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BBC Store now open!

5 Nov


The BBC has unveiled the long awaited BBC Store: a new digital service that makes it easy for audiences to buy, enjoy and keep their favourite BBC programmes. And the best news of all is that it’s officially open right now!

A large collection of titles across genres are available at launch, featuring recently broadcast shows, television favourites and best of all – lost gems from the BBC archive.



BBC Store will work in tandem with the company’s longstanding iPlayer service – with a new My Programmes area allowing full playback.

iPlayer itself will continue to offer the same range of programmes to watch live, catch up on and download for up to 30 days for free, while the Store collection will continue to build each day. In fact, many BBC programmes will be made available to buy on BBC Store the day after transmission including, for the first time, serial dramas such as EastEnders and Holby City.

As an introductory offer to celebrate the launch of this new service and to get collections started, anyone registering with BBC Store will be eligible for a 25% discount on their first purchase. Audiences can buy programmes using a UK registered credit or debit card, and gift cards will be available to buy on the high street and in supermarkets in the coming weeks.

© Baby Cow

© Baby Cow

But what you really want to know is what TVO related goodies will be available from launch. Confirmed so far are the following classics and recent favourites:

  • The Detectorists – written, directed by & starring Mackenzie Crook and featuring Simon Farnaby
  • Doctor Who – The biggest sci-fi show in the land, with a cavalcade of TVO guest stars over the years. It’s various spin-off series will also be made available.
  • The Fast Show – Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse’s seminal sketch show phenomenon featuring Simon Day, Mark Williams, Arabella Weir, John Thomson and Caroline Aherne alongside Felix Dexter, Colin MacFarlane, Rhys Thomas and Tony Way
  • Horrible Histories – Education has never been so much fun, as the wickedly entertaining show featuring Simon FarnabyAlice LoweKaty Wix and many more makes a welcome reappearance.
  • Human Remains – The little seen anthology series featuring Julia Davis and Rob Brydon as a string of darkly comic creations.
  • Knowing Me, Knowing You // I’m Alan Partridge – Steve Coogan‘s masterful creation in three dynamite series of cringeworthy faux pas in the name of CHAT.
  • The League of Gentlemen – The show that launched the careers of Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss and Steve Pemberton, and pioneered a darker and cinematic side to alternative comedy on television.
  • The Thick of It – The now infamous political comedy from Armando Iannucci starring Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison alongside Alex MacQueenRebecca FrontJustin Edwards and many more.


Plus a few other legendary shows with looser TVO connections:

  • Absolutely Fabulous – The recent specials featured Lucy Montgomery
  • Blackadder – Which featured an early appearance by Geoffrey McGivern in Series Three
  • Gavin and Stacey – Featuring a recurring role for Julia Davis
  • Live at the Apollo – Featuring several TVO guests over the years
  • The Office – Look out for Matt Holness in several episodes!
  • Sherlock – Featuring appearances by Alice Lowe and Tony Way
  • The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer – Arguably the finest sketch show of the 90s – and look out for a young Matt Lucas!

There’s also promise of a Steve Coogan collection (which may include the Paul Calf Video Diaries, Coogan’s Run and various other assorted classics).

And that’s just the start of it. We’ll give you a full run-down of everything that’s in the store as soon as we can. Until then – we suggest you head on over to BBC Store right now, and start digging!

Out On Mondaaaaaaaah!

17 Oct

If you’re a regular reader of The Velvet Onion, you’ll know that we’ve been getting more than a bit excited about Aaaaaaaah!, the comedy horror from Steve Oram, which stars a bevy of TVO faces. And now we can get excited again – because from Monday everyone will get the chance to see what all the fuss is about.

The film is available to pre-order from iTunes here for £9.99, and from Monday 19th you’ll be able to find it on a variety of other VOD platforms from FrightFest Presents, including Virgin Movies, Blinkbox, Google Play, Amazon, Xbox Video, Wuaki, Talk Talk and Volta. Thoroughly recommended!

In the meantime, why not occupy yourself with this podcast interview with Steve about the film:

If you’re a fan of Aaaaaaaah! and you haven’t wandered down these parts for a while, why not read our interview with Steve himself and our review of the film. And keep an eye out for our profile about one of the film’s stars too, which will be coming your way very soon…!

Return to Successville

14 Oct

BBC Three’s smash hit comedy series Murder in Successville is to return for a second series.

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

The show, which first aired earlier this year, features Tom Davis as rough, gruff, intellectual doorknob DI Sleet, presiding over a town filled with potentially murderous celebrities – all played by comedy talents.

The first series featured Cariad Lloyd as Darcey Bussell, Justin Beiber, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Miley Cyrus;  Colin Hoult as Jimmy Carr and Gary Barlow; Tom Meeten as Richard Hammond; Dan Skinner as Bob Geldof; Tony Way as Harry Styles and Harry Peacock as Niall Horan.

Also along for the ride were series co-writer Nico Tartarowicz as put upon fellow officer Sid, and a whole host of familiar faces – including Frances Barber, Ricky Grover, Jenny Bede, Luke Kempner, Chris Martin Hill, Nick Mohammed, Jason Lewis and a scene stealing Liam Hourican.

