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The British Comedy Awards – Tonight!

16 Dec

Tonight sees the 2014 British Comedy Awards take place in Wembley, with broadcast taking place on Channel 4 tomorrow evening – and as ever, there’s a huge chunk of TVO nominees.

© Kuba Wieczorek

© Kuba Wieczorek

As we’ve mentioned previously, Matt Berry is up for a bevvy of awards – with a whopping six direct nominations for him, Toast of London and his one-off BBC sketch Lone Wolf. His Toast co-star, Harry Peacock, is also nominated for his role in the show, as is House of Fools in which he co-stars alongside Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Dan Skinner. We’re expecting big wins for Matt tonight!

Also up for nominations are Aisling BeaSpencer Millman (via The Inbetweeners 2 and Man Down), Katherine ParkinsonHarry and Paul’s Story of the Two’s (which featured Justin Edwards), Inside No. 9 (from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton), Cardinal Burns (featuring Rufus Jones and Fergus Craig), Moone BoyThe Trip to ItalyHorrible Histories - we could go on!

© BBC

© BBC

In fact, every nomination for Best Sitcom, and three out of four nominations for Best Sketch Show have direct links back to our regulars, so we’re almost certainly in for a celebratory night!

TVO will be cramming ourselves into the press pit to talk to the talent on camera, for a video report we hope to bring you very soon. Good luck to all the nominees, especially those we feature and that we – and you, dear readers – love.

For the full list of nominees, see below. Anyone with a direct TVO connection is highlighted, so you know who to cheer for most!

Moone Boy S2

Best Sitcom

House of FoolsMoone Boy The Trip to Italy | Toast of London

Best Comedy Panel Programme

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Have I Got News For You QI | Would I Lie To You

© Channel 4 / Jules Heath

 Best Sketch Show

Cardinal Burns | Harry & Paul Story of the Two’s | Horrible Histories Monty Python Live (mostly) – One Down Five to Go
 

Best Comedy Entertainment Programme

Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe | Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle The Graham Norton Show | The Last Leg
© BBC

© BBC

Best Comedy Drama

Inside No. 9 Rev | The Wrong MansUncle

Best New Comedy Programme

Inside No. 9 | Man Down The Wrong Mans | Toast of London

Best International Comedy Programme

Girls Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Modern Family | Veep

© BBC

Best Internet Comedy Short

Brand New Morph | Carpark | How To Make A Hit Pop Song | Matt Berry: Lone Wolf

Best Comedy Film

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues | Pride | The Inbetweeners 2 | The Lego Movie

Best Comedy Entertainment Personality

Adam Hills Alan Carr Ant & Dec  Graham Norton
© Balloon (50 Year Special) Limited / Mark Johnson

© Balloon (50 Year Special) Limited / Mark Johnson

Best TV Comedy Actor

Harry Enfield Matt Berry Matthew Baynton Paul Whitehouse

Best TV Comedy Actress

Doon Mackichan Jessica Hynes Katherine Parkinson Zawe Ashton
©  Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

Best Male Television Comic

David Mitchell Lee Mack Sean Lock Stewart Lee

Best Female Television Comic

Aisling Bea Bridget Christie Isy Suttie Nina Conti
©  Objective / Channel 4

© Objective / Channel 4

 Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist

Harry Peacock | Joe Wilkinson Matt Berry Nick Helm

Best Comedy Moment of 2014

8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown | Harry & Paul’s Story Of The Two’s | Monty Python Live | Toast of London | Would I Lie To You

The British Comedy Awards 2014 take place tonight in Wembley, and will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Wednesday, 17th December from 9pm.

So Hot Right Now #9

8 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.

THE RETURN OF BRIAN PERN

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

This week sees the long awaited return of Brian Pern to our screens, in the brand new series Brian Pern: A Life in Rock.  As always, the show is the brainchild of Fast Show veterans Rhys Thomas and Simon Day, the latter of whom plays the titular prog-rock legend turned hapless world music pioneer and obscure charity fundraiser.

Whilst the first series, The Life of Rock with Brian Pern focused more on telling the story of rock across the generations in documentary format, the second shifts its tone to be more of a candid look at the life of Brian, and those around him.  This includes his luxury yacht loving manager John Farrow (brilliantly brought to life by Michael Kitchen), world music goddess Pepita (TVO regular Lucy Montgomery), Brian’s former bandmates in Thotch (including Paul Whitehouse and Nigel Havers as Pat Quid and Tony Pebble) and his driver Ned (Tony Way).

