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So Hot Right Now #27

20 Apr

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


Smash hit mockumentary W1A returns on Thursday for its second series, with an extended opening episode.

© BBC/Jack Barnes

© BBC/Jack Barnes

Currently making headlines due to a subplot about a certain ejected presenter (as writer/director John Morton has chosen to bleep out the name of the person in question), the show reunites stars Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes with the incredible supporting cast, which includes Rufus Jones, Monica Dolan (Sightseers), Sarah Parish, Nina Sosanya (Nathan Barley), Jason Watkins (Psychoville, Trollied) and David Westhead, alongside narrator David Tennant.

One year since Ian Fletcher (Bonneville) became Head of Values at BBC Broadcasting House, and he has finally got his own office, and an impending visit from Prince Charles to contend with. Meanwhile, Siobhan (Hynes) has been charged with updating the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon, and format producer David (Jones) has a great new title for a show, if only he can think of a concept to go with it.

A typically witty and ever so slightly scary treat, this is a show which pulls no punches, yet still finds a lot to love about dear ol’ Aunty, even amongst the sheer frustration of corporate nonsense. And in Siobhan Sharpe, Hynes has found an utter monster to throw herself into with sheer gusto. A must-see. You can see the first episode of Series Two at 9pm on Thursday evening via BBC Two, just before Inside No. 9 – and it is also repeated on Sunday.


The almighty Gary Le Strange returns this week with his brand new single, Shut Up Mum, which launches on Tuesday.

© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd

For those who are unaware, Le Strange is the much-loved alter-ego of Waen Shepherd, who famously won the 2003 Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe for debut show Polaroid Suitcase, before going on to make return appearances in Face Academy and Beef Scarecrow until Shepherd chose to mothball the character.

Revived in 2012 for a handful of live dates, including The Velvet Onion Live, no less, Le Strange’s back catalogue was reissued digitally in recent years, and was followed by the Glamoronica EP and last year’s Norman (I’ve Dropped My Cup Of Tea) single.

The new track is an instant Le Strange classic – all pulsing synths, funky bass, thwacking great percussion, and lyrics that are hilariously punk intact. It comes with a brand new, and rather fantastic music video, which should be available on Tuesday when the track will be up for purchase via iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Spotify. We can’t think of a better thing to spend 79p on this week, so go get it!


© Tracy Ann Oberman

© Tracy Ann Oberman

Tracy Ann Oberman‘s new radio play, Mrs Robinson, I Presume airs on Friday afternoon.

Telling the real life story behind the 1967 movie The Graduate, the production features a star-studded cast including John Simm (Life on Mars, Doctor Who) as director Mike Nichols, Paul Kaye as producer Lawrence Turman, Kevin Bishop (Star Stories) as Dustin Hoffman, Terry Mynott (The Morgana Show) as Gene Hackman, Steve Furst(Little Britain, Catterick) as Mel Brooks and Lorelei King (Chef, Bob the Builder) as Ava Gardner.

Also featuring Oberman herself as Anne Bancroft, the play tells of the struggle that Nichols and Turman faced convincing Hollywood that Hoffman was a suitable Benjamin Braddock, and how their classic movie went on to define a generation and change Hollywood forever.

The play can be heard on Friday 24th April at 2:15pm, and will be available on iPlayer worldwide shortly after transmission.


© Showtime


Too often our US readers are left in the lurch, particularly when it comes to So Hot Right Now events… so it’s great that they’ve got a rare one up on us this week, as Steve Coogan‘s new show Happyish premières on Sunday 26th April.

As you may be aware, the show was initially piloted back in 2013 with the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman in the leading role, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell on directing duties. However, the series – fully commissioned for a run of ten episodes – was thrown into turmoil by Hoffman’s untimely demise in February 2014.

Enter Steve Coogan, who we reported last year was to replace Hoffman for a second pilot. Following that, Showtime confirmed in January that it was picking up the show for a full series once more, though they remain tight-lipped on whether Hoffman’s version of the pilot will ever be released.

With Coogan stars as a 44-year-old man whose world is thrown into disarray by the arrival of new 25-year-old boss with buzzwords on the brain, the New York set show begins its run on Showtime this Sunday, at 9:30 pm ET/PT. US audiences can see the first episode for free online now.

There’s currently no word of a UK tx date, or even a broadcaster picking up the show, but as soon as we hear anything, we’ll let you know.


© Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd,

© Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd,

Over on our news page, we have a competition to win tickets to see Stephen Merchant and Steffan Rhodri in new West End play The Mentalists. The competition closes on Sunday evening, so get in while you can!


The Mentalists is a comic two-hander from Richard Bean, the writer of smash hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, and sees Merchant (Life’s Too Short, The Office) make his West End debut alongside Rhodri, who you may recognise from his appearances in Submarine, Gavin & Stacey, A Touch of Cloth or most recently, Cucumber.

Holed up in a faceless Finsbury Park hotel room, long-standing friends Ted (Merchant), and Morrie (Rhodri) are forced to confront the darker side of their unique relationship. Things unravel as the pressure mounts in this hilarious and touching tale of friendship and utopian visions gone awry.

