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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.


30 Jul

unnamedThe excitement is mounting…. As we’ve mentioned previously, AAAAAAAAH!, the new film by Steve Oram, which features a bevy of TVO faces, will be getting its world premiere next month at Film 4 FrightFest at Leicester Square! But for those of you who can’t make it there, don’t despair – because the film may be coming to a screen near you!

Additional screenings of AAAAAAAAH! include:

Picture House Central in London’s West End on 4th September (+ cast Q&A)
End of the Road Festival (Dorset), 4th-6th September
Mayhem in Nottingham, 15-18 October

Plus more dates to be announced soon. Sign up or check here for screening updates and general AAAAAAAAH! news.

Rook Films

Rook Films

For anyone out there who isn’t familiar with AAAAAAAAH! (how??), Steve’s debut features the entire cast behaving as apes – speaking in grunts and gibberish, in an anarchic, disturbing and touching look at the human condition. It stars Julian Barratt, Toyah Willcox, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Steve Oram, Lucy Honigman, Tom Meeten and Sean Reynard. The supporting cast includes Noel Fielding, Holli Dempsey, Shelley Longworth, Alice Lowe, Tony Way and Waen ShepherdBen Wheatley is also executive producer.

What’s more, AAAAAAAAH! is already receiving rave reviews; here are a few choice comments from the critics:

“Terrifyingly funny, hilariously sick and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Easily the cult movie of the decade” – Alan Jones Film4 FrightFest

“Steve Oram’s AAAAAAAAH! made me question humanity.” – Adam Woodward, LWL’s

“Deeply offensive in all the right ways. Marks its strange, humorous territory with originality and style.” – Phelim O’Neill

Excited yet?

A Field In England Prints For Sale

18 Jun
© Richard Wells

© Richard Wells

Graphic designer Richard Wells has created a set of lino prints of the key characters from Ben Wheatley‘s psychedelic civil war film A Field In England.

The beautifully-crafted ‘A Merry Band’ series consists of five images plus a ballad sheet on white parchment paper. The five main images are printed with black oil based ink on A5 handmade 150gsm paper.

The pack can be ordered for £65 from here. Individual prints from the series are available here for £13.

Ben himself was seriously impressed with the lino prints when he saw them, tweeting: “Wow this just dropped through my letter box. Thanks @Slippery_Jack ! Amazing #afieldinengland”.

We say get your mitts on them before they sell out!


Vinyl Kills

1 Jun
© Rook Films

© Rook Films

The soundtrack to Ben Wheatley‘s second feature, Kill List, is now available on limited edition vinyl.

Composed by Jim Williams, who also worked on the scores for Down TerraceSightseers and A Field in England, the score for the film, which starred Neil Maskell, Myanna Buring and Michael Smiley, has never previously been released.

The one-sided vinyl release follows the extremely limited print runs of Sightseers and A Field in England soundtracks on the format, which are now both extremely sought after: a quick look on Discogs shows they are being offered for £185 and £175 apiece.

Which makes this limited run of 1,000 copies all the more pressing to get your hands on. Pick one up for just £20 from the Rook Films website now.

Paddington Comedy Award Win

29 Mar
© Ian Gavan / Getty Images

© Ian Gavan / Getty Images

Earlier this evening the Paddington movie picked up a gong for ‘Best Comedy Film’ at the 2015 Empire awards.

It was a double-TVO moment on stage, with Matt Berry presenting the award. According to Empire’s blog, Matt was attired in “a natty scarf that we’re rather taken with.”

Paddington director Paul King, star Peter Capaldi, producer Rosie Allison and Karen Jankel, daughter of Paddington creator, Michael Bond picked up the award.

King, resplendent in a Hawaiian shirt, said: “I haven’t prepared anything because Grand Budapest should probably have won. We’re very grateful to have an amazing team to put it all together.” Then, after leaving the stage, he ran back on stage to shout, “And my wife!” Bless him!

Another TVO-er was also present at this evenings awards: director Ben Wheatley, was part of the ‘Done in Sixty Seconds’ jury – the award given to the best remake of a film of sixty seconds duration.

Wheatley was joined on stage by fellow jury members, Jon S. Baird, Edith Bowman and Bauer Media UK Chief Executive Paul Keenan. And the award went to a remake of Ghostbusters, which you can see below:

Congratulations to all of this evening’s winners…especially Paddington (we’re not in any way biased!).