With music by Waen Shepherd, no less, acting as the cherry on top, it’s easy to see how we’ve got this far down the article without explaining the show’s ‘set-up’: each week a real celebrity plays rookie partner to DI Sleet, as they investigate a murder that one of three suspects is responsible for. It’s up to the guest to decide who to take down.

Rookies in series one included Dermot O’Leary, Louis Smith and Greg James – the latter of whom ended up making his own sitcom pilot, Dead Air, off the back of the fun he had on the show. And the fun, it seems, has been shared by viewers – with the show proving a hit on original transmission and a recent repeat run.

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Now TVO can confirm that a second series – once again featuring Tom Davis, Tom Stourton, Colin Hoult and Cariad Lloyd (with more names to be confirmed) – will shoot in January. James De Frond (The Morgana Show) returns to the director’s chair, and we’ll bring you more news on Murder in Successville‘s return in the new year. Let’s go solve a crime!

Madchester Pern

2 Oct

As we wait rather impatiently for the third series of Brian Pern, the team behind it have released a mini-episode online.

In it, Simon Day returns as Brian Pern – former frontman of prog-numpties Thotch turned activist and world-music inventor. In this installment, we find out about Brian’s divergence into the Manchester indie-music scene in the early 1990s, and his work with pioneering producer Luke Dunmore – played by the eternally wonderful Christopher Eccleston.

Once again written by Day with director Rhys Thomas, and featuring mad-fer-it cameos from Tony WayLucy Montgomery and Steve Burge, this is more vintage Pern, and will tide us over until the new series rather nicely.

It also gives us another excuse to share the sublime 2012 spoof The Second Second Coming, directed by Al Campbell (Newswipe, Man Down) and written by Nico Tartarowicz, and featuring a whole host of familiar faces.

As for Pern, he’ll back on BBC Four in the Autumn.


29 Sep

© Rook Films

The good folk at Rook Films have released a limited screen print run of the Aaaaaaaah! movie poster.

There are only 100 copies of the five-layer print made to celebrate Steve Oram‘s directorial debut. In case you’ve missed it, the film stars Oram alongside a cavalcade of TVO regulars: Noel FieldingJulian BarrattTom MeetenWaen ShepherdTony WayAlice LoweShelley LongworthWaen ShepherdSean Reynard and John Hopkins.

Also along for the ride are the brilliant Julian Rhind-Tutt, Holli Dempsey and the legendary Toyah Willcox.

We’ve sung the film’s praises, and a lot of you have fallen in love with it already. Now thwack a bit of it on your wall for good measure, while you still can!

Jekyll comes out of Hyde-ing in new trailer

24 Sep

A new trailer for ITV’s new fantasy drama Jekyll and Hyde has been released this week.

The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted Tony Way amongst the top notch cast assembled for the show, which is being overseen and written by former Fast Show star Charlie Higson.

Tony will appear in all seven episodes as the seemingly villanous henchman Silas, alongside Tom Bateman (Da Vinci’s Demons) as the titular split-persona battling ghouls, zombies, werewolves and vampires across the run.

Also along for the ride are a string of Doctor Who veterans including Richard E Grant (Withnail and I), Natalie Gumede (Coronation Street), Donald Sumpter (Game of Thrones) and Ace Bhatti (Eastenders), and there are also cameo appearances expected from Higson’s regular collaborators Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer.

The show is due on air from 25th October on ITV1.

A Who’s Who of when TVO Meets Doctor Who

19 Sep

This weekend sees the launch of the latest series of Doctor Who – the ninth since it’s return in 2005, and the thirty-fifth overall since 1963.

© BBC / Simon Ridgway

© BBC / Simon Ridgway

Led once more by Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, with Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald and the sublime Michelle Gomez (Psychobitches) as Missy, this series of twelve episodes will see the time traveller battle Daleks, Zygons and a whole new batch of foes across a series primarily made up of two-part stories, though series head-honcho Steven Moffat has warned that the concept of a two-part story this year is under some degree of flux.

As we’ve reported previously, this series continues the increasing and much welcome association with TVO’s regular roster, as Paul KayeRebecca Front and Reece Shearsmith join the guest cast across the run.

Like most of the world, we’ve little to no idea of exactly what parts the trio are playing, which is of course, rather fun for a change. And so, to celebrate the show’s return, we’ve decided to look back at the various points at which the realm of The Velvet Onion, and the adventures of that runaway Time Lord have crossed over. We thought about doing it in a wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey fashion, but decided good old fashioned chronology was more helpful then. So going way back, come with us now on a journey through time and space – literally.

Alex Kirk



It’s no small secret to know that a large number of TVO regulars are longterm, hardcore Doctor Who fans. The first to fly the flag, way back when was Alex Kirk – star of Mount Pleasant and The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains to name but two.

In fact, two of the earliest roles on Kirk’s resume are in fan-produced video productions made during those dark days when the show was taken off the air for a long rest. BBV Productions were one of several small companies providing an outlet for fans to make their own vaguely Who related productions, mostly avoiding any legal wranglings by recasting stars of the show in new roles.

