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TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part One

1 Jan

2013 has been a funny old year in Onion Land. We’ve seen our regulars scoop bucketloads of awards, from Best British Film at the Empire Awards to International Emmy Awards and everything in-between. Some names on our roster have reached new heights of success, becoming household names to people who have no idea of their cult origins. Others have just continued being quietly amazing, but all of them have been worthy of your attention.

As a result, we’ve been ploughing through the 12 months of TVO, to pluck out the best bits from over 700 news stories across 2013. This first instalment of our round-up covers January-March, and is jam packed with forgotten treasures and instant classics alike.  Enjoy.

JANUARY

The year began quietly, with the only key new show on the box being, on the surface, designed for kids. FIT was a sports-based sketch show on CBBC from the team behind Sorry, I’ve Got No Head, and featured TVO regulars Tony WayRufus Jones and Aisling Bea in its ensemble cast. For the most part, however, it was the involvement of Peter Serafinowicz - reprising his beloved cult character Brian Butterfield – which got everyone’s attention…

On the other end of the spectrum, Michael SmileyDan Tetsell and Simon Farnaby turned up in the very-much-for-grown-ups cyber-thiller Utopia on Channel 4. The show concerned itself with attempts to trace the only known copy of a graphic novel which left a trail of bloody carnage in its wake. With Four Lions star Adeel Akhtar part of its ensemble cast, as well as Kill List actor Neil Maskell as a creepy hitman, and The Thick Of It‘s Paul Higgins as a blackmailed civil servant, the show became an instant cult hit, and will be returning for a second series in 2014.

Closer to home, and the good folk of Onion Land seemed keen to dish out advice. Comedic agony aunt Rachel Stubbings was offering specially crafted miniature versions of herself for sale to anyone in need of a friendly ear. Or, to be more exact, a bit of unemotional plastic which happened to look a bit like her, in a variety of costumes. The Stubby Buddy was a quick sell out, though something tells me we won’t be seeing them in the shops next year…

Elsewhere, conceptual artist and Luxury Comedy star Kim Noble was offering handy tips on how to buy an oven

And as Bowie-fever gripped the world, James Cook released his own, haunting interpretation of Mr Jones’ classic track, Ashes To Ashes

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Coogan On Screen & In Print

29 Jul

Sky Atlantic HD will be premiering an exclusive two-part TV special of Steve Coogan‘s stand-up tour around Australia and New Zealand.

© Baby Cow/Sky Atlantic

The behind-the-scenes tour documentary Stand Up Down Under will be shown at 9pm on 6th and 7th August. It features two hour-long shows which were filmed during Coogan’s 2009 world tour. It promises a funny, intimate and honest portrait of one of Britain’s best loved character comedians and includes exclusive footage from his performances as Alan Partridge, Pauline Calf and Tony Ferrino, as well as unrestricted backstage access. It’s produced and directed by David Lambert, also known at TVO Towers for his brilliant Boosh documentaries.

According to the production company Baby Cow Productions, Sky Atlantic will also be repeating the BAFTA nominated Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life and Alan Partridge On Open Books With Martin Bryce on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th August respectively at 9pm. The first series of Mid Morning Matters will also be shown again over three evenings on 5th, 6th and 7th August, ahead of the second series which is due for transmission later in the year.

With the big screen debut of Alan Partridge about to wow cinema audiences, large dollops of Coogan were to be found in this weekend’s newspapers: he was on the cover and in the pages of this week’s Guardian Guide, talking (as Alan) about becoming a national treasure. The publication also featured a revealing interview with Coogan’s Partridge co-writers, Peter Baynham and Neil and Rob Gibbons. Finally, The Observer published a profile on the comic actor.

Don’t forget that you can see Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (which has been receiving a fair few rave reviews) in UK cinemas from August 7th.

Hunderbafta… With Alan Partridge.

9 Apr

© Baby Cow Productions / Sky Atlantic

No, it’s not the title of another useless television pitch by yer man Alan, but the news that TVO’s top hitters are up for yet more gongs – this time at the BAFTA Television Awards.

The seemingly never ending cycle of BAFTA award ceremonies is no bad thing when the likes of HunderbyAlan Partridge and Game Of Thrones continue to get nominated.

