and Webb Look), Caoilfhionn Dunne, Peter Forbes, Jason Hughes (Midsomer Murders), Ashley McGuire (The IT Crowd), Jodie McNee, Cyril Nri (Crims), Debra Penny, Lee Ross (Doctor Who) and award-winning folk duo Ben Walker and Josienne Clarke.

© Simon Annand / National Theatre

© Simon Annand / National Theatre

This is not only Kaye’s debut with The National Theatre, but also the first time he’s been on the London stage for a major production since his critically acclaimed run in Matilda. Needless to say, TVO is very keen to see the results, and with an impressive roster of creative talents involved besides dear Mr Kaye, there’s every reason to check this production out if you’re able to.

After a selection of previews, press night arrives tomorrow evening, before the show opens to the general public. Dates are somewhat sporadic, but occur at regular intervals between now and Saturday 17th October. For tickets, get yourselves over yonder now.

The Comedian’s Guide To Survival

24 Aug

Paul KayeRichard Sandling and Kevin Eldon are amongst the ensemble cast gathered in a new comedy film all about the world of stand-up, The Comedian’s Guide to Survival.

© James Mullinger / FH Studio / GSP Studios / Solar Productions

© James Mullinger / FH Studio / GSP Studios / Solar Productions

Loosely based on the real-life story of journalist turned stand-up comic James Mullinger, the film stars James Buckley (The Inbetweeners) as Mullinger – a failed comic travelling the world interviewing more successful funny types to find the secret to comedy.

Most of the comedians featuring in the movie are playing a version of themselves, including Omid Djalilli, Jimmy Carr, Gilbert Gottfried, Mike Wilmot and Gina Yashire. However, can reveal that Paul Kaye is playing a character called Phillip, Kevin Eldon is playing Nick Secker, and Richard Sandling is Richard – a stand-up who makes James’ life hell on the circuit.

Also on board are Myanna Buring (Kill List), Tim McInnerny (Blackadder), Neil Stuke (Game On) and Norman Pace (Hale & Pace), making this already impressive cast even stronger. We can’t wait to see the results!

Written by Mullinger alongside the director, Mark Murphy (Awaiting, Movie Kingdom), filming is currently underway in the UK, after a stint at the Just for Laughs comedy festival back in July.

The film will be hitting festivals and events looking for distributors early next year, and we’ll bring you more news as we get it, so stay peeled.

It Was Alright for a series

16 Aug

Channel 4 have commissioned a full run of It Was Alright in the… following a two-part special last year.

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

Matt Lucas as Pompidou as Freddie Mercury. Because why the hell not, eh? © BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

The show was piloted back in November, with Matt Lucas narrating both 70s themed clip shows which met the people who appeared in and made the TV of the era and asked them: ‘What were you thinking?’

The new run, again featuring Lucas, will take a decade by decade look at TV favourites and oddities over six episodes starting with the 1960s and dragging us screaming and kicking to the present day. It will focus on Health and Safety in the 60s, sex education and corporal punishment in the 70s, the nuclear threat in the 80s and lads and ladettes in the 90s.

With jaw dropping clips and equally jaw dropping reactions, the series will explore what we can learn about life from the TV people watched in their millions before 21st century morals and attitudes took hold. There’s even promise of genuine monkey tennis, which goes to show just how on the nose Alan Partridge really is yet again.

Confirmed to appear already are legends of British TV Melvyn Bragg, Simon Groom, Sarah Green, Peter Duncan, Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves, Chris Tarrant, Tony Blackburn and Roy Hodd. Celebrities who are too young to have seen the shows first time around, including representatives from Made in Chelsea and The Only Way is Essex will also appear, reacting to footage from a more relaxed time.

We’ve not recieved a tx date for the series yet, but we’ll expect it in the Autumn once more. In the meantime, here’s the trailer for last year’s episodes, as they’re currently unavailable on 4oD, sadly.

 

 

Prince sees Prince

15 Aug

Here at The Velvet Onion, we try to focus on the real, genuine news stories surrounding the alternative comedians who make up our family of frequent collaborators. We leave their personal lives very much off limits – as cute as all those Velvet Babies are these days – and don’t tend to look for trivial news stories to flood your feed with.

Every once in a while, we can’t help ourselves, however. And this afternoon, an event equal to typing google into google almost broke the internet.

© Prince

© Prince

Prince – the incredibly prolific virtuoso musician and, it’s fair to say, known eccentric – shared a link to a sketch about himself on Twitter to his 94K followers, taken from the seminal 90s/00s sketch series Big Train. Thus.

Given that Prince – or his representatives – policy of policing the internet and removing all trace of ‘homage’ to him has left many a fan-site feeling dejected, it’s good to know the man himself still has a sense of humour.

We can only hope that the clip has intrigued His Royal Purpleness enough to check out more Big Train, and that gives us the opportunity to suggest you all do too.

© BBC

© Talkback Thames / BBC

The show was the brainchild of Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd) and Arthur Matthews (Toast of London), following their runaway success with Father Ted. The first series aired in 1998, and starred Simon Pegg and Mark Heap (both pre-Spaced), alongside The Actor, Kevin Eldon, Amelia Bullmore (I’m Alan Partridge) and Julia Davis.

The latter pair jumped ship after the first series along with Linehan, and it was four years before the second and final run aired – this time with Rebecca Front and Tracy Ann Oberman joining Pegg, Heap and Eldon.

The show was also notable for giving Catherine Tate (The Office, Doctor Who) an early break on television, appearing in seven episodes across both series, while other guests included Simon Greenhall (I’m Alan Partridge, Alice’s Wunderland), Julia Deakin (Spaced, Love in Recovery), Geoffrey McGiven (just about every comedy ever) and a very young Nick Frost.

If you’ve never seen the above clip before, there’s still a chance you’ll have recognised the dulcet tones of Chris Morris, who co-directed the first series alongside with Linehan. Series Two was directed by Jonathan Gershfield, who went on to direct Strutter featuring Paul Kaye and Lucy Montgomery, so the lineage of TVO heritage within the show really does loom large. Really, if you haven’t seen it yet, you definitely should.

Truly one of BBC Comedy’s jewels in the crown, both series are available in a double-pack to buy on DVD now for the bargain price of £4.95 in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. You can also see a selection of highlights via the handy playlist below. Enjoy…

St. Anthony

12 Aug

Steve Coogan joins a bevy of Manchester legends in a tribute to the irreplaceable Anthony Wilson, which is due for release on Friday.

© Skinny Dog

© Skinny Dog

The journalist and broadcaster was instrumental in championing the blossoming Manchester music scene in the 1970s and 1980s. Co-founder of Factory Records and manager of legendary nightclub The Haçienda he became known as “Mr Manchester” and remains a beloved figure in the city.

Coogan previously portrayed Wilson in the film 24 Hour Party People, so it seems only fitting that his is the first face you see in the music video for St. AnthonyAn Ode to Anthony H Wilson.

Inspired by the New Order track Your Silent Face, the track is the brainchild of composer Joe Duddell and poet Mike Garry, and was recorded at Edwin St Recording Studio in Bury, Greater Manchester – just a stone’s throw away from TVO HQ, as it happens!

Released by I Am Kloot’s record label Skinny Dog, the band’s frontman (and friend of TVO) John Bramwell also features in the video, alongside the mighty John Robb (Goldblade), Shaun Ryder (The Happy Mondays), Bernard Sumner (New Order), Julie Hesmondalgh, Christopher Eccleston, Philip Glass, John Cooper Clark, Mark Radcliffe, Miranda Sawyer and many more fabulous people from the great city. Oh, and Iggy Pop, because why the hell not, eh?