So for 1994’s The Zero Imperative, written by a young fellow called Mark Gatiss, the producers managed to secure the right to use the character of Dr Liz Shaw and brought back the late, great Caroline John to return to the role, but then cast the likes of Jon Pertwee, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred and Louise Jameson in new roles.

Alex Kirk’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role was as an Orderly, but he returned in 1996’s Unnatural Selection as Colonel Ackroyd, opposite John, Jameson, Gatiss and Geoffrey Beavers. Both films are very, VERY lo-fi, but are now available on dvd so you can make up your own minds…

Reece Shearsmith

Left: © BBV | Centre & Right: © BBC

Left: © BBV | Centre & Right: © BBC

Like his League of Gentlemen co-hort Mark Gatiss, it’s no secret that Reece Shearsmith is a huge Doctor Who fan, so when Gatiss became involved in BBV Productions in the mid 90s, so did Shearsmith. And when Gatiss wrote further adventures for Liz Shaw in 1995 and 1996, Shearsmith was cast as troubled student Andrew Powell, who found himself at the mercy of Peter Davison’s sinister Gavin Purcell before succumbing to the evil Greatorex himself.

Both The Devils of Winterboune and The Ghosts of Winterbourne are, like the two earlier films featuring Alex Kirk, available on dvd now. So to, is 1997’s Auton spin-off from BBV, in which Shearsmith played Dr Daniel Matthews. But that wasn’t the end of his association with Doctor Who.

Fast forward to 2013, and Gatiss has written the sublime docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time about the early days of the show’s production, and the failing health of its original star, William Hartnell – brilliantly portrayed by David Bradley. Reece made a cameo at the end of the film as his replacement, Patrick Troughton, and while there’s not much of a physical likeness, Shearsmith hit the ball out of the park pretty well.

So much so, that the production team haven’t forgotten him – he’s making an appearance in Series Nine opposite Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, stating: “I am absolutely thrilled to be filming Doctor Who. It has been so exciting to be part of a very singular episode – which, I can say with authority will be unlike any previous episode of Doctor Who.” We can’t wait.

Kevin Eldon

Left: © Unknown | Right: © BBC

Left: © Unknown | Right: © BBC

In 2001, with The Doctor’s return to television looking more and more uncertain, the BBC’s fledging website teams hatched upon the idea of making new episodes for internet consumption. This would eventually lead to the creation of a new, Ninth Doctor, played by Richard E Grant, and the highly underrated animation Scream of the Shalka, but first, a few baby steps had to be made.

The first of these was a five part story featuring the apparent death of The Doctor, here played by Sylvester McCoy. Ignoring the 1996 TV Movie and eveyrthing Big Finish were doing on audio, Death Comes to Time was designed as a potential grand finale to the series, and both Sophie Aldred and Nicholas Courtney returned as Ace and the Brigadier for good measure.

There was also a new companion – an android named Antimony – voiced by Kevin Eldon. Antimony was unaware of his robotic genesis, and wasn’t around for long enough to find out, either. The story was a curious experiment, also featuring the voices of Stephen Fry, Antony Stewart Head, John Sessions and Jon Culshaw, but these days, it’s mostly swept under the rug as a step too far in the wrong direction.

Matt Lucas

Left: © Big Finish | Right: © BBC

Left: © Big Finish | Right: © BBC

It’s no small secret that Matt Lucas is a big Doctor Who fan. Together with his former comedy partner David Walliams (who himself appeared in 2011’s The God Complex), he jam-packed seminal sketch show Little Britain with references to the show, including characters named after original series stars Matthew Waterhouse and Michael Craze, and of course, Tom Baker’s cheeky narration.

Which perhaps makes it odd that Lucas’ sole brush with actual, proper Doctor Who to date came back in 2001, when he guested opposite Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor in the Big Finish audio, The One Doctor. In this story, the Doctor and Mel (Bonnie Langford) are seemingly being impersonated by Christopher Biggins’ Banto Zane and Clare Buckfield’s Sally-Ann.

It’s all rather silly stuff, but intentionally so, and Lucas’ turn as the sinister alien cylinder is an absolute gem. One to hunt down if you can. And somebody get Matt into the show proper asap.

Jessica Hynes



These days she’s best known as tech-savvy PR buffoon Siobhan Sharpe in W1A, but back in 2002, Jessica Stevenson, as she was then known was one half of the writing team behind the magnificent Spaced, which had recently wrapped up its second and final series on Channel 4. The other half was another young comic actor known by Simon Pegg, and together, they guest-starred in the Eighth Doctor audio Invaders from Mars.

In this story, Jessica played Soviet Spy Glory Bee, whilst Pegg was crime boss Don Chaney, who caused her downfall. But that wasn’t the end of the pair’s association with Doctor Who. Pegg turned up in 2005 episode The Long Game (which TVO’s editor recently recorded a podcast commentary for alongside CBBC’s Chris Johnson), whilst Jess – who had begun using her married name professionally, made her first appearance in the main show itself a few years later.