So Hot Right Now #10

15 Dec

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


© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

This week sees a drop in the number of TVO related shows on our screens, as both Toast of London finished its latest runs last week.  However, with Psychobitches (Sky Arts, Tuesdays, 9pm) and Trollied (Sky One, Mondays, 8:30pm) still going strong, there’s life in the Onion yet.

Most excitingly, we’ve still got the mighty Brian Pern: A Life in Rock to savour – with Episode Two (airing on Tuesday 16th) featuring the titular prog-rock legend (played by Simon Day) trying to bring his long-mooted adaptation of The Day of the Triffids to life on stage.

© BBC / Neil Barnes

© BBC / Neil Barnes

Once again featuring co-creator Rhys Thomas alongside Michael Kitchen, Paul Whitehouse, Nigel Havers, Lucy MontgomeryTony Way and Steve Burge, this episode also features a truly hilarious cameo from Sir Roger Moore, and is one you’d be mad to miss.

Last week, TVO spoke not only to Brian Pern via an exclusive email catch-up, but also to Simon Day and Rhys Thomas. You can catch up on our interview with those fine gentlemen over yonder.

Those of you who set your DVRs way in advance should take note – Episode Three next week airs on Monday, right after Never Mind the Buzzcocks, rather than the usual Tuesday slot. You have been forewarned.

Speaking of Buzzcocks, this week’s edition features Irish actress Yasmine Akram, American musician and producer Steve Aoki, Canadian stand-up comedian Bobby Mair and singer-songwriter Rumer – and for those uncertain of who any of those people are: this is the one with the lads covered in cake, as seen on all those pictures doing the rounds with the Tumblr crowds. Enjoy.

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie


Last week saw the launch of Colin Hoult‘s new YouTube channel, featuring a brand new in-character vlog five days a week.  Anna Mann, Andy Parker, Eddie Cartezian and Thwor bring us weekly updates Monday through Thursday, with a special treat each Friday.

If you missed any of last week’s editions, you can catch up now over yonder, and we’ve included this week’s first video, in which Anna Mann discusses credit card debt, below.


Paul King‘s delightful Paddington is still sat atop the UK box office, having taken £10.33m in just ten days. Figures for last weekend have yet to be revealed, but we’re sure the film, which features a bevvy of TVO cameos alongside its big name cast, will still be firing on all cylinders – and rightly so!

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

Elsewhere, Chris O’Dowd can be seen in St Vincent and Michael Smiley pops up in Black Sea – both of which opened fairly modestly last week, so do get out to see them if you haven’t already!


Smiley Says

9 Nov

© Zimbio

Michael Smiley has been in more TVO-connected films, TV shows, and even music videos, than you can shake a stick at. He brings a particular type of menace to the screen, whether victimising mushroom heads in A Field In England or robbing banks while Blue Song plays. So it’s nice to come across an in-depth video with the man himself, in which he discusses his entire career.

Smiley was recently interviewed by Moviehooker, a blog that recommends movies to people. It’s a comprehensive, candid piece and well earth a read if you want to familiarise yourself with everything that Smiley has done.

The interview runs the gamut from his early says of stand up in Northern Ireland, via his time working with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, right up to date with his latest feature film with Ben Wheatley, Free Fire (currently in pre-production).

When asked about his career highlights, Smiley says: “I’m very proud of my plays that I did in the 90s. But I’d say my highlight for me was winning the BIFTA Award for Kill List. That was a major highlight of my life. Nothing would have come close to that. I was in a room with incredibly well known and incredibly talented people. I was on a list with Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and Eddie Marsan, then they called my name out!…When my name was called out, there was a roar, it was like I went deaf, it was like that scene in fucking Goodfellas when he’s taking her to the restaurant – people moving out of your way, just going up to the podium.”

Awesome stuff! To read the interview in full click here.

Wear Your Favourite Film

11 Oct

© Last Exit to Nowhere

Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of seeing a few of the people that we write about appearing in some pretty awesome films. But what’s been missing until now is the ability to wear creative interpretations of those films emblazoned across our chests. Not any more…

Last Exit to Nowhere is a small collective of film enthusiasts and creative designers. They  collaborate to create unique hand screen printed T-shirts that pay homage to memorable places and characters in cinema history. And we’ve uncovered some great designs with a TVO flavour:

A personal favourite is this design on above (awesomely titled “Death has a ginger beard”), which pays homage to Ben Wheatley‘s Sightseers (written by and featuring Steve Oram and Alice Lowe, just in case it’s managed to pass you by). It’s available in regular and slim fit for £20 by clicking here.