HunderbyJulia Davis twisted period black comedy co-written with Barunka O’Shaughnessy and featuring Rufus JonesKevin Eldon, Arnab ChandaPrinces In The Tower and the dulcet narrative tones of Julian Barratt – has been nominated in the category of Situation Comedy, where it must fend off competition from Episodes, Twenty Twelve and the incredibly popular The Thick Of It. 

The latter also has a TVO connection, with Justin Edwards in its huge ensemble cast, and its creator Armando Iannucci being one of the driving forces behind Partridge all these years.

Speaking of Partridge, the Dave Lambert directed special Welcome To The Places Of My Life has been nominated for Best Comedy Programme, against The Revolution Will Be Televised, Mr Stink and Cardinal Burns.  The one off show was the first original slice of Alan made for Sky Atlantic last year, after they bought the rights to web-show Mid Morning Matters.

© Baby Cow Productions / Sky Atlantic

Alan’s alter-ego, Steve Coogan, has a lot to celebrate – he’s also been nominated for Male Performance In A Comedy Programme – versus Greg Davies (Cuckoo), Hugh Bonneville (Twenty Twelve) and Peter Capaldi (The Thick Of It).  Similarly, the Female Performance In A Comedy Programme list features none other than Julia Davis once again, for her role in Hunderby – a show made by Coogan’s BabyCow Productions.  She’ll be up against old friends Jessica Hynes and Olivia Colman (both for Twenty Twelve) and Miranda Hart (Miranda).

TVO would like to extend our congratulations to all at Baby Cow and especially everyone involved with Hunderby and Welcome To The Places Of My Life, and assure you our fingers are crossed for your victories!

For the full list of nominations, check out the Radio Times website, where you can also vote for the Radio Times Audience Award BAFTA.  This highly charged poll battle is between some serious tv big-hitters: The London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle, could be expected to walk away with the trophy, but it’ll be up against stiff competition from Strictly Come Dancing, The Great British Bake OffCall The Midwife, Homeland and Game Of Thrones - the latter of which has featured Tony Way and Paul Kaye amongst its guest cast.  Vote for your favourite now!

Nods & Nominations

26 Mar

© Queenonline

The Oscars may seem like a distant memory already, but Awards Season continues apace, and TVO regulars are, as always, in the offering.

The BAFTA Craft Awards were announced this weekend, and comedy legend Rhys Thomas is up for the highly prestigious Breakthrough Talent award for his documentary Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender, which shone a candid light on the period between Freddie’s debut solo album in 1985, and his premature death in 1991.

He’s up against stiff competition from Mike Bartlett for The Town, Julie Gearey for Prisoners’ Wives and Tim Whitnall for Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story.

Elsewhere, in the comedy department, Julia Davis has been nominated for “Writer (Comedy)” due to her gloriously funny period piece Hunderby.  She’s up against Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche and Simon Blackwell for the final run of The Thick Of It (which featured Justin Edwards), as well as John Morton for Twenty Twelve and Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine and Joanna Scanlan for Getting On.  For the full list of nominations, check out Digital Spy’s rundown over yonder.

Last week saw the Royal Television Society Programme Awards take place in London, and again, there were TVO connections on show.  Horrible Histories was pipped to the post as Children’s Programme by Room On The Broom, but Sherlock - the last episode of which featured Katherine Parkinson and Tony Way – won the award for Drama Series ahead of Call The Midwife and Line Of Duty.  Sherlock also picked up an award for “Writer – Drama”, given to its showrunner Steven Moffat.

© RTS

However, the big TVO win belonged to BabyCow for Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places Of My Life - which picked up the nod for Scripted Comedy – so congrats to Steve CooganDave Lambert and the rest of the team!  For more info, pop here.

Lastly, and by no means leastly, the delightful Tony Law won Best Club Comic and Best Show for Maximum Nonsense at this weekend’s Chortle Awards, with Stewart Lee & Richard Herring also scoring double wins.

And of course, as we told you this weekendSightseers picked up yet another gong – this time for Best British Film at the Empire Awards.  All in all, a glorious time for the stars of TVO – and we’re over the moon for everyone winning things!