2007’s Human Nature The Family of Blood two-parter saw David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor use a chameleon arc to hide himself away as a schoolteacher in the early 20th century. Hynes played the school’s matron, Joan Redfern, with whom the ‘man’ the Doctor became fell in love. Whilst the defeat of robot scarecrows and the titular Family led to the erasure of John Smith, The Doctor never forgot Joan, and before he regenerated in 2010’s The End of Time, he visited her great-granddaughter, Verity Newman, to ask if she found happiness. To his delight, Verity (again played by Hynes) confirmed she did.

Michael Smiley



It seems someone at Big Finish was a Spaced fan back in the early naughties (let’s face it – who wasn’t?), as Michael Smiley made his Doctor Who debut opposite Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor and Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa in 2003’s Creatures of Beauty.

With a planetary ecological disaster underway, creating an incurable, disfiguring, genetic disease to contend with, Nyssa and The Doctor are in deep trouble on the planet Veln. A cosmetic surgeon on the planet, Forleon, gets caught up in the Doctor’s misadventures, which is where Smiley’s brief role comes in: he plays Forleon’s security agent Seedleson.

A much bigger role was waiting eleven years later, when Smiley’s regular collaborator Ben Wheatley cast him as Morgan Blue in 2014’s Into the Dalek episode in the ninth series since the show returned to television. Blue was a Colonel in the Combined Galactic Resistance, used to battling Daleks but not quite prepared for the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his sarcasm. He also became one of a small handful of people to ever take on the Daleks and win. Nice one.

Tracy Ann Oberman



It’s June 2006, and all eyes not transfixed by the footie are on David Tennant’s still new Tenth Doctor, as he prepares to bid goodbye to Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). Their separation comes in the form of a cracking two-part story, Army of GhostsDoomsday, in which the mysterious Torchwood – operating out of Canary Wharf – open the void between dimensions, and accidentally let in an army of Cybermen, plus four Daleks for good measure.

It’s all a bit too much for Yvonne Hartman, Torchwood’s head honcho, played by Big Train and Toast of London star Tracy Ann ObermanFinding herself at the mercy of the Cybermen, she’s appalled to discover they have none, and walks to her fate certain she did her bit for Queen and country. That’s not the end for Yvonne, who later manages to help save the day in spite – or perhaps because of – her Cyber-conversion. And as you heard earlier this week, Oberman is returning to the role of Yvonne Hartman for Big Finish’s new Torchwood series, with One Rule being released this December.

Beyond Yvonne, Tracy appeared in a 2007 special edition of The Weakest Link, and her love of audio drama later led to two appearances opposite Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor as Supervisor Temperance Finch, head of Deimos Moonbase in the 23rd century. Both released in 2010, Deimos and The Resurrection of Mars saw Finch square up against the Ice Warriors. Nice.

Harry Peacock



“Hey! Who turned out the lights?”

It’s not often you get to utter a phrase in Doctor Who that becomes something of a catchphrase, but Harry Peacock of Toast of London and Star Stories fame, got to have one of his lines appear on t-shirts and lunchboxes all over the place.

You see, Peacock played “Proper Dave” in the seminal two-part story Silence in the Library Forest of the Dead in the revived series’ fourth run, opposite David Tennant as The Doctor and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. The story famously introduced Alex Kingston as River Song, and also featured Steve Pemberton, Colin Salmon and Talulah Riley.

Sadly, Proper Dave’s days were numbered, as he became one of several victims of the deadly Vashta Nerada: a microscope race of piranha like organisms who latch onto your shadow until they can devour you in a moment. Nasty stuff, but his consciousness survived when The Doctor and River Song managed to save everyone believed dead inside the computer system, to live out an eternal afterlife together.

Katherine Parkinson

Left: © Unknown| Right: © Big Finish

Left: © Unknown| Right: © Big Finish

Best known to millions around the world as Jen from The IT Crowd and soon to be wowing audiences in The Kennedys – it’s quite surprising that Katherine Parkinson has yet to show up in televised Doctor Who, especially after her blistering performance in Sherlock a couple of years ago.

However, over at Big Finish productions, Parkinson played a one-story companion to Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor in 2008’s The Death Collectors. Danika Meanwhile was an engineer who prevented the Doctor from dying in an air lock, as he battled a virulent disease that killed millions, and an ancient race of salvagers who collect and preserve the dead.

Lucy Montgomery

Left: © BBC| Right: © PBJ

Left: © BBC| Right: © PBJ

It feels like a lifetime ago, but there was a time when the world was fearful of the large hadron collider at CERN, Switzerland. To celebrate its big switch-on, BBC Radio celebrated Big Bang Day, and this included Lost Souls: a Torchwood audio play set between the second and third series of the Doctor Who spin-off.

Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) were rejoined by former TARDIS-traveller Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) for the story, as the team investigated the disappearance of scientists from the institute. Tittybangbang and Brian Pern star Lucy Montgomery was amongst the guest cast, playing the fictional head of the project, Professor Katrina Johnson.

Johnson got to help Captain Jack reverse the polarity, and save the day, though through a bit of wibbly-wobbly, Montgomery also turned up as a Flight Attendant earlier in the story for good measure.

Katy Wix



Torchwood‘s third series – the five part Children of Earth saga – was pretty harrowing, as every child across the world fell under the possession of the mysterious aliens known only as the 456, who were in fact in big cahoots with the British government.

