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So Hot Right Now #32

25 May

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

HERE COMES THE SUN TRAP

Wednesday, 10:45pm, BBC ONE

© Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

© Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

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

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

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

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

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

HORRIBLE HISTORIES IN DA FOOCHA

Monday, 7:45am / 5pm CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

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

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

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

A LITTLE BIT OF SUGAR IN IN SUCCESSVILLE

Monday, 7:45am / 5pm CBBC

© 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!

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

9 May
© BBC / Todd Antony

© BBC / Todd Antony

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

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

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

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

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire / BBC

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

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

So Hot Right Now #27

20 Apr

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

W1A RETURNS

Smash hit mockumentary W1A returns on Thursday for its second series, with an extended opening episode.

© BBC/Jack Barnes

© BBC/Jack Barnes

Currently making headlines due to a subplot about a certain ejected presenter (as writer/director John Morton has chosen to bleep out the name of the person in question), the show reunites stars Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes with the incredible supporting cast, which includes Rufus Jones, Monica Dolan (Sightseers), Sarah Parish, Nina Sosanya (Nathan Barley), Jason Watkins (Psychoville, Trollied) and David Westhead, alongside narrator David Tennant.

One year since Ian Fletcher (Bonneville) became Head of Values at BBC Broadcasting House, and he has finally got his own office, and an impending visit from Prince Charles to contend with. Meanwhile, Siobhan (Hynes) has been charged with updating the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon, and format producer David (Jones) has a great new title for a show, if only he can think of a concept to go with it.

A typically witty and ever so slightly scary treat, this is a show which pulls no punches, yet still finds a lot to love about dear ol’ Aunty, even amongst the sheer frustration of corporate nonsense. And in Siobhan Sharpe, Hynes has found an utter monster to throw herself into with sheer gusto. A must-see. You can see the first episode of Series Two at 9pm on Thursday evening via BBC Two, just before Inside No. 9 – and it is also repeated on Sunday.

SHUT YER GOB, MUM!

The almighty Gary Le Strange returns this week with his brand new single, Shut Up Mum, which launches on Tuesday.

© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd

For those who are unaware, Le Strange is the much-loved alter-ego of Waen Shepherd, who famously won the 2003 Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe for debut show Polaroid Suitcase, before going on to make return appearances in Face Academy and Beef Scarecrow until Shepherd chose to mothball the character.

Revived in 2012 for a handful of live dates, including The Velvet Onion Live, no less, Le Strange’s back catalogue was reissued digitally in recent years, and was followed by the Glamoronica EP and last year’s Norman (I’ve Dropped My Cup Of Tea) single.

The new track is an instant Le Strange classic – all pulsing synths, funky bass, thwacking great percussion, and lyrics that are hilariously punk intact. It comes with a brand new, and rather fantastic music video, which should be available on Tuesday when the track will be up for purchase via iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Spotify. We can’t think of a better thing to spend 79p on this week, so go get it!

HERE’S TO YOU, MRS ROBINSON…

© Tracy Ann Oberman

© Tracy Ann Oberman

Tracy Ann Oberman‘s new radio play, Mrs Robinson, I Presume airs on Friday afternoon.

Telling the real life story behind the 1967 movie The Graduate, the production features a star-studded cast including John Simm (Life on Mars, Doctor Who) as director Mike Nichols, Paul Kaye as producer Lawrence Turman, Kevin Bishop (Star Stories) as Dustin Hoffman, Terry Mynott (The Morgana Show) as Gene Hackman, Steve Furst(Little Britain, Catterick) as Mel Brooks and Lorelei King (Chef, Bob the Builder) as Ava Gardner.

Also featuring Oberman herself as Anne Bancroft, the play tells of the struggle that Nichols and Turman faced convincing Hollywood that Hoffman was a suitable Benjamin Braddock, and how their classic movie went on to define a generation and change Hollywood forever.

