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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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

View the Humans

13 Jun
© Channel 4

© Channel 4

This weekend sees the launch of Channel 4’s sci-fi drama Humans – made in collaboration with US broadcaster AMC and British production company Kudos – and naturally, we’re getting hyped about it because it contains a sprinkling of TVO regulars for good measure.

Set in a world where a synthetic human – or Synth – is the must have accessory, Katherine Parkinson stars as Laura, whose husband Joe (Dead Boss star Tom Goodman-Hill) brings one home for the family. But there’s something very strange about the Synth, which they dub Anita (Submarine‘s Gemma Chan), and soon their lives begin to unravel.

Elsewhere, pensioner George Millican (US acting veteran William Hurt) has developed a paternal relationship with his own Synth (Game of Thrones star Will Tudor), but a malfunction threatens their perfect set-up, as does the arrival of a new Synth, Vera, played with cold relish by Rebecca Front.

Also featuring Colin Morgan (Merlin, The Fall), Emily Berrington (24: Live Another Day) and Ivanno Jeremiah (The Jury), the series also features guest appearances from Jonathan Aris (Sherlock, Sightseers), Neil Maskell (Utopia, Kill List), Danny Webb (Alien³), Naoko Mori (Torchwood), and two other TVO talents: Dan Tetsell as the Synth Salesman in the first episode, and Paul Kaye as Synth expert Silas Carek in Episode Two.

You can see a gallery of images below, including glimpses at Parkinson, Front, Tetsell & Kaye, and see the show for yourself at 9pm on Sunday evening. Humans is also available to pre-order for £14 on dvd now via The Velvet Onion Amazon Store: if we hear of a blu-ray release too, we’ll let you know. US audiences will be able to see the show on AMC later this year.

So Hot Right Now: #34

8 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…

FAREWELL TO SUCCESSVILLE

Murder in Successville, Wednesday, 10:00pm, BBC Three

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

It’s been a fun ride, but all good things must come to an end as we say a fond farewell to Murder in Successville this week – and it’s another corker to go out on.

Joining Tom Davis gumshoe maverick DI Sleet this week is Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, after phramacist Lindsay Lohan turns up spray-tanned to death. With the help of forensic pathologist Richard Hammond (a spot-on Tom Meeten), the duo must determine the culprit and fast. Was it local gym owner Vladamir Putin (Tom Stourton), convicted psychopath Kim Kardashian (Marie Lawrence) or local bric-a-brac salesman Russell Brand (Luke Kempner).

Also featuring Jess Robinson and Liam Hourican, this is a delightful finale for the smash-hit show, which over the last six weeks has also featured the likes of Colin Hoult, Cariad Lloyd, Tony Way, Harry Peacock, Dan Skinner, Gemma Whelan, Frances Barber, Nico Tatarowicz and Ricky Grover. A dynamite cast indeed, and we hope we’ve not seen the last of DI Sleet yet.

You can catch up with previous episodes on iPlayer now, and see an exclusive preview clip featuring the two Toms below.

DOLL & EM’S DINNER PARTY

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:00pm, Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer return in the charmingly off-kilter UK/US hybrid comedy Doll & Em once again this week, as the second episode of Series Two airs on Sky Atlantic.

Now casting their dream off-Broadway play, Doll’s bluntness and Em’s over-compensating almost lose them their two leading ladies: Hollywood actresses Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood. Keen to win them over, they plan a dinner party for the four of them, but with this being the world of Doll & Em nothing quite goes to plan.

After a slighted muted opening episode, this second instalment is delightfully funny: from Em trying to have two phone-calls at once while her hungry young son gripes at her, to Doll meeting a man with a mirror and a pack of playing cards. Unafraid to send themselves up to oblivion, this is dynamite television you’d be mad to miss.

You can read our preview of the first two episodes over yonder, and both series are available via catch-up services Sky Go and Now TV if you need to get up to speed.

