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Onion Talking: Dave Lambert goes Undercover

16 Jun
© UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

This week sees the launch of Undercover – the new sitcom starring Daniel Rigby and Sarah Alexander. In it, Rigby plays hapless detective Chris Anderson, who goes undercover within the Sarkissian crime syndicate in an attempt to nail the head honcho Ara, and Alexander is his uncompromising boss, Zoe Keller.

One of a string of new, original comedy commissions by freeview channel Dave, the show is directed by none other than Boosh veteran and Common Ground director Dave Lambert.

In the middle of his hectic schedule, we caught up with Lambo to ask him a few undercover questions of our own.

Every now and then on wonderfully named freeview channel Dave, they’ll replay an episode of Mock the Week, which will make a big joke out of the fact that their last joke was going to feel so out of date for the people watching on Dave all those years later. Because, in fairness, that’s exactly what Dave has been known for in recent years: wall to wall Top Gear by day, wall to wall Mock The Week/Russell Howard’s Good News/Red Dwarf by night.

However, that last show brought about a sea of change in the channel’s fortunes. When BBC Two passed on making more Red Dwarf in 2009, ten years after the last series aired, Dave – who were already having lots of success with their repeats of the Crimson Short One’s adventures – stumped up the cash. The result was a record breaking audience. Another full series followed suit in 2012, with two more filming back to back at the end of this year. Suddenly, Dave found they could have just as much success making their own shows as they could repeating the same old shows for all eternity, if not more so.

The upshot of that has been felt across the last few years with a string of occasional commissions, including the sublime Crackanory, but this week sees the channel stick two new flagpoles in the ground and hope the wind doesn’t knock them over. There’s mockumentary Hoff the Record, in which David Hasselhoff rips his persona to shreds in the name of comedy, and then there’s Undercover – which, if you don’t count the hilarious pilot to their aborted Zimbani in 2010, is the channel’s first actual original sitcom about a policeman in deep surveillance as he tries to take down an Armenian crime syndicate from the inside.

© Baby Cow / UKTV

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

At the helm is Dave Lambert: a director who cut his teeth making behind the scenes features for The Mighty Boosh and Gavin & Stacey before taking on Alan Partridge in Welcome to the Places of My Life, and helming Sky Atlantic’s brilliant series of shorts, Common Ground. With Undercover, he shares the channel’s sitcom virginity, in spite of a long legacy of great comedic output.

“I knew I always wanted to be a director,” he tells TVO as we grab a moment of his time after a preview of the first two episodes. “But I was never sure of the route to get there. There are so many ways you can do it. My personal ethos was to learn as much as possible from everyone involved in the production of a tv show, and then I would understand where everyone is coming from when I was directing.”

Judging by the evidence of Undercover‘s opening installments, he learnt a lot. The show is visually impressive, with Lambert working with Director of Photography Si Bell, and production designer Jim Holloyway to create a look that is playful with the format of ‘cop-shows’ and has a truly cinematic feel. This contrasts nicely with the Zucker-esque broad gags whilst supporting the considered, often gritty plots. “The jokes were there when I came on board,” Lambert explains. “I had to work out how to accommodate them and the reality of the plots. I always thought it had to look authentic to the genre to succeed and to play the whole thing as straight as possible, as that’s when the silly moments really sing.”

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

“I always wanted it to have a cinematic feel,” he continues, “and the faded colour scheme was really important to make it feel real. We watched a lot of clips of Scorsese films. Jim has worked on so many comedies over the years, and is fantastic. We found an empty rundown restaurant in the heart of Newcastle that he converted into Vartan’s, the Sarkissian restaurant that acts as a front for their operation. It looks stunning and just has such great texture to it. Totally authentic.”

Indeed, the viewer is thrust straight into the dangerous situations that Chris Anderson, our titular undercover cop in disguise as Christapour Gergorian, is placed in. The screen is filled with close-ups and tight angles, the cameras handheld to give a natural unsteadiness that puts audiences right in the thick of it.

“I always felt we needed to do that from the off,” Lambert confirms. “To see the world through Chris’ eyes. The viewers need to feel they are in his shoes, scared when he’s scared, or laughing when he does something ridiculous or idiotic. The one line pitch for the show was: Imagine Woody Allen in The Sopranos. He’s a guy who is terrified of being killed, whilst trying to have sex.”

Put like that, the comedy angle becomes a lot clearer. Because let’s face it: an undercover cop investigating Armenian gangsters is not your typical basis for a comedy. “Anything different or out of the ordinary is always good in my book,” Lambert enthuses when this suggestion is put to him. “I was sent the scripts and I just loved them. I read them all in one sitting, and instantly knew I had to do the job. I really liked the idea of making a cop-show, gangster film and comedy hybrid but within a culture that isn’t really represented on TV.”