Directed by rising star Abbey Wright, the production runs for a strictly limited season at the Wyndham’s Theatre from Friday 3 July to Saturday 26 September.


Episode five of Inside No 9‘s second series airs on Thursday evening, and it’s another stone cold classic from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton.

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

© Sophie Mutevelian / BBC

Written and directed by the duo, Nana’s Party guest-stars Claire Skinner (Outnumbered) and Elise Kelly (Benidorm) as caring but OCD-ridden Angela and her excited mother Maggie – the titular Nana. On the latter’s 79th birthday, the whole family gather for the celebrations, but events take an unexpected turn thanks to practical jokers Pat and Jim (Shearsmith and Pemberton).

Less out and out madness than some editions of the show, more Mike Leigh drama in cosy suburbia, the results are typically enthralling, and will no doubt delight critics and audiences alike. You can make an assessment of your own at 10pm on Thursday evening over on BBC Two, right after W1A.


© Monicker Pictures

© Monicker Pictures

In last week’s So Hot Right Now, we unfortunately failed to alert you to the start of a new ITV sitcom which is worthy of your attention. Probably because in over five years of Velvet Onioning, we’ve never really had to draw much attention to ITV, who so rarely ventured into comedy until very recently.

However, look closely at new hospital based sitcom The Delivery Man which airs on Wednesday evenings, and you’ll see a few familiar faces. Fronted by Darren Boyd (Spy, Mid Morning Matters, Saxondale), the show also co-stars Aisling Bea and Alex MacQueen, the latter of whom is no stranger to telly hospitals having held a long running stint on Holby City many moons ago.

The show is written by Robert Harley and James Henry, who previously both wrote for Smack the Pony and Green Wing. The signs are there with The Delivery Man, which feels a little too bonkers to be on a mainstream chanel, and as such might be just the kind of thing for all you alternative comedy lovers out there. The first episodes have divided critics, but you can make up your own mind at 9:30pm on Wednesday evening.


As new shows arrive, and loom on the horizon, we must also say farewell to others, with both Travel Man and Chat Show Roulette rounding out their first series this week.

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

Travel Man is the first to bid us farewell, with the fourth and final episode seeing Richard Ayoade joined by Green Wing star Stephen Mangan for a weekend in Marrakesh on Monday evening at 8:30pm over on Channel 4.

Wanting to experience its famous street food, the pair sample steamed sheep’s head, before taking a hot-air balloon flight over the Atlas Mountains, watch a traditional story-telling performanve, visit the historic Saadian tombs and ancient tanneries, before heading into the desert for a contemplative camel ride.

Ayoade is, as ever, a charming host, and bounces off Mangan so well, they could almost be a double act. So if you’re reading this, commissioners, we want 10%…



Over on BBC Radio 4, Chat Show Roulette ends its long awaited first run, and this week Justin Edwards is joined on the improvisation led chat-show by Matt Lucas, Robert Popper, Pippa Evans and Hugh Denis.

It’s another corker, and you can hear it on Thursday evening at 11pm. Previous episodes are still available on iPlayer, but not for very much longer, so dive in and enjoy.


©  Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

© Aisling Bea / Kernan Andrews

While a lot of our regular touring lot are on their way back from the Melbourne International Comedy Fesival, which wrapped up last weekend, there’s still a number of other chances to see TVO regulars this week. Ok, so we admit, this week mostly belongs to the ever resilient Aisling Bea, flying the flag in a most-deserved manner, but nevertheless, here’s where you can see TVO types this week…

20/04/15 – Aisling Bea opening for Dave Hill – Aces and Eights, 7:15pm, £6-£8

23/04/15 – Aisling Bea Lou Sanders with Issy Suttie, Brett Goldstein, Grainne Maguire, John Robins & Mae Martin – Bloomsbury Theatre, 8pm, £12-£15

24/04/15 – Aisling Bea with Andrew Maxwell, Sara Pascoe & Reginald D Hunter – Bush Hall8pm, £17.50 {sold out}

24/04/15 – Tony Law with Tina T’urner Tea Lady & Spencer Jones – Old Nun’s Head, 7pm, £10-£15

24/04/15 – Phil Whelans as part of MONKEY TOAST with special guest Brett Goldstein – The Proud Archivist, 7:30pm, £7

26/04/15 – Aisling Bea with Tom Craine, Ali Brice and James Ross – The Lion Stoke Newington, 7pm, £3-£4


Finally this week, we leave you with a short film from Rachel Stubbings and Jon Drever about a woman and her dog, which you can download over yonder. You’re welcome.


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

Synth Heaven At Normal, Strange & Fabulous

1 Feb

© The Islington

‘Normal, Strange & Fabulous’ is the name of a unique synthpop/electronic gig taking place in April – which features Waen Shepherd‘s alter-ego, Gary Le Strange.

In addition to Gary Le Strange’s pitch perfect parodies of 1980’s electronic/new romantic hits, you can also see Johnny Normal (Birmingham synth/guitar act who has supported Adam Ant, Blancmange and other mainstream acts throughout the UK) and Shelter (an electro-synth duo who recently supported Erasure in Europe).  A pretty awesome combo (and if you were in any doubt about the cultural significance of synth-based music, look no further than this fascinating BBC 4 documentary, Synth Britannia, which aired on Friday night).