It’s also infamous for killing off the regular character Ianto Jones (Gareth David Lloyd), who then rather oddly received his own ‘shrine’ at the real-life location for Torchwood Three’s entrance in Cardiff Bay (despite two other series regulars having already been killed off in equally brutal fashion). Said shrine is still there to this day, confusing tourists who have long since forgotten about Ianto.

Before the character was bumped off, we met his sister, Rhiannon Davies, played by Fried star Katy Wix. Rhiannon lived on a council estate with her husband Jonny and their two children, David and Mica – and when Ianto asked for her help following an attack on Torchwood, she proved her loyalty to her brother. After his death, Rhiannon was caught up in the government’s attempts to take ‘lesser’ children to appease the needs of the 456, and helped Gwen and Rhys make a frentic dash for safety, before Captain Jack could save the day at a terrible cost.

Appearing in all five episodes, this technically makes Katy the only TVO regular to also be a ‘series regular’ in a Doctor Who related production to date. And her connection with the Whoniverse was re-established earlier this year, when she joined Tom Baker and Louise Jameson in Big Finish audio play Suburban Hell.  Her character, Belinda, was hosting supper for four, only for The Doctor and Leela to arrive and wind everyone up in an alien plot to put people on the menu. Lots of fun, this one!

Alex MacQueen

© Big Finish

© Big Finish

To many, Alex MacQueen is best known for being regularly shouted at by the Doctor himself, when Peter Capaldi played Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It. His first brush with the Whoniverse, however, came in early 2010, when Big Finish were finally bringing to life a series of stories written for the classic series, but never filmed for various reasons.

MacQueen played the mysterious Gabriel in Paradise 5, welcoming the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Peri (Nicola Bryant) to the titular leisure space station and turned out to be an agent of the Elohim. Alex clearly made an impression on the team, as returned to Big Finish in 2012’s UNIT: Dominion series opposite the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), as “The Other Doctor” – who turns out to be {SPOILER ALERT} none other than The Master himself.

Since then, MacQueen’s interpretation of the role has returned in Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) audio box-sets Dark Eyes 2 (2014), Dark Eyes 3 (2014), and Dark Eyes 4 (2015). We’ve probably not heard the last from him either, and we’d love to see a team-up with Michelle Gomez… The Two Masters, anyone?

James Bachman

© Big Finish

© Big Finish

In 2010, James Bachman – TVO regular and veteran of That Mitchell and Webb LookBBC Nought and The Mighty Boosh to name but a few – very nearly became a bonafide companion.

Bachman played Hugh Bainbridge: one of four potential new companions for the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) in the Big Finish audio production, Situation Vacant. Described as “an amiable public school type who, though perhaps not the brightest tool in the box, is happy to rush where Time Lords fear to tread”, Brainbridge lost the job to Tamsin Drew, played by The Catherine Tate Show‘s Niky Wardley. Oh, to think what might have been.

Kayvan Novak

Left: © BBC| Right: © Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

Left: © BBC| Right: © Happy Tramp / Adam Lawrence

The SunTrap and Four Lions star is a master of disguise, with his enormous vocal talents first brought to the fore in the now legendary Phonejacker. So it’s perhaps no surprise that his debut in Doctor Who was as this list’s first – and to date only – bona-fide companion: yes, we’re talking about Handles, the decapitated Cyberman head who accompanied the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) in his TARDIS travels and long-standing war on Trenzalore in 2013’s The Time of The Doctor.

Handles stayed by the Doctor’s side for over 300 years, eventually succumbing to circuitry corrosion. Never before has an audience felt such sadness over a metal head, but fear not – he is on display at Cardiff’s Doctor Who Experience which everyone should get to see at least once, twice, and many more times for good measure.

Gemma Whelan

Left: © Christine Hayter| Right: © Big Finish

Left: © Christine Hayter| Right: © Big Finish

Best known for her role as Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, it’s fair to say that comedian and actress Gemma Whelan is a woman of many talents, including a highly flexible set of vocal chords. So much so, in fact, that her first brush with the Whoniverse came with the 2013 Seventh Doctor audio story Persuasion.

In this story, the Doctor is looking to loot a very specific secret from a Nazi base during WW2, and Whelan is called upon to voice three different characters: the servant Casta, annoyed computer Sylph, and the alien race Khlecht.

Shortly afterwards, Gemma appeared in two audio plays in the Big Finish spin-off series Counter Measures, which focuses on three supporting characters from the 1988 classic Remembrance of the Daleks. Her character, Emma Waverly, was the result of a eugenics experiment in 20th century England, attempting to create super-soldiers in case of German invasion, and appeared in the stories Manhunt and Sins of the Fathers.

Rhys Thomas

Left: © BBC| Right: © Pete Dadds

Left: © BBC| Right: © Pete Dadds

Now here’s an interesting one. He’s a veteran of The Fast Show and these days is the man behind Brian Pern and some incredible Queen documentaries, but Rhys Thomas is also a big Doctor Who fan, and made a very brief appearance in Peter Davison’s sublime 50th anniversary special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.