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

Undercover was a long time coming. A pilot was shot two years ago, with another director, though parts of it survive in the opening episode. However, there was still a lot of scope for Lambo to add his own touches across the production, right down to finer details: indeed, the first joke to truly hit its target comes not from the script, but when the director has fun playing with the format. As Chris walks down the street, the generic cop-show music soars: he steps into a cafe, the door bleeps open, and the music cuts out. Simple, but effective.

“With that moment,” Lambert explains, “it wasn’t in the script, but I wanted the audience to have a moment up front where we show them what you would expect to hear in the genre, straight to the normality. The audience gets the tone early on, and we had more beats like that written in, or added while shooting. It’s my job to serve the script and bring anything else I can to the table to enhance that blueprint. We found over the course of shooting the series that new things come up. You tweak lines here and there, question whether characters would do what they are doing. The scripts were really solid from the off, so nothing major, but things do develop and change when you have all this great talent on set.”

Naturally, that paves the way for improvisation in the right situations. “Dan Rigby is great at coming up with extra Chris-isms that he would throw in on the day,” says Lambert, filled with enthusiasm for his star. “That man is incredible,” he continues. “He really prepares and arrives on set with a delivery of a line that I never saw coming. If there’s time on the day and the atmosphere is right then it’s always great to have a play with the scene and have a fun run take. It’s really based on the schedule for me, and getting through the day with all the material you need.”

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

When Lambert came on board Undercover, Rigby had already been cast as Chris, but he stresses he honestly cannot see anyone else playing the part. However, it took a while for them to find the right person to play his boss, Zoe, until Green Wing veteran Sarah Alexander came along. “We saw a lot of people,” Lambert reveals. “They’d come in and do great things, but it wasn’t until Sarah came in that we saw the complete character. Her first read was incredible, and there was instant chemistry with Daniel. I just knew we had found our Zoe.”

The duo are ably supported by some great talent filling out the cast, with the opening episodes including the likes of Being Human‘s Michael Socha, Sherlock‘s Yasmine Akram, Up The Women‘s Ryan Sampson and a preview for Episode Three revealing Comic Strip veteran Keith Allan crops up as a hardcase ex-con. Natuarlly, Lambert is full of admiration for his cast.

“Everyone you mentioned,” he insists, “makes directing this show a joy. Mark Heap also appears later in the series and is hilarious. It was a great highlight to direct him, as I’ve been a fan for many years. Ivan Kaye, who plays Ara’s right hand man Garabad is fantatic, both visually and comically. he is such a scary and commanding presence on screen, but plays the comic moments so brilliantly.”

The cast helped Lambert acclimatise to his first long-form narrative: five weeks of filming with them allowing the building of a shorthand and complete investment in the work. In retrospect, whilst the end result is a different form, this is no different to Lambert’s previous work filming behind the scenes on all three series of The Mighty Boosh. The director insists he simply wanted to tell stories, and that they ended up being documentaries at first owes more to circumstance than any original intent: the first series of Boosh shared a producer, Alison MacPhail, with Baby Cow’s Cruise of the Gods, which he had previously worked on, and therefore he was a logical choice for the job, as we’ve previously discussed.

“I knew they were great,” he states when it is noted he was there to chart the rise of the Boosh from television newbies to international superstars. “But I didn’t ever imagine I’d be filming them performing live at the Roxy in LA, with Robin Williams in the audience!”

His work on the Boosh then led to work with one of big bosses of Baby Cow: Steve Coogan. After editing Mid Morning Matters, Lambert was asked to direct and produce the one-off special Welcome to the Places in My Life, and he is filled with praise for the megastar turned studio head honcho. “Steve is great to work with,” he tells TVO, “as he has an attention to detail that is second to none. I’ve learnt so much from him and Henry Normal [the other half of Baby Cow’s top tier], and the environment they foster is very creative. There’s no change whether you are on set together or having a meeting in the office.”

Up next for Lambert is editing a Channel 4 Comedy Blap he’s directed entitled High and Dry starring Mark Wootten (La La Land), Harry Peacock, Jessie Cave and Asim Chauhdry, which he says was great to shoot. This week also sees the launch of a series of iPlayer shorts he’s directed to tie in with Ramadan featuring five up and coming Muslim comedic talents.  But of course, Undercover is still on the agenda, and should Dave the channel want Dave the director to return for a second run, there’s still lots of scope for fresh ideas to add to the mix.