The gig takes place on 24th April, and it takes place at The Islington in north London. Tickets are £11 (inc. £1 booking fee) and can be booked here. Time to dust off your leather trousers, slap on the eye liner and get yourself down there.

So Hot Right Now #8

1 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.


© 2014 Sony Pictures

© 2014 Sony Pictures

This week sees the UK release of St Vincent – the new Bill Murray film about a young boy whose parents have just divorced who finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran (Murray) who lives next door. We’re telling you about it because the film also features Chris O’Dowd as a priest/teacher. Have a look at the trailer below to see what it’s all about. The film is released in the UK on Friday (5th December).

Don’t forget, Paul King‘s movie adaptation of Paddington featuring an all-star cast and cameos from Alice LoweSimon FarnabySteve Oram and Tom Meeten is still in UK cinemas, so do go and see it if you haven’t yet!

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent and former Nathan Barley actor turned Bond movie star Ben Wishaw lead the cast, with Kidman, Bonnerville & Walters turning up on last week’s Graham Norton Show to publicise it. You can catch up on iPlayer here.


The current runs of TVO favourites continue apace this week, with Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Toast of London, Psychobitches, Trollied and Not Going Out all airing new episodes throughout the week – and available via catchup services after transmission. Here’s a pic from tonight’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks to keep you going.

©  BBC/Talkback/Brian Ritchie

© BBC/Talkback/Brian Ritchie

Also this week, the voice of Rich Fulcher can be heard in The Regular Show on Cartoon Network. The episode is called I Like You Hi (season 5, episode 26), and Rich is the voice of the answering machine and smoke signal. The episode will be repeated regularly on the channel so keep a look out for it.

For more on the show, visit the Cartoon Network website now.


© Lauren Taylor / The Velvet Onion

If you missed it last week, the brand new Gary Le Strange single, Norman (I’ve Dropped My Cup Of Tea) is available for download now via iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby, and is also up for streaming on Spotify. You’d be insane to miss it. Grab a copy over yonder.

It marks the first completely new Le Strange material from Waen Shepherd since Beef Scarecrow in 2006, following the character’s revival in 2012 at Club Fantastico and The Velvet Onion Live, and the release of the ‘lost’ EP Glamoronica last year. Judging by the strength of Norman, which we’ve had on repeat at TVO Towers all week, forthcoming material is going to be stonking!


A couple of years ago Julian Barratt made a surprise appearance on stage with Tenacious D at their Hammersmith Apollo gig. At the time all we had by way of evidence were a couple of blurry photos and videos. New footage has been published by Peter Kyriacou, which shows what happened from back stage and front of stage – so we can have a proper look at their freeform performance of ‘Simply Jazz’.

Click on our news post to see the video!


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:

So Hot Right Now #7

24 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.


©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

The British media has gone absolutely potty for the new Paddington movie, which is released this week – and it’s not hard to see why.  The live-action adaptation of Michael Bond’s iconic tale of a bear from Peru features a top-notch cast including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent and former Nathan Barley actor turned Bond movie star Ben Wishaw as the voice of the marmalade guzzler himself.

©   Nils Jorgensen/REX

© Nils Jorgensen/REX

Of course, we’re remind you about it because – whilst the posters and the trailers seem to ignore this fact – the film is directed by none other than Paul King, the man behind all three series of The Mighty Boosh as well as his incredible debut feature, Bunny and the Bull.

Paul also directed the live runs of Garth Marenghi, before becoming Assistant Director on Darkplace prior to his run with the Boosh, which also featured both their mammoth UK live tours.

He’s been silent since directing Come Fly With Me back in 2011, which shows just how long he’s been working on Paddington and we can’t wait to see the results.

Paddington is on general release in the UK this Friday, with the rest of the world following soon. Oh, and watch out for Steve Oram and Tom Meeten as a pair of lazy guards, too!


This week’s other big news is the return of Gary Le Strange – the iconic glam-tinged New Romantic pop god wot looks an awful lot like Waen Shepherd in silly clothes and makeup.

©  Andy Hollingworth

© Andy Hollingworth

Le Strange was a huge cult smash with his debut Edinburgh show Polaroid Suitcase in 2003, and followed that success with further shows Face Academy in 2004 and Beef Scarecrow in 2006, before disappearing without a trace.

He resurfaced on the live scene six years later, including a rare appearance at The Velvet Onion Live, and last year, following digital reissues of his audio masterpieces, a ‘Lost EP’ featuring works from Waen’s abandoned second album surfaced online, by the name of Glamoronica.

© Lauren Taylor / The Velvet Onion

Now Le Strange is back with his first brand new material proper – and it’s a suitably stonking slice of Numan-esque, Bowie-scented pop rock.

Norman (I’ve Dropped My Cup of Tea) is available on Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes and Spotify this week, with the former going live on Tuesday, 25th November. Click on the links below to buy the song from Amazon – we’ll add iTunes links when we have them!

Download the original, explicit mix here.