The play can be heard on Friday 24th April at 2:15pm, and will be available on iPlayer worldwide shortly after transmission.

HAPPYISH ARRIVES STATESIDE

© Showtime

 

Too often our US readers are left in the lurch, particularly when it comes to So Hot Right Now events… so it’s great that they’ve got a rare one up on us this week, as Steve Coogan‘s new show Happyish premières on Sunday 26th April.

As you may be aware, the show was initially piloted back in 2013 with the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman in the leading role, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell on directing duties. However, the series – fully commissioned for a run of ten episodes – was thrown into turmoil by Hoffman’s untimely demise in February 2014.

Enter Steve Coogan, who we reported last year was to replace Hoffman for a second pilot. Following that, Showtime confirmed in January that it was picking up the show for a full series once more, though they remain tight-lipped on whether Hoffman’s version of the pilot will ever be released.

With Coogan stars as a 44-year-old man whose world is thrown into disarray by the arrival of new 25-year-old boss with buzzwords on the brain, the New York set show begins its run on Showtime this Sunday, at 9:30 pm ET/PT. US audiences can see the first episode for free online now.

There’s currently no word of a UK tx date, or even a broadcaster picking up the show, but as soon as we hear anything, we’ll let you know.

WIN STUFF!

© Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd,

© Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd,

Over on our news page, we have a competition to win tickets to see Stephen Merchant and Steffan Rhodri in new West End play The Mentalists. The competition closes on Sunday evening, so get in while you can!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE COMPETITION

The Mentalists is a comic two-hander from Richard Bean, the writer of smash hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, and sees Merchant (Life’s Too Short, The Office) make his West End debut alongside Rhodri, who you may recognise from his appearances in Submarine, Gavin & Stacey, A Touch of Cloth or most recently, Cucumber.

Holed up in a faceless Finsbury Park hotel room, long-standing friends Ted (Merchant), and Morrie (Rhodri) are forced to confront the darker side of their unique relationship. Things unravel as the pressure mounts in this hilarious and touching tale of friendship and utopian visions gone awry.

Directed by rising star Abbey Wright, the production runs for a strictly limited season at the Wyndham’s Theatre from Friday 3 July to Saturday 26 September.

INSIDE NO. 9 (to) FIVE

Episode five of Inside No 9‘s second series airs on Thursday evening, and it’s another stone cold classic from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton.

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

Written and directed by the duo, Nana’s Party guest-stars Claire Skinner (Outnumbered) and Elise Kelly (Benidorm) as caring but OCD-ridden Angela and her excited mother Maggie – the titular Nana. On the latter’s 79th birthday, the whole family gather for the celebrations, but events take an unexpected turn thanks to practical jokers Pat and Jim (Shearsmith and Pemberton).

Less out and out madness than some editions of the show, more Mike Leigh drama in cosy suburbia, the results are typically enthralling, and will no doubt delight critics and audiences alike. You can make an assessment of your own at 10pm on Thursday evening over on BBC Two, right after W1A.

LATE DELIVERY

© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

In last week’s So Hot Right Now, we unfortunately failed to alert you to the start of a new ITV sitcom which is worthy of your attention. Probably because in over five years of Velvet Onioning, we’ve never really had to draw much attention to ITV, who so rarely ventured into comedy until very recently.

However, look closely at new hospital based sitcom The Delivery Man which airs on Wednesday evenings, and you’ll see a few familiar faces. Fronted by Darren Boyd (Spy, Mid Morning Matters, Saxondale), the show also co-stars Aisling Bea and Alex MacQueen, the latter of whom is no stranger to telly hospitals having held a long running stint on Holby City many moons ago.

The show is written by Robert Harley and James Henry, who previously both wrote for Smack the Pony and Green Wing. The signs are there with The Delivery Man, which feels a little too bonkers to be on a mainstream chanel, and as such might be just the kind of thing for all you alternative comedy lovers out there. The first episodes have divided critics, but you can make up your own mind at 9:30pm on Wednesday evening.

