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The Big Comedy Vote

7 Jan

© British Comedy Guide

Voting for the 2013 Comedy.co.uk Awards has now opened, so pour yourself a large glass of something cold and head on over there to cast your votes!

The nomination lists for the Comedy.co.uk Awards are notoriously comprehensive, so if your taste in TV and radio comedy is wide and varied, chances are they’ve got it covered. What’s more, there are a ton of TVO-connected shows on offer.

For Best TV Sitcom the list includes Count Arthur Strong, Family Tree, Man Down, Bob Servant Independent, Yonderland and Heading Out; for Best Returning Sitcom you’ll find IT Crowd and Phoneshop amongst the nominees; Best TV Sketch Show features Anna & Katy, Fit, Horrible Histories, It’s Kevin and Psychobitches; Best Radio Sketch Show includes Alice’s Wunderland and Colin Hoult’s Carnival of Monsters; Best TV Panel Show includes BFQOTY, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Was It Something I Said?; Best Comedy Drama offers Black Mirror and Crackanory as options; and finally Best Overall 2013 Comedy reads as a who’s who of The Velvet Onion (with a few exceptions – well, you can’t win em all!).

To vote visit The British Comedy Guide; voting closes on Friday 17th January, and the winners will be announced on 20th January via their newsletterTwitterFacebook and homepage.

Alice Returns To Wunderland

6 Dec

© Lewes Herriot / Alice Lowe

Alice’s Wunderland - the surreal radio sketch show from the mind of Alice Lowe returns next week to Radio 4.

The show is set in the titular Wunderland – the pound shop of magical realms which is home to waifs, stays, ghosts, pensioners and squirrels, all brought to life by Alice and her incredible cast.

That includes TVO regulars Richard GloverRachel Stubbings and Clare Thompson, as well as Alan Partridge star Simon Greenall and acting legend Marcia Warren.

Series One aired back in July and August of last year, and we talked to Alice in depth about the show even earlier than that, when the pilot aired in April 2011.  You can read our interview again here.  This time around, the incredibly in-demand wonder that is Ms Lowe is ridiculously busy, so we’ve not been able to offer you a fresh tease.

However, from what we’ve heard about the new run, and from how much we enjoyed Series One, we’re sure it’s going to be something pretty darn special.

The show airs on BBC Radio 4 at 11pm on Thursday 12th December, and continues until January 2nd.  Episodes will be available on iPlayer shortly after transmission, and we’ll provide reminder links when we can.

Though really, nothing will beat wrapping up warm on Thursday night, and taking a trip to a (cheap) magical realm with the rest of us… meet you by the bins at 10:55?

Sightseers Spotlight On: Alice Lowe

1 Dec

As you’ve probably gathered by now, here at The Velvet Onion we’re more than a tad giddy about the UK release  of Sightseers. There are many, many things about the film that make it worthy of merit, not the least of which is the rather wonderful person who plays Tina, the female lead. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with her work, please allow us to introduce you to the writer-actor-comedian-singer-performer extraordinaire, Alice Lowe:

© Big Talk Pictures

If you’re a regular reader of TVO you’ll be aware of Alice’s more recent projects (of which there are many); what you may not fully appreciate, however, is how many seminal comedy happenings (and comedy people)she’s been involved with during her career.

Sightseers isn’t Alice’s first time in a feature film; she’s even played another Tina in a film before, in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. Alice also appeared briefly in Ben Wheatley’s previous release, Kill List.

But let’s start back at the beginning, before the movie roles. Alice started out co-creating and performing in surreal experimental theatre shows such as City HauntsSnowbound and Progress In Flying Machines with David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Since she first graced our TV screens in 2004 in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace as Madeleine Wool/Dr. Liz Asher, Alice’s TV appearances read like a ‘Best of British Comedy’ roll call. There have been parts in the Mighty Boosh (as Monkey in Priest & The Beast), The IT Crowd (as Patricia in Fifty-Fifty), Snuff Box (as David Bowie), This is Jinsey (as Soosan Noop) and Man to Man with Dean Learner - plus roles in game-changing TV shows such as Little Britain, Pulling, Horrible Histories, Skins and Black Books, amongst others.

She also wrote and starred in E4’s overlooked comedy series Beehive (take a look here for our review of the show if you want to know more). Plus, she’s performed with the likes of Rob Brydon, Harry Enfield and Katy Brand in their various TV outings. So far so impressive.

