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She’s A Rainbow: TVO Interviews Ameena Kara Callender

14 Aug

© Greg Sick

At The Velvet Onion we try to bring you a different, deeper view of the comedy you love. It was with this mission in mind that we hunted down the Stylist and Costume Designer responsible for the fantastical costumes in Luxury Comedy, to find out how the improbable from Noel Fielding‘s imagination is brought to life with a sewing machine. Mog reports. 

One of the things that strikes you about the cast and crew of Luxury Comedy is their dedication to the cause. When you listen to them talk about their involvement in the two series, it’s clear that this was no mere job. The loyalty and commitment that Noel has inspired amongst the team has created a tightly-knit family of can-do’s, happy to go to the ends of the earth to make everything perfect. And Ameena Kara Callender is no exception.

© Ameena

I meet Ameena at her Hoxton studio, surrounded by the colourful chaos of what she does. She looks exactly as you’d hope a stylist would: an unselfconscious  mish-mash of clashing colours and patterns, sparkly sandals and powder pink socks; an unexpected balance point between the fabulously exotic and the genuine girl next door.

She tells me that she has always enjoyed dressing up; when she was younger she used to make outfits for nights out with her Mum and Gran from the fabrics they kept in their sewing cupboard. However, she didn’t train as a stylist – the origins of her creative education were fine art, sculpture and painting.

One of her specialisms at college was 3D craft and design, which gave her a useful grounding in working with plastic-based materials. “It’s why I’m able to make these more bizarre sculptural costumes for Noel. All of the random things I’ve learned over the years came together in this one job, which harnessed all of it all at once.”

© Ameena

© Ameena

Originally connected via a mutual friend, Ameena has known Noel for years, but it was at his art exhibition at Maison Bertaux in 2010 that he asked her if she wanted to work on the show. Ameena was particularly drawn to an installation at the exhibition which turned out to be a precursor to the Jellyfox sketch from series 1.

“I really vibed off the animations that he’d done with Nige,” she says. “Noel asked ‘Do you want to make some Leigh Bowery type costumes for me?’ and I was like ‘Hell yeah – that’s right up my street!” she laughs.

Given that Noel has such clear ideas of his own about the look of the characters in the show, I ask her how the creative development process plays out between them. “Working with Noel is amazing. He’s a visual artist, and that goes across the spectrum of everything he does.”

“He draws constantly, and a big part of him coming up with a character is drawing it and figuring out what it looks like. Sometimes they pretty much have the outfit on that they’ll have on when the character comes into the real world, but sometimes he’ll leave it open for me,” she explains.

Taking on that level of responsibility can sometimes be a little daunting; trying to second-guess what Noel wants for a character or working out what would surprise him (in a good way!) can be a challenge, particularly when most of the characters are unlike anything that’s gone before. “You don’t know what really works until you go through the magical process; you can’t get out a reference from Dazed & Confused and say ‘I want him to be like that’, because it’s a whole weird, insane new concept.” she explains. “I’ve spent nights with matchsticks to keep my eyes open doing designs to show Nige and Noel the next day!”

© Ameena. Illustration on jumpsuit by David Shillinglaw

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Luxury Cafe Competition: A Massive Thank you

13 Aug

© Channel 4

A week and a half ago we announced a competition which would give 5 readers the chance to win a Luxury Comedy mug and pack of coffee. To enter, we asked you to create something from the Luxury Comedy cafe menu.

We didn’t think it was fair to award the prizes on the basis of cooking ability, so to give everyone an equal chance we decided to select the winners randomly from all of the entries. We secretly hoped that some of you would make a bit of effort, but we had no idea how inventive, hilarious and downright incredible so many of your entries were going to be!

Here are a small selection of those which knocked us sideways with their creativity and put a smile on our faces – and we had many, many more besides! Just click on the thumbnails to view a larger image.