SIGNING OFF THIS WEEK

As new shows arrive, and loom on the horizon, we must also say farewell to others, with both Travel Man and Chat Show Roulette rounding out their first series this week.

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Travel Man is the first to bid us farewell, with the fourth and final episode seeing Richard Ayoade joined by Green Wing star Stephen Mangan for a weekend in Marrakesh on Monday evening at 8:30pm over on Channel 4.

Wanting to experience its famous street food, the pair sample steamed sheep’s head, before taking a hot-air balloon flight over the Atlas Mountains, watch a traditional story-telling performanve, visit the historic Saadian tombs and ancient tanneries, before heading into the desert for a contemplative camel ride.

Ayoade is, as ever, a charming host, and bounces off Mangan so well, they could almost be a double act. So if you’re reading this, commissioners, we want 10%…

© BBC

 

Over on BBC Radio 4, Chat Show Roulette ends its long awaited first run, and this week Justin Edwards is joined on the improvisation led chat-show by Matt Lucas, Robert Popper, Pippa Evans and Hugh Denis.

It’s another corker, and you can hear it on Thursday evening at 11pm. Previous episodes are still available on iPlayer, but not for very much longer, so dive in and enjoy.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

©  Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

While a lot of our regular touring lot are on their way back from the Melbourne International Comedy Fesival, which wrapped up last weekend, there’s still a number of other chances to see TVO regulars this week. Ok, so we admit, this week mostly belongs to the ever resilient Aisling Bea, flying the flag in a most-deserved manner, but nevertheless, here’s where you can see TVO types this week…

20/04/15 – Aisling Bea opening for Dave Hill – Aces and Eights, 7:15pm, £6-£8

23/04/15 – Aisling Bea Lou Sanders with Issy Suttie, Brett Goldstein, Grainne Maguire, John Robins & Mae Martin – Bloomsbury Theatre, 8pm, £12-£15

24/04/15 – Aisling Bea with Andrew Maxwell, Sara Pascoe & Reginald D Hunter – Bush Hall8pm, £17.50 {sold out}

24/04/15 – Tony Law with Tina T’urner Tea Lady & Spencer Jones – Old Nun’s Head, 7pm, £10-£15

24/04/15 – Phil Whelans as part of MONKEY TOAST with special guest Brett Goldstein – The Proud Archivist, 7:30pm, £7

26/04/15 – Aisling Bea with Tom Craine, Ali Brice and James Ross – The Lion Stoke Newington, 7pm, £3-£4

A WOMAN AND HER DOG

Finally this week, we leave you with a short film from Rachel Stubbings and Jon Drever about a woman and her dog, which you can download over yonder. You’re welcome.

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!

Mrs Robinson, I Presume

18 Apr
© Tracy Ann Oberman

© Tracy Ann Oberman

A new radio play written by and starring Tracy Ann Oberman airs next week.

Telling the real life story behind the 1967 movie The Graduate, Mrs Robinson, I Presume features a star-studded cast including John Simm (Life on Mars, Doctor Who) as director Mike Nichols, Paul Kaye as producer Lawrence Turman, Kevin Bishop (Star Stories) as Dustin Hoffman, Terry Mynott (The Morgana Show) as Gene Hackman, Steve Furst(Little Britain, Catterick) as Mel Brooks and Lorelei King (Chef, Bob the Builder) as Ava Gardner.

Also featuring Oberman herself as Anne Bancroft, the play tells of the struggle that Nichols and Turman faced convincing Hollywood that Hoffman was a suitable Benjamin Braddock, and how their classic movie went on to define a generation and change Hollywood forever.

The play can be heard on Friday 24th April at 2:15pm, and will be available on iPlayer worldwide shortly after transmission.

Tracy is featured in this week’s edition of Radio Times discussing the piece, as well as posing as Mrs Robinson for a photo shoot, which she teased on Twitter yesterday.

Pieces Out Now – Online!