Who Makes You Chortle?

28 Feb

© Mog

Voting is now open for the 2013 Chortle Awards, the UK online comedy guide.

Nomination are now up and include a couple of TVO-connected acts (as well as a whole host of other worthy nominees).

There are a few omissions that we’d like to correct given half a chance, but we’re very glad that the awesome Tony Law is up for two awards: Best Club Comic and Best Show (for the critically-aclaimed Maximum Nonsense), and 2012′s Alan Partridge Sky Atlantic TV Specials are also nominated in the Best TV category.

To view the full list of nominations and to vote click here.

Bill & Sinclair

25 Feb

© Baby Cow Productions / Sky Atlantic

Baby Cow and Sky Atlantic’s series of highly inventive comedy shorts, Common Ground continues tonight with a heavy dollop of TVO talent.

One half of tonight’s double bill – directed as ever by Dave Lambert – is an episode written by and starring Rufus Jones and Dan Renton Skinner – the latter another one of those ‘not-quite-TVO’ faces we love, perhaps best known as his alter-ego Angelos Epithemiou, but also a regular collaborator with a number of our regulars.

Bill & Sinclair tells the story of a banker, William [Jones], who has had an almighty fall from grace, and is forced into a frosty reunion with his roguish brother, Sinclair [Skinner], who takes great delight in this new turn of events, especially as Bill’s wife Francesca knows nothing of her husband’s sticky situation.

If the reuniting of Jones & Skinner, who were both part of sketch troupe Dutch Elm Conservatoire with Stephen Evans many moons ago, isn’t enough – the short also features the likes of Rufus’ Mongrels co-star Paul Kaye, and a role for everyone’s favourite agony aunt stand-up comic, Rachel Stubbings.

You can see the show tonight only on Sky Atlantic at 9:15pm.  It will then be available on SkyGo for subscribers only, and if we hear of a dvd release, we’ll be sure to keep you peeled.

Dave Lambert: Not Your Common Man

17 Feb

Common Ground is a new series of shorts currently showing on Sky Atlantic on Monday evenings. The anthology of ten stories follows the ordinary lives of some rather interesting characters, with two episodes airing each week.

© Dave Lambert

We were lucky enough to talk to the show’s director, Dave Lambert, a man already well-known to us through his work with the Mighty Boosh and Steve Coogan, amongst others:

Dave, can you tell us how Common Ground come about and how you first became involved in the series? 
Baby Cow were approached by Lucy Lumsden, Head of Comedy at Sky, to come up with ten shorts for Sky Atlantic featuring brand new comic characters. I became involved after Ali MacPhail, the producer, had been working on it for a while and had narrowed down the potential scripts.

We met with the writers/performers to develop the scripts and started to cast the episodes. Then we got out there and shot them. I’m really proud of the show and hope lots of people see it.

Do you have a favourite episode or character from the series?
No! They are all my favourites! Seriously, I do love them all because they are all different and each tells a different story. There really is something for everyone in this series.

Could you see any of the stories developing for a second run?
Definitely, whether it is a standalone series for the individual characters or a second series of Common Ground – I think these characters need to be seen again, 11 minutes leaves you wanting more. I don’t think it’s the last you’ve seen of them.

© Sky Atlantic

At TVO, we’re increasingly directing people to Sky Atlantic to watch the TV shows we write about. Do you think Sky has taken over as the home of interesting TV comedy?
I think Sky have been fantastic over the last couple of years in regard to TV comedy in the UK. There’s energy and excitement around the industry and there’s some great shows being made. Sky Atlantic are all about trusting the talent to deliver the goods and they also give the perfect amount of guidance and input. As a viewer I really like the channel, ‘Girls’ is one of the best things on TV at the moment.

© Baby Cow/Sky Atlantic

Over the years you’ve been involved in a number of Steve Coogan projects, most recently producing and directing him as Alan Partridge. Why do you think Partridge has been so popular for so long?
Alan is one of the great comic characters. I grew up watching it religiously and it blows my mind that I’ve had the chance to produce and direct Partridge shows. I think audiences will always want to hear his views on the world. He’s always relevant and he’s just brilliantly performed by Steve.