You can also have the pleasure of wearing another Wheatley-directed film on your body, in the guise of this A Field In England t-shirt, also £20. Or a Hot Fuzz-inspired design like this ‘Neighbourhood Watch Alliance’ design.

If you needed any further TV-connected reason to pay the site a visit, Chris O’Dowd fans can also express their love of Cuban Fury by donning this El Corazon Cuban Salsa Dance Club tee for the princely sum of £20.

 There are a ton of other cool designs too – including mugs and posters…so get in!

Barratt’s ABCs Of Death 2 Out Soon!

17 Sep

A long time ago, back in the mists of time (August 2013 to be precise), we told you that Julian Barratt had been invited to direct one of the short films which would make up a horror anthology about death. Now the release date of the film, ABCs of Death 2, has been confirmed as October 2nd – only weeks away!

Like its predecessor, the film is comprised of twenty-six individual chapters, each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of the alphabet, beginning with the letter A and ending with the letter Z. They were given free rein in choosing a word to create a story involving death. Another TVO favourite, Ben Wheatley, directed one of the segments of the original film.

ABCs of Death 2 is available on demand and iTunes from 2nd October and in US theatres from 31st October. As yet a UK cinema release date hasn’t been confirmed. To watch it on demand and/or to book tickets to see the film in the US click here.

Julian also features in the film that he directed, and he makes a brief appearance in the trailer below. WARNING: it’s pretty gory, so if you’re at work, you hate horror or you’re reading this around young kids, maybe give it a miss?

Smiley On Who

31 Aug


Dr Who fans out there will be aware that another TVO face, Michael Smiley, featured in yesterday’s episode Into the Dalek. What you may not be aware of is that Smiley recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his role in the iconic show.

In the short interview he discusses how director Ben Wheatley contacted him to invite him to be in it: “It was just a call out of the blue,” says Smiley.

“Ben was asked to do the first two episodes and he gave me a ring and he said, ‘What’s your view on Doctor Who? If a part came up that would be right for you, would you be interested?’ I said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ It’s part of your life, Doctor Who. I remember Patrick Troughton!”

To read the interview in full click here. You can catch a glimpse of Smile as Colonel Morgan Blue in the trailer below, and the full episode is available to watch on iPlayer for a further 2 months.


Who’s A-Coming

19 Aug

This weekend sees the launch of the long awaited latest series of Doctor Who, with the first two episodes directed by TVO regular and all-out genius Ben Wheatley.



Episode One, Deep Breath, is a 75 minute special being simulcast in cinemas across the UK at 7:50pm, when the episode airs on BBC One.  It will also be shown on television and in cinemas around the world on the same day.

It features a recently regenerated Doctor arriving in Victorian London, where he discovers a dinosaur on the loose terrorising the city’s inhabitants, and mysterious robotic men causing a string of murders.

As we reported some time ago, regular Wheatley collaborator Tony Way has a cameo in the first episode, whilst Michael Smiley appears in a meatier role for Episode Two, Into The Dalek.

The Beeb have typically gone into publicity overdrive – with new star Peter Capaldi on the cover of almost every magazine, and BBC idents being interrupted by transmissions from The Doctor, as well as a world tour of Q&A sessions and screenings, footage of which can all be seen on the Doctor Who YouTube channel.

Deep Breath will also be released on a standalone dvd and blu-ray next month, with a full series box-set on dvd and blu-ray later this year.  We’re all big Doctor Who fans here at TVO Towers, so we really can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Until then, enjoy the preview images from Deep Breath below, and we’ll bring you a selection from Into The Dalek  as soon as we have them.  If that’s not enough, flashback to our 2012 interview with Ben Wheatley in support of Sightseers over yonder.

Global Release For Wheatley’s Who

27 Jul


As we mentioned here, the much-anticipated first episode of Doctor Who starring Peter Capaldi, will be directed by Ben Wheatley (Sightseers and A Field in England) and features Tony Way.

It’s now been announced that the feature-length episode will be shown in cinemas around the World, so many overseas viewers will be able to experience the first episode alongside BBC watchers on August 23rd.

We don’t have a list of cinemas where the screening will take place, but check here for the latest news.