Or rather, he didn’t make an appearance as such, but his voice could be heard, as a rather hapless DJ proclaiming his favourite Doctor to be Peter Cushing – much to Davison’s chagrin. The whole half hour is a joyous romp through the annals of Doctor Who history, with more cameos than you can shake a big stick labelled ‘CAMEO’ at, so do check it out if you haven’t already.

Ben Wheatley

Left: © Charlie Gray| Right: © BBC

Left: © Charlie Gray| Right: © BBC

One of the most innovative directors working today, bagging Ben Wheatley for Series Eight of Doctor Who last year was a serious coup for the production team. Hot off the back of his success with A Field in England, and about to make the soon to be released High Rise, Wheatley signed up to make the opening two episodes of Peter Capaldi’s reign as the Twelfth Doctor.

The results were the extended series opener Deep Breath, and the regular length Into the Dalek, both receiving rave reviews, and demonstrating that, when the mood takes him, even Ben ‘Kill List‘ Wheatley can do family friendly drama at its best.

Tony Way



It wouldn’t quite be a Ben Wheatley production if he wasn’t killing off one of his mates, now, would it? Getting the chop for the third time following Down Terrace and Sightseers was Tony Way – best known internationally for his roles in Edge of Tomorrow and Game of Thrones, but known to UK comedy lovers for his appearances in Mongrels, Tittybangbang, Muder in Successville, Spaced, The Fast Show, Black Books, House of Fools… I could go on?

It’s a short and sweet cameo from Tony in Series Eight’s opener Deep Breath, who plays hapless and sceptical Victorian gentleman Alf, who just can’t quite believe that the T.Rex in the Thames is actually real. And he has such good eyes…

Paul Kaye & Rebecca Front

Left: © Fenris Oswin| Right: © Charlie Forgham-Bailey

Left: © Fenris Oswin| Right: © Charlie Forgham-Bailey

Finally for the time being, are a couple of temporary mysteries to whet your appetite. Alongside Reece Shearsmith, both Paul Kaye and Rebecca Front are due to make guest appearances in Series Nine this year. All we currently know for certain is that Kaye appears in Episodes 3 & 4, as a Tivolian called Prentis.

Tivolians were first introduced in 2011’s The God Complex, and as this month’s Doctor Who Magazine puts it: “amusingly revel in being opressed.” The story – Under the Lake Before the Flood is written by Being Human creator Toby Whithouse, and all he’s saying about Kaye’s part at present is that he’s done “a great job” with it. Doesn’t he always? Meanwhile, if IMDB is to be believed, Front will be playing Lady Yates in The Zygon Invasion, one of two episodes dealing with the aftermath of the Zygon/Human peace treaty established in The Day of the Doctor.

Under the Lake / Before the Flood air October 3rd and 10th respectively, and we’ll bring you more news about them, plus the episodes featuring Front and Shearsmith in due course. Until then, here’s the trailer for Series Nine, and we hope you enjoy the ride!

Doctor Who returns Saturday 19th September on BBC One, BBC America and across the world.

Onion Talking: Steve Oram Opens Wide & Says AAAAAAAAH!

8 Sep

unnamedIf you’re a regular reader of The Velvet Onion you’ll know that we’ve been getting pretty excited about Steve Oram‘s unique simian comedy horror AAAAAAAAH! for a while now. Thought-provoking, hilarious and frequently downright disgusting, AAAAAAAAH! enjoyed a triumphant World Premier at Frightfest last month and is being screened at a number of festivals over the coming weeks. Trust us when we say that you really need to see it.

Earlier this week Steve kindly found the time to chat to us about the film:

AAAAAAAAH! portrays a world in which humans behave like apes – but how accurate are those ape-like behaviours? Were you down at the zoo, taking notes, Steve?

The idea of them behaving like apes isn’t strictly what I was intending – they’re actually more like cavemen. I was creating a world where language, in particular, isn’t so advanced in evolutionary terms. So they don’t have all of the things that language gives us, and those subtleties are played out in different ways.

I think AAAAAAAAH! a very open thing that exists in its own world, but we decided to describe it as “behaving like apes” because it’s a concise and easy way of describing it. It’s for everyone to interpret how they wish.

We see some pretty out there behaviours on screen. If your intention wasn’t to directly mimic the ape world, how did you come up with them?

There’s a strong internal logic to it – they’re all slightly-skewed social rituals. For example, the fact that they use their hands to eat [instead of cutlery] is about etiquette; that’s just what they do in their world, it’s a custom. And when Toyah and Lucy [the mother and daughter of the family] poo on the floor, that’s just something that mothers and daughters do; it’s social ritual bonding thing that they do when they’re cooking.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 22.20.27

With AAAAAAAAH!, are you trying to say something significant about modern society, or is the construct simply an idea that you liked?

It’s just something I found funny; I didn’t set out to make something that was a satire or a commentary. I just really enjoyed creating an intricate world, and creating the interactions and the characters – making them do silly, extreme things.

10291146_10152555044887673_1890467153980958974_nYou’ve worked with many of the cast members multiple times before, but how did you decide on which new faces to bring on board, like Toyah and Julian Rhind-Tutt? 