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

© BBC / Rory Lindsay

Also along for the ride this series are big name guest stars Martin Freeman, Jack Whitehall, Kathy Burke, Roger Allum, Kevin Eldon, Chrissie Hynde, Mel C, Roger Taylor, Roy Wood, Rick Parfitt and more. TVO devoured all three episodes in one sitting, and can confirm this is a joyous continuation of a much loved character, with a wonderful set of supporting characters filling out his world, and once more – some glorious tunes (courtesy of Steve Burge) in the mix.

You’d be mad to miss it. And if you tune in to BBC Two on Tuesday evening at 10pm, you won’t.  Stay peeled this week for an exclusive interview with creators Simon Day & Rhys Thomas, and maybe a word or two from Brian Pern himself…

COMEDY COLLAB

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

If you haven’t caught up with Colin Hoult‘s unique blend of dark humour and outright silliness yet, you’ve probably not been reading TVO properly. First coming to our attention via his work with Julian Barratt & Dave McNeill on Zimbani, the character comedian has crafted numerous sell out live shows and appeared on our screens in shows as varied as House of RoomsDerekLife’s Too Short and Being Human.

Now he’s back with some of his most beloved live favourites, preparing for an onslaught of sheer characterness on his own YouTube channel.  Five days a week, Colin will be posting a new vlog from one of the strange people in his mindtank, starting today!

Mondays will bring us a new video from the delightful (if failed) actress Anna Mann, whilst Tuesdays are a chance to get some expert tips on survival, scriptwriting and what movies you must all watch on pain of a poke in the eye, from Ninja Turtle fan Andy Parker.

On Wednesdays, everything will be coming up Saint Germain, as we get a little jazzy with our favourite beret wearer, Eddie Cartizian. And on Thursdays, its time for care in the community, as the Mighty God Thwor weilds his powerful hammer in our direction. Bang, bang.

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

Finally, each Friday will bring us a surprise guest from Colin’s oeuvre, including new characters and old favourites – some of whom you may remember from his excellent radio series Carnival of Monsters, which is due back on Radio 4 soon. You can see the first episode, featuring Anna Mann discussing her old actress friend Miriam Crotch below, and don’t forget to subscribe to see more!

ONIONS AIRING

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

© Talkback / Brian Ritchie

As we’re keen to keep reminding you, there’s a large bevvy of shows currently airing with TVO connections.  Monday nights see not one, not two, but three new shows to savour beaming into your homes: Trollied on Sky One at 8:30pm featuring Aisling BeaNever Mind the Buzzcocks on BBC Two at 10pm, featuring Noel Fielding alongside Phill Jupitus and Rhod Gilbert; and Toast of London on Channel 4 at 10:35pm, featuring Matt Berry.

©  Sky

© Sky

But wait – there’s more on telly this week! Psychobitches continues on Sky Arts every Tuesday evening, featuring Sharon Horgan, Katy BrandReece Shearsmith and many many more, whilst Not Going Out featuring Katy Wix returns to BBC One on Friday evening. It’s a good time to be an Onioner, eh?

HOOKED TO THE SILVER SCREEN

Don’t forget that Paddington - directed by Paul King and featuring a host of TVO cameos amongst is big-name cast – is currently wowing the crowds in UK cinemas, having taken a whopping £5.1 million in its opening weekend alone!

© Studio Canal

Alongside Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman et al, are little sneaky guest appearances by Alice LoweSteve OramTom MeetenJames BachmanSimon Farnaby and Justin Edwards – so you’d be mad to miss it.

Also out at the moment are Bill Murray vehicle Saint Vincent, featuring Chris O’Dowd, and a film which almost sneaked past our radar – submarine-based action thriller Black Sea starring Jude Law, Tobias Menzies, David Threlfall and Michael Smiley. US readers can see the film, alongside Paddington in January. Check out the US trailer below.

THE BRAIN SUCKING CONTINUES

Finally this week, the campaign to get a movie version of The Day They Came to Suck Out Our Brains off the ground needs your help to reach its goal, and we’ll leave you with this clip of TVO regular Stephen Evans to explain why.

DONATE HERE!

Keep on peeling, and we’ll see you back here soon!

TWEETS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

So Hot Right Now #5

10 Nov

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.

TVO ON TELLY

This week sees the continuing adventures of Trollied (featuring Aisling Bea) on Sky One, and Toast of London (written by and starring Matt Berry) on Channel 4, whilst Not Going Out - the BBC One sticom featuring Katy Wix alongside Lee Mack, takes a break for Children In Need, returning next Friday (Nov 21st).