The episode: Deep Breath also stars Jenna Coleman as  Clara Oswald (of course) and sees the welcome return of The Doctor’s old friends the Paternoster Gang – Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) and Strax (Dan Starkey) in an adventure through Victorian London.

The latest teaser trailer for the series is shown below.

Deep Breath For Wheatley’s Who

27 Jun

Legendary sci-fi smash hit Doctor Who returns to TV screens on August 23rd, and BBC One have confirmed the first episode – directed by Ben Wheatley – will be a feature length special.



Entitled Deep Breath, the episode marks the full debut of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth (proper) incarnation of The Doctor, alongside returning co-star Jenna Colman as Clara Oswald.

Wheatley – whose TVO credentials include his films A Field in England, Sightseers, Kill List and Down Terrace – has directed two episodes for the new series, including this opening episode, which features a cameo appearance by his regular collaborator Tony Way.

Also along for the ride this year in a later episode is Michael Smiley, who joins other big name guest stars Keeley Hawes, Frank Skinner and Foxes in the twelve-episode run.

We’ll bring you more news as we get it, but in the meantime, here’s a lovely new teaser trailer to keep your appetites whetted.

Grow Your Own Field In England

30 May

© Rooke Films

Our Screen is offering up A Field In England as one of its film options for us mere mortals to host our own cinema screening.

The service allows you to set up a screening in a choice of cinemas, which you can invite people to attend. For an overview of how it all works click here (although to be honest, the ‘explanation’ on Our Screen’s website is a tad vague!).

So to make it as simple as possible, here are our step-by-step instructions if you fancy hosting your own screening of A Field In England: Click on this to select the film and choose your preferred cinema. There are currently 18 cinemas which offer the screening, and you can search by postcode. You’ll then be asked to choose a date, time and whether you want your screening to be public (in which case anyone can buy tickets) or private. If you choose a private screening, you’ll be asked to select who you’re inviting, then depending on the numbers a ticket price will be calculated.

And there you have it, how to arrange your very own screening of one of Ben Wheatley‘s finest/strangest, featuring the exceptional acting talents of TVO faces Reece Shearmsith, Michael Smiley, Richard Glover and Julian Barratt. What are you waiting for?

Digital Field

7 Mar

© Rook Films Ltd

The soundtrack to A Field In England is to be released digitally later this month.

The film, directed by Ben Wheatley and starring Michael Smiley, Richard Glover, Julian Barratt and Reece Shearsmith as part of its small ensemble cast – was released in cinemas, on television, on demand and via physical media last Summer.

Scored by Jim Williams, who was also responsible for the Sightseers score previously, the soundtrack has already seen release as limited edition vinyl and cassette editions, but until now the only track available digitally was the Glover-sung Baloo My Boy, which was released for a limited time only via The Velvet Onion at Christmas.

The fifteen track album is available for pre-order via Amazon UK for just £7.49, and at this moment in time, it seems they’re the only place “stocking” it for its March 24th release date, so get in whilst you can! We’re crossing everything that the equally non-digital Sightseers score follows suit.

If you don’t yet own the film, you can pick it up on dvd and blu-ray via our store now.

Toast Of The Awards

26 Feb

© Kuba Wieczorek

There are more award nominations for TVO related shows, starting with Matt Berry‘s Toast of London being nominated in the TV Award category of the Chortle Awards 2014.

Meanwhile in the Empire Awards, A Field in England is nominated for Best Horror, with Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa and The World’s End both being nominated in the Best Comedy and Best British Film categories, with Edgar Wright nominated for Best Director, making three nominations for The World’s End.

Click on the links to vote for your favourites. The Chortle Awards are open until midnight on 4th March, and while there’s no closing date mentioned for the Empire Awards, it’s best to get your votes in soon!

If you’ve missed any of the nominated shows, don’t forget you can get everything you need at the Velvet Onion Store, just click to buy.

Toast of London

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa DVD or Blu-ray.

A Field in England.

Cornetto Trilogy.

Shrooms And The Silver Screen

9 Feb

© Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse in Austen is hosting a themed A Field In England Feast this Tuesday, 11th February.

In honour of the tripped-out psychedelia of the film, Chef Trish Eichelberger has created a mushroom-centric menu available only at a special screening. “After watching the feature I decided that doing a vegetarian dinner would be the best,” said Eichelberger.  “They only dine one time in the movie, on a humble stew made of mushrooms discovered in the field. The first course is direct homage to this – being a mushroom & barley stew in a brown ale broth, the men were in route to an ale house so I though the beer belonged in this course in well.”