Do you think the character of Partridge has evolved over time?
Steve himself said that in ‘Mid-Morning Matters’ we are seeing more of a ‘pure’ Alan. It’s just him, Simon and sometimes a guest, there are two cameras in that room and you see everything, there’s nowhere to hide. The performance is more nuanced and Alan is a little older. For ‘Places of my life’ that carried on but it was Alan in full presenter mode as well, which is a joy to behold!

You’re also famous around these parts for your Mighty Boosh documentaries. What was it like working with them, given they’re notoriously difficult to organise?
I loved filming the Boosh! There was a period of time when whatever they were doing I would document it. I have  tons of tapes and drives with footage of them. In terms of organisation there were a few occasions where my schedule was more urgent then theirs but that happens sometimes! They are a joy to be around, one of my best memories was making the documentary ‘A journey through Time and Space’ and revisiting the venues where they met and did early gigs. It was so funny and great to hear their memories.

We’re Taking Over!

5 Feb

2013 has only just begun, but already there’s a distinctly Velvet Onion flavour to the UK’s media landscape!

Last night you could watch two TVO-related TV shows on the box: Common Ground is the new series of shorts directed by Baby Cow’s Dave Lambert, which started its run at 9pm on Monday on Sky Atlantic.  Sky subscribers can watch the first two episodes (‘Floyd’ and ‘Patricia’) on catch up TV, while the next two episodes (‘Eleanor’ featuring Katy Brand, and ‘Sunshine Simon’) air at 9pm mext Monday 11th February.

© BBC

Also on yesterday was Richard III: The King in the Car Park, a documentary hosted by Simon Farnaby, which followed the geekily-exciting unearthing of the King’s remains. It was that newsworthy, the programme even trended on twitter! But as Danny Wallace noted : “I think it is great that Simon Farnaby is presenting this historic Richard III doc, but it’s a bit like Rich Fulcher doing the moon landing.” The show is available to watch on 4OD here and is repeated on 4seven over the next few days.

© Claire Jones

Last night was also notable for another award for Sightseers (yes, another one!), as the film scooped the prestigious Evening Standard Peter Seller’s awards for best comedy. Big congratulations to director Ben Wheatley and writers/stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram.

Rewind 24 hours to Sunday and you might have caught Colin Hoult in stonking form as Crumb, in the new series of Being Human on BBC3. You can catch up on info about the show, watch clips and see the first episode here.

Then there’s the critical acclaim that’s gathering for Fit, the new CBBC sketch show that features a host of TVO regulars, such as Tony Way, Rufus Jones and Aisling Bea. 

Plus the sheer awesomeness of Noel Fielding’s presence on David Bowie’s official website following his weekend interview in the Guardian!

Yep, it’s been quite a week for the folk we write about (and it’s only Tuesday); we seem to have infiltrated most media touch points! So here’s to more of the same into February and beyond…

Common Ground Online

29 Jan

Sky Atlantic have launched the Common Ground minisite, in preparation of the series première next week.

© Sky Atlantic HD

The run of comedy shorts is directed by Dave Lambert, and features the likes of Katy BrandRufus Jones and Paul Kaye – as well as Snuffbox legend Alan Ford, and frequent TVO collaborator Jessica Hynes.

With the first two editions, featuring Hynes, Amelia Bullmore, Hugo Speer and Charles Dance, set to air at 9pm on Monday, February 4th -followed by a repeat screening of Hunderby - the show’s official site now contains clips from the episodes and a series of galleries to peruse.  There’s also this rather lovely trailer, which we’ve included below – alongside a preview clip of Katy Brand in her episode, Eleanor.

We’re currently keeping our eyes peeled for news of the show making it to dvd and/or blu-ray, so if you’re a fan of what you see – and it looks amazing, we must admit – check back for news as and when we get it.  For more info in the meantime, visit the Common Ground website.

Common Ground Finds February Launch

7 Jan

Common Ground - the forthcoming anthology of comedy shorts on Sky Atlantic we first told you about in October, will air in February, according to Radio Times.

© Sky Atlantic HD

Originally titled Common People, the ten part series will air back to back double episodes alongside a repeat run of TVO’s very own Hunderby - which is currently still basking in the light of its double win at the British Comedy Awards, ahead of an almost guaranteed second series (we hope!) – starting on Monday, February 4th at 9pm.

