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“That’s Our Slot!” – BBC Three Axed To Drive Cost Cutting With Aunty

5 Mar

Digital channel BBC Three is to be dropped from Freeview, satellite and cable, as part of the BBC’s drive to save £100 million, it has been announced.


The station, which focuses mostly on comedy and reality television aimed at ‘young adults’, is to move entirely online, with its shows living on exclusively on iPlayer.

The decision follows director general Tony Hall’s speech last week, in which he stated that “tough choices” were needed, and that the BBC was “in the final stages of a budget process to find an extra £100m of savings.”

Launched in 2003, BBC Three was responsible for a number of big name projects featuring TVO regulars – amongst them The Mighty Boosh, Mongrels, Snuffbox, Nighty Night, Dead Boss, Pulling, Tittybangbang, Being Human, How Not To Live Your Life and AD/BC: A Rock Opera.


However, in recent years, alternative comedy on the channel faced tough times, as it focused more on reality programming – though the last few months had seen something of a resurgence with popular shows like Cuckoo and Uncle pulling in viewers.

News of the closure has come under significant public backlash, which may reserve the decision as was previously the case for both 6 Music and Asian Network.  Yet with the continuation of the service as an online alternative, and the recent resurrection of BBC Two as a hub for alternative comedy via hit shows like It’s Kevin, House Of Fools and Inside No. 9, perhaps this won’t be such a bad thing after all…

To commemorate the channel’s past successes, we’ve set up a special section in The Velvet Onion Amazon Store, celebrating some of their finest achievements which feature a cavalcade of TVO regulars. You can peruse the collection over yonder now.

End The Month With The Comedian

30 May

© Trinity Filmed Entertainment

A new feature film, The Comedian, featuring Edward Hogg, is release in UK cinemas tomorrow, 31st May.

In case you can’t quite place the name, Hogg comes with two TVO connections: he played the fretful Stephen in Bunny & The Bull and he also played the part of Henry in the series Dead Boss.

In this film Hogg stars as stand-up comedian Ed, failing to make it on the London comedy circuit. He spends his nights performing in small rooms above pubs and his days trying to earn a living at a call centre.

The film focuses on Ed’s passionate affair with a man he meets on a night bus, which forces him to make a choice between his attraction to a man and his love for a woman.

Director Tom Shkolnik, filmed his debut feature on the streets of London to a specific set of rules: including only using natural light, just one take per scene and improvising without a script. It’s an approach that should certainly make for an interesting viewing experience.

To celebrate the release of The Comedian London folk can enjoy a special screening at the Curzon Soho tomorrow at 6.45pm. In addition to the film itself, there will also be intro and post-screening drinks with the Director & cast members, Edward Hogg, Elisa Lasowski and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett. To book tickets for this event click here. If you fancy seeing the film but you’re not able to not able to go to the special screening, please check your local cinema listings for information about general screening times.

If you’d like to find out more about The Comedian (and to see clips, reviews and photos) take a look at the film’s website. In the meantime, why not check out the trailer below?


Stand Up For Homelessness

5 May

Some of the country’s most exciting female stand-up, sketch and character comedians, including a few with TVO connections, are coming together for a night of comedy to raise money for homeless women.

© Bring It Home For Homelessness

Bring it Home for Homelessness takes place on Saturday 18th May at Islington’s Union Chapel. Acts include Foster’s Best Newcomer Award nominee Cariad Lloyd, Canadian stand-up Mae Martin, comedian and actress Aisling Bea (Fit and Dead Boss), Game of Thrones star Gemma Whelan, Zoe Gardner (IT Crowd and regular contributer to Colin Hoult) and Margaret Cabourn-Smith (IT Crowd), Trodd en Bratt (C4, Radio 4), Holly Burn (C4, BBC 4), Grainne Maguire (Radio 4), The Birthday Girls (BBC 3, Radio 4), The Boom Jennies (Radio 4) and Caroline Hardie, all hosted by Alison Thea-Skot (BBC 2) – aka The Human Tuning Fork – and her house band.

Tickets are available to purchase here for £15 and doors are at 6.0pm. Proceeds from the night will go to the Union Chapel’s Margins Project and St Mungos’ Rebuilding Shattered Lives project, which focuses on supporting homeless women.

For more information about the event visit the charity’s website.

Aisling Is Funny!

26 Aug

© Fosters

Aisling Bea, the star of Dead Boss, has triumphed in this year’s So You Think You’re Funny competition in Edinburgh.