With Toyah, I loved her work in Jubilee and Quadraphenia – I’ve been a massive fan of hers for years. I was trying to cast a lady in her 50s who wouldn’t mind having to do embarrassing sex scenes and have blancmange thrown at her face. There’s not that many of them! I didn’t know her before, but I sent her the script and she loved it.

I was working with Julian on a TV film called Wipers Times over in Northern Ireland, coincidentally while I was writing AAAAAAAAH! on my days off.

I started thinking about him for the film, and he was one of the first people I attached to the script. He was keen to play against type – as a horrible washing machine repair man!

The dynamic between you and Tom, who plays your beta male, is pretty special. Do you think anyone else could have played that role apart from Tom?

Absolutely not, and not just because of his balls – although that is always a consideration [Tom’s familiar testicles have a supporting role in the film]. I was so pleased to work with Tom on this, and it was so much fun doing it with him. There’s a shorthand for the things we do and have done for years; when we started the film it made me feel really confident and happy that he was in it and that we were doing something together.

10418463_10152143892116526_4047534245763507909_nThere’s no actual speaking in the film, but you wrote a script for the actors to follow. How did that work?

The script was all written out in English. The scenes had English dialogue in them for the actors, so that they got a sense of what each scene was about and what they were trying to do and say. On the day we read it through with the dialogue, and then we ‘went ape’. We threw the scripts away and instead of speaking everyone went “Ughhhhh”. No one will ever know what that script contained because it is full of filth!

Did your experience on Sightseers influence how you approached AAAAAAAAH!?

In terms of writing, I got better at it with this film; I did it very quickly and spontaneously. We had a long drawn-out development period with Sightseers, and this was a chance for me to do something very quickly and to do it myself.

I learned a lot from Ben Wheatley about being quick. With Sightseers we moved about a lot, so we had to do the scenes very quickly. That really influenced me, and I started making more short films after that which incorporated a fastness of movement. If you’re not standing around repeating everything fifty-million times, but you’re shooting scenes in one or two takes, it gives the film energy.

10479132_10152143890811526_7908757513103856445_nWhat do you prefer doing: directing, writing, acting, stand-up?

I love them all! At its heart it all stems from writing – that’s probably the single thing that links it all together. As an actor you need to understand writing and interpret scripts…they all feed into the same thing.

So what’s next for Steve Oram?

I’m writing the next one, which we’ll hopefully film next year. It’s another weird, dystopian comedy sci-fi…believe it or not!

I’m really driven by people saying “You can’t do that, it’s too strange”. I just go “Of course you can,” and do it. Film is just a collection of sound and images – you can do whatever you want. It’s sad that we’re so paralysed and narrow in the way we make films, and art generally. If someone says you can’t do it, just do it.

Here here. A big thank you to Steve for taking the time to talk to us about AAAAAAAAH!

You can catch the film at various festivals and screenings over the coming weeks – including dates in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Los Angeles, Belfast, Dorset, Leeds and Nottingham. They’ve even had a Paris screening this week! To find out where and when you can see it and for further updates, check out Lincoln Studios website. 

AAAAAAAAH! will also be available on VOD via Icon Film Distribution and FrightFest from 19th October. 

Brit Comedy Convenience Gets A UK Release

5 Sep

The BAFTA CYMRU winning film Convenience, which features Tony Way amongst its cast, will be released in UK cinemas from 2nd October and on demand DVD on 5th October.

The British comedy stars Vicky McClure, Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions and Utopia), Ray Panthaki, Anthony Head and Verne Troyer. The story follows two convenience store robbers who bungle the heist.

Ajay and Shaan are  two hapless friends who need to find money to pay a debt inadvertently owed to some Russian strip club owners. Unfortunately after taking the staff hostage, they realise the safe won’t open until 6am. Desperate, and with their lives on the line, they decide they’ll have to work there all night to avoid anyone raising the alarm before they get their money.

Producer/actor Ray Panthaki has said of the film: “We are hugely proud to be releasing Convenience in the UK on the back of such great buzz having won a BAFTA Cymru. We always set out to make a fresh, edgy and very different kind of British comedy that could hold it’s own internationally and we feel we’ve achieved that with real indie spirit.”

Tony Way’s role is via a cameo appearance, as ‘Stoner’. You can catch a brief glimpse of him in the trailer  below (which looks pretty bloody funny):

For more information about Convenience, follow the film on twitter or facebook.


The Ape Man Cometh: AAAAAAAAH! Review

28 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


World Premiere & Q&A For Aaaaaaah!