All proceeds from the sale of the single go to The Christie Charitable Fund, and it is available on 12″ vinyl, cd and digital downloads from the St Anthony official web store over yonder. It’s also on iTunes as a Single and EP, and Amazon Digital as a Single and EP also. So you’ve no excuse not to pick this one up if you can. You can see the video below.

Reece Shearsmith Meets The Doctor

11 Aug
© BBC / Simon Ridgway

© BBC / Simon Ridgway

As those of you who follow our Twitter feed will no doubt be aware, last week saw the announcement that Reece Shearsmith will be making a guest appearance in Doctor Who this Autumn.

The former League of Gentlemen star will appear in an episode penned by fellow Gent, Mark Gatiss (Psychobitches, Sherlock, Game of Thrones etc), in an unspecified role. In the official press release, Shearsmith was quoted as saying:

“I am absolutely thrilled to be filming Doctor Who as Mark Gatiss has written a fantastic role for me in a very scary episode. It has been so exciting to be part of a very singular episode – which, I can say with authority will be unlike any previous episode of Doctor Who. It’s a joy to play a part in the show – certainly a badge of honour.”

Similarly, Gatiss himself, who has previously written seven episodes of the show since 2005, and played not one, not two but three different roles across the run for good measure, is delighted his longstanding collaborator is on board, stating:

“I’m delighted to be writing again for Peter [Capaldi] and Jenna [Coleman]’s brilliant Tardis team and very excited about this particular story. It’s been brewing in the dark recesses of my mind for a while now! I’m also chuffed to bits to finally welcome my old friend Reece Shearsmith onto the show. He’s been badgering me for 10 years!”

Indeed, it does seem like this part was a long time coming – fellow League member Steve Pemberton guested way back in 2008, after all – though this does make Reece the third TVO regular to be cast in this ninth series, which will also feature Rebecca Front and Paul Kaye as well as Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It), Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez (Psychobitches), Jemma Redgrave, Ingrid Oliver (Watson & Oliver), Rufus Hound and Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones).

The series begins on 19th September on BBC One and BBC America, then roles out around the globe. We’ll bring you more news as we get it.

CrackaMOREy! Dave’s anthology series to return for Series Three

27 Jul

Crackanory – the anthology show for adults featuring a host of famous faces reading short tales, which are re-enacted by top notch comedy talent – is to return for a third series in the Autumn.

© UK TV / Tiger Aspect

© UK TV / Tiger Aspect

Back to the Future legend Christopher Lloyd joins the likes of Simon Bird, Sarah Millican, Greg Davies and Tamsin Grieg as some of the guest narrators for the new run, which will once again feature two stories per episode brought to life via a mix of narration, live action and animation.

Confirmed writers for the series include Kevin EldonNico Tatarowicz, Holly Walsh and Toby Davies, and given the show’s current standing as one of the most TVO-connected shows of the last few years, we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re joined by a few more names along the way.

Series One narrators: © UK TV / Tiger Aspect

Series One narrators: © UK TV / Tiger Aspect

Across the first two series, the stories were brought to life with an impeccable cast of comedy talent, including our very own James Bachman, John Willie Hopkins, Alex Kirk, Alice Lowe, Cariad Lloyd, Tom Meeten, Lucy Montgomery, Steve Oram, Tony Way and Katy Wix.

And all of this was enhanced by big name guest narrators, with the full run so far featuring Stephen Mangan, Sally Philips, Sharon Horgan, Hugh Dennis, Jessica Hynes, Harry Enfield, Jack Dee, Sarah Solemni, Charlie Higson, Kevin EldonRebecca Front, Richard Hammond, Vic Reeves, Simon Carllow, Ruby Wax, Sue Perkins, David Mitchell, Ben Miller, Katherine Parkinson, Meera Syall, Warwick Davis, Emilia Fox, Johnny Vegas and the late, great, Rik Mayall in his last on-screen role.

Series Two narrators: © UK TV / Tiger Aspect

Series Two narrators: © UK TV / Tiger Aspect

The connections extended behind the scenes too, with Eldon, Way and Nico Tartarowicz writing instalments, Gareth Tunley directing several and the entire run featuring the music of Waen Shepherd, whose haunting melodies will be heard again in the third season.

Also returning on production duties for Series Three is Arnold Widdowson (Grandma’s House), who previously wrote for Sorry I’ve Got No Head, School of Comedy and Horrible Histories and was script editor on Beehive and Roman’s Empire way back when.

Naturally, we’ll bring you more news on Crackanory‘s return as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can catch up on the previous 12 episodes via UKTV Play right now.

Comedy Feeds Return Tonight

13 Jul

This evening sees the launch of the latest batch of Comedy Feeds on BBC iPlayer, and naturally, there are plenty of TVO links making the shows worth your attention.

The Comedy Feeds started life as a method of showcasing potential future series. Launched in 2012, previous one-offs have included: Dawson Bros. Funtime (featuring Cariad Lloyd); For the Win (featuring John Hopkins, Richard Glover and Rich Fulcher); The Cariad Show (featuring Cariad Lloyd and Tom Davis); Fried (featuring Katy Wix); Parents Evening (featuring Kayvan Novak); The Vodka Diaries (featuring Cariad Lloyd and Aisling Bea); In Deep (featuring Paul Kaye); and Otherworld (from the minds of Adam Miller and Nico Tatarowicz).

Whilst none of these, sadly, have been migrated to a full series commission, the scheme has led to Impractical JokersPeople Just Do Nothing and Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment getting full runs on BBC Three, so our hopes are high for many of this year’s outings, which are as follows:

Dead Air

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Radio 1 DJ Greg James makes his writing debut with this self-starring sitcom pilot, developed in collaboration with Mark Chappell & Shaun Pye (The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, A Young Doctor’s Notebook). James stars as late-night commercial radio DJ Jake Cross, who is unexpectedly given the opportunity to inherit the coveted breakfast slot when the previous presenter dies on air.

With an idiotic best-friend (Richard David-Caine, Skins); a sleazy, do-anything-that-moves agent (Tom Davis); a neurotic producer (Olivia Poulet, The Thick of It) and a very enthusiastic fan (Nico Tatarowicz), Jake must battle his own ego, the whims of those around him, his affection for the breakfast show host’s widow (Montserrat Lombard, Ashes to Ashes), and the attention of his bitter rival (stand-up veteran Jared Christmas) to maintain his credibility in the face of selling out.

TVO connections extend behind the scenes too. The show is the first fruits from Cave Bear Productions, set up by Psychobitches producer Ben Cavey, whilst production duties fall to Arnold Widdowson (Crackanory, Sorry I’ve Got No Head). Both Widdowson and direct Simon Gibney have worked on Horrible Histories, and the score for the show comes from none other than Waen Shepherd. Get in.

To read our exclusive in-depth interview with Greg James about Dead Air, click here.

Fishbowl

© Bwark Productions / Mark Johnson

© Bwark Productions / Mark Johnson

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, its 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.

People Time

© BBC

© BBC

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 (Sun Trap, Cockroaches, Bill).  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.

Radges

© BBC / Des Willie

© BBC / Des Willie

Set in a pupil referral unit in Scotland, Radges stars Miranda‘s Sarah Hadland and a string of relative newcomers including Lois Chimimba, Lauren Lyle, Nick Preston, Samantha Foley and Ryan Paterson as the youngsters trying to negotiate being ‘weirdos’ in small town Scotland.