A SLEEP IN THE SUN

Sun Trap, Wednesday, 10:45pm (regional times vary), BBC ONE

© Happy Tramp / BBC

© Happy Tramp / BBC

The adventures of Brutus and Woody on their Spanish island paradise continue in this week’s edition of SunTrap, and just like last week, there are two bonus TVO stars turning up for good measure.

In this third episode of the Bradley Walsh & Kayvan Novak vehicle, the island’s annual hypnotism convention sends mesmerists from all over the world to the resort. But when a hypnotised member of the audience develops a murderous streak and flees the venue, Woody must use his skills as a master of disguise to hunt for the missing man.

Simon Day guests as the punter and would-be-killer ‘Handlebar’, whilst Morgana Robinson plays Janice, wife to the troubled hypnotist The Fabulous Mark (Pulling and Dead Set star Cavan Clarkin). There’s also a great guest appearance from the criminally underrated Martin Trenaman (Luxury Comedy, The Mighty Boosh and lots of other things). Check it out.

THE HUMANS ARE COMING

Humans, Sunday, 9pm, CHANNEL 4

humansKPRF

© Channel 4

 

Sunday evening sees the launch of new dystopian sci-fi drama Humans featuring Katherine Parkinson and Rebecca Front in its 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.

The first episode also features a cameo from Dan Tetsell as a synth salesman, and you read our interview with the marketing team behind the impressive Humans campaign over yonder.

STRANGE DAYS INDEED

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Sunday, 9pm, BBC ONE

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – the riveting fantasy drama from from the makers of Doctor Who, Sherlock and Wallander continues apace on Sunday evenings, as we approach the climax of the seven-part series with the fifth episode.

This week, Strange (Bertie Carvel) and Norrell (Eddie Marsan) are at opposing ends of the spectrum. The former has returned home a war hero, and to the horror of the latter, resolves to write a book on ancient magic. But a sudden tragedy and a confrontation with Norrell force Strange to flee the country, determined to learn the truth about the fairy world, even if doing so costs him his sanity.

The impeccable ensemble cast, also featuring Marc Warren, Enzo Cilenti, Paul Kaye and Edward Hogg are on fine form once more, and if you’re not already watching the series, you really should catch up pronto. And if you are, and you’re enjoying it, you can pre-order the dvd and blu-ray release now from The Velvet Onion Amazon UK Store.

MARDY MARY

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

The new series of Horrible Histories continues on Monday afternoons, and this week’s big guest star is Doc Martin and Our Zoo actress Jessica Ransom.

Random plays Mary, Queen of Scots – the would-be ruler terrifying Tudor England with her romantic and political schemes. Following her as she stumbles from being a young girl in Scotland to a Queen in France, back to a Queen in Scotland, and finally to Elizabeth I’s arch enemy.

Away from Mary, we meet silver-nosed Danish scientist Tycho Brahe, and Mr H looks at more of History’s Craziest Fools. As ever, Simon Farnaby and Jim Howick are on hand, alongside Murder in Successville‘s Tom Stourton repeating his spot-on Brian Cox impression (last seen overlooking the corpse of Reese Witherspoon), in a more child-friendly environment.

WORK, REST AND PLAY WITH AYOADE

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Richard Ayoade is back as the Gadget Man in another instalment of the technology fun show.

This week, he tests out devices to improve life at work: including a solar briefcase that recharges your gadgets; a hand massager for soothing tired fingers; and a portable hammock for the feet.

He’s not alone, either. Comedian and presenter Dara O Briain helps investigate a giant interactive touchscreen, a zero gravity desk and a virtual reality office assistant, while journalist Grace Dent looks at gadgets designed for exercising in the office.

COMMUNITY KINDNESS FOR DAN & CO

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

Kindness, they say, is a virtue, but nobody told Dan, as the second series of Greg Davies vehicle Man Down continues on Monday evening.