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

© Baby Cow / UKTV / Topher McGrillis

“As much as we hit the ground running on the very first day of the shoot,” he insists, “by the end we really felt we nailed the DNA of the show. When it airs, I think viewers will enjoy the journey over the six episodes. There’s a real build, twists and turns, surprises and lots of laughs. I would love to return to do more, as I think we’re only at the start of Chris and Zoe’s story, and there is so much left to do and see. Andrew Milligan (co-writer/co-creator) and I speak at least twice a week at the moment about possible scenarios, scenes and even shots if we get a second series.”

Here is, of course, hoping. Undercover is broad and wears its influences on its sleeve, but it’s also great fun, is stylishly shot and edited, and demonstrates that there is far more to Dave the channel than repeats of old panel shows. As their first true original sitcom, they couldn’t have been bolder, and alongside Hoff the Record, TVO hopes they demonstrate a channel willing to buck the trend and find an audience willing to take them to heart. And if, for any reason, these six episodes are all we’re gonna get, Lambert has made a show to be proud of.

“By the time you get to Episode Five,” he enthuses when pushed for a favourite moment, “everything I mentioned is in place, but you’re so invested in the characters and know their world, I think it just flies and sets up a thrilling finale that…”

He pauses, and thinks for a moment. “I have to stop myself now as I’m getting excited and might reveal something big!” Guess we’ll just have to stay tuned, then!

Undercover airs at 9pm on Tuesday 16th June 2015, exclusively on Dave. The show is also repeated in a double bill with ‘Hoff the Record’ on Thursday evening at 9:40pm. Thanks to Dave Lambert for talking to us, and UKTV for their behind the scenes imagery!

New Alan Partridge Book

19 Apr
© Amazon

© Amazon

Following hot on the heels of the news that a new series of Mid Morning Matters is in the pipeline, comes the announcement of a new Alan Partridge book!

A second volume of Alan Partridge’s autobiography is set to be published for release in 2016.  Twin brother comedy writers Neil and Rob Gibbons and Steve Coogan have said that they’ve “helped” Alan write the book, and that it will include “new Monkey Tennis revelations”.

The Gibbons brothers started working with Coogan when he brought back Partridge in Mid Morning Matters in 2011. They also worked on his first autobiography I, Partridge: We Need to talk about Alan, which was published in 2011 to rave reviews.

When the first autobiography (shown left) was published, Coogan admitted that he decided to write the DJ’s life story as a way of getting out of writing his own: “Publishers asked me to do one, but no-one asked me to do the Alan Partridge autobiography – I suggested it as a sort of deflecting device,” He said at the time.

If you fancy reading Alan’s first book, visit our Amazon store, where you’ll find it nestling alongside a stack of other rather marvellous Coogan goodies.

 

So Hot Right Now #23

23 Mar

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

ON THE TELLY AND RADIO THIS WEEK

We won’t lie to you: as weeks go, this one is absolutely huge in terms of television and radio broadcasts – with six new sitcoms airing and THREE radio shows to get excited about. There’s all sorts of other news happening too, so stick with us for that below this definitive run-down.

INSIDE NO. 9
Thursday, 10pm, BBC Two

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

© BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

The second series of the anthology of darkly comic tales, written by and starring Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, starts this week, on Thursday 26th March at 10pm on BBC Two. Each episode explores the goings-on behind a door marked No 9, and the first episode, La Couchette, is set on board the overnight train from Paris to Bourg St Maurice. To see our non-spoilery preview of it click here.

TVO faces Paul Kaye and Alice Lowe will be appearing later in the series, which is doubling the eagerness of our anticipation…plus Reece and Steve have just won the ‘Best Comedy Performance’ gong in the Royal Television Society Awards for the first series of Inside No. 9, so this comes highly recommended. Make sure you tune in!

COUPLES
Monday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© Alex MacQueen

© Alex MacQueen

Couples is a new semi-improvised comedy radio show, written and performed by the very wonderful Julia Davis and Marc Wootton. It starts on Monday at 11pm on BBC Radio Four. In the series they portray a series of couples in therapy with the renowned therapist Dr Tanya Ray-Harding, who is played by Vicki Pepperdine.

You’ll all be familiar with Julia’s creative output, but what you may not be aware of is that Marc Wootton was also responsible for La La Land (which featured narration by Julian Barratt, long ago in our ancient history), plus he was recently in Drunk History with a few of our lovely lot. Also on board, as you can see from the image above, is none other than Alex MacQueen and Nurse and Hunderby star Rosie Cavaliero, so there’s even more reason to tune in.