Download the original, explicit mix here.

Download the radio edit here.









The current runs of TVO favourites continue apace this week, with Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Toast of London, Trollied and Not Going Out all airing new episodes throughout the week – and available via catchup services after transmission.

This weekend also sees the debut of a new CBBC pilot, The Muckers which is directed and edited by Ealing Live veteran (and IT Crowd postman) John ‘Willie’ Hopkins.  It airs at 10am on CBBC this Saturday, 29th November, so get your young ‘uns watching!  There’s a preview clip to be had below.

Also this weekend marks a celebration of Chris Morris on Radio 4 Extra, presented by Mary Ann Hobbs, as detailed in our news post over yonder, which you’d be mad to miss!

© cookdandbombd

But the big broadcast news this week comes with the long awaited return of Pyschobitches to Sky Arts HD.

The show features former Chris Morris illumni Rebecca Front as a psychiatrist to the stars: or more specifically, dead, female personalities.  Each episode sees the likes of Sharon HorganKaty Brand, Frances Barber, Samatha Spiro and Selina Griffiths bring famous faces back to life, and this series they are joined by House of Fools star Morgana Robinson, as well as Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns of Cardinal Burns fame.

©  Sky

© Sky

Also game for a laugh this year are Andy Nyman, Liza Tarbuck, Mark Benton, Miranda Richardson, Kathy Burke, Sheridan Smith, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Jack Whitehall and Reece Shearsmith.

With direction from League of Gentlemen star Jeremy Dyson, and a top notch writing team that includes Lucy Montgomery, we’re overjoyed to see the show return, and you can see the results from Tuesday 25th November at 9pm, with the episodes staying on demand afterwards for any SkyGo and NowTV customers. There’s two fantastic preview clips featuring Sharon Horgan shaking her booty, and Reece Shearsmith feeling unloved below.

For more on the show, visit the Sky Arts website now.


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:

TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Four

4 Jan

Hello and a warm welcome to the final part of our Review of 2013. Although October to December may feel like it only just happened, prepare to be amazed by how much you’ve forgotten. We were, but then we’re getting on a  bit.

So here are the best bits from the fourth quarter of the year – cherry-picked from news stories about both our regulars and a few new faces too. Enjoy.


October was the month that Booshmania returned.  Just as the fantastic Behind the Boosh exhibition started its run at Proud Camden, showcasing the history of that most Mighty of comedic troops via the majesty of Dave Brown‘s photography, the boys were back in town.  Or rather, on the pier, as The Mighty Boosh went from the Soho Theatre to Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme in LA. A final (chaotic) UK warm-up show and a further run through at The Comedy Store, almost halted by a Visa saga, paved the way for a live performance that turned out to be one of the Festival’s highlights. Fan forums and social media platforms were buzzing with photos, footage and reviews of the show.

Another announcement that got us more than a bit over-excited in October was the news that Ben Wheatley is to direct the first 2 episodes of the next series of Doctor Who, starring the new Time Lord, Peter Capaldi. How good is that!?  We’re itching to see what happens when you combine one of the UK’s finest directors with its biggest export, now in the capable hands of an Oscar-winning acting legend to boot.  You can see the moment Capaldi became the Doctor in the 2013 Xmas special below…

More telly stuff, with the launch of Matt Berry’s new series, Toast Of London.  We’d been itching to see it since the pilot back in 2012, and it did not disappoint…

Elsewhere, Richard Ayoade established himself as a permanent fixture on prime time panel shows with a stint as team captain on Was It Something I Said? on Channel 4. Ayoade’s intellectual sparring with host David Mitchell certainly made our Sunday evenings feel a bit more highbrow!

What else?  Well, in movie news, there was an update on the cast for Paul King‘s long-awaited Paddington Bear feature film, which included mention of Rufus Jones and James Bachman. To end the month, TVO artists offered us a veritable smorgasbord of comedy options for Halloween night’s out, with special spooky performances from Colin Hoult and Richard Sandling.  And we were sad to lose the talented comedy actor Felix Dexter, who died at the too-young age of 52. He left behind an incredible legacy of great TV performances on shows like Bellamy’s PeopleAbsolutely Fabulous, The Fast ShowKnowing Me Knowing You… With Alan Partridge, Mongrels and Alexei Sayle’s Merry Go Round to name but a few. He will be much misse, and would typically hate all this fuss about him, so let’s remember him with one of his silliest moments – dancing for Sport Relief alongside Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery.  What a dude.

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TVO’s Review Of The Year 2013: Part Two

2 Jan

Yesterday we brought you a round-up of the first quarter of 2013, as we’d probably forgotten half of it ourselves, let alone you lovely lot out there.  The second quarter provided loads more great things to celebrate, so we’ve been ploughing through TVO’s archives to pluck out the best bits from over 700 news stories across 2013. This second instalment of our round-up covers April-June, and is jam packed with forgotten treasures and instant classics alike.  Enjoy.


