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Mongrels Return – To Dave

14 Jun

© Alexandra Thompson

Although it’s not quite the return we had hoped for, series one of Mongrels is set to air on Dave from Monday 30th June at 3.15am!

As regular readers know Adam Miller‘s foul-mouthed puppet show featured Tony Way as Gary, the owner of a South London pub that just so happens to be surrounded by vermin – from meek metrosexual fox Nelson (Rufus Jones), and his best friend, simpleton feline Marion (Dan Tetsell), to psychopathic champion vulpine swearer Vince (Paul Kaye), and deranged, scheming pigeon Kali (Katy Brand). With Gary’s pedigree chav dog Destiny (Lucy Montgomery) completing the line up, the show was an instant cult smash, until it was axed by BBC3 a couple of years ago.

Dave is a digital channel and part of the UKTV network, who are now making original content for their channels, including the recent revival of BBC 2’s cult favourite Red Dwarf. UKTV Gold has also recently announced that they have the rights to show the final Monty Python live show, so they are obviously serious about investing in content for their channels.

If you can’t wait to see Mongrels again, you can get both series from TVO Store.

The Return Of Brian Pern

9 May

Smash hit BBC Four mockumentary The Life of Rock with Brian Pern has been granted a second series – and a promotion to BBC Two.

© BBC

Written and directed by Rhys Thomas, the show stars Simon Day as prog-rock legend and world-music inventor Brian Pern, alongside TVO regulars Lucy MontgomeryTony WayMichael Smiley and Steve Burge – who also composed the music for the series, now available on iTunes.

Alongside that stellar cast, were big names from comedy and music – with Thomas’s connections bringing in Matt Lucas, Paul Whitehouse, Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer, Nigel Havers, Danny John-Jules, Michael Kitchen, Frances Barber, David Baddiel, Jools Holland, Rick Wakeman, David Arnold, Roger Taylor, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel, no less.

The first three-parts aired on BBC Four back in February, to great acclaim, and though a dvd/blu-ray release was ruled out due to copyright issues with the huge amount of stock footage used, the show is bound to get a repeat in the run-up to the second run.

The return was revealed by Radio Times, who confirmed it is scheduled for the end of the year, with a working title of Rock Apocalypse.  Episode One will focus on Christmas songs, as Brian plans his own Xmas classic, whilst Episode Two will look at the history of music festivals… whilst Brian tries to launch his own.  Finally, the third episode will focus on jukebox musicals, as Brian is preparing his own.

We can’t wait. You can relive Brian’s greatest hits in anticipation below…

Brian Pern’s On The (Spirit) Level

25 Feb
© EmuBands

© EmuBands

Last night saw the finale of The Life Of Rock air on BBC Four, and to celebrate, seminal rock legend turned documentary host Brian Pern has reissued his greatest hits on iTunes.

The show was the brainchild of Rhys Thomas, who worked alongside Pern (whose physical resemblance to Simon Day cannot go unnoticed), to craft the three part documentary, each of which can be seen again now via iPlayer.

Featured a variety of rock legends and musical know-it-alls detailing the birth, life and death of the art-form across the series, the show also offered Brian’s fans a chance to see behind the scenes into his organisation, and revisit some long-forgotten television appearances and rare live material.

Here is Brian, for example, performing his classic solo smash, Spirit Level on Top Of The Pops back in 1986, which was part of a series of classic clips uploaded to YouTube via the BBC earlier this month.

Of course, we’re only playing along. Pern is, of course, Simon Day, and the show also featured TVO regulars Lucy MontgomeryTony Way, Michael Smiley and Steve Burge, who composed the music for the series alongside Rhys Thomas.

The series also featured big name guest stars like Paul Whitehouse, Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer, Nigel Havers, Michael Kitchen, Al Murray, Danny John Jules, Roger Taylor, Jools Holland, Rick Wakeman and Peter Gabriel, whilst Episode Three had an additional connection to TVO as former Mighty Boosh star and professional ape impersonator Peter Elliot appeared as a gorilla with surprising musical agility.

Due to popular demand, highlights from the show’s soundtrack have been released digitally on iTunes, with the eleven track album featuring Thotch ‘classics’ like Worm Equinox and Brian’s protest song Succulent Chinese Meal

© BBC

© BBC

Naturally, the album features Simon Day’s vocals and Steve Burge’s instrumentation, as well as guest vocals from Lucy Montgomery and Tony Way – the latter of whom gets to unleash a extra dirty verse on the title track under the guise of Captain Cupnutz.  Savour it.

You can download the album now for £7.99 over yonder.

Sadly, due to the expensive nature of rights negotiation in making the show, Rhys confirmed today that there will be no dvd or blu-ray release, so keep an eye out for repeats, and savour the music instead!