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

©Brian Ritchie / Talkback / BBC

Miss Bea also makes an appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks alongside pop veterans Lisa Stansfield and Ana Matronic, and fellow comedian Joe Lycett, and the regulars Rhod Gilbert, Phill Jupitus and Noel Fielding.

If you missed it last week, there’s also the opportunity to catch up with Richard Ayoade joining David WalliamsCatherine Tate, Dame Shirley Bassey and Annie Lennox on The Graham Norton Show via iPlayer, which is available until Friday evening.

© BBC / So Television

© BBC / So Television

There’s one other little treat for TVO fans out there this week, with a round of popular quiz show Pointless featuring Cult Sitcoms, which aired on Tuesday, November 4th.  The question asked 100 people to name actors who appeared in two or more episodes of SpacedThe Mighty Boosh and French & Saunders oft-neglected 80s sitcom Girls On Top.  Surprisingly, those polled were clearly not regular readers of The Velvet Onion – as quite a number of our regulars came up as pointless answers! Check it out, 36 minutes in, over yonder.

TVO TOASTS

The nominations for this year’s British Comedy Awards were announced this weekend, with a huge number of shows having TVO connections.  As we noted in our news post, the nominations include a whopping – and totally deserved – eight nods for Matt Berry via Toast of London and his recent short The Lone Wolf.

© Kuba Wieczorek

© Kuba Wieczorek

With Toast currently in the midsts of its second series, as mentioned above, there’s no better time to check out what all the fuss is about!

In fact, the nominations go a long way to proving what we’ve been telling you all for almost half a decade now: that Onion Land is a talented place indeed.  All four nominations for Best Sitcom and three of the four for Best New Comedy Programme have TVO connections, as do fellow nominees, The Inbetweeners 2, Harry and Paul’s Story of the Twos and How To Make A Hit Pop Song.  It’s a glorious time for British Comedy indeed.

Our huge congratulations go to all the nominees, but especially our regulars Matt BerryAisling BeaKatherine ParkinsonReece ShearsmithDan Skinner, Spencer MillmanSimon FarnabyChris O’Dowd and Steve Coogan.  Good luck to you all!

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE VIRAL

Three stories caught the public’s imagination this week in ways we didn’t quite expect.  First up, Paul King‘s forthcoming Paddington movie – featuring cameos from Steve Oram and Tom Meeten amongst its star studded cast – began the biggest part of its publicity campaign, with a series of statues of the titular bear being erected across London.

© John Furniss / Studio Canal

© John Furniss / Studio Canal

The full blown Paddington Trail, detailed on the official Visit London website, features a whole host of Paddingtons designed by celebrities: with the likes of Peter Capaldi, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Sheen, John Hurt, Emma Watson and Julie Walters amongst those making their mark on the famous bear.

The film itself is due out on November 28th, and there’s a new trailer for it below.

On the subject of all things film related, the bad news this week was the closure of Teddington Studios, which will be demolished to make way for a series of luxury homes, as reported here by The Express.

Starting life as a film studio in the 1910s, Teddington was at one time a home for Warner Brothers productions of quota-quickies, before being taken over by ABC, and later Thames Television – in that time making shows as diverse as THe Avengers and Morcambe & Wise.  It became an independent studio in the mid 90s, and was leased to Pinewood for the last decade or so – but with the expiry of their lease, time is up for the legendary studio.

© Talkback

© Talkback

In recent years, Teddington has housed The IT CrowdHarry Hill’s TV BurpBlack BooksMan To Man With Dean LearnerBrass EyeNot Going OutStarlings and Dick And Dom’s Funny Business - all featuring a bevvy of TVO regulars.  It will be missed by the industry, but its legacy will live on.

Whilst Teddington leaves behind a positive legacy, the one ITV2 are making at the moment has been the source of much concern over the weekend, with friend of TVO (and cult comedian) Nathaniel Tapley being on the receiving end of abuse – alongside his collaborator Abi Wilkinson – after they dared to criticise ITV2 star Dapper Laughs for his remarks about women and the homeless.  The furore shows no signs of slowing down, but if you’ve missed it all, we recommend you start catching up here, then read the follow up pieces from BBC News and Huffington Post.  We’re firmly on Team AbiTap, here…

THE BRAINS! THE BRAINS!