The first week’s episodes feature Charles Dance, Amelia Bullmore, Hugo Speer and Jessica Hynes, whilst week two will see Katy Brand‘s short, Eleanor, about a woman whose beloved organic shop slash café goes out of business and faces a takeover from greasy spoon owner Tony, played by Gordon Kennedy.   It will be supported by a second show starring Tom Davis, Sean Pertwee and Brendan Coyle.

© Sky Atlantic HD

The following week will see Johnny Vegas fronted short Rupert, air, which will co-star Paul Kaye, Tony Pitts and Celia Pacquola in a tale of tattoos – alongside another episode featuring Tom Palmer & Tom Stourton.  This will be followed by further shorts featuring Simon Day and Annette Crosbie.  In the final week, Rufus Jones will be teaming up with regular collaborator Dan Renton Skinner, for the story of a disgraced banker, Bill & Sinclair - and the series will end that night with Alex Lowe & Linda Robson starring in Barry – a reworking of Lowe’s popular pensioner live character.

The show is produced by TVO stalwarts BabyCow, and directed by none other than Dave Lambert - Boosh documentary maker extraordinaire who recently helmed Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places Of My Life.  We can’t wait!

TVO Stars Up For British Comedy Awards!

3 Dec
© British Comedy Awards

© British Comedy Awards

The nominations for the 2012 British Comedy Awards have been announced, and a number of TVO flavoured productions are, quite rightly, in the running.

Amazingly, all four shows up for Best New Comedy Programme can be traced back to these very pages, starting with the remarkable Hunderby featuring Rufus Jones and Kevin Eldon, but most notably written by and starring Julia Davis.

The show will be battling it out against the wonderful Chris O’Dowd‘s sitcom Moone Boy and a third hilarious Baby Cow production, Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places Of My Life which not only featured Steve Coogan as the titular character but was directed by Dave Lambert, no less!

The final show in this category has a less obvious TVO connection, but it’s there all the same – as sketch show Cardinal Burns was script edited by Rufus Jones!  So whoever wins, TVO can celebrate!

In other categories, Hunderby will be fighting for the Best Sitcom gong against Rev (which featured a guest appearance from James Bachman), Twenty Twelve and The Thick Of It.  A tough competition for that one, but we’re naturally rooting for Julia over here!  The aforementioned Cardinal Burns is also up for Best Sketch Show, as is CBBC behemoth Horrible Histories which counts Simon Farnaby and Alice Lowe amongst its ensemble cast.  They’ll both be going up against Facejacker (starring Four Lions and Bad Sugar star Kayvan Novak), and cult new show Very Important People.

Steve Coogan will be fending off challenges from Peter Capaldi, Hugh Bonneville and Tom Hollander for the title of Best TV Comedy Actor, whilst Bad Sugar star Olivia Coleman’s two roles in Twenty Twelve and Rev will be up against Lizzie & Sarah star Jessica Hynes, and The Day Today legend Rebecca Front for Best TV Comedy Actress.

Harry Hill’s TV, produced by Spencer Millman has received it’s final nomination for Best Comedy Entertainment Programme, which sees it square up to The Graham Norton Show, Celebrity Juice and Alan Carr’s Chatty Man for the title.   Hill will also be hoping to win Best Male Television Comic, and he’s up against the likes of Sean Lock, Blunder and Bruiser veteran David Mitchell and Boosh radio series star Lee Mack, who is perhaps now best known for his role in Not Going Out alongside Katy Wix.  The Best Female Television Comic section is the only one with no TVO link, and it will be decided between Jo Brand, Nina Conti, Sarah Millican and Sue Perkins.

© Baby Cow / Sky

© Baby Cow / Sky

Despite being a standup veteran, Nina Conti is also up for Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist, as are Cardinal Burns, Morgana Robinson and our personal favourite, young Moone Boy star David Rawle.  Finally, Best Comedy Entertainment Personality will be one of the following four men: Stephen Fry, Harry Hill, Graham Norton or Nathan Barley writer Charlie Brooker.