Written by stand-up comic Fern Brady and directed by Simon Hynd (Bob Servant), Radges is produced by Sam Bryant, whose previous successes on radio include I, Regress with Matt Berry, and Alice Lowe’s sublime Alice’s Wunderland.

Sunny D

© BBC / Des Willie

© BBC / Des Willie

Sunny D is a vehicle for stand-up comic Dane Baptiste, who writes and stars in the pilot as an exaggerated version of himself: he’s 29, ambitious, frustrated and very funny. Still living with his parents in a cramped box room he shares with his Mum’s cleaning equipment, he is desperate to follow his dream and break away from his privacy-free homelife and the boss he hates. And today could finally be the day when everything is about to change.

Co-starring Liz Hume-Dawn, Sasha Frost, Gbemisola Ikumelo and Tommy Rowson, Sunny D also stars two veterans of comedy: The Fast Show‘s John Thomson and Rising Damp‘s Don Warrington, and is directed by Rich Hall’s regular collaborator Chris Cottam.

Fun & Gamez

© BBC

© BBC

In a first for Comedy Feeds, Fun & Gamez is a family-friendly comedy game show. Written and hosted by comic Phil Ellis, the laughs are more important than the prizes as happy families join Phil and his gang in a series of simple but somewhat twisted games and challenges, all played out in front of the studio audience.

Ably assisted by Bonzo the Dog (Janice Connolly), Jim the Elf (Will Duggan) and the rather more unsavoury Uncle Mick (Manchester stand-up legend Mick Ferry), Phil surprises unsuspecting audience members and even treats one lucky family to a surprise holiday… but what will they have to go through to get there?

Interestingly, Fun & Gamez is produced by Lisa Clark, whose previous credits include House of Fools, Matt Berry Does…, Shooting Stars, Steve Coogan: The Inside Story, Catterick and Spaced. Directing the pilot is none other than John L Spencer, who is a veteran of Never Mind the Buzzcocks and was responsible for several episodes of seminal 90s comedy Fist of Fun, so its safe to say this one is worth the adults watching as much as the kids!

All six pilots will be available on iPlayer from this evening, and last year’s pilots are still available until the end of the week. To view them all, click here.

Sneek a Peek at Dangermouse

13 Jul
© Freemantle Media / CBBC

© Freemantle Media / CBBC

He’s the greatest. He’s fantastic. Wherever there is danger he’ll be there.

He’s also an iconic figure in so many millions of childhoods, that the very thought of rebooting cult classic Dangermouse was immediately met with derision when it was announced.

Yet the casting of Alexander Armstrong as the titular superhero seemed as perfect as could possibly be, and bringing in Kevin Eldon as his diminutive sidekick Penfold caught TVO’s attention.

Now the first trailer has been released by CBBC – first at ComicCon, then online – and you can see it below.

Also featuring Stephen Fry as Colonel K, Ed Gaughan as Baron Greenback, Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) as US Secret Agent Jeopardy Mouse, Jon Oliver as Dr. Augustus P. Crumhorn III, Richard Osman as Professor Strontium Jellyfishowitz and Dave Lamb as the narrator, Dangermouse will première on CBBC in the Autumn, and appear on Netflix shortly afterwards in the US and various international territories from Spring 2016.

Look Who’s Back!

9 Jul

The first trailer for Doctor Who‘s ninth series has been released, alongside the series launch date of 19th September 2015.

The 12-part run will once again star Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It) as the time-travelling, two-hearted mad man in a box, and Jenna Coleman as his companion Clara Oswald. Green Wing and Psychobitches legend Michelle Gomez returns as Missy, and this year’s guest stars include Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Rebecca Front and Paul Kaye.

You can see the trailer, which launched at San Diego Comic Con before being uploaded across the various Doctor Who online portals, below. More news on Front & Kaye’s parts as we get it.

B-B-Cee-Again as the Beeb announces BBC Store

8 Jul
© BBC

© BBC

The long awaited BBC Store will launch this Autumn, according to a report by The Independent.

Launched through BBC Worldwide, the Store will sell permanent downloads of hit programmes – often within hours of their television broadcast.

The proposed catalogue of releases will build to around 10,000 hours of content, including material from the BBC archives and independent production companies, some of which have never received a commercial release, which will hopefully include a number of TVO related productions such as Gas, Is It Bill Bailey?, Dead BossCrimsBrian Pern and Lifespam to name but a few, as well as long out of print titles like AD/BC: A Rock Opera and Perfect World.

It will also mark the first time that BBC Worldwide will directly sell HD copies of most of their recent comedy output. Despite being early adopters to blu-ray, the company has all but abandoned the format except for big budget releases (such as Sherlock and Doctor Who), with shows such as Inside No. 9House of Fools and SunTrap all being released on dvd only this year. HD downloads are currently only available through iTunes and Google Play.

We’ll aim to bring you a round-up of what’s available of interest when the store launches. In the meantime, here’s a vintage clip of a very young Noel Fielding alongside an equally young Mark Gatiss in Alexei Sayle’s Merry Go Round – a 1998 sketch series from the legendary Comic Strip veteran, directed by a pre-Spaced Edgar Wright and featuring pre-fame appearances by Jessica Hynes, Paul Putner, Reece Shearsmith, David Walliams and Peter Serafinowicz. We’re hoping this finally gets a release in the Autumn!

Editors Note
An earlier version of this story suggested – via the original source, The Independent – that the initial launch catalogue would include 10,000 hours of content, and indicated that the store will “hope to recoup the loss” of licence fee money from recent changes to the infrastructure. BBC Worldwide have since clarified to The Velvet Onion that neither of these things are strictly the case. The catalogue will build to c.10K hours of content, and the licence fee shortfall is far greater than the money BBC Store can hope to recoup, but will contribute towards it, and TVO would like to apologise to any readers who were potentially misled by our report.

Free Comedy Pilots From Audible

7 Jul
© audible.co.uk

© audible.co.uk

Audible, the Amazon-owned company that sells audio downloads, has created five new sitcom pilots which it is giving away for free. The collection is titled This Is Your Pilot Speaking!, and this is the first time that Audible has commissioned original comedy content in the UK.

Of course if it’s comedy then there is TVO connected people involved!

The five pilots are:

Catching Up – Written by Bronagh Fegan

A sharp yet warm-hearted comedy about what happens after university. Performed by Louise Ford, Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Carrie Quinlan, Grainne Maguire and Andy Goddard.

Working for The Big Man – Written by Rob Sears and Tom Sears

Committed rationalist and atheist Ralph gets an unwelcome surprise when he dies on his honeymoon. He discovers that God does exist after all, and worse yet God has a job for him. Performed by Kevin Eldon, Felicity Montagu and Mitch Benn.

Slaving Away – Written by Miranda Kane

Meet (the other) Miranda. She’s a cheerful, happy-go-lucky single girl in London … who just happens to be a professional dominatrix. Performed by Hugh Dennis, Miranda Kane and Jon Holmes.

The Uncynical Cannibal –  Written by Dewi Llywelyn

This gloriously mad Desert Island romp is what Robinson Crusoe would have been like if the castaway had found a crop of magic mushrooms growing among the coconuts. Performed by Richard Glover, Simon Kane, Daniel Lawrence Taylor, Bobby Mair and Sophie Henderson.