We’re seriously loving the attention to detail, although we suspect that the mushrooms on this menu won’t have quite the same effect as the ones that were ingested in the film!

For more information and to book visit Alamo Drafthouse’s website. Somewhat bizarrely it states that children over 6 must be accompanied by an adult (the film is rated 15 in the UK), and we can’t find where to book tickets online. So if you fancy it, we recommend contacting the Slaughter Lane venue direct.

High Rising

6 Feb

© Jay Shaw

© Jay Shaw

Fresh details have emerged this week about Ben Wheatley‘s next directorial feature, High Rise.

Announced back in August, the film is a long mooted adaptation of the seminal JG Ballard novel of the same name, written by Wheatley’s long-standing collaborator (and partner) Amy Jump.

This week, Wheatley confirmed it is set to star Thor actor Tom Hiddleston, and its producer – in a deviation from Ben’s regular team – will be Jeremy Thomas (Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, Sexy Beast).

Little else is known right now, but in a recent Doctor Who flavoured interview with io9, Wheatley gave a tantalising hint of the project’s flavour, saying: “It’s set in 1975… it’s going to look like the 70s. It’s going to be very styled in that way. We’re looking at the Ridley Scott adverts of that period. It’s going to be modern in a way that the 70s looked. In a way that, “I don’t know what the future looks like anymore,” which is quite funny.

“We’re already in Buck Rogers land now. Aren’t we? We’ve all got phones, it’s not that exciting. But back then they had a real idea of what the future was going to be like, and it was much more stylish.”

Filming begins in the Summer, and we’ll bring you more news as we get it.

Tony Way’s Appointment With The Doctor

30 Jan
© Tony Way

© Tony Way

Tony Way has been confirmed to appear in one of Ben Wheatley‘s episodes of Doctor Who.

The comic has struck out as a dramatic actor in recent years, with performances in smash hits like Game Of ThronesThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and the forthcoming Tom Cruise blockbuster The Edge Of Tomorrow (formerly known as All You Need Is Kill).

He’s also previously collaborated with Wheatley – appearing in both Down Terrace and Sightseers for the director, and now he is set to play a character called Alf in the first episode of Series Eight (or Season Thirty Four!), featuring Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman.

We first assumed that Way, who also appeared in Sherlock for Who head honcho Steven Moffatt, was involved with the show when he Tweeted about the state of Cardiff’s weather over the weekend. The series has been filmed there since 2004, with Ben Wheatley currently filming two episodes concurrently for the new run.

However, whilst Tony was sworn to secrecy, his agent profile has revealed his involvement, and the Daily Mail went one further by snapping Tony on set!  We can confirm this isn’t a huge part, but we’re looking forward to seeing the results all the same when Doctor Who returns in the Autumn, with two episodes helmed by Wheatley.

In the meantime, Tony returns as Dontos Hollard in Series Four of Game Of Thrones this April, and a trailer for the new run can be seen below.

Seeing The Sights

28 Jan

© Rook Films / Big Talk / Studio Canal / Film 4

Next month’s edition of Caravan Magazine will feature a belated Sightseers special feature.

Here at TVO, we love to report the weird and wonderful side of Onion Land, and this story is no exception.

Whilst we, and critics at large, fell in love with Sightseers upon release in 2012, we couldn’t help but wonder how real life caravanners would take to the black comedy from the minds of Alice LoweSteve Oram and Ben Wheatley.

We needed have worried – it appears the community fell in love with it, and perhaps inspired by our very own guide to the film’s locations (provided courtesy of Steve’s dad), the route undertaken by Chris and Tina is fast becoming a favourite for holiday travellers.

John Sootheran and Ben Hackney are two such fans of the film, who have taken the Marquis Majestic 504 on a tour of the Peak District locations used within the film.

Starting, as the film does, at Crich Tramway Museum, they’ve visited a number of local landmarks, such as Blue John Cavern, Mother Shipton’s Cave and Ribblehead Viaduct.  Albeit with a bit less killing involved.  Not even a chicken sacrifice for good measure.

The results can be seen in the video below, and there’s a full feature expected in the March 2014 issue of Caravan Magazine, out on 12th February. In the meantime, if you don’t yet own a copy of Sightseers for yourself, you can pick it up on dvd and blu-ray from The Velvet Onion Amazon UK Store now.


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