HOUSE OF FOOLS
Monday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

© Pett TV / Christopher Baines

Episode 5 of the very marvellous House of Fools is on at 10pm on Monday on BBC2, and this week sees Vic and Bob struggling to find a plot for the show. However, things look up when letter arrives from the White House announcing a surprise visit. This episode sees guest appearances by two further TVO faces (alongside the regulars): Rufus Jones and Simon Farnaby, as well as Horrible Histories star Jim Howick.

It also features Beef’s truth-telling turban and a health inspector, who threatens to close down Julie’s bistro when Bosh unwittingly reveals the state of the kitchen. Pretty much everything you could possibly need in a 30-minute telly dose. If you like the comedy we write about and you haven’t watched House of Fools yet, then do so immediately! Trust us – you’ll love it. You can take a look at previous episodes, clips etc here.

NURSE
Tuesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Des Willie

© Des Willie

The third episode of bittersweet comedy drama Nurse airs on Tuesday, 10pm on BBC2.  Simon Day and Colin Hoult also feature in the show, alongside Paul Whitehouse and Esther Coles. Whitehouse’s superb skill at portraying comedic characters is brought to the fore, with Whitehouse starring as a cavalcade of troubled characters. Mental health issues are treated with respect and sensitivity in the series, which has charmed critics with its off-kilter comedy.

This episode sees community mental health nurse Liz wondering why Graham is over the moon, while Jack recalls a grim time in Helmand but retreats to his ‘safe place’. Cat Lady discusses her New Romantic glory days, while Billy tries his hand at preparing vegetables from Liz’s allotment, despite the fact that ‘they are muddy, and I don’t like mud!’.

 

IN AND OUT OF THE KITCHEN
Wednesday, 10pm, BBC Two

© Gary Moyes / BBC

© Gary Moyes / BBC

It seems like it’s only just arrived, and already In and Out of the Kitchen is wrapping up this week. Which isn’t surprising, as there were only three episodes of this charming comedy from Miles Jupp and Justin Edwards, so hopefully we’ll be seeing it again very soon.

This week, Anthony tries to persuade Damien to get a lodger to offset some of the costs of their building work. Keen to resist the idea, Damien instead accepts an offer from his literary agent to write a restaurant review for some extra cash. With a bonus appearance from Rachel Stubbings as a waitress, this is a great show you’d be mad to miss – and if you already have, you can catch up on iPlayer now.

CHAT SHOW ROULETTE
Thursday, 11pm, BBC Radio Four

© BBC

© BBC

In and Out of the Kitchen isn’t the only chance to hear Justin Edwards dulcet tones this week: he now hosts new improvised radio series Chat Show Roulette on Thursday evenings!

We’ve been getting worked up about this project for some time – firstly as a live show, next as a non-broadcast tv pilot, and then a pilot for radio over a year ago. Finally then, it’s actually happening, and the first episode managed to sneak past us last week, no less! Featuring another TVO favourite, Kevin Eldon – it’s available to listen to on iPlayer here.

The second episode airs on Thursday at 11pm, and Justin’s guests this week are are Mel Giedroyc, Max and Ivan, and Nick Mohammed – with musical accompaniment from James Sherwood.

MOONE BOY
Monday, 9pm, Sky 1

© Sky Corporate

© Sky Corporate

Another week, another fantastic episode of Moone Boy, as the third series of Chris O’Dowd‘s sublime comedy about a boy and his imaginary friend in rural 90s Ireland continues – this week featuring a guest appearance from John Sessions.

When crop circles are discovered in Boyle, Martin (the ever wonderful David Rawle) goes UFO-hunting – and ends up telling the local media his donkey has been abducted by aliens. As the town council goes into crisis mode, fearing the gentle image they’ve created of Boyle will be destroyed, the council and church try to strong-arm Liam into suppressing his son’s story. Will he side with Martin or the leaders of Boyle?

 

POMPIDOU
Sunday, 6:30pm, BBC Two

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

© BBC/John Stanley Productions/Natalie Seery

Ah, Pompidou, how you have divided critics and audiences alike. The Guardian rushed to defence of Matt Lucas‘ mostly silent comedy last week, and we can’t say we blame them: this isn’t a show for everyone, but turn off your cynicism and there’s much to enjoy, not least the playful dynamic between Lucas’ bumbling aristocrat and his put upon butler, Hove (the ever fantastic Alex MacQueen).

This week, the penniless Pompidou has hoarded too much junk and Hove has had enough – attempting to shift some of the clutter at a church hall fete. However, Pompidou will do anything it takes to ensure he keeps it all.

There’s something delightfully surreal about the image of Matt Lucas dressed as Jack Sparrow, let alone his impression of his beloved Freddie Mercury, and with a wider TVO heritage behind the scenes (puppeteer Andy Heath worked on Mongrels and director/producer Charlie Hanson was reponsible for Darkplace, Snuffbox, Life’s Too Short and many more), this is definitely a show to make your own mind up about.