The Hub –  Written by Bruce Windwood

Deep underground is The Hub, a top-secret location from which a team of dedicated professionals keep us safe by waging war against Terror, Anarchy and Foreigners in General. It’s just a shame that all the state-of-the-art, counter-terrorist hardware can’t stop them from screwing everything up. Performed by Susy Kane, Alex Kirk, Howard Gossington, Anjella Mackintosh and Joel Morris.

Click on the link to find out more and download the pilots. Once you’ve listened to them, you can vote for your favourite by giving a star rating on the site. Voting will remain open until December 31st when the most popular show will be turned into a full series.

World Premiere & Q&A For Aaaaaaah!

5 Jul

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 12.47.33As our regular readers will be aware, we’ve been getting more than a little over-excited about Aaaaaaah! for some time – and now the details of the World Premiere have been announced.

Steve Oram‘s directorial debut comedy horror, about a world inhabited by apes in human form, will star a cavalcade of comedic TVO-connected talent (and post-punk icon Toyah Wilcox), including Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding (or “Noah Fielding” according to this site), Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, Steve Oram, Sean ReynardWaen Shepherd, John Hopkins and Tony Way.

The film premieres at Film 4 FrightFest at Leicester Square – and you can be there to experience it on the big screen in person! What’s more, the event will feature a Q&A with some of the cast. Steve and Toyah are confirmed for this, but there’s on news yet as to which other cast members will be there.

The film will be screened at 18:35 on Friday 28th August on the Discovery 1 screen. A festival pass costs £185 (eek) and day passes for the Friday are £60 (still eek) – these are available here. Single tickets at £13.25 per film will go on sale on 25th July, but unfortunately there are no guarantees what will be available then. Festival and day passes went on sale yesterday and it looks like demand so far has been very high.

In the meantime, to remind yourself how flipping exciting this is (and it really is!), take another look at the Aaaaaaah! trailer below:

A Return for Brian Pern

30 Jun
© BBC

© BBC

Simon Day‘s pompous prog-rock alter-ego Brian Pern is to return for another three-part series in the Winter.

The character – former front-man of Thotch turned eco-warrior – was created by Day and Rhys Thomas for a series of BBC Comedy Feeds in 2010, before being revived for the mini-series The Life of Rock with Brian Pern, which aired on BBC 4 in February 2014. Following huge critical acclaim, Pern upgraded to BBC2 for Brian Pern: A Life in Rock last December.

Since then, the character has taken on a life of his own. Following the expanded re-release of his “Greatest Hits” digitally, Pern recently announced a one-off live event at London’s The Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, in October, which has almost completely sold out.

Now celebrating his 45th anniversary year, Pern returns to BBC4 alongside his Thotch bandmates Pat Quid (Paul Whitehouse) and Tony Pebblé (Nigel Havers); and his manager John Farrow (Michael Kitchen).

Also along for the ride, as ever, are TVO regulars Lucy Montgomery and Tony Way as Brian’s wife and driver, respectively, and Stephen Burge, who co-writes Pern’s extensive back catalogue with Thomas & Day.

With a host of famous cameos expected – previous episodes have featured Peter Gabriel, Roger Taylor, Rick Parfitt and Chrissie Hynde to name but a few – we can’t wait to have Brian Pern back on our screens, revealing more about his life with Thotch than ever before.

If you missed them in December, you can catch our interviews with Brian Pern himself, and with Simon Day and Rhys Thomas by clicking on their names in this sentence. Because that’s technology. There’s also a playlist featuring some of Brian’s best moments below.

So Hot Right Now: #37

29 Jun

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…

MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN

Humans, Sunday, 9:00pm, Channel 4 [UK]
Sunday, 9:00pm (8:00pm Central), AMC [US]

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

AMC and Channel 4’s smash-hit sci-fi drama Humans continues on Sunday evening, with Katherine ParkinsonRebecca Front and Paul Kaye part of the impressive ensemble cast.

Over in the USA, it’s time for Episode Two, and George (William Hurt) is assigned a new Synth, Vera (an eerie Rebecca Front) whom he cannot stand, and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) feels threatened by Anita’s presence in her home. Elsewhere Fred (Sope Dirisu) is held captive by Hobb (Danny Webb), which leads him to fear for the future of the human race, and Leo (Colin Morgan) finds himself on a dangerous path in the search for information.

UK viewers, are a couple of weeks ahead, so naturally, our US brethren may wish to skip this paragraph. In the fourth episode, Anita (Gemma Chan) is taken for testing, which yields the surprising revelation that the supposedly brand new synth is actually 14 years old, and has a past she is not aware of. Elsewhere, Pete (Neil Maskell, Kill List) hates being stuck at home with Simon (Jack Derges), but his selfish behaviour drives Jill (Jill Halfpenny) from the house, and Hobb closes in on Niska (Emily Berrington), and Mattie (Lucy Carless) gets in touch with Leo (Colin Morgan), who reveals something that could change the world.

If you’re not watching on tv – and you really should – Humans is also available to pre-order for £14 on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. If you’d rather go all synthetic yourself, you can purchase digital downloads of the show on Amazon already.

SUNSET FOR THE SUNTRAP

SunTrap, Wednesday, 10:40pm, BBC One
Regional times vary (see below)

© Happy Tramp / BBC

© Happy Tramp / BBC

It’s the last in the series for BBC One’s crime caper SunTrap this week, and the show goes out in style with a nautical adventure.

Directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie, Bad Sugar, Star Stories), Sun Trap features Kayvan Novak and Bradley Walsh as former undercover journalists turned private investigators in an island paradise. Also featuring Jamie Demetriou, Emma Pierson and Keith Allen, the series has previously featured guest appearances from TVO regulars Tracy Ann Oberman, Alex Kirk, Morgana Robinson, Simon Day and Paul Kaye, and this week, two more familiar faces join the fun, in the form of Tony Way and Steve Oram.

When a company running pirate-themed boat parties for tourists hires Woody to go undercover as an entertainer to investigate a new rival firm that is threatening to sabotage their business. However, the master of disguise soon discovers all is not quite what it seems, and when he is kidnapped at sea, mock pirate battles quickly transform into real seafaring clashes. With his life on the line, Woody must rely on one of his most audacious disguises yet – as well as help from Brutus and Melody – if he is to escape unscathed.

With Oram, Way and former Shameless star Sean Gilder as this week’s guest stars, the series goes out on a high. If you’ve not yet tapped into the SunTrap, this is your last chance on telly, and as ever, regional times for Wednesday’s transmission vary, with viewers in England getting it at 10:40pm, viewers in Wales getting it at 11:10pm, and viewers in Northern Ireland at 11:20pm. Everyone, including Scotland, can also tune in on Friday at 10:35pm after The Graham Norton Show.

If you’ve enjoyed the show, or want to know why so many talented types turned up in it, you can pre-order the DVD now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

TIME IS SHORT FOR DOLL & EM

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:10pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

The second series of Doll & Em continues this week, as Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer’s semi-autobiographical comic drama begins to draw to a conclusion.

This week, there are only 24 hours remaining before the pair’s play is due to première off-Broadway, with genuine Hollywood stars Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood on board playing the lead characters based on Wells & Mortimer.

However, tensions are high, and Wilde & Wood are frustrated by a string of last-minute changes. Dolly makes things worse when her salty language offends Evan, and Em’s husband Noah is spending an increasing amount of time with his wife’s on-stage counterpart Olivia.

Also featuring Mischa Richter, this is another dynamite installment of the hugely acclaimed comedy, and with any luck you’ll have been watching all along (we did keep telling you). However, if you haven’t, both series are available on demand now via SkyGo and NowTV, along with a cavalcade of previous hits.