The campaign for The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains fundraising continues apace – and you can help make the movie happen! Join the campaign over yonder, and watch the splendid Neil Cole make a tit of himself in the name of moviemaking below.

AND THE REST!

As always, there’s so much going on, that we’re using Twitter to keep you informed quicker these days. Join the other 11,900+ of our regular readers by following us there, and get regular updates such as these:

See you next week… until then, keep on peeling!

In Between The Inbetweeners

10 Aug

© Bwark Productions

It’s hard to miss the current PR onslaught for the new Inbetweeners movie. But did you know that there are a few TVO connection with the film and its cast? Please allow us to enlighten you…

First up is a connection which we’d probably categorize as ‘Type A': the Second Unit director of the Inbetweeners 2 movie, Spencer Millman, was also the producer of The Mighty Boosh.

(We assume that Spencer’s experience of  keeping the Boosh gang under control may have come in useful on this latest project too!)

Next is a TVO connection with Channel 4 show Friday Night Dinner, which stars actor Simon Bird (Will from The Inbetweeners). We spotted that Laurie Rose is the Director of Photography on the latest series. Rose is director Ben Wheatley‘s ‘go to’ DOP for most of his productions, many of which feature a bevy of TVO folk.  What’s more, series 3 of Friday Night Dinner also included two further TVO faces, in the shape of Paul Kaye and Dan Skinner. If you missed them, you can still watch all of the series 3 episodes on 4oD.

And finally, a connection from a year ago, in the shape of a short film called Straw Donkey. We covered it at the time, but for those of you with a short memory, the film features TVO people  Tony WayLaura Patch and Barunka O’Shaughnessy, alongside Inbetweeners star Joe Thomas (Simon from the show). It also includes a cameo from Justin Edwards too, just for good measure. If you missed it, take a look below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W5ewBP1SOI

Toast Of (Time Out) London

23 Oct

© Channel 4

If the Mighty Boosh article in today’s Time Out wasn’t enough for one issue, the magazine had more in store with an article of recollections from Steven Toast (and definitely not his creators Matt Berry and Arthur Matthews).

As regular readers will know, Toast is the focus of Channel 4’s new sitcom Toast of London which started this week and has an array of TVO connections. The first episode is available to watch now on 4od and the rest of the series will continue to be shown on Sunday evenings.

The article is yet to appear on the online version of Time Out, so keep your eyes peeled for a copy soon.

In other Time-Out-published-TVO-related-Channel-4-sitcom news, this interview with Greg Davies tells the story of how he managed to get his hero, Rik Mayall, into his new sitcom, Man Down (produced by none other than Boosh legend, Spencer Millman).

The first episode of this show is also available on 4od, now.

Update: The article can now be found on the Time Out website here.

Man Down Starts Tonight!

18 Oct

Channel 4’s new sitcom, Man Down, starring Greg Davies & Rik Mayall, starts tonight.

© Shamil Tanna / Avalon / Channel 4

© Shamil Tanna / Avalon / Channel 4

The show features Davies as a childish schoolteacher – the kind that wants to make a fart-powered hovercraft, no less – whose life goes from bad to worse when he loses his girlfriend and is attacked by a man in a bear suit, who turns out to be his dsyfunctional dad, played by Mayall.

As much as we love Davies & Mayall, TVO readers should know, of course, that our tie-ins to this show are really behind the camera.  Man Down is directed by Matt Lipsey (This Is Jinsy, Human Remains, Saxondale) and produced by Boosh legend Spencer Millman.

Such prestigious beginnings bode well for the series, which began life as a pilot, got given a full series commission, and then a Christmas special before a single episode has aired!

You can see a series of preview clips, and special interview clips featuring Greg below.  The show itself airs at 9:30pm tonight on Channel 4, and will be available on 4oD shortly after transmission, and if you like what you see, the dvd is already available to pre-order from The Velvet Onion Amazon Store.

Enter Garth’s Coatspace

27 Sep
© Avalon

© Avalon

Your chance to own a piece of history is here – as the charity auction to win Garth Marenghi‘s white coat and name badge from Darkplace has begun.

Garth’s clothing was made to wear in his seminal series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, which first aired on Channel 4 in January 2004 after the powers-that-be finally let the show out of the vaults it had been languishing in since the 1980s.

Now the author, dream-weaver, visionary plus actor has granted the sale of these items, alongside a personal note from Garth, via journalist Julia Raeside and Marenghi’s long-standing associate Matthew Holness.