6 Apr
© Jack Weatherley

© Jack Weatherley

As per our lead item on this week’s So Hot Right Now, we’re getting more than a bit excited about the film Pieces – which is now available to watch online!

It’s the second short from writer/director Jack Weatherley, and features a top-notch list of collaborators, including Paul Kaye, Alice Lowe and Michael Smiley. To extend the TVO connections further, cinematography comes courtesy of Laurie Rose, and the soundtrack comes via the impressive collaboration of Pablo Clements and James Griffith.

The 15 minute film has been 2 years in the making, and has been attracting attention for its dark subject matter and heavyweight cast. 31 year old Weatherley spoke to the Huffington Post about it recently, saying: “It’s quite a dark and challenging piece, a non-chronological exploration of a difficult subject which will hopefully provoke questions from audiences. It’s about an unspoken incident which affects two families, effectively turning their lives into a nightmare. With shorts you have to do something which is different.”

Appetite whetted? You can view the film below:

So Hot Right Now #25

6 Apr

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

PIECES

© Jack Weatherley

© Jack Weatherley

This week sees the online debut of Jack Weatherley‘s sublime short film Pieces starring Michael SmileyAlice Lowe and Paul Kaye.

The short was shot last year, and appeared at a smattering of film festivals, including the Leeds International Film Festival in October. Following Jack’s 2011 short film debut Straight Way Lost (which also featured Paul Kaye), Pieces also stars Tanya Franks from Pulling and Defiance star George McKay.  To further the TVO connections, cinematography comes courtesy of Laurie Rose (Sightseers, A Field In England, Kill List, Down Terrace).  And the soundtrack comes via the impressive collaboration of Pablo Clements and James Griffith – both of UNKLE fame, under their Toydrum moniker.

Now at last, it will be released to a wider audience at some point on Monday, 6th April. As we went to press, we didn’t have a link to share with you, but please see our subsequent post about it, which includes the embedded film. Also, keep your eyes on Jack’s website and Twitter for updates.

NEW TO TV AND RADIO THIS WEEK

After a solid three months of heavy comedic artillery, with recent weeks featuring eight or nine shows per week with TVO regulars taking centre stage, this week is our first real ‘quiet one’ of the year. However, with Inside No. 9, Moone Boy and Travel Man on our tv screens, and Chat Show Roulette continuing on radio, there’s still plenty to savour, and a couple of cheeky bonuses if you know where to look. So, as always here’s a run-down of what to look out for over the next seven days.

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10:00pm, BBC Two

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

The dark comic anthology from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton has always been delightfully eclectic, and following two modern day tales of death and mystery, the third episode of this second series throws us back to Puritan days, as the gents pay homage to The Witchfinder General with their own The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge.

Gadge is an old crone accused of witchcraft, played by Ruth Sheen (Misfits, Bramwell). Shearsmith and Pemberton are the delightfully named witchfinder duo Mr Warren and Mr Clarke, whilst the legendary David Warner (The Omen, Time Bandits) plays local bigwig Sir Andrew Pike, who sees the trial as a tourist opportunity.

Warner last worked with S&P on the criminally underrated The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, so there’s a particularly arch pleasure in casting him in a similar vein here. There’s also appearances from the legendary Paul Kaye as Richard Two-Shoes (perhaps an ancestor of Johnny Two-Hats?), and Horrible Histories star Jim Howick.  The results are wickedly entertaining, as the episode allows S&P a chance to indulge their love of 70s horror and unleash their inner Vincent Price. What more do you need?

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9:00pm, Sky1

© Moone Boy

© Moone Boy

It’s never easy saying goodbye, and it’s even harder when you’re saying it to a show like Moone Boy, which never fails to charm us with its clever blend of familiar homespun charm and moments of downright madcap nonsense.

