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Onion Talking: James Cook’s Adventures in Ausland Part 1

18 Feb
© James Cook / Media Curve

© James Cook / Media Curve

If you’re a die hard fan of The Mighty Boosh or a lover of alternative music crafted with care for the details, chances are you’ve heard of James Cook. If you haven’t, then perhaps you haven’t been reading TVO properly these last five years.

With his new album out now, Cook has returned to the London music scene in recent months, and sat down to talk to TVO’s editor-in-chief Paul Holmes, about his past, present and future in a revealing two-part interview, ahead of the next round of his club night, Outsiders, on February 26th. The initial results are below…

The story of any cultural movement that shaped the course of an entire industry is always fascinating to hear.  Some stories, however, have yet to be told in any real detail, such as the birth and subsequent explosion of the new wave of alternative comedy and music that existed in tandem at the turn of the millennium, focused primarily in the heart of North London.

One major player in all of this was James Cook – former frontman of cult favourites NEMO, collaborator of Chris Corner and regular guest star with The Mighty Boosh.  For the last six years, Berlin has been Cook’s base, and thanks to large amount of travel, he knows his ‘way around’ LA, Montevideo and Prague, too. But London will always be his real home. 

© James Cook / Media Curve

© James Cook / Media Curve

“This year has definitely felt like some sort of homecoming,” he tells TVO as he strolls the cold streets of a capital knee-deep into Winter. “It feels like home, really. I was born and grew up in Luton and Dunstable, but London was somehow embedded in my subconscious. It was the teenage dream for a musician and songwriter, to head into the Big Smoke!”

Now following a period of several years spent living abroad, Cook has returned to London to make it his permanent home once more, and has already begun finding his feet again with a new regular live night in the works.

Indeed, as TVO caught up with Cook, he was filled with enthusiasm for the opening night of Outsiders – his alternative pop cabaret at Aces & 8’s in Tufnell Park. “The room was completely full,” James exclaims, full of joy. “The audience was great and the night was fun and exciting – for the band as well as the crowd. It was a lovely way to begin the live side of things again.”

Outsiders features Cook hosting a night of, in his terms: “music and nonsense, with a bit of classic pop dj-ing from yours truly”. It’s also an opportunity to see his ever expanding live band, plus special guests every month. Fifteen years after NEMO began their career as part of legendary club night, The System, there’s a sense that his journey has come full circle.

© James Cook

© James Cook

A whole decade has passed since those heady days, when NEMO ran The System as an electro/indie club night of their own.  “It was unheard of back then,” James states.  “The scene blossomed. Robots in Disguise, Chris Corner and Sneaker Pimps… who later became IAMX, The Mighty Boosh, Imogen Heap, Graham Coxon… they were all regulars.”

“We all used to hang out together as friends,” he continues.  “We’d go to each others events, get drunk together, perform, collaborate, and guest in each other’s shows. I remember once performing a song onstage at the Hen & Chickens with The Mighty Boosh, and Julian Barratt pretending to ‘fancy’ me after seeing me perform. He tried to snog me!” He bursts out laughing, and adds: “Much to Noel’s annoyance!”

Cook subsequently shared a flat in Angel with Barratt and violinist Anne Marie Kirby, with whom he still works to this day. “That was between 2003 and 2007,” explains James.  “So it coincided with my touring with IAMX, NEMO’s rise to infamy, and the writing and filming of all three series of The Mighty Boosh.  They kept calling me in for some weird and wonderful cameo…” He adopts an impression: “James Nemo? Are you available to come to shooting 8am tomorrow morning with the Boosh? Today you will be a blue alien nomad. Can you play this Oud?”

Indeed, Cook’s cameos on the show are numerous. He was one of the Ape of Death’s bodyguard mandrills, a Mod Wolf, a mutant postman, magical shaman, dying hipster, a blue tennis player (The Blue McEnroe, no less), and perhaps most delightfully, Kevin Rowland, searching for the New Sound.  His biggest role in the show, came as a blue-faced nomadic minstrel, slave to Rich Fulcher’s Blue King Alan, who is composes a song about Vince Noir being ‘The Chosen One’.

© Baby Cow Productions

© Baby Cow Productions

“We seriously wrote that song together five minutes before we shot that scene,” James reveals.  “Shooting the Boosh was a bit like that. There was always room for people to put themselves into the role, add lines and improvise. That was the reason for so much laughter and hilarity on set. They were truly magical times.”

It is perhaps hard to believe that it’s now over seven years since the third series aired, and almost eight since the Boosh team were making new episodes – a fact that Cook is all too acutely aware of.  “It still feels very recent,” he tells TVO, “but everyone involved has been so creative and busy that it also feels like forever.  So much amazing material has gone out into the world from that little scene of comedians and musicians.”

“I was so glad when TVO came along,” he adds passionately, “to help join the dots for people. In the early days I felt like I was the one constantly talking about the collective hive mind we had. That family feel. We used to go on holiday together, make short films…” He trails off as a near-forgotten memory rises to the surface.  “We made a legendary silent horror film which we shot in France.  It was called ‘La Rose D’Envie’, and featured Julian Barratt, Chris Corner, Sue Denim and myself. Never even released!”