Another teacher, and rival for Miss Lipsey’s affections delivers a smash-hit school assembly as part of Community Week, so child-like Dan naturally conspires to top it all with a brilliant one of his own involving his drama class and a war veteran.

Meanwhile Jo (Roisin Conaty) is exploring her artistic side, while Aunt Nesta (Stephanie Cole) favours an upset Brian (Mike Wozniak) over her idiotic nephew. Oh, and there’s a cameo apperance by The Proclaimers for good measure.

Written by Greg Davis alongside Stephen Morrison (Anna and Katy, Good News) and Sian Harries (Here Be Dragons, Never Mind The Buzzcocks), further TVO pedigree of course, lies with producer Spencer Millman of The Mighty Boosh fame, but also with director Al Campbell (It’s Kevin, The Midnight Beast, Fit and Charlie Brooker’s various Wipe series). It’s also seriously bloody funny, so give it a watch, and pick up Series One if you haven’t already from our store.

POTENTIAL (GREY)JOY IN WESTEROS

Game of Thrones, Sunday, 2:00am & 9:00pm, Sky Atlantic

© Home Box Office Inc.

© Home Box Office Inc.

It’s the biggest show on television, and if you’re not yet watching Game of Thrones, there are a huge number of reasons for you to do so: not least of which are the appearances of a handful of TVO regulars in the show.

For a start, there’s Tony Way appearing as Ser Dontos Hollard in the second and fourth seasons. And whilst his character won’t be returning, there’s currently unused plot from George RRR Martin’s expansive novels which features Paul Kaye‘s character Thoros of Myr, and the show’s creators are remaining tight-lipped on whether that particular strand will be featured in their adaptation.

Far more likely to return, however, is Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy: the commanding officer of the Greyjoy fleet, and tortured soul Theon’s closest relative. She was last seen (spoiler alert) trying to free her captured brother during last year’s run, but as fansite Winter Is Coming found out, Whelan’s agent suggested she would return in the fifth season. If that’s the case, with only two episodes left, you can expect to see her in Episodes Nine and/or Ten.

Of course, chances are if you’re reading this, you’re either going to be watching, or not, but if you aren’t yet, we firmly recommend you do as soon as possible. Sometimes, just sometimes, the hype is worth it, and there’s a box-set of the first four seasons on dvd and blu-ray in our store 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. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week.

© Adam Kay

© Adam Kay

Monday 8th June

Adam Kay, The Petting Zoo, LadyProv and Viv Groskop
The Alexandra, London
7:30pm, £11.00
TICKETS

Aisling Bea, Joe Lycett and Bridget Christie – Work in Progress
Aces and Eights, London
7pm, FREE
FULLY BOOKED

Tuesday 9th June

Adam Kay, Mark Watson and Maff Brown
Hampton Hill Playhouse, London
7:30pm, £13.20
TICKETS

Wednesday 10th June

The Comedy Store Players: Cariad Lloyd, Richard Vranch, Andy Smart, Ian Coppinger and Stephen Frost
The Comedy Store, London
6:30pm, £19.15
TICKETS

Friday 12th June

Ellie White, Harry Hill, John Kearns and Natasia Demetriou
Union Chapel, London
6:45pm, £22.00
TICKETS

Paul Foot
Baltic Square, Gateshead
7:15pm, £10.60
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.

Front-ios! Rebecca Front joins Doctor Who Series Nine

6 Jun

Rebecca Front is to appear in the ninth series of Doctor Who.

© Charlie Forgham-Bailey

© Charlie Forgham-Bailey

The actress and comedy legend is reunited with her former co-star in The Thick of It, Peter Capaldi, and her Death to Pemberley screen daughter, Jenna Coleman.

Details of her exact appearance are a closely guarded secret at present, but she’ll be appearing in the story which brings back the Zygons and UNIT favourites Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) and Osgood (Ingrid Oliver).

Front is the latest in a string of high profile guest stars announced for the forthcoming series, which also includes Paul Kaye and Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams. Last year’s eighth series featured guest appearances by Michael Smiley and Tony Way, whilst the opening two episodes were directed by Ben Wheatley to great acclaim.