 

CHAIN REACTION
Wednesday, 7:30am / 10pm, BBC Radio Four Extra
Wednesday, 6:30pm, BBC Radio Four

© Phil Fisk

© Phil Fisk

TVO regular Sharon Horgan is the current link in Radio Four’s long running hostless chat show Chain Reaction, in which last week’s interviewee becomes this week’s interviewer.

In the fifth episode of the series, originally broadcast last week – national treasure and former Bad Sugar co-star Olivia Colman talks to Horgan, and you can hear that again on Wednesday morning and evening via Radio Four Extra.  In Episode Six, Sharon talks to BAFTA nominated & Tony Award winning writer Dennis Kelly, her co-creator on Pulling

Kelly was also involved with Utopia (which included Simon Farnaby and Dan Testell in its cast) and Matilda the Musical (which initially starred Paul Kaye), so he’s clearly got quite a career to discuss!

LOOSE BOOSH

Last week saw two very different Boosh-related events taking place at the exact same time on different sides of London – and TVO was present at both.

HE WORE DREAMS AROUND UNKIND FACES

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

© Mog / Noel Fielding / Hooligan Art Dealer

First off, TVO attended the private view of Noel Fielding’s latest art show at the Royal Albert Hall. The place was packed, and our readers will be pleased to know that there were a fair few TVO folk in attendance, including Dave Brown, Mike Fielding, Richard Ayoade, Tom Meeten, Oly Ralfe, David Westlake, Matt Berry, Morgana Robinson, Vic Reeves, Nigel Coan and Joey Page.

Noel’s new watercolours are mind-and-eye-bogglingly wonderful, and although many of the paintings have been sold (a world-famous artist being one of the buyers), parts of the show will be hung at Gallery Maison Bertaux soon so more of you will get the chance to see them. And if you can’t make it there and have some cash to flash, you could even buy one of the pieces for yourself. Watch this space for more news about Noel-related exhibitions taking place at the cool bijou art space in Soho…

THAT’S RICH! A TASTE OF FULCHER

© The Velvet Onion

© The Velvet Onion

Elsewhere in London, Rich Fulcher was back in town filming the non-broadcast pilot episode of his new project, That’s Rich.

We offered our readers a chance to get priority tickets for the free recording, which featured a whole host of weirdly wonderful characters from Rich’s wonderfully deranged imagination.If you missed out, you can read our non-spoilery review of the pilot, and then join us in our prayers to the TV gods that that it evolves into a full series.

PADDINGTON ARRIVES

©  Studio Canal

© Studio Canal

The highest grossing family movie of all time not to come out of Hollywood, Paddington finally arrives on dvd and blu-ray this week just in time for the forthcoming Easter holidays.

And if you’re wondering why we’re telling you this – you clearly haven’t been paying attention! The star-studded movie is directed by none other than Paul King (Bunny and the Bull, Come Fly With Me and a little known show called The Mighty Boosh), and features a cavalcade of TVO regulars in supporting roles.

You can procure yourself a copy via our amazon store, and spot – in order of appearance: Tim Downie (Toast of London, This Is Jinsey), Matt Lucas, Kayvan Novak (Bad Sugar, Four Lions), Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, Doctor Who), Matt King (The IT Crowd, Star Stories), Dominic Coleman (Crackanory, Psychoville), Steve OramTom MeetenAlice Lowe, Simon Farnaby, Will Smith (The Thick of It, Dead Boss), Toby Williams (The Day They Came To Suck Out Our Brains), Catherine Shepherd (Cardinal Burns, The IT Crowd), Justin EdwardsRufus JonesJames Bachman, Steve Edge (Star Stories) – oh, and the voice of Ben “Pingu from Nathan Barley” Wishaw as Paddington himself. Phew!

AND THE REST…

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!

Hunderby & Partridge Return!

16 Feb
© Sky Atlantic

© Sky Atlantic

Now there are two more reasons to get Sky Atlantic – and they come in the form of two productions from Baby Cow.

The award-winning Hunderby, Julia Davis‘ darkly comic homage to Daphne Du Maurier, will be returning to the channel for a Christmas special. Co-written with fellow TVO-er, Barunka O’Shaughnessy, the two-part special will precede another (hush-hush) new project from Julia for the channel, which is due to air in 2016.

© Sky

© Sky

Head of Sky Atlantic, Zai Bennett, has also confirmed that Steve Coogan will be back on the channel as Alan Partridge, as part of his attempt to dial up the comedy content of the channel (alongside dramas like Fortitude and Game Of Thrones).