AMBASSAHOFF

Hoff The Record, Thursday, 9:00pm, Dave

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

Dave’s delightful new semi-improvised comedy Hoff The Record continues on Thursday evening, with Fergus Craig playing the hapless manager of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff.

For the uninitiated, Hoff the Record focuses on the Knight Rider legend’s fictionalised attempts at rebuilding his career in the UK, with his useless manager Max (Craig); Harriet (Ella Smith) – an inexperienced PA; Terry (Asim Chaudhry) – an over-enthusiastic driver; Danny (Brett Goldstein) – an oafish personal trainer; and Dieter (Mark Quartley) – The Hoff’s illegitimate son.

With the likes of Tim Downie and Anna Crilly turning up in last week’s episode, and guest appearances from Steve Oram and Simon Greenall still to come, there’s lots of TVO-flavoured reasons to watch Hoff the Record, as well as it being rather ruddy funny.

In this week’s episode, The Hoff has decided to give up acting, following an inspirational session with Danny, and plans to embrace his potential for doing good in the world by becoming a United Nations Ambassador. In a bid to learn about the UN, he takes part in a school’s debate: only Hoff’s debating skills are not enough to win against a group of precocious kids.

If you missed it recently, you can catch our exclusive interview with star Fergus Craig over yonder now, and Series One is available to pre-order on dvd too.

UNDERCOVER GETS WIRED

Undercover, Tuesday, 9:00pm, Dave

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

Unless you’ve been living under a rock with no access to TVO over the last few weeks, you’ll know that there’s not one but two new shows on Dave with TVO connections. Undercover is their bold new sitcom which fuses witty wordplay with high-octane crime drama, and is directed by Dave Lambert (The Mighty Boosh, Common Ground, Alan Partridge).

Starring Daniel Rigby (Eric & ErnieFrom There To Here) and Sarah Alexander (Green Wing, Coupling) as dim-witted detectives Chris Anderson and Zoe Keller investigating an Armenian gangster family, the series also features Yasmine Akrin (Sherlock, Stella) and co-writer Sascha Tarter.

This week the Police are becoming impatient with `Operation Piccolo’ and see the release of Ara’s henchman Tommi Lylozian (Keith Allen) from prison as an opportunity to make some headway. Chris attempts to gather incriminating evidence on the Sarkissian operation by wearing a wire. As Tommi is guaranteed the protection of the family, Chris struggles not just to get evidence but to stay alive, due to the fact that Tommi is a raving psychopath.

You can catch Undercover twice this week: on Tuesday at 9pm, or right after Hoff the Record on Thursday at 9:40pm. You can catch our exclusive interview with Dave Lambert over yonder.

DENNIS & DAN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

Greg Davis returns in the latest edition of Channel 4’s Man Down – produced, as ever, by Spencer Millman.

This week, Dan (Davis) volunteers to look after his pupil Dennis (Alfie Davis) for the weekend after the boy recieves sad news about his family, though as ever, he is primarily motivated with impressing Miss Lipsey (Jeany Spark). Soon, poor Dennis is subjected to reliving the childhood years of Jo (Roisin Conaty), Brian (Mike Wozniak) and Dan by way of a bike-trip, a game of knock-down-ginger and one of their own devising called furry periscope.

AWFUL EGYPTIANS

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

The new series of Horrible Histories continues on Monday afternoon, with a look at the life of Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra.

Played by guest star Kathryn Drysdale, best known for her role as Louise in 2 Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Cleo clashed with her brother, seized power for herself, and hooked up with Roman leaders Julius Ceasar and Mark Antony – all of which is given a Horrible Histories spin.

Plus, there’s the thoughts of famous Chinese philosopher Confucious, and a look at the less glamorous side of of life in Rome. Featuring, as always, Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick, along with new regulars Jalaal Hartley, Naz Osmanoglu, Jessica Ransom, Adam Richies and Murder in Successville‘s Tom Stourton, it’s another fun filled half hour with the new look team.

ALL THE MIRRORS OF THE WORLD

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Saturday, 10:00pm (9:00pm Central), BBC America

©  JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

The fourth episode of the BBCs fantasy epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell airs in the US on Saturday evening via BBC America, once again starring Paul Kaye and Edward Hogg amongst its incredible ensemble.

In this instalment, Strange (Bertie Carvel) is developing a growing fascination with the magic of the Raven King, which drives a wedge between him and Norrell (Eddie Marsan). The latter is determined to stop Strange resurrecting the dark powers of ancient times, even as he attempts to cure King George III of his madness. Elsewhere, Drawlight (Vincent Franklin) is caught selling magical secrets, and the mysterious Gentleman (Marc Warren) seeks Stephen’s (Ariyon Bakare)  aid in putting a stop to Strange’s meddling.

If you haven’t caught up yet, do so immediately, then check out our exclusive interview with Kaye about the series over yonder. UK fans of the series can rejoice: you can pick it up on on dvd and blu-ray right now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Whilst it’s a quiet week ahead, here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Lauren Taylor

© Lauren Taylor

Wednesday 1st July

Richard Sandling‘s Perfect Movie Podcast Show featuring Brett Goldstein
Betsey Trotwood, London
7:30pm, £3.85
TICKETS

Lou Sanders & Bec Hill
Charles Cryer Theatre, Carshalton
8:00pm, £7
TICKETS

Aisling Bea & Phil Wang
The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol
8:00pm, £5
TICKETS

Thursday 2nd July

Joey Page & Yve Blake
Komedia, Brighton
7:00pm, £8
TICKETS

Saturday 4th July

Dan Clark‘s The Wow Wow Show! featuring Alice Lowe, Natasia Demetriou, Liam Williams, Oliver Maltman and The Wow Wow Band
Soho Theatre, London
9:30pm, £16.50
TICKETS

Aisling Bea, Stewart Lee, Arthur Smith, Phil Wang and The Pin
Union Chapel, London
7:45pm, £18
SOLD OUT

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on within 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.

 

Julia Davis Joins Edinburgh TV Festival

27 Jun
© The Gentlewoman

© The Gentlewoman

Julia Davis has been confirmed as one of the speakers at this year’s Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.

The Festival takes place 26th- 28th August and offers a range of keynote talks, lectures, Q&As, meetings and networking opportunities for people in TV.

Julia will be there to present the first episode of the two-part special of Hunderby, the latest chapter in the dark world of the award-winning comedy, which returns to Sky Atlantic later this year. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Julia and other cast members, although we don’t have any information as to whether this will include Rufus Jones.

Access to the festival doesn’t come cheap, unfortunately – in fact, even the Early Bird pass (which available until 20th June) costs a whopping £580+VAT and booking fees. Ouch!

Ticket information and prices can be found here, and for more information about the festival in general take a look at the event website.

So Hot Right Now: #36

22 Jun

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…

SMELL THE HOFF

Hoff The Record, Thursday, 9pm, Dave

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

Tim Downie and Anna Crilly make guest appearances in this week’s edition of Hoff The Record: Dave’s delightful new semi-improvised mockumentary starring David Hasselhoff and Fergus Craig.

For the uninitiated, Hoff the Record focuses on the Knight Rider legend’s attempts at rebuilding his career in the UK. In this fictionalised version of his life, he’s turned to his utterly useless English manager, Max Coleman (Craig), who has surrounded The Hoff with an inexperienced PA, an over-enthusiastic cab driver, and his long-lost illegitimate German son.