Series Nine (or Season 35 if you prefer) will be on air in the Autumn. We’ll bring you more news as soon as possible.

So Hot Right Now #33

1 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…

DOLL & EM RETURNS

Doll & Em, Wednesday, 10:00pm, SKY ATLANTIC

© Sky Atlantic / HBO / Mischa Richter

© Sky Atlantic / HBO / Mischa Richter

A year after their near-perfect debut run, Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer hook up once more for another series of their semi-autobiographical Doll & Em.  In it, they play fictionalised versions of themselves, with the first series seeing out-of-work Doll become an assistant to movie-star Em, and their friendship almost fall apart as the former started to get more attention than the latter.

The lifelong best friends are back, this time heading to a lighthouse retreat endeavouring to write a script together, which is all a bit meta considering they’re the writers of the show in reality.  But then, Wells is no stranger to that after her stint in Luxury Comedy, after all! However, a reality check is on hand when their meeting with Harvey Weinstein doesn’t quite go as planned.

As with the first series, this is a richly nuanced world which would feel just at home as a feature length movie as it does a serialised comic-drama. There’s a heavy influence of independent cinema on display, and it’s as beautifully shot as it is delicately written. If you have access to Sky Atlantic – be it through satellite or a Now TV subscription – you really ought to watch this absolute gem. You can see a trailer below.

THE GADGET MAN IS BACK

Gadget Man, Monday, 8:30pm, CHANNEL 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Who would have thought that Richard Ayoade – comedy legend and highly acclaimed director of television and film – would be such an enchanting host? Channel 4 clearly did, and it’s paid off big time, as just a few short weeks after Travel Man, he’s back for another run of Gadget Man for good measure.

In this first episode, Richard looks at how technology can be used to make the most of a weekend, with the help of TV presenter Steve Jones and comedians Al Murray and Sara Pascoe.  There are gadgets to help with chores, to assist your workout, and to help you enjoy your night out and get home safe afterwards. Lots of fun, as always. You can see a trailer below.

MAN DOWN GETS UP AGAIN

Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, CHANNEL 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

Channel 4’s other new started this week is the long-awaited return of Greg Davies vehicle Man Down – produced by TVO veteran Spencer Millman (The Mighty Boosh, Man to Man with Dean Learner, TV Burp and lots more), and directed by Al Campbell (The Midnight Beast, It’s Kevin, Fit and perhaps better known as Barry Shitpeas in Charlie Brooker’s various shows).

Moving on from the tragic early death of co-star Rik Mayall last year was never going to be easy, but December’s Christmas special introduced another formidable foe for Greg’s character, Dan, in the form of his eccentric aunt Nesta, brilliantly brought to life by Stephanie Cole. The result was the unthinkable: a tough act to follow was ably matched by a seasoned pro, and the show had a whole new lease of life once more.

Revitalised, it now returns for a second series, as middle-aged loser Dan continues to be a useless man-child, going on a horrendous date, whilst his equally baffling friends Jo and Brian have their own bonkers sub-plots to enjoy. Jo’s busy trying to improve her CV, and Brian is connecting with his family past and bonding with the local bin-men. Genius stuff, and watch out for the brilliant Marek Larwood making a guest appearance as a waiter. You can see a trailer below.

ALEX AND TRACY IN THE SUN TRAP

Sun Trap, Wednesday, 10:45pm (times vary), BBC ONE

©  Happy Tramp / Des Willie

© Happy Tramp / Des Willie

Kayvan Novak and Bradley Walsh vehicle Sun Trap launched last week, and this week sees the former journalists turned hired-hands Woody and Brutus meet two familiar faces for TVO readers: Tracy Ann Oberman and Alex Kirk.