In today’s Media Guardian Bennett said: “Game of Thrones and Banshee are brilliant but they are quite visceral and hard. That’s why landing the comedy is important, it will give us emotional breadth. A lot of our drama can be … heavy going, it can be hard work. People might draw breath before coming to Atlantic; I want them to come a little bit more.’

Sky’s head of comedy, Lucy Lumsden, has said of Hunderby’s return: “We couldn’t be happier…Julia Davis is such a rare talent and Sky Atlantic the perfect home for her unique voice and vision.”

The special will introduce two newcomers to the cast: a French sexpot and a homophobic locum pastor with a taste for hanging. At TVO we’re hoping that Rufus Jones will be reprising his role as Dr. Foggerty and Julian Barratt as the Narrator. Series one also featured Kevin EldonArnab Chanda and Antony Elvin, so we’re holding out for a few other familiar faces in the Christmas special!

 

Coogan’s Run On Gold

28 Jul

© Sky Atlantic

Some of you may have seen Steve Coogan – The Inside Story on UKTV GOLD last Saturday evening – a look back at Steve Coogan‘s comedy career, with contributions from Reeves and Mortimer, Ben Miller, Kevin Eldon, John Thomson, Mark Williams, Matt Horne,  Julia Davis and many others.

Following on from this, UKTV GOLD is hosting Summer Nights of Coogan – every weekend from 9pm during August they will be showing a variety of shows from Steve Coogan, including I’m Alan Partridge, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible, The Trip, Paul Calf Video Diary, Coogan’s Run, Saxondale and Live Shows, so it really is a variety pack of Steve Coogan TV.

UKTV GOLD can be found on Sky channel 110 or Virgin 126.

Steve was a guest on Radio 2’s Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Thursday to talk about the UKTV GOLD shows – the same day Noel Fielding was on talking about Luxury Comedy 2. Catch up here, Noel is on at – 01:38:05 and Steve is on at – 02:13:20.

Don’t forget you can stock up on all your favourite Steve Coogan titles at TVO Store.

Partridge Sequel & More!

5 Apr

© Baby Cow

A second Alan Partridge feature film has been announced, in the wake of last year’s successful debut, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

Furthermore, Steve Coogan will also be playing the fictional radio DJ for a second series of Mid Morning Matters on Sky Atlantic. And there are also rumours of a new Partridge special, a spoof of the BBC documentary series Coast, in which Alan will be taking a look at Norfolk’s coastline (where else?).

Henry Normal, who co-owns Baby Cow Productions with Coogan, has said that they are writing new Partridge content now with a view to releasing it at the end of the summer. The movie looks like it could be released next year.

If you haven’t seen the debut Partridge feature yet, don’t forget that you can still buy Alpha Papa at The Velvet Onion amazon store on Blu-ray(£10.99) and DVD (£7).

Toast Of The Awards

26 Feb

© Kuba Wieczorek

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

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

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

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

Toast of London

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa DVD or Blu-ray.

A Field in England.

Cornetto Trilogy.

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

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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Clock this: Promote Alpha Papa US Release & Win!

19 Dec

Baby Cow Productions are offering Alan Partridge fans an exclusive prize to mark the occasion of the Partridge movie, Alpha Papa‘s US release

© Baby Cow

You could win the the Clock Radio you can see to you left, which  is a very rare item indeed. It was made exclusively for the cast & crew of the film – and it could be yours. What you have to do to win is to create a tag line for the film posters that will appear in the US.

It’s a pretty tough brief – remember that the line will need to appeal to  folk across the pond who haven’t yet met the man.

To enter, visit Baby Cow’s Facebook page, then add your tag line into the comments box and share their post (the sharing bit is important so don’t forget). As yet no information has been given as to the closing date of the competition, but we reckon you should get those copywriting creative juices flowing and get in there!

According to sources the US release has been scheduled for 27th February 2014, with a further limited theatre release on 4th April. But if you can’t wait that long why not pick up a copy of the movie in our amazon store – for a bargainful £9.99 on DVD or £12.99 on Blu-ray.

Partridge In The Norwich Sky

26 Nov

An illuminated Alan Partridge features in this year’s Christmas Lights in the city of Norwich.

© BBC

The light display includes a 30ft sculpture of Partridge’s face. And, if that alone wasn’t enough, it sings Roachford’s 1980s hit Cuddly Toy, which the character sang in the movie, Alpha Papa.

Actor Simon Greenall, who played the character of Michael in the I’m Alan Partridge, read a message on behalf of the character at the ceremony to switch on the lights.