This week, Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy’s sitcom about a boy and his imaginary best friend in rural early-90s Ireland gets a touch of Hollywood glamour to send off its third series, as Anchorman megastar Paul Rudd makes a guest appearance, in an episode that manages to fuse the Irish civil war with George Gershwin and Godzilla. As you do…

It turns out that imaginary friends run in the family when Grandad’s childhood pal George Gershwin – a cool, piano-playing guy – turns up to fulfil his bucket list. Martin, Sean and Crunchie Haystacks (the ever brilliant Johnny Vegas) embark on a series of adventures to help him. Also, with summer just around the corner, Martin takes an unusual approach to his exam revision. Come back soon Moone Boy, for you will be missed.

TRAVEL MAN
Monday, 8:30pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Who would have thought that, only two episodes into Travel Man, that Richard Ayoade would be a natural host for this fast-paced holiday adventure series? Well, anyone who has previously enjoyed Gadget Man for one, or been charmed by Richard’s unique style over the years.

And he really is quite brilliant as the host of this new show, in which he is joined by celebrity guests and tasked to enjoy the most efficient weekend break possible. This week, he is joined by stand-up comic Adam Hills for a whirlwind weekend in Istanbul, Turkey.

The pair cross the River Bosphorus from Europe to Asia, comparing a private yacht tour with the low-price public ferry. They follow this up with an authentic Turkish shave at a local barbershop, and share an awkward moment at a local bath and massage parlour. Best of all, they visit the Grand Bazaar market, where both men have a go at haggling. Travel telly has never been this fun.

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

Justin Edwards returns as the host of long awaited radio improv show Chat Show Roulette on Thursday evening. The former live show, turned tv pilot, turned radio pilot finally came to air a few weeks ago, and has featured a strong line up of guests so far including Kevin Eldon, Matt Lucas, Cariad Lloyd and Charlie Higson amongst others.

Joining Justin this week are comedians Adil Ray, Jarred Christmas and Rachel Parris, and regular musical accompanier James Sherwood. As is the nature of improv, not everything works, but with talent like this, the vast majority of it is downright hilarious. Kick back and tune in.

THIS WEEK’S NOTEWORTHY REPEATS

© HBO

© HBO

Again, a bit of a slow week here, but there’s always chances to catch TVO classics if you know where to look. This week, with the fifth series of Game of Thrones just around the corner, Sky Atlantic are loving the opportunity to revisit the whole run. Which means, in recent weeks, we’ve seen the likes of Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains star Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy.

This week, they reach Series Four, which saw the return of Tony Way as Ser Dontos Hollard, who ends up playing a very key part in the Game. His three episodes are all being shown on Friday evening from 9pm. If you’ve missed out on GoT so far, and want to binge watch ahead of the new run, Now TV is offering the first four series as part of their ‘Boxset’ range for a limited time only, or you could always buy the dvd or blu-ray from our store.

IN OUR PERIPHERAL VISION

© BBC

© BBC

In a quiet week like this, it’s always good to cast a light on those just outside our remit who we love and admire, and would feature if only they worked with our regulars that little bit more often.

So this week, look out for the ever delightful Diane Morgan on the first new episode of Have I Got News For You this year, alongside The Thick of It and Alan Partridge co-creator, Armando Iannucci and guest host Daniel Radcliffe. The 49th (!) series starts on Friday night at 9pm on BBC One.

Listen out also for the re-run of Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens on BBC Radio 4 all week long, mostly at 11:30pm every night. The fantasy epic features a top notch cast with a smattering of names that aren’t quite regulars here, but we think they’re brilliant all the same: including Mark Heap, Peter Serafinowicz and Julia Deakin (all Spaced veterans, no less), as well as Neil Maskell (Kill List, Utopia), Louise Brealey (Sherlock, The Government Inspector), Arsher Ali (Four Lions), Mark Benton (Inside No. 9) and many, many more.