© Jackal Films

For anyone unfamiliar with Alice’s comedy acting skills, for a quick immersion session we’d recommend a gander at Jackal Films creative output.  In 2010 Alice teamed up with director Jacqueline Wright to produce and release a short  film per month – that’s twelve shorts in total.

The quality and range of the films is truly impressive, as are Alice’s performances – take a look at them all here. You can also see some other shorts that Alice features in by clicking on this.

Impressive stuff, but one could argue that her talents are best experienced live, where her uncanny ability to portray the unhinged and yet also sing like an angel, really come to the fore. She was part of Ealing Live in the early/mid-2000s, an experimental comedy group where many of the UK’s finest (i.e. the artists that we write about) started their stand-up careers; take a look at the column on the right of this page and you can see who was involved.

Since then Alice has performed on stage with many of her contemporaries, and we’ve been lucky enough to see her live on a number of occasions, most recently at Oram & Meeten’s Club Fantastico, where she truly shone. Alice and her co-star in Sightseers, Steve Oram, also performed together during Steve Coogan’s 2007 tour, and some would argue that their supporting role, filling in between Coogan’s character changes, provided some of the funniest moments of the show.

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Bid Adieu To Wunderland

3 Aug

© Lewes Herriot

The final episode of Alice’s Wunderland aired last night (2nd August) and we are not the only ones to shed a tear for the last in the series.

The show which has slotted nicely on BBC Radio 4 at 11pm over the last four weeks, written by and staring Alice Lowe and co-staring Richard Glover and Rachel Stubbings amongst others – has generated discussion like no other, taking radio comedy to a new level and fully emphasising the pure organic talent in Alice’s writing.

We truly hope for a return of the series and we’re always excited to find out what is next to come out of Alice Lowe’s brainbox.

Until next time, you can listen again to the final episode of Alice’s Wunderland on iPlayer for the next 7 days.

Wunderland To Keep

24 Jul
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© Lewes Herriot

Alice’s Wunderland, the new comedy written by and starring Alice Lowe, is this week’s Comedy of the Week on BBC Radio 4! That means it’s available as a free podcast for you to download and keep forever.

If you haven’t listened before, the show is narrated by the lovely Marcia Warren who takes you  down a ‘rather manky-looking rabbit hole to Wunderland, the Poundland of magical realms’, to meet strange characters in bizarre situations.  This half-hour of sketches and songs  also stars Simon Greenall, Richard Glover, Clare Thomson, Rachel Stubbings and Waen Shepherd.

So pop over to the BBC Website, and grab a slice of Wunderland. If you love it, and we’re sure you will, the next episode is on Thursday at 11pm on BBC Radio 4 and will be available on iPlayer shortly after this.

TVO Triple!

12 Jul

You wait ages for one comedy show then, like buses, three come along at once! Tonight is one such evening, as Onion layers take over the airwaves!

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First up at 10pm on E4 is episode two of The Midnight Beast, directed by Ben Gregor and featuring our favourite funny man called Simon Farnaby in the shape of, er… Simon Farnaby!

In tonights edition The Midnight Beast turn to the murky world of visual artists to craft a new music video, with suitably anarchic results. We are not 100% sure Simon features this week but its worth a watch regardless.

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Following this, hop over to BBC Three for the series finale of Dead Boss, featuring its cowriter Sharon Horgan alongside Bunny and the Bull star Edward Hogg, at 10:30pm.

In tonights episode, Helen (Horgan) is being transferred to another wing whilst prison governer Margaret (Jennifer Saunders) faces a transfer to another prison altogether. Meanwhile, lovelorn Henry (Hogg) makes a gruesome discovery…

With a special guest appearance by one Miranda Richardson, no less, alongside impressionist John Sessions, it looks like Dead Boss will be going out with a bang!

After the show, its time to turn off the tv, and maybe the lights too, as you flick your dials to Radio Four (you may wish to do this before turning the lights off) – because at 11:00pm, the first episode of Alice’s Wunderland arrives.

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Described by its epicentre Alice Lowe as “the Poundland of magical realms” – Wunderland is a strange and silly place we first visited last year in a one off pilot. Now we can finally return, and alongside Alice are a host of TVO names.

The likes of Richard Glover, Waen Shepherd, Rachel Stubbings and Clare Thomson are part of its ensemble cast, and we can’t wait to hear the results.