April, or Ape-ril as it was renamed by the Sumatran Orangutan Society, began with a plea from TVO regulars Dave Brown and Tony Law to grow your beard as large as possible.  This was, of course, in aid of ape conservation: we are all 96.4% Orangutan after all…

The facial hair theme continued apace, with some of Onion Land’s most mighty beard-wearers being active this month.  First up, Paul Kaye hosted a short exhibition of his art, with TVO attended the star-studded press night to admire his work and have a quick chat to the man himself, though sadly his hectic schedule postponed our latest catch-up… we’re gonna get ya in the new year, mate! Kaye also became the latest big name to join the cast of hugely acclaimed fantasy show Game Of Thrones, as warrior Thoros of Myr.

He wasn’t the only one, either. Whilst the world got increasingly excited about his (then) forthcoming film A Field In EnglandBen Wheatley did the last thing critics expected, and made a string of commercials for Go Compare, further proving he works on his own terms ahead of one of the oddest films of 2013…

Another beardy Onion layer up to good things this month was Matt Berry, who was quietly preparing to unleash his new album, Kill The Wolf. May and June would see an awful lot of Berry activity, but April was no push-over, either.  First off, his radio series I, Regress… returned to the airwaves, and he went on to release the first snippet of his new album with a track called The Devil Inside Me

He wasn’t the only one returning, either. Rhys Thomas brought back his incredibly popular Radio 4 show Down The Line for a fifth run – the sixth if you include short-lived tv spin-off Bellamy’s People. Once again it featured Thomas’ fellow Fast Show veterans Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day and the late, great Felix Dexter. Also along for the ride were Look Around You star Robert Popper, Big Train(and It’s Kevin) actress Amelia Bullmore, Citizen Khanwriter Adil Ray, and another TVO regular (and Rhys’ wife), Lucy Montgomery.

Also back this month were Boosh veterans and indie-folk legends The Ralfe Band, who released the single Come On Go Wild from their new album, Son Be Wise, and toured as support to Manchester’s finest ever band, I Am Kloot.  A video for the single followed on 1st May, which can be seen below.

This month also saw us bid farewell to Life’s Too Short, which returned for a one-off special at Easter. Sadly lacking in Matt Holness magic (Matt was a regular in the show’s first and only series), it nevertheless found the time to bring back Colin Hoult as Warwick Davis‘ useless psychic, Brian. Also along for the ride were telly veterans, Les Dennis, Keith Chegwin and Shaun Williamson, as well as former Batman star Val Kilmer. A fine send-off, then, for a show that ended way too soon.

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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.


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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FREE DOWNLOAD: In Holoserica Cepa 2013!

25 Dec

In Holoserica Cepa 2013It’s that time of the year again. The big fat bloke has been, and given you all lots of lovely jubbly presents, with hopefully a few TVO related goodies amongst them!

As our friends, naturally, we had to provide you with a gift or some variety, and given the runaway success of last year’s festive EP, we’ve managed to bring together another collection of great tracks from our musical members absolutely free for a limited time only.

In Holoserica Cepa 2013 features six tracks to download completely free between now and January 8th, including some rather special exclusives, which you can also hear below.

Just visit our Soundcloud page to get the EP, featuring the likes of James Cook, DeadDogInBlackBagStephen EvansRichard Glover Paul Kaye and Waen Shepherd.  But hurry, because just like last year’s effort, come January 9th, they’ll be gone for good.

As always, TVO would like to thank everyone involved with the making of these tracks, and the compiling of this collection.  You all know who you are, and to you, and everyone out there reading this – a most merry of holiday seasons to you all. We love ya.


© Paul Kaye

© Paul Kaye

Yogiebogiebox – ZaNg

Comedy legend Paul Kaye has provided us with the world exclusive download of Yogiebogiebox, the first effort from ZaNg: his musical project with Adie Hardy, featuring actor Marc Warren on harmonica.  It’s a hard-hitting slice of alt-rock madness, and we’ve been grooving to the demo all year, so it’s great to finally be able to share a finished version with you all.

© James Cook

© James Cook

Making Plans For Nigel – JAMES COOK

You may know him from his time fronting electropop wonders Nemo, or from his numerous appearances in The Mighty Boosh, but in recent years, James Cook has branched out into an increasingly healthy solo career.  Ahead of his second studio album proper, he’ll be releasing a selection of covers across two EP releases early next year, and this gorgeous reworking of an XTC classic is amongst them.

© Stephen Evans

© Stephen Evans


Former Hyperdrive star Stephen Evans is no stranger to the live circuit, having performed as part of Dutch Elm Conservatoire (alongside Rufus Jones & Dan Skinner), and more recently alongside regular collaborator Colin Hoult.  As he prepares a solo live show of his own, he’s very kindly offered us this rough mix of a track he’s written for inclusion in the show.  Recorded with the aid of musician Rob Halcrow, the singalong chorus features “quite a few anonymous comedy performers singing their hearts out” towards the end.

© Dead Dog In Black Bag

© Dead Dog In Black Bag

Prince Lives In My Garden – DEAD DOG IN BLACK BAG

We love Dead Dog. And Dead Dog really love Prince.  Things have been awfully quiet on the Black Bag front of late, as the electropop filthsters take a well earned break whilst Suzy Evelyn-Hall celebrates motherhood for the first time, but her partner in crime Holly Jane Shears (of Circulus fame) has very kindly sent us this recording of a live fan favourite.