ON STAGE THIS WEEK

©  Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

As is often the case, this week sees a smattering of TVO regulars appearing across London on various stages for your entertainment. So if you’re in the area, here’s where you can see them…

08/04/15 – Dan Clark: The Wow Wow Show! featuring Liam Williams, Oliver Maltman, Natasha Demetriou and The Wow Wow Band – The Soho Theatre, 9:30pm, £15

09/04/15 – Lou Sanders with Holly Burn, Richard Todd, Yacine Belhousse and Jayne Adams – The Glory, 7:30pm, £5

11/04/15 – Aisling Bea and Mae Martin – The Invisible Dot, 8pm, £10

Of course, if you’re on the other side of the world, then you can see Sarah KendallPaul Foot and Tony Law at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 19th. And if you’re in LA, keep your eyes peeled, as the recently emigrated brilliance that is James Bachman may just turn up on a bill near you.

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!

So Hot Right Now #23

23 Mar

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

ON THE TELLY AND RADIO THIS WEEK

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

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10pm, BBC Two

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

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

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

COUPLES
Monday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© Alex MacQueen

© Alex MacQueen

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

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

HOUSE OF FOOLS
Monday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

NURSE
Tuesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

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

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

 

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

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

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

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

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

© BBC

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

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

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

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9pm, Sky 1

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

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

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

 

POMPIDOU
Sunday, 6:30pm, BBC Two

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

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

 

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

© Phil Fisk

© Phil Fisk

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

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

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

LOOSE BOOSH

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

HE WORE DREAMS AROUND UNKIND FACES

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

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

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

THAT’S RICH! A TASTE OF FULCHER

© The Velvet Onion

© The Velvet Onion

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

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

PADDINGTON ARRIVES

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

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

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

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

AND THE REST…

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

So Hot Right Now #22

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

House of Fools welcomes Way & Davis

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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

Nurse continues with Day and Hoult

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

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

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

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

Justin Edwards goes In And Out Of The Kitchen

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

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

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

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

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

More Moone-ing around for O’Dowd and company

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

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

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

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

Pomipidou Continues

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

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

TVO IS FIVE all over again

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

And the rest

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

The Velvet Onion Is Five Again

15 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to No. 9

14 Mar

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

© BBC

© BBC

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

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

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

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

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

27 Feb
© BBC

© BBC

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

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

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

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

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

So Hot Right Now #19

23 Feb

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

POMPIDOU BEGINS…

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

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

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

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

HOUSE OF FOOLS CONTINUES…

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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

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

CATASTROPHE ENDS…

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

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

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

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

CASUAL VACANCY FILLED…

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

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

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

REPLAY THE GAME…

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

© HBO

© HBO

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

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

TOUCHDOWN IN SOHO…

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

© PBJ

© PBJ

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

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

AND THE REST…

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

So Hot Right Now #17

9 Feb

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

YOU SAY GOODBYE…

This week sees the Comedic Guard of 2015 begin to change for the first time, as January’s new shows begin to wrap up, and February’s new shows start to arrive. Sadly, this means we must say our goodbyes to two firm favourites already: Love in Recovery and Crims, both of which end this week.

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

© Karla Gowlett / Lucky Giant

The sublime Love in Recovery wraps up on Wednesday 11th February, with the sixth and final instalment of Radio 4’s touching comic drama. Written by Pete Jackson, the series follows the lives of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting group, made up of characters portrayed by Sue Johnston, John Hannah, Eddie Marsan, Rebecca Front and Paul Kaye, whilst Julia Deakin plays village hall cleaner Marion.

This week we turn our focus away from the individual tales of each recovering alcoholic, as the group are forced to leave their meeting room to try and rescue one of their members from a nearby pub. As it all comes full circle for the gang, we can’t help but hope we haven’t heard the last of them yet.

 If you missed previous installements, you can catch all previous episodes except Episode One on iPlayer now, but be quick – as Episode Two will vanish in four days time…

© Hal Shinnie / BBC

On Thursday 12th February, we also say a fond farewell to Crims – as the BBC Three sitcom from the pens of Mongrels writer Adam Kay and Grandma’s House writer Dan Swimer airs its sixth and final episode at 10pm, with Tracy Ann Oberman once again making a guest appearance.