Brian Pern’s Greatest Hits I

11 Feb
© BBC

© BBC

This week saw the launch of The Life Of Rock With Brian Pern - the magnificent new spoof documentary series from Rhys Thomas and Simon Day featuring a whole host of big name guest stars.

Episode One aired on Monday, and in amongst the big name artists discussed (Bowie was a fag-stealer; Mercury made his piano out of a really, REALLY big fireplace etc), were a series of vintage clips of prog-rock king Brian Pern in action.

These included Thotch at the peak of their excess, with the epic Land Of The Crab, industrial jungle influence Naughty Man from 1979, and the infamously divisive solo single and pop smash, Spirit Level.

Now the full performances have been dug out of the archives and uploaded to the BBC Comedy YouTube Channel, and you can see all five via this handy playlist below.

In reality, of course, they are the work of the show’s composer, Steve Burge, and also feature Tony WayLucy Montgomery and Al Murray.

Episode Two of the show, which also features Michael Smiley, Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer, Paul Whitehouse, Nigel Havers, Michael Kitchen, Matt Lucas, Danny John Jules, Roger Taylor, Jools Holland and Peter Gabriel amongst others, will air next Monday on BBC Four.  You can catch Episode One on iPlayer now.

The Life Of Rock Starts Tonight!

10 Feb

The Life Of Rock - the new mockumentary from Rhys Thomas and Simon Day – starts tonight on BBC Four.

© BBC

© BBC

We first told you about the show a while back now, and have been itching to see the results ever since.  It features Simon Day as spoof 70s rock god Brian Pern, and pays homage to an era ripe for parody, and several noteworthy stars of the era have lined up to put their tongues firmly in their cheeks.

Queen’s Roger Taylor, prog legend Rick Wakeman and perhaps the biggest influence on Pern – Peter Gabriel – join a series of comedy legends in the show.

These include TVO regulars Michael SmileyTony WayLucy Montgomery and Steve Burge, as well as Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer, Paul Whitehouse, Danny John Jules and Matt Lucas.  Don’t worry – we’re salivating at that line-up too.

The show airs at 10pm on BBC Four this evening, having moved from its previously announced Wednesday slot, and will be available on iPlayer after transmission.  Rhys also appeared on both BBC Breakfast and Radcliffe & Maconie this morning to discuss the show, and you can catch his interview with the latter over yonder soon.  The trailer for the show can be seen below.

Trailer Time For Brian Pern & Inside No. 9

30 Jan

The BBC have released trailers for two of their forthcoming comedy shows with strong TVO connections.

The Life Of Rock With Brian Pern – written, directed and produced by Rhys Thomas - airs from Monday 10th February at 10pm on BBC Four, and features Simon Day as the titular rock god turned documentary host.

He’ll be joined by a whole host of famous faces including Lucy MontgomeryTony WayMichael SmileySteve Burge, Matt Lucas, Paul Whitehouse, Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer (seemingly reviving Mulligan And O’Hare!), Nigel Havers, Danny John-Jules, Michael Kitchen, David Baddiel, Jools Holland, Rick Wakeman, David Arnold, Peter Gabriel and Queen’s Roger Taylor. Phew!

You can see the trailer below.

One week earlier, Inside No. 9 - the typically macabre anthology series from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton  - begins on BBC Two, also at 10pm, from Wednesday 5th February.

Featuring guest appearances from Katherine Parkinson and Julia Davis amongst others, the show has already wowed critics (including us!), and will be returning for a second series, as confirmed to British Comedy Guide earlier this week.

Those charming gents Reece and Steve introduce the show below, along with a chance to see the previously released trailer from earlier this week.

The Life Of Rock With Brian Pern

28 Jan

TVO can confirm that Rhys Thomas’ brand new mockumentary series, The Life Of Rock With Brian Pernbegins on BBC Four next month.

© BBC Comedy

Originally announced as Rock Ratatouille back in September, the show is the brainchild of of Rhys – who directs, produces and writes the show based around the titular Brian Pern, played by fellow Fast Show veteran Simon Day.

Former front man of prog-rock band Thotch, Pern spends more time trying to save the planet and teach gorillas how to Skype than he does making music.  Now, he fronts a major new documentary series for the BBC – a three-part chronology of rock history from prehistoric man to twenty-first century Britain.

He’ll be joined by Thotch bandmates Pat Quid (Paul Whitehouse) and Tony Pebble (Nigel Havers), alongside Matt Lucas as legendary producer Ray Thomas (a loving homage of Roy Thomas Baker, we imagine!) and Michael Kitchen as manager John Farrow.

They’re not alone, either. Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer, David Baddiel, Jools Holland, Rick Wakeman, David Arnold and Queen’s Roger Taylor also appear as talking heads, taking rock lovers on a re-imagined history of the genre.

EDITOR’S UPDATE: We’ve since discovered that Tony WayLucy Montgomery, Steve Burge and Michael Smiley will all be involved too, alongside Red Dwarf legend Danny John Jules and prog-rock god Peter Gabriel!