Kirk’s part as Todd is small but sweet, yet it’s Oberman who steals the show as Brutus’ ex-wife, angry to find that he’s not dead, and he has all their money. Meanwhile, Woody ends up delivering an antique urn to a neighbouring island, but it soon transpires the urn isn’t full of ashes…

It’s another delightfully silly instalment in a show which, as critics have noted, gets better and better as it finds its feet. Also featuring a guest appearance from Keeping Up Appearances star Clive Swift, Neil Webster and Charlie Skelton’s script is bristling with great one liners, whilst director Ben Palmer makes it all look lovely.

Regional viewers should take note, however, that Sun Trap has inherited the Count Arthur slot, and as such is bouncing around depending on news requirements for each region.  In England, it’s on at 10:45pm, but viewers in Scotland get to start watching ten minutes earlier at 10:35pm. If you’re in Wales, you’ve got to wait until 11:10pm, but if you think that’s bad, poor old Northern Ireland doesn’t get to see it until 11:45pm, which is just ruddy madness.

If you’d prefer, however, everybody can see it on Friday evening at 11:25pm, right after The Graham Norton Show. Phew! Either way, there’s a trailer below.

DR DEATH VISITS SUCCESVILLE

Murder in Successville, Wednesday, 10:00pm, BBC THREE

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Is it just us, or is Murder in Successville one of the best new shows we’ve seen in a long time? It’s hard to think we’re almost at the end of our time with DI Sleet (a flawless Tom Davis), and his series of rookie cops in training, and we’re crossing everything to hear a second series has been commissioned. Here’s hoping, and on the strength of this week’s episode, it’s a must.

This week it’s the turn of former Pussycat Dolls singer Kimberly Wyatt to help Sleet question three suspects in a murder at Successville Hospital. A famous footballer and a lot of bandaging have met one another, and there are three possible suspects: Dr Obama, Nurse Adele and surgeon Bob Geldof.

Chances are you’ll recognise all three of those suspects on sight: Jason Lewis, who plays Obama, was Jay-Z in a recent episode of MiS, and was also a regular on Bellamy’s People and The Armstrong & Miller Show. Adele is played by someone we’ve mentioned a hell of a lot over the years: Gemma Whelan, stand-up comedienne and internationally recognised as Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones.

Geldof, on the other hand, is even closer to home – the ever magnificent Dan Skinner – last seen on our screens in the delightful House of Fools earlier this year, as well as ITV2’s hugely underrated post-apocalyptic sitcom Cockroaches alongside Tom Davis.

With friend of TVO, Nico Tatarowicz involved in the writing of this week’s episode, Waen Shepherd once again providing the music, and our enormous love for the spot-on Gordon Ramsey impression from Liam Hourican, this is another great edition of Murder in Successville you’d be mad to miss. There’s a preview clip below.

THE ACTOR CONQUEROR, KEVIN ELDON

Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

There’s another great new edition of Horrible Histories to savour this week, as special guest star Kevin Eldon appears in a special look at the life of 11th century Norman monarch William the Conqueror.

Featuring Will’s quarrels with Harold Godwinson about who should be king of England, the legendary Battle of Hastings in 1066, a look at Chinese technology during the Norman era, and one of the world’s first scientists over in Egypt, and you’ve got another brilliant edition from the new-look Horrible Histories team.

Once again, the delightful Simon Farnaby makes an appearance, alongside HH veteran Jim Howick, and new regulars Jalaa Hartley, Naz Osmanoglu, Adam Riches, Jessica Ransom and Tom Stourton. And, really, if you needed more of a reason to watch this than Kevin Eldon being involved, you might be reading the wrong website…

ALL THE MIRRORS OF THE WORLD

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

©  JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

The fourth episode of BBC One’s fantasy epic Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell airs on Sunday evening, and we reach the central point of this powerhouse seven-part drama.

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.

Adapted by Peter Harness and directed by Toby Haynes, Strange & Norrell remains a beautiful treat at the end of each weekend, and as we reach the middle of the tale, it becomes apparent that we won’t be ready to let it go in a few weeks time. Marc Warren is stealing every scene he’s in, which is no small feat when the cast includes Carvel & Marsan, and a cavalcade of great actors, including TVO regulars Edward Hogg and Paul Kaye.