It’s another firm favourite, as Dawn (Cariad Lloyd) is to receive a commendation for her crackdown on drug use in the institution, and Creg (Ricky Champ) is forced into a difficult position when he accidentally lets the collected substances go missing on his watch. Let’s just say, this episode features the best comedic sandwich consumption since Arnold Rimmer ate a triple fried egg sarnie with chilli sauce and chutney.

When the show began, it was easy to believe the focus would remain entirely on Luke and Jasan, brilliantly played by Elis James and Kadiff Kirwan, but as the series has developed, Dawn, Creg, Marcel (the sublime Theo Barklem Biggs) and the rest of the gang have become just as important to the success of the show. We’re certainly hoping we haven’t seen the last of Crims yet.

If you have missed previous episodes, you can catch up on iPlayer now. There’s currently no sign of a dvd or blu-ray release, but the episodes are now becoming available to own via Amazon Digital, so keep an eye on your preferred digital store for the whole run soon.

…AND I SAY HELLO!

Sunday evening brings us a brand new show, in the form of JK Rowling’s comic drama The Casual Vacancy, which features Rufus Jones and Richard Glover in its top notch cast.

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

© Steffan Hill / BBC / Bronte Film and Television Ltd

Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Julia McKenzie (Miss Marple), Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes), Rory Kinnear (Count Arthur Strong), Monica Dolan (Sightseers), Silas Carson (The IT Crowd) and Emilia Fox (Silent Witness) join Glover & Jones in the three part mini-series, which centres on the seemingly idyllic English village of Pagford.

With it’s cobbled market square and ancient abbey, Pagford looks quaint and charming to all who enter. Behind the pretty façade however, is a town at war: rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.

When a local councillor dies suddenly, the town is left in shock, and the empty seat becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the village has yet seen. Three candidates are soon lined up: Miles Mollison, Colin Wall and Simon Price – played by Rufus Jones, Simon McBurney and Richard Glover respectively.

Episode One airs on BBC One this Sunday evening at 9pm, and you can see our preview gallery alongside clips and trailers, over yonder.

© BBC/Baby Cow/Chris Brock

© BBC/Baby Cow/Chris Brock

Tuesday 10th February also sees Series Two of Uncle begin on BBC Three at 10pm, once again starring Nick Helm and Elliot Spencer-Gillot alongside Sophie Haggard (Psychoville), Nicholas Burns and Daniel Lawrence Taylor.

A year after Andy (Helm) was banned from seeing his nephew Errol (Spencer-Gillot) for being a destructive influence, the unlikely duo are hanging out in secret, with the latter having a broken voice and the former being as broken in general as ever.

It’s a welcome return for a very popular show, and you can see what TVOer Mog thought of its return very soon.

CONTINUING ADVENTURES IN ONION LAND

It would, of course, be foolish to focus only on the newly arriving and the soon departing, as lots of other great shows vie for your attention in the middle of their current runs this week.

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

© Ed Miller / Channel 4

Monday 9th February at 10:05pm sees Episode Four of Catastrophe air on Channel 4. Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s charming yet brutally honest sitcom focuses on an American man and an Irish woman in London, forced to make a whirlwind romance develop into something more when they find themselves expecting a child.

This week, Sharon’s parents head over from Ireland, only to have a difficult first encounter with Rob, as the subject of pregnancy is broached.  More health complications for Sharon and the baby also arise, and Rob’s secret friendship with Chris backfires in a way he could never have imagined.

As the story unfolds and becomes ever more complex and rewarding, it’s increasingly a delight to spend half an hour with realistic, flawed characters you can’t help but like, even if you’re not sure why.  The show thunders on with rave reviews, and a second series commissioned, so if you’ve not caught the bug yet, you can catch up with the series now via 4oD.