It just goes to prove how much you’re loving the new series of Luxury Comedy and how much the show inspires you; we hope Noel Fielding is justifiably chuffed! It also suggests that you’re pretty desperate for a mug of coffee, but perhaps that’s not really the point ;-)

The 5 winners have been selected at random from all of the entries received and have now been notified. They are: Cali Rivlin, Chaas, Imaginary Nadya, Spaceboy and The Dream Tiger (twitter names).  A rather splendid Luxury mug and pack of coffee will be winging its way to you.

Huge congratulations to the winners and a massive thank you to everyone who took part!

Luxury cookery shown above thanks to Afrika D, Alleshia Cook, Anita, Arthur M, Azzy, Becca Moody, Becky Price, Bluey, Cali, Cali Rivlin, Catie, Chaas, Faye Loretta Lee, Gothic Bob, Imaginary Nadya, Jadie Rae, Jodie Kozo Konatsubara, Mol, Nikki Burns, Sean Feehan, Terry, The Dream Tiger, The Plasticine Punk, Spaceboy and  . (yes, that’s their name). You’re all awesome!

Luxury Amusement

27 Apr

It’s been a quiet weekend on the news front, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to decorate our home page with a few pictures, courtesy of Noel Fielding‘s creative output during the past 48 hours.

© Mog

We were lucky enough to catch one of Noel’s (slightly) secretive warm up shows last night, along with his fellow Luxury crew, Dolly Wells and Tom Meeten, who were chuckling away at the bar. It would be unfair on Noel to write a spoiler-riddled review of the gig at this stage in the development of his live show, so we thought we’d share a few artfully-blurred (ahem!) photos with you instead. Suffice to say that his characteristic charismatic energy is there is spades, and the fruit cake is still being baked.

On a different topic, followers of Fielding on twitter were treated to a series of images on Friday evening which showed his early sketches of some of the characters from Luxury Comedy, including Sergeant Ray Boombox, Dondylion, Andy Warhol, Fantasy Man, Rene, Gaviskon, and the costume reveal at the end of the series 1 Jellyfox episode.

The closeness of the final on-screen characters to these early sketches shows how clear Noel’s vision for the show was right from the off, and demonstrates the skill of his production team (Nigel Coan, Christine Cant and Ameena Kara Callender, amongst others) in helping him to pull it off. It’s further whetted our appetite for series 2!

For those of you who didn’t catch Noel’s tweets, here are the pictures of the characters in all their glory:

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

© Noel Fielding

New Thomas & Way

25 Feb

© Tony Way Rhys Thomas

The Thomas & Way Podcast is back, and this one has their old mate Matt Lucas to keep them company.

Find out about Matt’s relationship with Creme Eggs, and the lads have an in-depth discussion about chocolate, cheese, Shooting Stars, Queen and Google Glasses.

They also mention Vic and Bob’s new sitcom,  the genius of Christine Cant and some weird audition experiences including one for The Hobbit.

Why not listen or download now.

Craft Winners!

28 Nov

© Channel 4/Secret Peter

There were some well-deserved victories for TVO-related TV shows at last night’s Royal Television Society Craft & Design Awards 2011/12.

The awards recognise the achievements of the people who work behind the cameras – the designers, technicians and and visual artists who help to produce the programmes we watch.

We’re delighted to reveal that Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy picked up two awards: Ameena Kara Callender & Noel Fielding won the award for Best Costume Design Entertainment & Non Drama Productions, beating Strictly Come Dancing and another TVO-related show, Horrible Histories. Their win was described by RTS as, “A true collaboration, a seamless piece of highly creative work that is a live cartoon – true visual madness!”

Christine Cant was honoured for her wonderful make-up design on the series scooping up Best Make Up Design Entertainment & Non Drama Productions. Christine’s contribution was described as, Sheer creativity and madness.” RTS then went on to say, “Our winner’s interpretation of Noel’s work was seamlessly integrated with the costume design. Great skill was demonstrated in the various make up techniques employed here, including bold and fantastic colouration.”

© BBC

Mongrels also picked up an award, well-deserved in our opinion. Andy Heath & Iestyn Evans of Talk to the Hand won ‘Best Special Effects’ for Series 2, beating the much-lauded Downtown Abbey in the process.