This week, The Hoff is in genuinely in demand: as Max has landed him a proposal to use his name on a new, classy aftershave. However, it soon becomes clear that the ad agency isn’t interested in Hoff as a symbol of class, but want to trade off his cheesy image.

Tim Downie – best known for his roles in Toast of London and Paddington guests as the hipster-tastic advertising exec Dylan Turnbull, whilst Anna Crilly – one half of Anna & Katy – turns up as journalist Lucinda Young, who takes issue with comments The Hoff made in confidence.

It’s another dynamite installment of Dave’s bold new show, which is playful with Hasselhoff’s reputation, and willing to make him look dafter than ever before.  And with appearances from Steve Oram (Sightseers, Luxury Comedy), and Simon Greenall (I’m Alan Partridge, Alice’s Wunderland) still to come in this first series, and a second series already confirmed and in pre-production now, this is one you really won’t want to miss.

Catch our exclusive interview with star Fergus Craig over yonder now.

 

A MERCURIAL CAMEO

SunTrap, Wednesday, from 10:35pm, BBC One

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

Paul Kaye joins Kayvan Novak and Bradley Walsh in this week’s edition of BBC One’s crime-caper sitcom Sun Trap.

Directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie, Bad Sugar, Star Stories), Sun Trap features Novak and Walsh as former undercover journalists now solving crimes in an island paradise. Also featuring Jamie Demetriou, Emma Pierson and Keith Allen, the series has previously featured guest appearances from TVO regulars Tracy Ann Oberman, Alex Kirk, Morgana Robinson and Simon Day, with Tony Way and Steve Oram set to appear in the sixth episode next week.

Back to this week, however, and Brutus (Walsh), Zorro (Demetriou) and Melody (Pierson) wake up after a heavy night of drinking to find themselves in a prison cell, with no memory of the previous night. It soon becomes clear the trio have been arrested on suspicion of murdering the brilliantly named Spanish tribute singer Elton Juan (Lee Boardman). With his friends locked up, Woddy must make use of his armoury of disguises to infiltrate the home of casino owner Senor Big (Allen), to find out what really happened.  His investigation brings him into contact with Juan’s bitter rival, Frederico Mercury (Kaye).

As ever, Sun Trap has inherited the Count Arthur Strong Wibbly Wednesday timeslot, which means viewers in England and Wales can see it on Wednesday at 10:35pm, viewers in Northern Ireland get to watch at 11:05pm, and viewers in Scotland have to wait until 11:35pm. Alternatively, everyone can see it on Friday night at 11:25pm after The Graham Norton Show.

DIAMONDS ARE A COP’S BEST FRIEND

Undercover, Tuesday, 9:00pm, Dave

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

Undercover – Dave’s new witty sitcom in disguise as ambitious crime drama returns this week with another top notch episode, once again directed by Dave Lambert (The Mighty Boosh, Common Ground, Alan Partridge).

Starring Daniel Rigby (Eric & ErnieFrom There To Here) and Sarah Alexander (Green Wing, Coupling) as dim-witted detectives Chris Anderson and Zoe Keller investigating an Armenian gangster family, the series also features Yasmine Akrin (Sherlock, Stella) and co-writer Sascha Tarter.

The results are an interesting blend of high-octane police procedural drama and Airplane levels of silly wordplay, with a stunning visual look from Lambert and his team, which he detailed in his exclusive interview with TVO last week.

In this week’s episode, Arno and Ara Sarkissian are due at the wedding of the head of the Margarian family’s daughter and are keen to impress, so Chris has to steal a set of diamonds for a present. Find out how he gets on on Tuesday evening at 9pm, or right after Thursday’s edition of Hoff The Record at 9:40pm.

THE FORCE ISN’T STRONG FOR EWAN

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:10pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

 

After his debut last week, Hollywood heartthrob Ewan McGregor makes another cameo appearance in this week’s edition of the superlative Doll & Em on Sky Atlantic.

As Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer’s alter-egos continue to develop their play, Doll’s film plans threaten to put the project into jeopardy. But when McGregor in unable to commit to the movie, the pair are good to go on their production – if they can break their director’s block.

As wonderfully akward and utterly charming as ever, you can catch this week’s episode at 10:10pm on Wednesday evening via Sky Atlantic, and every episode is available on catch-up services now.

BACK TO THE BULLY FOR DAN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

 

 

Channel 4’s wacky sitcom Man Down continues on Monday evening, as ever starring Greg Davis, Roisin Conaty and Mike Wozniak.

This week, idiotic high school drama teacher Dan (Davis) has organised a trip to the theatre for his pupils, but realises too late the play stars his childhood enemy, Geoff Doogan. Meanwhile, Jo (Conaty) has another new money making scheme, Brian (Wozniak) is determined to be published in the local paper, and Aunt Nesta (the sublime Stephanie Cole) tries her hand at helpful role-play.

Produced by Spencer Millman (The Mighty Boosh, TV Burp, Man to Man with Dean Learner), Man Down continues to delight audiences and critics alike, and this week’s episode also features a cameo appearance by acclaimed actor Ramon Tikaram – who Boosh fans will forever identify as Banoo, the frequently late warrior of Xooberon. Oh, and The Proclaimers. No, really.

ARE WE HUMAN? OR ARE WE ONIONS?

Humans, Sunday, 9:00pm, Channel 4 [UK]
Sunday, 9/8C, AMC [US]

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

Smash hit sci-fi dystopia Humans continues this week on Channel Four, and debuts in America on AMC, with Katherine Parkinson and Rebecca Front part of its impressive ensemble cast.

Set in a world where synthetic human servants are the ‘in’ thing, the lives of a family who buy the latest model begin to unravel, whilst a retired engineer’s paternal relationship with his own Synth is threatened by a malfunction. US audiences have the first episode, featuring a cameo from Dan Tetsell to enjoy this week – with Paul Kaye turning up in Episode Two. US audiences will probably want to skip the next paragraph.

Here in the UK, we’re up to Episode Three, and Laura (Parkinson) tries to get rid of Anita (Gemma Chan), but is forced to reconsider when the synth saves Toby’s (Theo Stevenson) life. Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) begins to share his wife’s suspicions that there is something strange about Anita when he checks her for damage and finds she appears more human than expected. Elsewhere, George (William Hurt) comes up with a plan to escape his joyless new routine under Vera’s (Front) care, and Pete (Neil Maskell) and Karen (Ruth Bradley) investigate a murder at the brothel – but when Pete loses his temper on duty, he finds himself suspended and stuck at home with Simon for company.

If you’re not watching on tv – and you really should – Humans is also available to pre-order for £14 on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

 

FAREWELL TO STRANGE & NORRELL

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sunday, 9:00pm, BBC One [UK]
Saturday, 10/9C, BBC America [US]

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

As US audiences get to savour the third episode of fantasty epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell this week, British viewers must say a fond farewell to the magical duo and their BBC One adaptation, which stars Bertie Carvel, Eddie Marsan, Marc Warren, Paul KayeEdward Hogg and many, many more.

In the final episode, England is plunged into chaos as ancient magical forces are unleashed on the world and the dark prophecy of the Raven King looks to be fulfilled. Norrell (Marsan) flees to the safety of his library, but is pursued by Strange (Carvel), who intends to free Arabella (Charlotte Riley) before the Gentleman’s (Warren) curse consumes him. Childermass (Enzo Cilenti) tries to find a way to break the enchantment on Lady Pole (Alice Englert), as Stephen (Ariyon Bakare) is drawn deeper into the sinister world of the Fairy kingdom.