The stand up comic and actress has been wowing the crowds in The Intervention alongside our very own Waen Shepherd, but took to the stand up contest as a sideline and ended up becoming only the second female winner in its history.

Now she will be performing at the prestigious Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, and with a second series of Dead Boss hopefully on the way we can safely say her star is on the up. Our hearty congratulations go to Aisling: the sky’s the limit!

Blinkbox Booshdom!

6 Aug

© Copyright blinkbox Entertainment Limited.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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!


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.


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.


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!

Bitch Boss Booshdom Double

21 Jun


Tonight brings comedy lovers everywhere two chances to see Sharon Horgan on their tellyboxes, with a few other familiar faces from Onion Land too.

The Playhouse Presents comedy pilot Psychobitches, which we told you about recently, airs on Sky Arts at 9pm – featuring comic legend Rebecca Front as a psychotherapist interviewing a variety of  famous historical figures all played by big star names.

These include Horgan as Jane Austin and Freida Kahlo [following hot on the heels of Tom Meeten there!], and the fabulous Katy Brand as George Elliot and Joan Of Arc.  You can see a preview clip, featuring Catherine Tate below.

Its director, League Of Gentlemen star Jeremy Dyson is also the script editor of Horgan’s new murder mystery sitcom – Dead Boss – which airs its third episode tonight at 10:30pm over on BBC3.

In tonight’s edition, another familiar face guests in the form of Anna Crilly.  Crilly plays a German cannibal killer on a prison exchange, who makes life even more difficult for Sharon’s character, Helen.

With Bunny And The Bull star Edward Hogg also in the series as creepy work-mate turned stalker Henry, and the ever sublime Jennifer Saunders returning as the wicked prison governor, this strange fusion of Psychoville and The Vicar Of Dibley is one you won’t want to miss.

Dead Boss Pulls A Crowd

15 Jun


Nearly half a million viewers tuned in for the launch of Dead Bossthe brilliant new series from Sharon Horgan, it has been revealed.

Just short of 500,000 people watched the opening double bill of the murder mystery sitcom on BBC3 last night, which is a fantastic result for a late night slot on a digital station.

TVO has been keeping an eye on the show for a while – formerly known as Life Stories and briefly known as Bitches, it is the first of two Horgan projects set to hit our screens this year, with her collaboration with Julia DavisBad Sugar, due any time soon.

Directed by none other than Steve Bendelack, who shot The Boosh pilot episode all those years ago, but is perhaps best known for his work with The League Of Gentlemen, and script edited by League member Jeremy Dyson – the pedigree of Dead Boss was sky high even before it was revealed that its cast would be augmented by comedy legend Jennifer Saunders.

And it seems viewers loved the results, though the critical opinion of the show is somewhat divided at present – with positive reviews from the likes of The Telegraph tempered by somewhat more negative thoughts from the Radio Times.

If you missed the show, you can make up your own mind via BBC iPlayer now – with the first two episodes available already, and the promise of Series Catch-Up keeping them online for the duration of the run.  You may also wish to cast your eyes over this rather positive article from The Guardian, which cites Horgan, Davis and Wix & Crilly amongst the key players making the term ‘comedienne’ less of a stigma by being so brilliant.  Enjoy.

Saunders Is The Boss

23 Feb

© Linda Nylind/The Guardian

An exciting casting development for Sharon Horgan‘s forthcoming BBC3 show Dead Boss has been announced: comic legend Jennifer Saunders!

The Comic Strip and Ab Fab legend will be playing a prison governor, described as a “sexual Margaret Thatcher”.  Horgan’s character is that of an inmate falsely imprisoned for the murder of her boss – and Saunders is set to be a psychotic yet elegant enemy.

Formerly known as Life Stories and briefly known as Bitches, the show is one of two Horgan projects in development – with her collaboration with Julia DavisBad Sugar, also expected on screens shortly.

The links to Booshdom continue, as the show is being directed by none other than Steve Bendelack, who shot The Boosh pilot episode all those years ago.  Bendelack is perhaps best known for his work on The League Of Gentlemen, and one of The League, Jeremy Dyson, is on board as script editor too.

© French & Saunders

Dead Boss is not Saunder’s first foray into the realm of Booshdom, either.  Her last project with former partner Dawn French was Jam & Jerusalem, which featured Simon Farnaby in a prominent role, and the recent Absolutely Fabulous revival featured our very own Lucy Montgomery too!  Not only that, but her make-up artist of choice is none other than Christine Cant of Mighty Boosh and Luxury Comedy fame.  The ties of Booshdom run deep indeed…

The series is expected on our screens in April.  Stay peeled for more info.


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