If you haven’t caught up yet, do so immediately, then check out our exclusive interview with Kaye about the series over yonder. There’s also a preview clip available below.

GALA BEA

Channel 4 Comedy Gala, Sunday, 9:00pm, CHANNEL 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Last month saw the sixth annual Channel 4 Comedy Gala take place at London’s o2 Arena, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital, with another jam-packed line-up of some of the biggest names in British comedy, including Rob Beckett, Kevin Bridges, Alan Carr, Paul Chowdhry, Warwick Davis, Jack Dee, Rich Hall, Russell Kane, Shappi Khorsandi, Sean Lock, Michael McIntyre, Trevor Noah, Sara Pascoe, Romesh Ranganathan, Jon Richardson, Katherine Ryan, Sean Walsh and Josh Widdicombe.

Also on the bill was the mighty Aisling Bea, who is truly shaping up to be one of the biggest names on telly this year, as well as an absolute gigging-powerhouse.  You can see the results from 9pm on Channel 4 on Sunday night, though we recommend catching Strange & Norrell first, then hopping over to 4+1 to binge on the Gala before bed-time.

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. Here’s where you can find them throughout the week, including a Manchester date for Paul Foot, and Lou Sanders visiting Windsor, plus a brand new show from Cariad Lloyd and lots more to enjoy.

© Ditto Productions

© Ditto Productions

Monday 1st June

Sarah Kendall, Rich Hall, Tiffany Stevenson, Will Anderson, Nish Kumar and Katherine Ryan
The Pheonix, London
8:30pm, £6.60
TICKETS

Wednesday 3rd June

Richard Sandling‘s Perfect Movie Podcast featuring Pappys and Ash Frith
The Betsey Trotswood, London
7:30pm, £3.85
TICKETS

Thursday 4th June

Cariad Lloyd and Paul Foxcroft in Cariad & Paul: A Two Player Adventure
The Soho Theatre, London
9:15pm, £13.75
TICKETS

Lou Sanders and Chris Martin
The Fire Station, Windsor
8:30pm, £7.15
TICKETS

Friday 5th June

James Wren & Leon Fleury present SPANK! You Love It! featuring Aisling BeaLate Night Gimp Fight, James Acaster and Vikki Stone
Udderbelly at Southbank Centre, London
10:45pm, £17,.45
TICKETS

Cariad Lloyd and Paul Foxcroft in Cariad & Paul: A Two Player Adventure
The Soho Theatre, London
9:15pm, £13.75
TICKETS

© Paul Foot

© Paul Foot

Saturday 6th June

Paul Foot [Edinburgh preview show]
Gorilla, Manchester
7pm, £8.80-£12.10
TICKETS

Cariad Lloyd and Paul Foxcroft in Cariad & Paul: A Two Player Adventure
The Soho Theatre, London
9:15pm, £13.75
TICKETS

Reece Shearsmith opens The Haunted Picture House, with a screening of Horror of Dracula
The Haunted Picture House, London
7pm, £25.75
TICKETS

Sunday 7th June

Dan Clark: The Wow Wow Show featuring Natasia Demetriou, Liam Williams, Oliver Maltman and The Wow Wow Band
The Soho Theatre, London
9:30pm, £16.75
TICKETS

The Geekatorium – presented by Richard Sandling, Iszi Lawrence & Paul Gannon, featuring Nathaniel Metcalfe, Elf Lyons, Eli Silverman, Matthew Highton and Suman Biswas
The Phoenix, London
7pm, £5
TICKETS

Aisling Bea, Romesh Ranganathan, Pete Firman and James Gill [Edinburgh previews]
Putney Arts Centre, London
7:45pm
SOLD OUT

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!

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.

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.

 

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.

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!

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