RTS said of the win, “It’s not easy to add humour and comedic timing to a puppet show, but our winners succeeded and on a very tight schedule.”

For a full run down of the winners and nominees across all categories click here. Congratulations to everyone who picked up a gong!

Funny Fortnight Favourites: Father Ted

27 Aug

© Channel 4

This weekend saw Father Ted come up trumps in Channel 4’s 30 Greatest Comedy Shows countdown.  With an impressive three shows in the top four, it cemented Graham Linehan’s place as a king of comedy.

Helen Cowlyn looks back at a timeless classic, below…

Father Ted was shown from 1995 to 1998, and was written by Graham Lineham and Arthur Matthews, who both have TVO connections. When you read a description of Father Ted – a comedy about three Roman Catholic priests living in a small parochial house on a tiny outcrop of rock somewhere off the west coast of Ireland, with their housekeeper – it does not sound like a comedy at all. Luckily for us, the show was commissioned by Hat Trick Productions and we now have 25 episodes of Father Ted to enjoy. There are 6 in series 1, 10 in series 2, with an hour-long Christmas special, and 8 in the third series. Another TVO connection is that Christine Cant was the make-up designer for all three series.

© Hat Trick

The theme tune was written and performed by The Divine Comedy, who  later reworked it into Songs of Love, which became a track from their album Cassanova. It’s not a typical comedy tune, being quite melancholy and slow. Neil Hannon, (who is mostly The Divine Comedy) wrote most of the original music, including My Lovely Horse, from the episode Song For Europe and My Lovely Mayo Mammy from the episode Night of the Nearly Dead. ‘Father Neil Hannon’ was also one of the names Mrs Doyle guesses in A Christmassy Ted, the 1996 Christmas special.

Each episode involved the trials of Father Ted Crilly (Dermot Morgan) as he tries to get on with life on Craggy Island, hindered by Father Dougal McGuire (Ardal O’Hanlon), a young priest who gives the impression that he’s not sure what’s going on most of the time, and Father Jack Hackett (Frank Kelly), a very old priest with some nasty habits. Ted himself is not blameless, there are references to Lourdes money that was ‘just resting’ in his account, and Bishop Brennan inferred in the episode The Passion of St Tibulus, that all three of them were sent to Craggy Island as punishment for earlier misdeeds. The Priests are looked after by Mrs Doyle (Pauline McLynn), a lady of a certain age whose obsession with cups of tea, sandwiches and cakes is an integral part of her character. Continue reading

Funny Fortnight Forthcoming!

20 Jul

© Channel 4

Channel 4 have released more details of their Funny Fortnight next month, which features more than a smattering of TVO regulars and influences.

Over 30 hours of programming across two weeks of television, the season promises brand new shows, excellent stand up and familiar faces staging their returns to the channel.

A new video preview over on the Channel 4 press website showcases highlights from some of the channel’s flagship shows, and offers an exclusive look at a number of exciting specials.

© Tiger Aspect Productions

Amongst these new shows is Bad Sugar – written by Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong of Peep Show and Four Lions fame.  It combines three of comedy’s biggest names of the moment – Julia DavisSharon Horgan and Olivia Colman, and centres on a dysfunctional, wealthy mining dynasty, with an ailing patriarch and some greedy siblings.

The show also stars David Bradley, Peter Serafinowicz, Kayvan Novak and Reece Shearsmith, and it’s producer is Derren Schlesinger – who was previously responsible for both Four Lions and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy.  Undoubtedly one of the most exciting shows on telly in some time, this Tiger Aspect Productions show has real potential to be a smash hit.

© Objective Productions

Also set to première is Toast Of London, the new sitcom pilot by Matt Berry and Father Ted/Big Train creator Arthur Matthews.  Matt stars as successful actor Steven Toast, who has recently made a career faux pass by electing to star in a controversial west end stage play.

Recently divorced, and attacked in the street by members of appalled public, the previously much loved actor auditions for a role in the long running television series, Inspector Somerset.  However, it’s producer has been imprisoned for racial chanting on set, so Toast auditions for the part of a gay corrupt detective during prisoner’s visiting time.  Made by Objective Productions, we’re keen to see if this show lives up to its potential.