5 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

A Return for Brian Pern

30 Jun


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Hot Right Now: #37

29 Jun

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


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

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

© Channel 4 / AMC / Kudos

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

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

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

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


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

© Happy Tramp / BBC

© Happy Tramp / BBC

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

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

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

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

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


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

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

© Sky Atlantic / HBO

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

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

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

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


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

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

© UKTV / Me & You Productions / Ollie Upton

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

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

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

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

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


Undercover, Tuesday, 9:00pm, Dave

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

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

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

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

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


Man Down, Monday, 10:00pm, Channel 4

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

© Channel 4 / Shamil Tanna

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

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


Horrible Histories, Monday, 5:00pm, CBBC

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

© Lion TV / Laura Rawlinson

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

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

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


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

©  JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

© JSMN Ltd / Matt Squire

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

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

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


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

© Lauren Taylor

© Lauren Taylor

Wednesday 1st July

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

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

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

Thursday 2nd July

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

Saturday 4th July

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

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


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


Seek Out The New Series

14 Jun


The second series of Seekers, which was recorded at the end of last year and which features Tony Way and Steve Oram amongst its cast, is now being broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Penned by series 1 writer, Steve Burge, the six part radio series follows the familiar group of characters who frequent an Essex job centre. Seekers also features Matthew Horne, Daniel Mays and Zahra Ahmadi.

Episodes 1 (‘So What did I Miss?’) and 2 (‘The Wedding Crushers’) of the new series are available to listen to on iPlayer, and the next episode (the marvellously-named ‘I kissed a Bear and Liked It’) airs on Radio 4 at 11pm on 18th June.

Don’t forget to tune in on Thursday!


Front-ios! Rebecca Front joins Doctor Who Series Nine

6 Jun

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

© Charlie Forgham-Bailey

© Charlie Forgham-Bailey

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

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

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

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

Brian Pern Live!

4 Jun
© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Brian Pern is celebrating his illustrious 40-year career in music with a one-off live show in London!

The founder of fictional prog rock band Thotch and creation of Simon Day and Rhys Thomas, will be Only Live Only For Only One Night Only at The Lyric Theatre in London on Monday 19th October at 7.30pm.

 An Evening with Brian Pern is a mixture of music and chat and also stars two TVO regulars from the TV series, Lucy Montgomery and Tony Way.

 If you don’t know much about Brian or the series or you just want to be reminded of his greatness, then take a look at our interview with Simon and Rhys.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (June 5th) at 9am and cost £27.50.

Faces of Successville

1 Jun

If, like us, you’re enjoying BBC Three’s new game-show sitcom whodunnit hybrid Murder in Successville, you’re no doubt already looking forward to this week’s episode on Wednesday evening.

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Starring Tom Davis on magnificent form as rough-n-ready DI Sleet, the series recruits a special celebrity guest each week to act as a rookie cop in training, following Sleet around to investigate the death of one of Successville’s celebrity inhabitants, which has invariably been caused by one of the other residents.

With big name rookies including Dermot O’Leary, Greg James, Jamie Laing, Deborah Meaden, this week’s guest Kimberly Wyatt and next week’s Louis Smith, press attention has understandably been focused on their guest appearances, and reactions to the gallery of grotesques who inhabit MiS weird and wonderful, partially improvised world.

Not us, of course. As we’ve been telling you for weeks, this is a TVO show through-and-through. Joining Davis in the series have been a cavalcade of impressionists and comic actors, including the brilliant Liam Hourican as Gordon Ramsay (and a spot on Simon Cowell in last week’s episode), as well as delightful turns from Jenny Bede, Luke Kempner, Nick Mohammad, Tom Stourton, Jason Lewis, Marek Larwood, Rachel Paris, Frances Barber and Nico Tartarowicz.

But also along for the ride have been Cariad Lloyd (as Darcey Bussell, Justin Bieber, Cheryl Fernandez Versini and Miley Cyrus), Colin Hoult (as Jimmy Carr, Gary Barlow), Tony Way (as Harry Styles), Harry Peacock (as Niall Horan) and in this week’s episode: Dan Skinner as top-notch surgeon Bob Geldolf, and Gemma Whelan as Nurse Adele.

The TVO connections continue with Tom Meeten appearing as Richard Hammond in next week’s final episode, and the whole run having been scored by Waen Shepherd. And surely we don’t need to tell you how fantastic they all are, considering we’ve spent the last five and half years doing just that on a regular basis, but we’ll do it anyway: they’re amazing, and make an already superb show even better.

We couldn’t let all these connections go uncelebrated, and as the series approaches its conclusion, we’ve bagsied some exclusive shots of our regulars from the good folk at Tiger Aspect, who produce the show, which you can see below.

So if you haven’t given Murder in Successville your full attention yet, we cannot recommend it highly enough, and urge you to take a look asap. All previous episodes are available on iPlayer now.  The second, featuring Greg James, might be our favourite one to date – we’ll never look at jammie dodgers the same way ever again – but every edition has lots to enjoy, and as episode one is only available until 9th June, when the 30-day rule starts to kick in, we suggest you get into that one while you can.

Episode Five, Dr Death, airs at 10pm on Wednesday via BBC Three, with Episode Six, Orangefinger, airing next week at the same time. We’ll bring you an exclusive clip of that episode later this week, so don’t forget to tune in and keep peeling.

So Hot Right Now #32

25 May

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


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.


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.


Wednesday, 10pm, BBC THREE

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

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

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

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


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?


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.


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

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

Tuesday 26th May

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

Wednesday 27th May

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

Thursday 28th May

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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


© 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.


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!

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.


Onion Talking: Tom Davis on Murder in Successville

6 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

Do you have a favourite guest?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

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

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

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

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

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


© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

© BBC / Tiger Aspect / Ollie Upton

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


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