The Life Of Rock With Brian Pern airs on BBC Four from Wednesday 12th February at 10pm – directly opposite Inside No. 9 over on BBC Two.  We’ll aim to bring you iPlayer links of both shows shortly after transmission, so stay peeled.

Whilst we wait, you can see a clip of Day in character as Pern alongside Lucy Montgomery and Tony Way from a 2010 BBC Comedy Online sketch below.

New Radio 4 Sitcom To Seek Out

30 Sep

© BBC

Seekers, a new radio sitcom, starts on BBC Radio 4 this Thursday.

The six part series is about a job centre employee who’s made redundant and is faced with the belittling scenario of returning to the place where he worked to find employment. The action revolves around the characters that frequent the Essex job centre, some desperate to get back to work, some trying their best to never have to work at all.

The cast features TVO-relevant Steve Oram and Tony Way, and stars Matthew Horne; it was written by Steven Burge, who’s worked on previous projects with Tony Way and Rhys Thomas, including the brilliant Burge & Way sketches.

You can hear  the first epsiode ‘The New Seeker’ on Thursday at 11pm on Radio 4. For more information about the series visit the show’s web page, which includes audio clips and further details about the key characters.

RIP Mel Smith: 3 December 1952 – 19 July 2013

21 Jul
© BBC

© BBC

The Velvet Onion would like to extend its sympathies to the family and friends of Mel Smith, who died this weekend aged 60.

First bursting onto television screens in anarchic, topical sketch show Not The Nine O’Clock News, alongside Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson and his later double-act partner Griff Rhys Jones, Smith was a considerable comic mastermind, a gifted performer, and hugely influential writer and director.

In 2003, he directed his final feature film – the cult comedy Blackball - starring Paul Kaye as a young, rebellious bowls player, alongside Johnny Vegas and Vince Vaughn.  This was not his only direct brush with the TVO family, as Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthew’s first tv sketches were written for Alas, Smith And Jones.  You can see one of them below.

Together with Griff Rhys Jones, Smith’s influence on comedy grew beyond his writing, performing and directing, when they founded Talkback Productions in 1981.  The company went on to produce some of the most seminal works of the last three decades, including The Day TodayBig TrainI’m Alan Partridge and Never Mind The Buzzcocks to name but a few.  When Smith & Jones sold the company, it was merged with Thames Television to become Talkback Thames in 2003 (until early last year), and the company went on to make The IT Crowd, Green Wing and Celebrity Juice amongst others.

IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan led tributes from our regulars on Twitter, stating: “Very sad to hear news of Mel Smith’s death has been confirmed. He and Griff gave Arthur and I our break. Was always so kind & generous to us.”  Matthews replied to this, adding: “Well said. Mel and Griff couldn’t have been kinder to us. And Mel was a brilliant, brilliant comic actor.”

The pair were joined by Rhys Thomas, who added: “Terrible news about Mel Smith. A funny man. Growing up Smith and Jones’ BBC One sketch show was one of my favourites.  He was an underrated director too. The Tall Guy sex scene is one of the funniest things ever.”.  Thomas’ former collaborator Steve Burge (later of Burge & Way and Tittybangbang), responded: “R.I.P. “Colin’s Sandwich” star, Mel Smith.”

Rufus Jones – who followed in Smith’s footsteps at Cambridge – also offered his thoughts on Mel: “RIP Mel Smith. Revered his jowly brilliance. An old boy at my school – he encouraged me to goon about onstage. He was terrific.”  Jones’ regular collaborator Katy Brand was also moved to comment: “Very sad to see the news about Mel Smith. He was a family friend as well as a brilliant comedian/writer/director/actor/bon viveur.”

Yet more names paid tribute, with US based, Salford-born comic Hayden Black adding: “RIP to a comic that was hugely influential to me – Mel Smith.”, and the head of Sky Comedy, Lucy Lumsden stating: “Just heard the sad and shocking news about the multi-talented Mel Smith. Wonderful comic who I grew up watching. A great loss.”

One of those in the outer layers of The Velvet Onion, Peter Serafinowicz, also supported the views of Linehan & Matthews, stating: “Very sad to hear about Mel Smith. He did something very kind for me early in my career even though he hardly knew me. Such a funny man.”  His brother, producer James Serafinowicz, added: “Oh no just heard about Mel Smith. Was so lucky to work for him. Such a lovely man.”

Finally, quite prophetically considering the comedic legacy the great man leaves behind, Neil Cole‘s tweet was simple, but effective, drawing on one of Mel Smith’s finest moments: “I like trucking, I like trucking, I like trucking and I like to truck; I like trucking, I like trucking, if you don’t like trucking…”

RIP Mel Smith. Your work will live on… Kinda Lingers.