With the proceeds from the sale going to Macmillan Cancer Care, there’s even more of an incentive to get involved and offer to part with your cash.  Bidding already stands comfortably into three figures, but we’re sure there’s scope for much more.

The auction ends at 9:14am on Sunday, 30th September, and we’ve got a gallery of images to further proof the might of this coat, that badge, and that titan of terror below.  So what are you waiting for?

BID TO WIN NOW!

Lastly, if by any chance you’re unaware of the cultural landmark that is Darkplace, you can see the entire series online for free via 4oD, and you can buy the extras packed dvd from our store now.  Considering it’s one of the main reasons this website even exists, we think you owe it to Garth to check it out!  Episode one is below…

Man Down Already On The Up!

30 Aug
© Avalon Television

© Avalon Television

Channel 4 is predicting a smash hit with its forthcoming sitcom Man Down - and with its prestigious cast and crew, we can’t blame ‘em!

The show stars Greg Davies as a childish schoolteacher, with his oft-remarked lookalike (and all-round comedy legend) Rik Mayall also featuring as his dysfunctional dad.

TVO’s very own Spencer Millman (The Mighty Boosh, Man To Man With Dean Learner, TV Burp etc) is the series producer, and it is being directed by Matt Lipsey, who was responsible for This Is Jinsey, Saxondale, Psychoville and Human Remains to name but a few.

Impressive stuff, we’re sure you’ll agree – as have Channel 4.  What began life as a pilot for their FastFunny strand was quickly advanced to series status, with the pilot held back for retooling as Episode One.

Now production company Avalon is pressing ahead with a Christmas Special, following a huge response from those lucky enough to attend a screening of the first two episodes at The Edinburgh International Television Festival recently.

The news was announced to BroadcastNow earlier this week, alongside the casual mention of The IT Crowd finale possibly airing alongside the special at Christmas.  We’ll be sure to bring you more news as soon as we have it from the good folk at Channel 4, so stay peeled.

Hunderby Does The Double

13 Dec
© british comedy awards

© british comedy awards

Julia Davis’s dark, costume-drama comedy Hunderby picked up both Best Sitcom and Best New Comedy Programme awards last night at the British Comedy awards.

The show beat off competition from The Thick of It, Rev and Twenty Twelve in the Sitcom category and Alan Partridge, Cardinal Burns and Chris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy in the Best New Comedy Programme category.

Hunderby was not the only TVO related winner on the night, the Best Comedy Entertainment Programme award was won by Harry Hill’s TV Burp directed by Spencer Millman.

Nathan Barley writer Charlie Brooker won Best Comedy Entertainment Personality and Horrible Histories was beaten this year by Cardinal Burns (script edited by Rufus Jones) in the Best Sketch show category.

David Rawle from Moone Boy missed out on Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist to Morgana Robinson, but he has plenty of time to win awards!

Another TVO connection was that Katherine Parkinson was on the Jury this year.

Noel Fielding also popped up on film in a tribute to Vic and Bob, talking about Toasty Surrealism!

The full list of winners can be found below, and the whole ceremony is available on 4OD.

Best Comedy Entertainment Personality – Charlie Brooker

Best Sitcom – Hunderby

Best Male TV Comic – Lee Mack

Best Comedy Entertainment Programme – Harry Hill’s TV Burp

Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist – Morgana Robinson

Best TV Comedy Actress – Rebecca Front

The Writers Guild of Great Britain – Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer

Best TV Comedy Actor – Peter Capaldi

Best Female TV Comic – Jo Brand

Best Sketch Show – Cardinal Burns

Best New Comedy Programme – Hunderby

Outstanding Achievement – Sacha Baron Cohen.

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 NTA is Back!

24 Sep

© ITV

It’s that time of the year again when the cream of the small screen will gather for the National Televisions Awards.

As usual, the results are all down to us normal folk and some TVO-familiar names are waiting for your votes!

First up Never Mind the Buzzcocks is nominated for Best Comedy Panel Show and with the hype of the upcoming season, Buzzcocks should hopefully be fresh in all of your minds! Next up is the pivotal, Best Situation Comedy; with Gervais’ Life’s Too Short featuring Matthew Holness and Colin Hoult up for the award, they also battle it out with Rev; which cameod James Bachman, plus the latest series of Absolutely Fabulous which saw the likes of our very own Katy Wix and Lucy Montgomery making an appearance.