© Rook Films

© Rook Films

Baloo My Boy [Excerpt from ‘A Field In England’] – RICHARD GLOVER

Anyone who has seen Ben Wheatley‘s glorious A Field In England will have fallen in love with Richard Glover‘s kind-hearted simpleton peasant, known only as Friend.  This track from the soundtrack in which Friend sings a jaunty ditty receives its digital première here, having previously only been available on a limited edition vinyl release earlier this year, thanks to the good folk at Rook Films.

© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd


Another comedy veteran offering us a world exclusive is Waen Shepherd, who has sent us a track by his Beach Boys inspired alter-ego Colin Watson, entitled Little Old Nick.  This festive ditty offers a rather twisted view on the traditional festive number, and we’re sure will become a staple of alternative Xmas playlists for years to come.

F*cked Up Fulcher: A Review

9 Dec

It’s been a while since we last witnessed Rich Fulcher live on stage in the UK; even longer since we saw him hosting a chaotic selection of his comedy mates in a show. Fulchfest, the legendary Kentish Town comedy night that Rich fronted a few years ago is but a distant (and sadly missed) memory. Then out of the darkness, for one night only, comes Rich Fulcher & His F*cked Up Friends at Soho Theatre. Luckily, two of our Velveteers were there on Friday night to report back:

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

There’s something utterly heart-warming about Rich Fulcher. He may be dressed as a wonky Christmas elf and he may be offering oral pleasure to Tom Meeten, but the mischievous smile and the sparkle in his eyes can make even the most cynical comedy watcher feel the cheer.

Noel Fielding once described him as “a natural buddhist”, saying of his friend, “His vibes are incredible. If you could take Rich everywhere with you, you’d never be sad.” In fact, if Rich’s mind wasn’t so damned dark and weird he’d make a fantastic kids’ entertainer.

Some of the set pieces were eye-wateringly funny: an opener about trying to behave like a parent, only to take it too far the other way (we’ll leave that to your imagination!); and a volley of abuse aimed at Oly Ralfe (who spent the entire show poised at the piano, ready to provide musical accompaniment at a moment’s notice), were particularly noteworthy.

Others fell a little short of their target, but the performance was so pacey you barely had time to notice. The entire night galloped along just on the right side of the professional/shambolic divide, like all good Fulcher shows do.

What Rich does so well is taking a joke to his limits – then pushing it way, way beyond that. In the hands of someone less likeable and more self-conscious it wouldn’t work so well; but Rich approaches each moment with such energy and conviction, it’s easy to get carried along.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

The line-up for the night was fresh, sparky and marvelously odd. Highlights included: a whirlwind performance from Meeten in the guise of ‘Animal Man’ (like all his best characters, a man precariously balanced at the edge of madness – and surprisingly poignant with it) – and Meeten’s Karate Johnson also made an alarming appearance; Pajama Men’s Shenoah Allen, with a charmingly original multi-voiced sketch about animals; and Gary Le Strange in a startling Pineapple-Studio-Steam-Punk combo, complete with kiddy umbrella. Although the front row of Boosh fans looked a tad confused, he had the table next to us falling about.

Another comedy revelation was Ralfe, who sat to the side of the stage playing the (musically-gifted) straight man to everyone else’s chaos. His withering stares at Rich were pitch perfect, and his ability to find a melodies in the melee astonishing.

© Mog/The Velvet Onion

Due to the quantity of acts on offer, Dan Clark and magic man, Pete Heat, didn’t have the opportunity to get fully into their sets, which is a shame because they’re bloody funny/clever when they’re in the groove.

By way of a finale, Cardinal Burns’ set, performed entirely in French, provided the perfect full-stop to the show: in equal measures bizarre, silly, clever, confusing and funny.

We’ve missed you and your F*cked Up Friends, Fulcher. Come back again soon.

Beef Scarecrow Returns!

3 Dec
© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd

The fourth-ish and (to-date) final Gary Le Strange album is now available for download.

Originally recorded in 2006 to promote his grand, uncompromisingly bizarre multi-concept leviathan live show of the same name, Beef Scarecrow saw Le Strange abandon his former “Neo-Regency Face Warrior” persona in favour of a genre-busting mash-up of psychedelia, prog, glam rock, folk, jazz, blues and Britpop.

The results were typically wonderful, taking Gary’s paranoia and grandiose ego and fusing it with satirical social comment, and stonking tunes to die for.  Tales of rotting scarecrows, evil pipers, violent whelks, genetically re-engineered wolves, imaginary cartoon swan Gods and bowler hats with bees which at the time alienated live audiences expecting a typically LeStrange vision, but have since gone on to cult acclaim.

After all, these new songs included Bowie-esque sweeping ballad, Shivering In The Rain, and Jagger-tinged hard rocker Midnight Bastard.  Other standouts include the majestic Secret Wolf, which we were privileged to give away free as part of our limited edition In Holo Serica EP last year, and the epic tale of Michael The Swan, which Gary performed at our inaugural TVO Live event in May 2012 – footage of which we’ll be uploading very soon, so stay peeled.