The Velvet Onion Calendar 2013

31 Dec

The Velvet Onion is pleased to continue its tradition of a yearly Calendar, available for free download!

calendarpics

Once again we’ve been working with a number of our friends both in front of the camera and behind it, to bring you twelve great months to print out and stick up on your wall between January 1st and December 31st.

With yet another new design from Velveteer Lauren “Lozzy” Taylor, based on our fresh looking website layout, we really hope you like the results – which are available for a free download now.

GET YOUR FREE 2013 CALENDAR BY CLICKING HERE NOW!

Thank you to everyone involved, and to all of you – our dearest Peelers – for a truly fantastic 2012… Happy New Year everyone, and here’s to a glorious 2013 for all!

Vintage Sights: Top Ten Alice & Steve Moments On YouTube

30 Nov

Today marks the release of Sightseers into UK cinemas.  At long last, this brilliant film starring Alice Lowe, Steve Oram and Richard Glover can be shared by you all.  Directed by Ben Wheatley, we’ve gone bananas for it because it truly is brilliant and deserves your attention.  It opens in 92 cinemas nationwide, and it’s success this weekend will decide if it expands to further cinemas next week, so it’s crucial if you have a passing interest in the film, you go and see it now!

Of course, most of you will be more than aware of the work of Alice Lowe and Steve Oram before this film was released, but for those of you who are new to their genius, we thought we’d compile a handy list of easy-to-access clips from the Tube of You.  It’s been tough selecting only five each, but we think we’ve found you some absolute corkers.

© Eamonn McCormack/Getty Images Europe

© Eamonn McCormack/Getty Images Europe

All of these clips are either web-shorts, live clips or tv taster pilots which didn’t go to broadcast, which helped narrow the list down somewhat.  Obviously, they only scratch the surface of the great work the pair have been crafting for the past decade.  To truly experience their mastery, you simply must see them live at the earliest opportunity, and to find out when that next is, you’ll have to keep coming back here!  We’ll be keeping you posted on any appearances they make, so pop back every now and then to find out more.

If that’s too long a wait, you can browse their ‘videographies’, as it were, via our TVO webstores.  Both run by Amazon on our behalf, we have dedicated sections for every artist we feature in a UK and US store – and both will ship internationally too.  For Alice’s stuff, visit here for UK, and here for US – and if Steve’s your bag, visit here for UK, and here for US.

Now to the top ten! Continue reading

Mongrels 2 Out On DVD At Last!

7 Oct

© BBC Worldwide

Monday 8th October sees the long-awaited, almost-cancelled release of Mongrels second (and sadly final) series on dvd.

Series Two of Adam Miller‘s foul-mouthed puppet show again featured Tony Way as Gary, the owner of a South London pub that just so happens to be surrounded by vermin – from meek metrosexual fox Nelson (Rufus Jones), and his best friend, simpleton feline Marion (Dan Tetsell), to psychopathic champion vulpine swearer Vince (Paul Kaye), and deranged, scheming pigeon Kali (Katy Brand).  With Gary’s pedigree chav dog Destiny (Lucy Montgomery) completing the line up, the show was an instant cult smash, and is sorely missed following its baffling cancellation in January.

The second series saw the gang fend off an invasion of horny zombie dogs, rehabilitate a showbiz chimp and go to a really shit house party, whilst Marion became a parent and Destiny dabbled in the world of showbiz doggery. Amongst the celebrity cameos this year were Richard O’Brien, Russell Tovey, Ainsley Harriot, Zoe Ball and Nina Wadia, whilst the TVO Links were extended with appearances from Rich Fulcher, Steven Burge and Waen Shepherd.

With a defiant looking Vince Fox on the front cover, this dvd is sure to leap off the shelves and ask you if you called it a **** in no time… and The Velvet Onion cannot recommend it highly enough.  Pick up a copy right now from The Velvet Onion Amazon Store for just £13.99 or check your high street or supermarket at the nearest opportunity.

If digital downloads are more your thing, the series is also available from iTunes in the UK, whilst US readers shouldn’t feel left out of the party… both series can be downloaded from our TVO Amazon US Store!

Sadly, unlike the first series, there’s currently no sign of a blu-ray release, but as the show was almost destined never to be released at all (we like to think our little stinking paddy about that decision helped change their mind earlier this year!), we’ll take what we can get!

That’s not to say a blu-ray release is still impossible.  We asked BBC Worldwide, who are handling the release, about the lack of a hi-def edition, who replied: “We have no immediate plans to clear and release this title on Blu-ray. However your correspondence will be kept on file as each quarter we review public enquiries and often revisit titles which are frequently requested.” 

So there you have it – if you want to see a blu-ray edition of Mongrels Series 2, email BBC Worldwide’s DVD Enquiry team at dvdenquiryline@bbc.com and let them know your desires. It might just happen!

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