And that’s not all… with the somewhat less-than-alternative Not Going Out starring Katy Wix and ITV1 ultra-populist behemoth Benidorm featuring Shelley Longworth also up for the nod. They may all be up for the gong alongside the latest-show-to-never-rest-on-our-tv-screens; The Big Bang Theory – but we reckon one of our lot could be in with the chance, no?

As we click through the categories we get to the ‘Bacon-style’ number categories; where Harry Hill’s TV Burp (Spencer Millman) is up for best Entertainment Programme, plus Noel Fielding has made a guest appearance on several of the nominees in the same category; The Jonathan Ross Show, Alan Carr: Chattyman and of course, Dynamo: Magician Impossible.

The NTA’s will be airing live on ITV on January 23rd and you have until October 11th to vote. To cast your votes click right here and let us know what you think of this year’s nominees!

Funny Fortnight Favourites!

13 Aug

© Channel 4

Details have emerged of the exact transmission times for much of the programming in Channel 4’s Funny Fortnight – which features a number of TVO faces in new productions and old favourites.

These include Julia Davis and Sharon Horgan in Bad SugarMatt Berry in Toast Of London  Kevin Eldon and Colin Hoult appearing in The Function Room and repeats of The IT CrowdGarth Marenghi’s DarkplaceBrass EyeJam and more.

The season will also include new material from Vic & Bob and Harry Hill, archive programming long forgotten, stand-up from the likes of Steve Coogan, Lee Evans and Peter Kay, plus a count-down of the Top 30 Comedy Shows in the history of Channel 4.

© Talkback Productions

The special season starts this Thursday night (Aug 16th) with the broadcast of Peter Kay’s latest live show, followed by Phonejacker spin-off Verry Terry from Kayvan Novak.  The first TVO flavoured show crops up after these – with a repeat showing of the infamous Brass Eye at 11:30pm.

Not too long afterwards, the early hours of Friday 17th bring us a repeat of Russell Brand And Friends at 1:10am, which featured a memorable appearance from Paul Kaye as Mike Strutter.  Another Onion flavoured repeat comes along on Saturday night (Aug 18th) with another chance to see a firm favourite from The IT Crowd.  Series two opener The Work Outing is the chosen episode, which of course, was the one with the gay musical, the disabled toilet, and Richmond’s missing copy of Heat.

© Phil Fisk

Sunday evening (Aug 19th), sees the first new show to feature TVO faces, in the form of star-packed trad-sitcom The Function Room.  In this pilot episode, police officers hold a public meeting to discuss crime in the local area.  However, their plans for the event get derailed when it emerges local residents only want to talk about one thing – a notorious criminal with a highly offensive alias.

The Fucntion Room stars the legendary Kevin Eldon, League Of Gentlemen/Psyschoville star Reece Shearsmith, Fast Show favourite Simon Day, and The Vicar Of Dibley‘s James Fleet, alongside Paul Ritter, Daniel Rigby, Blake Harrison and our very own Colin Hoult!  Eldon portrays unflappable Inspector Marks, who wants to present a human face to the force, but is just a little bit weird.  Meanwhile Hoult and Josephine Bulter play local well-to-do couple Stuart & Marina, who effortlessly rub all the other locals up the wrong way.

A few hours later, early into Monday, Aug 20th, is a very rare chance to see a compilation episode of The 11 O’Clock Show from 1999.  The satirical news-based show was a breeding ground for comedic talent – launching the careers of Iain Lee, Daisy Donovan, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mackenzie Crook and Ricky Gervais.  It also brought to prominence Rich Hall’s blossoming UK career, and boasted a fine writing staff which included James Bachman, Rhys ThomasTony WayPhil Whelans, Charlie Brooker and Stephen Merchant, and one of it’s associate producers was none other than Spencer Millman!

© Kuba Wierczorek

Monday 20th is, perhaps, the biggest night for Onion fans – starting with the première of Toast Of London at 10pm- written by Matt Berry and Arthur Matthews, and starring Matt alongside Robert Bathurst, Geoff McGivern,  Tracy-Ann Oberman and Lee Cornes.  With that fantastic cast behind it, the lineage of both it’s writers, and the hilarious preview clip which appeared online recently, we’ve marked this one down as a must-see.

© Dan Goldsmith

Not long afterwards, the repeats kick in, with a re-run of Steve Coogan‘s 1994 live show Live & Lewd at 11:40pm, preceded by a new introduction from the comic.  This is followed by a repeat episode of Chris Morris‘ dark and devious project Jam featuring Kevin Eldon and Julia Davies, followed by a very rare chance to see Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace back on our screens with the classic episode, Skipper The Eye-Child.