© Steve Ullathorne

© Steve Ullathorne

Now at last, thanks to the tireless efforts of Le Strange’s biographer and archivist Waen ShepherdBeef Scarecrow is available once more, completing the back catalogue of Le Strange reissues in time for future concepts from this most elusive of artists.

Beef Scarecrow can be downloaded now from CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.  Preview clips can be heard on Waen’s website, which also features 259 Things You Wish You Knew About This Album.

Also available are debut album, Polaroid Suitcase, follow-up Face Academy and lost mini-album Glamoronica.  For links to all of these, plus a smattering of rare tracks – visit Gary’s mini-site over yonder.

Gary Le Strange’s Glamoronica

17 Jul
© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd

The Velvet Onion is pleased to announce that tomorrow will see the impromptu release of some rare material from Gary Le Strange – aka comedy legend Waen Shepherd.

It’s now ten years since Le Strange debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, bagging the Perrier Award that year for Polaroid Suitcase.  To celebrate, Waen has reissued the first two Gary albums digitally over the last few months, with Polaroid Suitcase being followed by Face Academy earlier this year.

Ahead of the reissue of the third Le Strange album, Waen has taken a bit of a sidestep and revisited unfinished material which was discarded ahead of that final show and record, Beef Scarecrow back in 2005.

Entitled Glamoronica, the six track EP features music recorded eight years ago, with freshly minted vocal takes from a revitalised Gary, who is currently working on new material.  As Waen explains: “It’s a kind of old-new hybrid. Basically it’s about 50% of what Gary’s third album might have been if I hadn’t abandoned it halfway through.”

The EP will be available on various digital platforms from midnight tonight, including Amazon and iTunes.  We’ll bring you full links when we can, but for now, pre-order via Amazon here!

Keen eyed peelers may also have spotted Shepherd in this week’s edition of Count Arthur Strong – which can be seen again on iPlayer now.  You can see a classic, Stewart Lee directed promo for a classic track from Face Academy below…

The Velvet Onion Live: One Year On…

31 May

Today marks the one year anniversary of The Velvet Onion Live!

In character, Matt Berry once memorably said: “Time is a menstruous woman. One cannot control her eddying currents.”  Rarely has a truer remark been uttered in jest.  It’s hard to believe a whole twelve months have passed since our inaugural live event at The Vandella, Shepherd’s Bush, made in collaboration with James Wren and Bob Pipe.  And yet, there it is – a big fat first anniversary.

To celebrate this occasion, as we slowly but surely gear ourselves up to arrange further live events before the second anniversary is upon us and we increasingly look like one-hit-wonders, we will be bringing you weekly installments of footage from the jam-packed event.  It’s fairly lo-fi due to a few technical hiccups on the night, but we recorded the whole event for posterity and now, at last, we can share it with you all.

For those not in the know, the event gathered together a number of our regular names for a night of fun and games.  We had live comedy sets from duos Steven Oram and Tom MeetenRichard Glover and Stephen EvansDolly Wells and Laura PatchGareth Tunley and Alex Kirk.  We had solo sets from Dan TetsellRichard Sandling and Rachel Stubbings, whilst David McNeill nabbed Evans & Glover back for a spot of twisty-nonsense.

And that wasn’t all. Alice Lowe and Antony Elvin gave us a set from Hot Brew, whilst Elvin also regaled us with jaunty ditties alongside Will Summers.  There was a rare chance to see DeadDogInBlackBag perform, and we heralded the return of Waen Shepherd as Gary Le Strange.  The night was rounded off with a sumptuous set from James Cook, and we had Mike Fielding DJ-ing whenever performers took a well earned rest.

The night began, proper, however, with an important health and safety announcement from our honorary member, Bollo:

We’ll be bringing you more footage, all being well, on a weekly basis, so come back next Friday for your next installment!

Face Academy Revived!

14 May

© Waen Shepherd

The much loved second Gary Le Strange album, Face Academy, is reissued digitally this week.

For those not in the know, Le Strange is the New Romantic, Bowie-esque alter ego of Waen Shepherd, whose origins stem from Waen and Simon Farnaby‘s cult sketch duo, Peterford Golf Club.

This year marks ten years since the character’s solo Edinburgh debut, and this month marks the first anniversary of his return after years in hibernation, at The Velvet Onion Live.

The album accompanied Gary’s second Edinburgh show, and features such classics as PhotocopierModern Disguise, The Outsider and Seedy Pimp – the latter of which can be revisited via it’s music video, directed by Stewart Lee, below.

To celebrate it’s release, Waen will be further extending his incredibly detailed website, with revamped packaging available to download alongside the tracks.

To download the album from Wednesday, May 15th, just choose your preferred vendor: with links available for iTunes, CD Baby and Spotify from tomorrow, and pre-order links for Amazon available now!

Le Strange is also about to feature in the latest installment of The Forgery Club, at the Udderbelly, Southbank this Friday, May 17th.  The ‘Back To The 80s’ installment will also feature Richard GloverJames Wren and David McNeill, and tickets can be bought over yonder.