For more details on the awards, which take place on December 12th and are broadcast live on Channel 4, visit their official website now – and good luck to everyone nominated!

The Moone, The Matters & The Bubbly Milk… New TVO DVD’s From Baby Cow!

19 Nov

Today sees the release of two of the latest additions to the TVO canon on digital versatile disc… as both Hunderby and Moone Boy are unleashed to the world, joining Alan Partridge: Mid Morning Matters which was released last week.

© 2|Entertain / Baby Cow Productions / Sky Comedy

Julia Davis‘ period comedy Hunderby also features the likes of Rufus Jones and Kevin Eldon in it’s powerful ensemble cast, and as rumours of a second series begin to gain strength, we’re pleased those who loved the show on Sky Atlantic can be joined by those who didn’t have the chance to appreciate this instant classic.  You can order a copy to accompany your bubbly milk right here for just £13.99.

Meanwhile, another production from Baby Cow sees the big man himself, Steve Coogan, make a guest appearance.  The charming Moone Boy written by, and starring Chris O’Dowd is also released today, in which Chris plays the imaginary friend of young dreamer Martin Moone.  The rural Irish setting and 80s period flavour combine with a whimsical style that again, deserves to return for another series as soon as possible, and it can be bought for only £13.69 by giving a dead bird the kiss of life, or just clicking here.

Finally, last week saw the release of another Baby Cow and Coogan concoction – the latest piece of the Alan Partridge saga.  Mid Morning Matters started life as a series of webisodes, before being picked up by Sky for broadcast earlier this year.  With another run currently in production, and the long awaited Partridge movie gearing up for production soon, this is a great chance to catch up with a legend of local broadcasting, and you can grab a cup of beans with a sausage in them to go with your dvd, which is only £14.15 in our store now.

Common(ion) People

11 Oct

© Ian Gavan / Getty Images Europe

The televisual resurgence in new wave comedy has had a surprising beacon of shiny awesomeness over the last twelve months, in the form of Sky Atlantic – and that association looks set to continue apace with the announcement of Common People.

An eleven part series of comedy shorts directed by Dave LambertCommon People is planned as a mockumentary style peek into the ordinary lives of some unusual people.

Naturally, much like previous Sky series Little Crackers, its makers are drawing upon the excellent reserve of talents we have here in Onion land.

Katy Brand will be writing and starring in Eleanor Popplewell - which will tell the story of the titular character’s beloved organic shop slash café, which goes out of business and faces a takeover from greasy spoon owner Tony.

Tony has a serious thing for Eleanor, but will she ever see things from his point of view?  There’s currently no word on who else will be in this short, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for any developments just in case Katy draws on her friends on these pages!

© Sky Atlantic HD

Meanwhile, Brand’s former Mongrels co-star Rufus Jones, will be crafting away on short film Scoundrels alongside occasional collaborator Dan Skinner (perhaps best known for his alter ego Angelos Epithemiou).

It will tell the story of an ex-city banker, Bill (Jones), who fell from grace after accusations of embezzling.  Now lives with his brother Sinclair (Skinner), Bill must stop his sibling from revealing all to his wife, Francesca.

Another short in the series has TVO links – as the living legend that is Jessica Hynes takes her cameo appearance in Moone Boy and turns it into a full blooded misadventure called Politically Incorrect.

Having perfected the art of getting away with terrible decisions in work and real life, and approaching the menopause on mixed medication, Local Councillor Patricia David manages to dodge professional bullets with sheer luck and a talent for being… somewhere else!

© Dave Lambert

Other shorts in the series will feature the likes of Johnny Vegas, Simon Day, Charles Dance, Tom Davis, Jose Lawrence, Annette Crosby, Alex Lowe, Linda Robson, double-act Totally Tom,  Big Train‘s Amelia Bullmore, and How Not To Live Your LifeHunderby star Daniel Lawrence Taylor.

To further links to TVO, the show will be produced by stalwarts BabyCow, and directed by Dave Lambert - Boosh documentary maker extraordinaire who recently helmed Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places Of My Life.

We can’t wait.  Common People looks set to air in January, and we’ll be bringing you more news closer to transmisison.  In the meantime, check out the full story over yonder with our friends at The British Comedy Guide.

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