For those who don’t know, Darkplace aired not long before the first series of The Mighty Boosh, and this sci-fi horror spoof featuring Matthew HolnessRichard AyoadeAlice LoweMatty BerryKim NobleStuart Silver and occasionally, Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding too {though not in this episode, sadly} was a golden nugget of genius which sorely deserves en-mass reappraisal.

Things go a little quiet on the Onion front for a while after that, beyond Friday night’s short editions of Baby Cow’s Comedy Blaps which will feature the voice of Steve Coogan, but with the promise of Julia Davies & Sharon Horgan‘s Bad Sugar, repeats of Anna & Katy, Star Stories  and Black Books, plus the countdown of Channel 4’s greatest comedy shows ever still to come at some point between the 25th and the 31st, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the schedules for any news worth shouting about.

In the meantime, enjoy the gallery of images from Bad Sugar below.  With the likes of Olivia Colman, Reece Shearsmith, Peter Serafinowicz, Greg Davis & Kayvan Novak joining Davis & Horgan, this is looking likely to be an absolute cracker!

Blinkbox Booshdom!

6 Aug

© Copyright blinkbox Entertainment Limited.

Steve Coogan‘s sitcom Saxondale and anthology spoof Dr Terrible’s House Of Horrible are amongst a smattering of TVO favourites available to watch free online.

UK based video on demand service Blinkbox offers television and film from both sides of the pond to download or stream via pc, mac, games consoles, tablets and smart tv’s – and already offers a large back catalogue of programming for purchase.

This includes the TVO flavoured likes of The Mighty Boosh, Dead BossThis Is Jinsey, Horrible Histories and Mongrels, and movies Come On Eileen, Weekender and The Boat That Rocked to name but a few.

Coogan’s work is well represented on the site, from films such as Tropic Thunder and Hot Fuzz (also featuring our very own Alice Lowe), and the televisual adventures of one Alan Partridge.

Now as part of a deal with the BBC, a number of comedy classics are available to stream free of charge.

These include Saxondale – which also featured Matt BerryJames Bachman and Tom Meeten, and underrated spoof Dr Terrible – featuring Julia Davis.

© BBC

Also up for free viewing is criminally ignored sitcom Lab Rats featuring Dan Tetsell alongside Chris Addison and Dead Boss star Geoffrey McGivern.

You can also take another look at Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive which co-stars Sharon Horgan and Alice Lowe, or That Mitchell And Web Look featuring James Bachman.

For something a little bit more ‘out there’, you can also catch rarely seen French animation series A Town Called Panic – which included Lucy Montgomery and Alexander Armstrong in it’s English dub cast.

To browse the full Blinkbox catalogue, click on any of the links above, or be really obvious and fall onto it’s home page via the word Battenberg – and of course, almost all of these shows, and more, can still be purchased the good old fashioned way on dvd and blu-ray via THE VELVET ONION AMAZON STORE!

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.

Farewell Burp

24 Mar

© Avalon Television

The final episode of Harry Hill’s TV Burp, produced by Spencer Millman, airs tonight on ITV1.

Hill’s departure from the BAFTA award winning show, in which he takes a tongue in cheek swipe at the week’s television, has been the source of tabloid confusion for many weeks – with The Sun claiming that the king of manufactured pop, Simon Cowell, was involved with trying to keep Harry with the channel.

However, at the show’s taping this week, Hill confirmed this would be the last ever …Burp, and promised an enormous finale.  The episode airs at 7:30pm, and will be available on ITV Player for 7 days after transmission.

Millman’s involvement with the show began in 2006, right after he produced Man To Man With Dean Learner featuring a host of TVO allumni, and in between Seasons Two and Three of The Mighty Boosh.  He also managed to sneak in a job on the pilot of Penelope Princess Of Pets (featuring Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby) in 2010 between TV Burp runs, which have clocked him an impressive 99 editions as the show’s producer.

Press coverage of the demise of the show has included a love letter to the series in The Guardian, and The Telegraph’s list of the top ten best gags in the show’s history.  Hill’s next move may be to rival commercial station, Channel 4, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted about what Spencer Millman does next.

RIP, TV Burp. 2001-2012.

© Spencer Millman

The Burp Is Back!

8 Feb

© Avalon Television

Harry Hill’s TV Burp returned for possibly its final series last weekend, once again with producer Spencer Millman at the helm, and has continued to be a ratings winner.