The message said: “Dear people of Norwich, and to a lesser extent anyone here from Suffolk – welcome! I’m genuinely heartbroken not to be there with you, but it’s quiz night at the Rose & Crown and I’m the designated driver. You’re about to witness the biggest turning on of lights since the end of the three-day week.The electricity used to power the illuminations is enough to run a trouser press for over 25 years. Instead, it’s powering an LED effigy of my face and body, lighting up the Christmas night just as the Archangel Gabriel did over two thousand years ago. I hope you have a wonderful festive season. A-ha.”

You’ll be pleased to know that all attempts to shoehorn a reference to a “Partridge in a pear tree” into this post have failed. Next time!…

 

And The Winner Is…

25 Nov

Awards season is upon us, and a few TVO-connected TV shows have been getting some well-deeserved recognition from the juries!

© CBBC

First up is Horrible Histories, which has picked up another award, this time for Best Children’s Comedy at the Children’s BAFTAs. In doing so, it pipped another TVO-related show to the winning post in the shape of FIT (a sports-based sketch show airing on CBBC, which features Tony WayRufus Jones and Aisling Bea in its ensemble cast – plus Peter Serafinowicz as Brian Butterfield). Click here to watch the presentation of the award to the Horrible Histories team.

To see the full list of winners and nominees take a look at the Children’s BAFTAs website.

Next, a look at the Southbank Sky Arts Awards, the winners of which will be announced at a ceremony on 27th January, presented by Melvyn Bragg. The nominations feature three of our lot, with AlanPartridge: Alpha Papa and Psychobitches both up for ‘Best Comedy’, and Philomena (co-written by and starring Steve Coogan) up for ‘Best Film’. For the full list of nominees click here.

Congratulations to everyone nominated, and the best of luck for the awards ceremony in January!

 

Further Your Comedy Career Here

15 Oct

© British Comedy Guide

The Big Comedy Conference is your chance to hear some of comedy’s finest talking about their careers in comedy – including a few folk with TVO connections!

The day of comedy-related talks and workshops is been organised and curated by The British Comedy Guide. It presents a unique opportunity for anyone interested in pursuing a career in comedy to meet and listen to from some of the industry’s most successful writers, performers and producers. The event will include talks, networking and pitching sessions, and will be rounded off by a bar and live comedy gig in the evening.

© BBC Comedy

The full list of speakers is mightily impressive, but for the purposes of this here website, here are the ones with a link to TVO:  Dan Tetsell (Mongrels), Andrew Ellard (IT Crowd, Count Arthur Strong), David Schneider (I’m Alan Partridge), Caroline Norris (Horrible Histories) and Pete Sinclair (Never Mind the Buzzcocks).

You can see who else is attending by clicking here – and more speakers are still to be announced!

The Big Comedy Conference will take place on Saturday 30th November at The Old Sessions House, 22 Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0NA. The venue will open at 9:30am, with the talks and workshops running in different rooms at the venue from 10am until 7:30pm. A comedy gig will follow in the evening and the bar will be open until 11pm.

Tickets are usually £149, but can be purchased for the early bird price of £99 before 21st October. Lunch is included in the price. To purchase tickets and for more information about the event, visit the British Comedy Guide here (scroll down for booking info). If you go, we’d love to hear all about it!

Alpha Papa Hits Disc

8 Sep

© Studio Canal

Chart-topping box office smash Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is now available for pre-order on dvd and blu-ray.

The hit film, featuring everyone’s favourite Norfolk dj, was a critical and commercial success upon release last month, and can be yours to own just in time for Christmas.

Extra features are currently unconfirmed, yet given Alan’s propensity for dishing out choice pellets (like an owl) when it comes to bonus material, we’re sure they won’t disappoint.

So with the dvd and blu-ray both released on 2nd December, you can pre-order both from our Amazon Store now.  What with Alan being something of a festive tradition (re, the namesake in a pear tree), it’s time to shout: Knowing Me, Knowing Yule, and get yer orders in!

The dvd is just £12.50, and the blu-ray only £14, and you can pick up Alan’s various adventures on dvd from our specially prepared store too!

ORDER EITHER HOME MEDIA FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE COVERS BELOW

The Velvet Onion Amazon Store ships internationally, and all you need is an Amazon account to get your goods!

© Universal Home Video

© Universal Home Video

BAFTA Scotland Event: Hear A TVO Icon Talk

18 Aug

© BAFTA Scotland

On Saturday 24th August BAFTA Scotland are hosting a masterclass featuring Henry Normal from the production company Baby Cow.

Normal has been responsible for creating, writing, executive producing and script-editing some of the best and most award winning television comedy of the last 15 years, including many, many TVO-connected shows: The Mighty BooshNighty Night, Hunderby, Moone Boy, AD/BC: A Rock Opera and a large number of Steve Coogan/Alan Partridge shows. He is also behind the new Alan Partridge movie, Alpha Papa.