Adapted from Susanna Clarke’s best-selling novel by screenwriter Peter Harness (Wallander, Doctor Who), producer Nick Hirschkorn (Five Children and It) and director Toby Haynes (Doctor Who, Sherlock), JS&MN has been a delightful Sunday night excursion into the otherworldly realm of magic and mystery, and those who stuck with it for seven weeks have fallen in love with its charms.

If you’re one of them, and haven’t yet ordered the series to own, you can pick it up on on dvd and blu-ray now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. You can also revisit our recent interview with Paul Kaye about the show, over yonder.

A LITTLE MORE REFORMATION

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

The new series of Horrible Histories continues this week, with a special guest appearance by Rowan Atkinson as Henry VIII.

Atkinson’s role as the portly king was revealed earlier this year, with his Elvis-tastic musical number released on YouTube to promote the new run.  He joins a number of big name guest stars appearing in this run, alongside Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kathryn Drysdale, Lorna Watson and The Actor, Kevin Eldon.

Also featuring Horrible Histories veterans Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick, as well as the new regulars Jalaal Hartley, Naz Osmanoglu, Jessica Ransom, Adam Riches and Murder in Successville star Tom Stourton, this week’s episode not only tells us all about the English monarch, but we get to learn about Ottoman leader Suleiman the Magnificent in Turkey, and Emperor Zhengde in China.

GO GO GADGET MAN!

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

It’s the final edition of Gadget Man this week, as Richard Ayoade‘s tech-loving show takes on the various gizmos available for protection and security.

First off, Richard kits the Gadget Man house out with a smartphone-activated lock, scanning visitors with a portable metal detector and putting a robot on patrol. He is also joined by actor Keith Allen to test a wallet tracker, a vest that makes the wearer look more muscular and a bulletproof bag. Finally, he meets up with Bill Bailey at a Cold War era nuclear bunker in Essex to try out a post-apocalyptic survival kit – much of which can also be used for camping holidays or festivals.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Whilst it’s a quiet week ahead, here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Lou Sanders

© Lou Sanders

Monday 22nd June

Lou Sanders and Ed Aczel
Aces and Eights Saloon Bar, London
7:30pm, Free but ticketed
TICKETS

Sarah Kendall, Matt Kirshen, Nish Kumar, Tom Craine, Tom O’Connor & Tiff Stevenson
Old Rope @ The Pheonix, London
7:30pm, £6.60
TICKETS

Thursday 25th June

Lou Sanders and Tania Edwards
The Oval Tavern, Croyden
7:30pm, £4.20
TICKETS

Friday 26th June

Neil Cole, Rudi Lickwood, Bryan Lacey, Francis Foster and Morgan Berry
West Cliff Theatre, Clacton On Sea
7:30pm, £14
TICKETS

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on within 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.

SunTrap Rendezvous

19 Jun
© Paul Kaye

© Paul Kaye

Next week’s edition of BBC One’s caper-filled sitcom SunTrap features a guest appearance by Paul Kay – as Spanish impersonator Frederico Mercury.

The episode sees Woody (Kayvan Novak) go undercover in full blown Nile Rodgers get-up to investigate the murder of another tribute act: the fabulously named Elton Juan.

As you can see from the exclusive image of Kaye in full costume atop this post, he certainly looks the part! And if you’re still not convinced, there’s a preview clip down below.

Set on a Spanish island, Sun Trap focuses on the exploits of barman Brutus (Bradley Walsh) and his former journalist colleague Woody, who was framed back home and forced to make a new life in the Sun Trap. Each week, the duo investigate increasingly bizarre cases, which give Woody an excuse to dole out an increasingly bizarre set of disguises.

Kaye joins fellow TVOers Alex Kirk, Tracy Oberman, Morgana Robinson and Simon Day as guest stars in the run, which will also feature Tony Way in a future episode. You can see the next episode at 10:35pm on Wednesday, only on BBC One. Regional times vary: we’ll have more info in Monday’s edition of So Hot Right Now.

The dvd of Series One is also available for pre-order now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. We’ll bring you a full review of its contents soon, so stay peeled.

So Hot Right Now: #35

15 Jun

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…

GET HOFFED

Hoff The Record, Thursday, 9pm, Dave

© UKTV

© Me And You Productions / UKTV

This week sees the launch of two new comedy shows on Dave, both with TVO connections.  The first of these is Hoff The Record – a semi-improvised mockumentary based on the surreal life of Knight Rider and Baywatch legend David Hasselhoff.

Fergus Craig – formerly of Star Stories and Colin & Fergus fame – plays The Hoff’s utterly useless English manager, Max Coleman, who brings the out-of-work actor to the UK in an attempt to kick-star his flagging career.

Alongside an inexperienced PA and a superfan mini-cab driver, Max attempts to bolster The Hoff’s profile with a series of increasingly wonky schemes. In this debut episode, Max has signed off the rights to The Hoff’s life story to a hotshot young movie director (played by the magnificent Craig Roberts of Submarine fame), but finds he has no control over the casting decisions. Or the script. Or just about anything.

Hasselhoff is more than game for a laugh, even if most of them come at his expense, and where Life’s Too Short perhaps dwelled too much on that famous Gervais cringe-factor, Hoff the Record is sillier, more playful and all the more enjoyable as a result.

Watching The Hoff battle for the role of himself against a dwarf actor and an LA luvvie who thinks Michael Knight would be using Kit’s internet access to do a spot of tweeting at the wheel, is a joy from start to finish. And with later episodes also featuring guest appearances by Tim Downie (Toast of London, Paddington), Anna Crilly (Anna & Katy, Dead Boss), Steve Oram (Sightseers, Luxury Comedy), and Simon Greenall (I’m Alan Partridge, Alice’s Wunderland) and a second series already confirmed and in pre-production now, this is one you really won’t want to miss.

Keep your eyes peeled for our exclusive chat with Fergus Craig later this week, and catch Episode One on Dave this Thursday at 9pm. Series One is also available to pre-order on dvd already via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

GO UNDERCOVER

Undercover, Tuesday, 9pm, Dave

© Baby Cow / UKTV

© Baby Cow / UKTV

The second of two new comedy commissions from Dave this week is the ambitious sitcom Undercover – which features Daniel Rigby (Eric & Ernie, From There To Here) as Chris: a detective deep inside the Armenian Mafia, trying to impress his new ‘family’ whilst staying out of trouble until he can ‘bring em in’.

Directed by Dave Lambert (The Mighty Boosh, Common Ground, Alan Partridge), the show also features comedy legend Sarah Alexander of Green Wing, Coupling and Smack The Pony fame, as Chris’ equally dim-witted boss, Zoe Keller.

Also along for the ride is Yasmine Akrin (SherlockStella) as a femme fatale member of the Armenian family with a bit of a thing for hapless Chris, and there are guest appearances across the run from the likes of Being Human‘s Michael Socha, Horrible Histories star Jim Howick and Comic Strip veteran Keith Allen.

Co-written by one of the show’s co-stars, Sacha Tarter alongside Scallywagger scribe Andrew Milligan, the series is an interesting blend of high-octane police procedural drama and Airplane levels of silly wordplay. And with Lambo at the helm, it looks stunning. Check it out for yourselves on Tuesday evening at 9pm, only on Dave, or right after Thursday’s first edition of Hoff The Record at 9:40pm. Now that’s what we call a double bill of Onion goodness…

VELVET (ONION) GOLDMINE FOR DOLL & EM

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:10pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

Hollywood heartthrob Ewan McGregor cameos in this week’s edition of the superlative Doll & Em on Sky Atlantic.

As Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer’s alter-egos continue to develop their play, the former meets a rather sleazy version of the Scottish superstar in a bar and finds he’s as smitten with her as she is of him, until, that is, he begins reader her his poetry.

Elsewhere, the closeness between Doll & Em falls into question, as Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood: the two actresses hired to play them in their off-Broadway play, reveal their portrayals are a lot more than platonic.

It’s all as wonderfully akward and utterly charming as ever, and another fine way to spend twenty-five minutes in the company of two extremely talented individuals who are not afraid to make themselves look ridiculous to get the laughs. Catch it at the slightly later than usual time of 10:10pm on Wednesday evening via Sky Atlantic, and both series are available on catch-up services now.

DIVERSITY DAN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

The second series of Man Down starring Greg Davis and Stephanie Cole continues this week, with some very impressive guest stars cropping up.

The show about a childish schoolteacher who refuses to grow up, is produced by Boosh veteran Spencer Millman and happens to be one of Channel 4’s most enjoyable traditional sitcoms in years. This week, Dan has been caught playing Camp Aisle while invigilated the science exam, and is sent on a diversity awareness course for good measure.

Elsewhere, Jo (Roisin Conaty) has hit on the idea of cobining two celebrity looks into one genuinely incredible makeover: the Halle-Lulu. Madness, as always, and this week sees Daniel Lawrence Taylor (Cockroaches, How Not To Live Your Life) make a guest appearance, alongside Ricky Grover (Murder in Successville) and Annette Badland (Doctor Who).

Catch the latest episode on Monday evening at 10pm, or previous editions online now via All 4.

MAKE WAY FOR THE HOMOSUPERIOR

Humans, Sunday, 9:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

Things are hotting up in Channel 4’s dystopian sci-fi drama Humans this week, including a guest appearance from one Paul Kaye, no less.

In this second episode, George (William Hurt) is assigned a new Synth, Vera (an eerie Rebecca Front) whom he cannot stand, and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) feels threatened by Anita’s presence in her home. Elsewhere Fred (Sope Dirisu) is held captive by Hobb (Danny Webb), which leads him to fear for the future of the human race, and Leo (Colin Morgan) finds himself on a dangerous path in the search for information.

If you’re not watching on tv – and you really should – Humans is also available to pre-order for £14 on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store. US audiences will be able to see the show on AMC later this year.

MADNESS & MAGIC

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sunday, 9:00pm, BBC One

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

The curious case of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is almost at an end, and we’ll be incredibly sorry to say goodbye to it’s magical realm next week.

Until then, we can rejoin the glorious ensemble cast as Strange (Bertie Carvel) seeks a way to drive himself insane so as to access the fairy world and restore Arabella (Charlotte Riley), and Norrell (Eddie Marsan) continues his grim determination to maintain control of all magic in England.

The two men face dire consequences as the government turns against Norrell, and the Gentlemen (Marc Warren) unleashes a terrible curse to stop Strange in his tracks. Elsewhere, Stephen is still in the Gentlemen’s clutches, but Vinculus (Paul Kaye) offers him a means of escape.

If, like us, you’ve been enjoying JS&MN, you can pick it up on on dvd and blu-ray now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store, and US audiences can see now the show on BBC America on Saturday evenings at 10pm (9pm central). Our recent interview with Paul Kaye about the show, can be read over yonder.

AN ISLAND GAMBLE

Sun Trap, Wednesday, 10:35pm, BBC One
(BBC One Wales: 11:10pm, BBC One Northern Ireland: 11.35pm)

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

© Happy Tramp / BBC / Mark Bourdillon

Brutus and Woody’s adventures in the Sun Trap continue this week with guest appearances from Keith Allen, Michelle Collins and Martin Marquez.

Allen makes his debut as recurring character Senor Big: an unscrupulous gangster and owner of the island’s Casino Gamberos. Barman Zorro (Jamie Demetriou) has just emerged from a three-day gambling binge there, in which he’s foolishly gone and lost Brutus’ (Bradley Walsh) bar. It’s up to Woody (Kayvan Novak) and his masterful disguises to catch an elusive thief and win a handsome enough reward to get back the watering hole before it’s too late.

Directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie, Bad Sugar, Star Stories) once more, Sun Trap may have divided critics, but it’s won itself a loyal audience – thanks in no small part to the Friday night repeats after The Graham Norton Show and inheriting Wednesday’s wobbly Count Arthur slot with its regional variances.

Previous episodes have featured the likes of Tracy Ann Oberman, Alex Kirk, Morgana Robinson and Simon Day, and we’ve still got appearances from Paul Kaye and Tony Way to come in future weeks, so if you’ve not checked out Sun Trap yet, there’s no better time to get on iPlayer, or hit pre-order in our store.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR FOR THE GADGET MAN

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Richard Ayoade investigates dating gadgets this week in the third installment of Gadget Man Series 4, and as usual, he’s got a couple of helping hands on board. Comics Katherine Ryan and Tom Rosenthal try out a £1,500 handbag that displays messages, and a carbon dioxide cooling vest to make sure the wearer remains ice cold, however hot things get.

For those already in a relationship, there’s hope too, as Goodness Gracious Me star Sanjeev Bhaskar joins Richard to investigate 3D chocolate printing, virtual flowers and a new system that teaches people how to play romantic music on the piano.

NAUGHTY NAPOLEON

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

There’s a double dose of Sanjeev Bhaskar on our screens on Monday, as a few hours before his Gadget Man appearance, he pops up in this week’s Horrible Histories as the Indian traveller who brought shampoo to the world.

The main focus of this week’s special, however, is French military leader and rule Napoleon Bonaparte, and we follow his rise from humble beginnings to being crowned emperor of France, with Horrible Histories veterans Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick in tow.

If the 5pm start time is just a little bit awkward for you big kids in work, all of the previous episodes of this series are available now on iPlayer, alongside a selection of vintage episodes with the original cast.

YOO-KAY DADDIES

Matt Berry Does… Father’s Day, Available on iPlayer

© Pett TV

© Pett TV

It can’t have escaped your attention that it’s Father’s Day in the UK on Sunday, and in typical fashion, Matt Berry has taken the occasion as an excuse to chart the development of Dads in the UK since the days of Neanderthal Man.

We also get to look at the animal kingdom, in which Yoo-Kay Daddies are keen jazz admirers, genital tweakers and lovers of a cheeky Nandos. Made once again with Bob Mortimer, and executively produced by House of Fools producer Lisa Clark for Pett TV, this is another stone-cold Berry classic, that’s more than deserving of your attention. Check it out now!

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

There’s almost always a chance or two to see a TVO regular on stage, often in London, but occasionally up and down the country. Whilst it’s a quiet week ahead, here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Joey Page

© Joey Page

Wednesday 17th June

Joey Page & Yve Blake
Komedia, Bath
7:30pm, £8.00
TICKETS

Thursday 18th June

Sarah Kendall & Bridget Christie
The Tommyfield, London
8:00pm, £6.60
TICKETS

Cariad Lloyd in Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel
Udderbelly, London
9:00pm, £21.50
TICKETS

Sunday 21st June

Aisling Bea, Mae Martin and Lolly Adefope
Aces and Eights Saloon Bar, London
7:30pm, £3.00
TICKETS

AND THE REST…

As always, there’s so much going on within 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.

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