Other new shows include: Them From That Thing  – a two part sketch show featuring Kayvan Novak, Sally Phillips and many more, co-written by one Charlie BrookerThe Function Room - a traditional looking sitcom featuring the likes of Reece Shearsmith, Kevin Eldon, Simon Day and James Fleet; Lucky Sexy Winners - a new panel show from Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer; Very Terry - a Phonejacker spin off from Kayvan Novak focusing on car salesman Terry Tibbs; Harry Hill: The Reunion - in which the madcap comic seeks out the cast of his old Channel 4 show to find out “where are they now?”; The Boyle Variety Performance  – a spoof of the annual royal-attended show from Frankie Boyle; Just Around The Corner  – from the creators of Drop The Dead Donkey; and I’m Spazticus  – a prank show featuring disabled performers which has been seven years in development since its pilot aired in 2005.

© Avalon Productions

And that’s not all!  As we previously reported, Channel 4 are counting down their 30 Greatest Comedy Shows, which will feature the Onion flavoured vehicles Garth Marenghi’s DarkplaceThe IT CrowdBrass EyeFather TedStar StoriesSpacedBlack Books, and Friday Night Dinner. 

These classics will be up against the likes of The Comic Strip Presents, Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, The Adam & Joe Show,  Da Ali G Show, Trigger Happy TV, Pheonix Nights, Bo’ Selecta!, Peep Show, Green Wing and The Inbetweeners and more.

© Talkback Thames

The channel have also turned to the writers of classic shows to name their favourite episodes, which will air across the fortnight.  These include Graham Linehan‘s favourite ever The IT Crowd  and Father TedChris Morris‘s legendary Brass Eye; mockumentary series Star Stories which featured Fergus CraigAlice Lowe, Tom MeetenLaura PatchRhys Thomas and Dolly Wells in it’s expansive cast; plus episodes of Spaced, The Inbetweeners, Peep Show and Vic Reeves Big Night Out.

There’s also a chance to catch tv premieres of live shows from Alan Carr, Peter Kay, Lee Evans and Micky Flanagan, plus the early and rare Vic & Bob special The Weekenders, Harry Endfield one-off Norbert Smith: A Life and Peter Cook’s interview with Clive Andersonplus editions of Comedy Labs featuring Dynamo, Peter Kay, Karl Pilkington and TVO’s very own Anna And Katy!  Plus we’ll still have The Midnight Beast featuring Simon Farnaby every Thursday too!

Phew – we think we’ll need a lie-down after all that!  Exciting times indeed.  We’ll aim to bring you a complete run-down of exactly when each show will air as soon as possible, so stay peeled.  In the mean time, check out the video preview over on the Channel 4 press website – and you can pick up a string of Channel 4 classics in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

The Luxurious Digital Oz!

11 Jul

© Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia Pty Ltd

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy is to receive it’s dvd premiere in Australia next month.

News of the release of the entire first series, complete with extras including behind the scenes footage, first appeared on blog The Momus Report, and naturally, we at TVO were highly curious.  After all, this release is seemingly premature – with the UK launch date pencilled in for early next year, and for once, we were completely out of the loop!

TVO confirmed news of the release with Noel directly today, as well as the possibility that a release in R2 may – and we stress may – be pushed forward to compensate.  We’re sure we can speak for the fans when we say we’re really hoping this happens, and that a dvd is joined by a simultaneous blu-ray release to really take advantage of the glorious visual canvas Noel & Nigel Coan crafted for the series.

With plans for series two starting to take shape (more on those in due course, but don’t think you’re just getting more of the same!) – it does make logical sense for the first series to be released in tandem with its launch, but if you’re desperate to have Luxury Comedy in your Christmas stocking, let us know in the comments on this article.

In the meantime, check out our behind the scenes documentary which provided peelers with an exclusive insight into the making of a cult classic, below.

 

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy is released on dvd in Australia on August 22nd.

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