The multi-award winning, madcap quick-fire comedy show, in which Harry Hill points out all that is downright ridiculous about television that week, has been produced by Millman since 2007 when he completed work on Series Three of The Mighty Boosh, and the first episode is currently appearing on ITV Player until the weekend, and is repeated on ITV’s digital stations throughout the week.

Overnight figures according to The Guardian saw the show win its timeslot, ensuring that Harry looks set to go out on a high.  The show continues on Saturday at 7:30pm.

Movember Millman

9 Nov

© Baby Cow Productions

Spencer Millman has joined the Movember cause to fight against cancer and other serious health issues that affect men in the UK.

For those who don’t know, every November 1st, men can register at Movember.com with a clean-shave face and then for the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. It’s not just the men who take part, either – Mo Sistas are the women who register to support the men in their lives, raising funds by seeking sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.

Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.   And at the end of the month, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas celebrate their gallantry and valor by either throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous Gala Partés held around the world by Movember, for Movember.

This is where the fabulous Mr Millman comes in.  The Mighty Boosh producer has signed up this year, and has begun posting pictures of his progress on Twitter: as you can see below!

He’s already raised £436 as we write this article, but with your help, dear peelers, he could raise much, much more.

© Spencer Millman

You can sponsor Spencer by CLICKING HERE – and we urge you all to dig as deep as you can!

Sponsorship can come from all around the world, so let’s show Spencer, and the guys at Movember how awesome Boosh fans can be!

Boosh Producer Q&A

10 Oct

© Baby Cow Productions

Producer of The Mighty Boosh, Spencer Millman,  is participating in a live Q&A on 17th October as part of the Square Eyes 2 series.

Squares Eyes 2 is a monthly event aimed at celebrating the great, the good and the bad of television. The BAFTA-winning comedy producer will be joined by Karl Newton, Executive Producer of ITV’s This Morning, Loose Women and ITV’s Daybreak. In addition to producing the Boosh, Millman is also responsible for Harry Hill’s TV Burp and Bo’ Selecta – so it stands to be an interesting evening’s discussion to say the least!

If you’re interested in hearing from the people who have really made their mark on British television head down to the Roxy Bar & Screen on Monday (nearest tube: Borough). Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start and tickets are only £5. For more information and to buy tickets click here.

Well Good Returns

1 Sep

© Baby Cow Productions

Spencer Millman has returned to the producer’s chair for a second run of Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show.

Millman, responsible for The Mighty Boosh, Man To Man With Dean Leaner, Bo Selecta, Does Doug Know? and most recently, Harry Hill’s TV Burp, produced the first series of the studio-based stand-up/sketch-show from the mind of Simon Brodkin last Summer, and has returned for its second run.

Despite a critical pummelling, the show received strong ratings for its first season and was granted a second run, which began last week.  We’re aware it divides audiences, including here at TVO, but nevertheless, the lovely Mr Millman’s involvement means we reckon it’s worth a belated shout-out, as you can catch the series on catch-up via BBC iPlayer now.

New episodes transmit every Thursday night at 10:30pm on BBC Three.

Forgotten Favourites: Man To Man With Dean Learner

1 Sep

© 4 DVD

Earlier this year, Richard Ayoade wowed audiences with his directorial movie debut, Submarine.

With his next feature in the writing stages, and his former collaborator Matt Holness also writing and directing a forthcoming film, we felt this was an opportune time to look back at their last project together – 2006’s Man To Man With Dean Learner.

To do this, we turned to friend of the Onion, Ashley Silverstein, who reflects on the six-part series below.

Man To Man With Dean Learner, aired just once for six weeks on Channel 4 in late October 2006.  Shot almost a year earlier (from 13th to 17th December 2005), before a live studio audience under its working title, Deano’s After Dark in Cambridge, Richard Ayoade and Matt Holness brought to Channel 4 much more than just Garth Marenghi’s long awaited return to tv sets in this twisted, almost anti-Alan Partridge chat show undertaking.

Produced by Boosh allumni Spencer Millman, the show is a study in the hauteur of characters first brought to life in its predeceasing show, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and featuring  appearances by fellow Darkplace allumni Matt Berry, Kim Noble, Stuart Silver and Alice Lowe.  More a narrative continuation than a spin off, Man To Man of course focuses on the titular Dean Learner, a man whose character flirts with the boundaries of humour and odiousness, oftentimes leaning more toward the latter. Continue reading

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