In fact, the list goes on; to see everything Normal has had a hand in, check out his impressive IMDB entryIn this masterclass, he will show clips of many of his shows and discuss how he has built one of the most creative and successful production companies in the UK.

The event takes place at Filmhouse in Edinburgh; tickets cost £4 (£3 concessions; free for BAFTA members). Because this masterclass has replaced another event, we recommend that you contact the box office for ticket information.

While we’re on the subject of Baby Cow’s creative output, you may be interested to know that The 2008 Mighty Boosh documentary A Journey Through Time & Space is now available to view in full on Vimeo:

 

Radio Alan: The Alan Partridge Player

7 Aug

UK and US “Alan Partridge” (Steve Coogan) fans rejoice! There’s a new app available for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch (iOS 6.1 or later).

© Baby Cow, Touch Fantastic, BBC Worldwide

Just 99p in the UK or 99¢ in the States, this app is for anyone who wishes they “could listen to Alan Partridge’s radio show for real.”

Radio Alan features clips of Alan talking “live” on Mid-Morning Matters sandwiched between astonishingly good music (made up of song tracks from your own collection).

This an OFFICIAL app, developed by Baby Cow Productions, and designed to link up with Coogan’s new movie Alpha Papa

Don’t forget to check out the exclusive film clips posted by TVO on 2/8. Alpha Papa has its UK release on 7/8, with US release yet available.

So go to iTunes and search for “Radio Alan” under the apps category. Then sit back and let Alan Partridge be your personal DJ.

Exclusive Partridge

2 Aug

With the UK release of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa just days away (7th August), how about a couple more exclusive clips from the film?

If you click on the image below you’ll be able to watch two scenes (one follows the other):  Alan in North Norfolk Digital’s studio with his co-host played by Tim Key (clip 1), then Alan in fine form in the board room (clip 2):

When you’ve done checking those out, why not continue watching to have a nosey at the content on our youtube channel, which features interviews and live footage from a whole host of stonking TVO acts?

Coogan On Screen & In Print

29 Jul

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

© Baby Cow/Sky Atlantic

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

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

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

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

Alan Partridge: “My Love Letter To Norwich”

25 Jul

Revived broadcaster Alan Partridge premiered his long awaited feature film in his home city of Norwich yesterday, to a rapturous reception.

© Baby Cow

The presenter, who first appeared on the sports desk of seminal news program On The Hour and it’s television counterpart The Day Today, was encouraged to host the premiere in Norwich following an extensive fan campaign, though Partridge denied there was any doubt the city would play a part in celebrations.

He stated: “You can imagine how hurt and litigious I felt when people said I was planning to debut my movie in London instead of Norwich, or that I’d allowed my head to be turned by the prospect of big city fame.  Any suggestions I’ve hastily cobbled together the lunchtime Norwich screening in response to a local Twitter campaign will be met with the full force of the law.”

The film, which is a dramatisation of events in Alan’s life, co-stars Four Lions star Nigel Lindsay as an executive at North Norfolk Digital, which was rebranded as Shape in a corporate takeover not long  before a hostage situation in which Partridge became chief negotiator.

Colm Meany of Star Trek fame plays chief villain Pat, and the film also co-stars Sean Pertwee, Anna Maxwell-Martin and Darren Boyd.  Alan, obviously, plays himself and as ever, the watchful hand of his mentor, Steve Coogan, helped bring the project together.

The film is released on August 7th, and you can see a special preview clip below, alongside the full UK trailer.

One Vision… With Alan Partridge

13 Jun

The first full trailer for Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa has arrived online, and it’s a belter.

The film features Steve Coogan as the eponymous broadcaster, held hostage in a siege at Radio Norwich by a disgruntled former employee (former Star Trek star Colm Meaney).  Along for the ride are Darren Boyd, Sean Pertwee, Anna Maxwell Martin and Four Lions star Nigel Lindsay, alongside Mid Morning Matters co-star Tim Key and I’m Alan Partridge co-stars Felicity Montague, Phil Cornwell and Simon Greenall.  You can see the results below.

With the promise of a golden dad-rock soundtrack, and Alan becoming Seige-Face, this looks set to be a classic already.  Alan Patridge: Alpha Papa is released in cinemas August 7th.

Update! Here are a selection of stills taken from the trailer…

Hunderbafta… With Alan Partridge.

9 Apr

© Baby Cow Productions / Sky Atlantic

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

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

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

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

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

© Baby Cow Productions / Sky Atlantic

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

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

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

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