This being the 21st century all three shows will be available on catch up not long after broadcast. Pop back here tomorrow for the links, or sit back tonight and embrace the whole bally lot of them…. We will be!

Editor’s Note: The artist behind the Wunderland artwork above – Lewes Herriot – is currently exhibiting at Maison Berteaux, so do check it out if you are nearby!

Stubbing Out Live!

8 Feb

© Rachel Stubbings

Part of the joy of The Velvet Onion for those of us working on it is that we get to shout about comics who haven’t had the masses of attention some of our regulars have received… yet!  One such talent is Rachel Stubbings, who we have been keeping a close eye on since her involvement in Jackal Films‘ glorious two-hander Love Song in 2010, and her involvement in Alice’s Wunderland pilot last year.

TimeOut have suggested she is “destined for greatness” and The List have called her writing innovative, and it’s not hard to see why.  Now Stubbings, whose internet show Stubbing Out has also featured the likes of Alice Lowe and Tom Meeten, is using Stubbing Out as a platform from which to craft her first full length stand-up show ready for Edinburgh 2012.

In this live re-imagining of the show, Rachel acts as scenester, muse and agony aunt to her patients – including the likes of Alistair Green, Nathan Williams and Sam Paphilon – sorting out problems with her prophetic skills and pearls of wisdom.

The first preview night for the show takes place at legendary venue, The Hen And Chickens on February 16th – and it’s followed by a show at the equally fab Camden Head on February 29th.  Tickets are available directly from the venues.

You can see one of the Stubbing Out webisodes, featuring Luxury Comedy star Tom Meeten, below.

Spring Back In Time: A Look Back At April-June 2011

2 Jan

So far our review of 2011 has covered January to March. Today we bring you the sequel: April to June. Aaaah, Springtime…the time of fresh starts and new beginnings! And it turned out to be a very busy time in the Booshniverse too!

April

© BBC

April started with the news of Chris O’Dowd’s appearance in The Crimson Petal and The White, a Victorian drama adaptation miles away from The IT Crowd! It was a fantastic production with a great cast and Chris was excellent in it.

The London Comedy Writers Festival took place this month, with input from TVO favourites Alice Lowe, Jaqueline Wright and Colin Hoult. It was a very busy month for Alice, she starred in  Tap at the Window, appeared with Antony Elvin at Popcorn Comedy, and had the pilot  Alice’s Wunderland broadcast on BBC Radio 4. At the time we were lucky to bag an interview with her which you can read here. We also reviewed Jackal films 2010 calendar project.

Colin Hoult announced the second New Adventures show and Paul Foot was in Australia, tweeting as he went.

TVO enjoyed a bit of a spring clean itself in April with a revamp of the TVO Amazon store, making it even easier to cater for all your comedy needs!

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The Velvet Onion Calendar 2012

29 Dec

The Velvet Onion are pleased to bring you our exclusive 2012 calendar!

We’ve been working with a number of our friends both in front of the camera and behind it, to bring you twelve great shots to print out and stick up on your wall between January 1st and December 31st.

With a fantastic new design from one of our own Velveteers, inspired by the beautiful design work Peeler Kerrie Leisch provided for the site back in 2010, we really hope you like the results – which are available for a free download by clicking on the picture above!

Thank you to everyone involved, and to all of you – our dearest Peelers – for a truly fantastic 2011… here’s to another great year in the realm of the Onion!

Return To Wunderland

2 Aug

© Jimmy Crippen

Alice’s Wunderland has been confirmed for a full series.

The fantastical sketch show from the mind of Alice Lowe, aired a pilot episode back in April – featuring the likes of Claire Thomson, Richard Glover and Rachel Stubbings in support roles alongside Simon Greenall and Marcia Warren.  Sketches were also written featuring Antony Elvin but had to be cut for time reasons.

Following a thunderous reception from peelers, desperate to hear more, we at TVO had very high hopes the show would receive a full commission, so naturally, we’re almost as delighted at this news as Alice is!

Talking to us back in April, Alice already had plans for a series commission, telling us she hoped there would be: “lots of memorable characters, and lots of subversive, weird stuff that you might not get to see on television at the moment.  It’s a surreal fantasy that’s a little bit spooky and frightening. Wunderland should be a bit of escapism to spice up your night!”

To revisit our full interview with Alice on all things Wunderland, click here, and you can also see the first part of our video interview with Hot Brew, who may feature in the series, right here too. We’ll be bringing you more news on the show and its expected air-date as soon as we can.

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