EXCLUSIVE: In Holoserica Cepa – A Gift From The Velvet Onion

25 Dec

© The Velvet Onion

Yes, it’s Christmas time, and as another year draws to a close, The Velvet Onion has not one, but two presents for you.

Our annual TVO Calendar has sadly been delayed a little, but will be here for your perusal before 2012 runs out of gas.  We’ve been working round the clock the last few days to ensure it’s up to scratch, and reaches you before the end of the month, and we think you’ll love what we’ve come up with, so stay peeled over the festive season for that!

The other present… well that’s arguably more special.  We’ve called upon some of our more musical friends in the realm of the Onion, to provide a very special eight-track EP you can download completely free!

Just visit our Soundcloud page to get all eight tracks, featuring the likes of James Cook, Sue Denim, Antony Elvin, Stephen Evans, Suzy Evelyn-Hall, Rich Fulcher, Richard Glover, Shelley Longworth, Alice Lowe, Holly Jane Shears, Waen Shepherd, William Summers, Gareth Tunley, Michael Tyack and Tony Way.

But hurry, because the files will only be available until SUNDAY JANUARY 6th, before being taken down forever.  For a full tracklisting, and a flashy swanky player loaded with all eight songs, see below.

TVO would like to thank everyone involved with the making of these tracks, and the compiling of this collection.  You all know who you are, and to you, and everyone out there reading this – a most merry of holiday seasons to you all. We love ya.


01. Secret Wolf – GARY LE STRANGE

Taken from the long deleted third Gary Le Strange album, Beef Scarecrow, this song has only previously been made available at Waen Shepherd’s live shows many moons ago.  Stay tuned for the full reissue of his GLS albums over the next twelve months, with the first, Polaroid Suitcase available now.


Originally a spin-off from folk legends Circulus, the magnificent Princes In The Tower have become an almighty Tudor force in their own right.  This track is taken from the forthcoming debut album, A Golden Hour With Princes In The Tower, which will be available soon…

03. Midnight, The Stars And You – RICHARD GLOVER & STEPHEN EVANS

Described by Evans as a ‘short and daft’ version of the 1930s classic (forever immortalised in The Shining), this is a previously unreleased recording from the Splendid duo…

04. The Self Machine – JAMES COOK

Taken from James’ wonderful debut solo album, Arts And Sciences, this track sees the former Nemo frontman on typically fine form.  The album is available now.


05.  Song Of A Wayfarer – WILLIAM SUMMERS

Recorded live at St John the Divine Church in Richmond upon Thames back in July, this is an exclusive, haunting live recording from the multi-instrumentalist.


The first new DeadDogInBlackBag song for a long, long time, this is a complete and utter exclusive from the electropop duo.

07. Another Rainy Day – SUE DENIM

A 60s influenced b-side from Sue’s recent Bicycle single, this track acts a taster for her delightfully summery debut solo album, Sue And The Unicorn, which is available now.

08. This Christmastime [2012 Mix] – ANTONY ELVIN, ALICE LOWE & FRIENDS

Originally recorded for Alice LoweJacqueline Wright‘s Jackal Film of the same name back in 2010, this fresh mix from its producer and co-writer Antony Elvin features a host of TVO stars – Gareth Tunley, Shelley Longworth, Waen Shepherd, Tony Way and Rich Fulcher – spreading an important message for the festive season.

Polaroid Suitcase Returns

12 Dec

© Waen Shepherd

It’s hard to believe it, but next year marks the tenth anniversary of the debut album by Gary Le Strange – the seminal Polaroid Suitcase.

Emerging from the collaborative sketch show Peterford Golf Club featuring Waen Shepherd and Simon Farnaby (which also spawned Golf War), Le Strange launched his new-wave assault on audiences in Edinburgh back in 2003, returning for two more shows and a spot of telly work before vanishing without a trace.

Until that is, earlier this year.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, TVO managed to secure Gary’s services for our very first live show – where he performed three songs to an adoring crowd.

Le Strange then returned to the live fold supporting Tenek in the late summer, and has now finally granted permission for his representative, Waen Shepherd, to reissue his groundbreaking recordings.  We managed to get in touch with Gary through Waen, who had this to say to all you lovely Peelers.

“Hello Peelers – please buy my album Polaroid Suitcase. It’s a bit like a velvet onion in that it’s multi-layered and it would make me cry if I cut it in half.  Oh and it’s good because there’s a song on it about why grey is the best colour and another one about whether or not toasters have minds.  Not to mention the one about the man who falls in love with a shop window dummy and my very favourite song ever about the sexy amazingness of triangles. I’m sure all those of you who come to it as strangers will be leaving it as Le Strangers. Oh yeah and Merry Christmas!”

Polaroid Suitcase is now available in the UK via iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and worldwide via CDBaby – and you’d be mad not to want to own this glorious slice of eighties-inspired synthpopcockrock.  For a sample, here’s a golden brown slice of Le Strange from the album, entitled Is My Toaster Sentient. Savour it…

For more info on Gary Le Strange, and his minder, Waen Shepherd, visit the latter’s website.  Further works of Gary will be released in the new year, and we’ll be bringing you performance footage from TVO Live very soon too, so stay peeled.


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