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

© Colin Hutton / Big Talk Productions / ITV 2

Episode Five of Cockroaches airs on Tuesday 10th February at 10pm over on ITV2. The post-apocalyptic comedy stars Daniel Lawrence Taylor (How Not to Life Your Life), Esher Smith, Jack Whitehall and Tom Davis (House of Fools, Murder in Successville), alongside a string of big name guest stars such as Dan Skinner, Alexander Armstrong, Caroline Quentin, Robert Bathurst and Nigel Planer.

This week, Tom’s mother-in-law Cathy (Caroline Quentin) arrives at the camp with her new boyfriend Pete, who happens to be his former PE teacher – and an overbearing alpha-male American, played by the initimitable Rich Hall. Meanwhile, Suze is sceptical when a stranger called Ash (Jamie Winstone, Dead Set) arrives from the woods claiming not to have seen a single person for the past three years.

It’s another suitably bonkers episode, and if you like what you see, you can catch up with past episodes via ITV Player, or pre-order series on dvd for release February 23rd.

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

© BBC / Freemantle Productions

Also on Tuesday 10th February, the sixth and penultimate episode of the second series of Count Arthur Strong airs on BBC One at different times, depending on your location.

Viewers in England can see the show at (shock horror), the same time as last week: 10:45pm, whilst those watching in Northern Ireland and Wales don’t have to wait as long as usual, with the episode moved up to 11:10pm. Viewings in Scotland, annoyingly, have to wait almost 24 hours, with the episode airing at 10:40pm on Wednesday instead.

Despite the crazy scheduling, this episode – once more from the pens of star Steve Delaney and Graham Linehan (best known for The IT Crowd and Father Ted), is perhaps the series highlight: as a trouser fire causes Arthur to move in with Michael. His claims of being low maintenance clash with Michael’s Game of Thrones obsession, so Arthur turns to John the Watch for companionship.

Brilliantly structured, and surprisingly heart-warming, this episode works better still when you know the characters well enough to enjoy spending time in their company, but if you only watched one episode this year, this could be the one for you. Either way, catch up on the series now via iPlayer over yonder.

© Comedy Central UK

© Comedy Central UK

Meanwhile, the fifth episode of Drunk History UK airs at 9:30pm on Monday 9th over on Comedy Central UK, once more featuring famous British comedians getting absolutely plastered in the name of reciting tales from the past – which are then re-enacted by a top notch cast.

Tony Way, Cardinal Burns, Rebecca Front, Marek Larwood and Mat Horne have appeared across the series so far, and tonight’s edition keeps the talent levels up high: as Marc Wooten (La La Land, Shirley Ghostman) returns to the show, along Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner).

With Russell Kane and Alex Horne on story telling duties, and Tony Way again making an appearance, it’s another great excuse to watch comedy talents being very silly indeed. Enjoy!

LIVE HAPPENINGS

There’s lots brewing at the moment, with Kim Noble in the middle of his run at the Soho Theatre, a special Forgery Club for Greenpeace this week, Rachel Stubbings hosting a film night next Monday, Tony Law wrapping up his Tone Zone tour, and tickets for Sarah Kendall at Soho Theatre later this month, and Angelos & Barry later this year on sale now.  Keep an eye on our news pages for the latest live news as and when we can throw it your way!

TVO IS FIVE

We’ve been celebrating our fifth anniversary this month, with a couple of reflective articles on our news pages, and a number of our regulars sending us video messages wishing us a very happy birthday. Kind of. The video below features, in order of appearance: Rachel StubbingsColin HoultDave BrownJames CookBob PipeDave McNeillKaty BrandNeil ColePhil WhelansJames WrenSpencer MillmanWaen ShepherdJacqueline WrightHolly Jane ShearsRufus JonesStephen Evans and Tony Way.

Our huge thanks to all involved – and we’ve got a few more messages coming through to give you Part Two very soon, so stay peeled!

AND THE REST…

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

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