© Baby Cow Productions

© Baby Cow Productions

The creative family has widened, remoulded and become increasingly fluid in recent years, yet at its core will always be two inter-connected groups – that of Ealing Live (a comedy troupe featuring Alice Lowe, Richard Glover, Oram & Meeten, Katy Brand, Simon Farnaby and many, many others), and the Boosh/IAMX collective across the city.

“When you started to write about it in TVO,” James enthuses, “I was relieved that someone else had noticed the connections and references. It means it has been initially documented and recognised, but the full story can and should be fleshed out properly one day.”

“There was so much creative overlap,” he continues, “between the comedy shows, music nights, albums and tv programmes. The energy was bursting out of North London at the time. A lot of it is captured within the art, but there are so many little notes and stories…” He pauses for a moment, then adds with determination: “I would love to write some sort of memoir about it one day!”

James Cook returns with Outsiders on 26th February. His new album, Adventures in Ausland is available now via Bandcamp. Part Two of this interview will follow next week.

Thanks For The Memories

5 Feb

Celebrating our 5th birthday this week has caused us to get a wee bit nostalgic. So we thought we’d collate some of those “Do you remember when?…” reminiscences into a Best of the first 5 years of TVO. It’s not a comprehensive overview of everything we’ve done, more a subjective account of a few of those ad hoc moments that made us feel warm, fuzzy and just a bit excited.

The favourite moments are different for all of us; sometimes it’s the memory of the event behind the article; sometimes it’s because we nailed an exclusive or wrote something that generated a huge amount of traffic for the website (one post last year generated over 13,000 unique visits in one day, fact fans!), and often it’s the buzz of being able to share something new, exciting and special with you, our readers. So here are a few of the happenings which have brought a smile to our faces over the past 5 years: 

Paul

© Paul Holmes

© Paul Holmes

There are so many glorious memories to treasure. There’s one particular Forgery Club that will forever be in my mind, presented by Hot Brew, and featuring a rare performance by Brown Jenkin (Colin Hoult & Stephen Evans), an appearance by The Mighty Thor and loads more. We were sat talking to Steve Oram before the show, and he noted that he’d never made it big because he liked to do things that broadcasters don’t know what to do with… then went on to give the audience an epic, ten minute long version of “Mary“. To this day, I can’t get a cab in London without thinking: “I will not go South of de river.”

I was particularly proud of the Mongrels takeover in November 2011, as various people being very busy meant I did that one pretty much solo, but was riddled with a genuine (and full blown) flu after arranging interviews with the whole cast and creator Adam Miller! I managed to salvage the interviews, strike up positive relationships with every single one of the team I spoke to which continue to this day, and fix up a wodge of behind the scenes stuff AND a competition to win DVDs of Series One, despite being unable to stand up or focus on a screen for more than a few minutes at a time. If you click here and scroll down, you can see everything.

Another good one to mention is Zimbani, which came to my attention early on in the life of TVO, when Dave McNeill & Colin Hoult emailed me to enthuse about their new show featuring Julian Barratt. It was the first time anyone had come to me direct outside of casual chatter, and really began expanding our world for the first time. Colin later made my partner, and occasional TVO designer, Lauren, get down on all fours and pretend to be a pig in front of Simon Amstell. Now that was a strange moment.

Then again, there’s many of those. Getting accidentally lost for a moment in a strange building behind the London Palladium with Isy Suttie at a screening of Alice Lowe‘s People Place. Similarly, getting trapped in a lift with Mike Fielding and an old lady who refused to let anyone else press the buttons to get us out of this chaos. And then there’s that strange bar James Wren led a motley post-Spank crew along to that felt like something out of a Bond film, somehow managing to stay glamorous at 3am. It’s been a funny old time.  But above all else, it’s just been nice to be welcomed into the fold of this wonderful group of friends and collaborators, and be trusted to give them everything I can to help their work reach a wider crowd. Let’s keep doing it, eh?

Mog

Having been involved in TVO since the very early days makes picking a favourite moment is a real challenge – but this one was pretty special: In 2011 Dave Brown was putting together Noel Fielding‘s art book Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton. They needed one last thing to finish it off before it was sent to the printers, and they contacted us to provide it. We were able to offer our readers the opportunity to have a photograph of their faces painted over by Noel and included in the book. A double page spread of your lovely faces appeared in the book when it was published, alongside the caption ‘MY TINY CHILDREN’. A wonderful show of their appreciation for the fans, and something which we were delighted to facilitate on their behalf.

© Noel Fielding/Dave Brown

Our Sightseers take-over was pretty special too (click here and scroll down). We had no idea it would become such a cult hit at the time, and it was great to be able to support so many of ‘our lot’ (Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Richard Glover Tom Meeten) with a week of exclusives.

© Big Face Productions

On a personal level, getting to know a few of the people who we write about – and discovering that they’re damned nice people as well as being unbelievably talented – has been a privilege.

A particular high point has been getting to know Hoppo. Introduced to me at Club Fantastico as “the only man to have survived Old Gregg”, John Hopkins turned out to have a TVO pedigree as long as his (long) arms, being part of the original Ealing Live gang and having worked with half of the people that we cover. He’s also lovely. If you don’t know who he is, we urge you to read our interview/profile about him and check out his stuff.

Helen

There are lots of brilliant moments I could mention, but as a fan of Hayden Black, it’s been a pleasure getting the chance to spread the word about him. I guess I’ve become our resident expert on Hayden’s creative and comedic output; take a look at this to find out more.

Paulyne

The moment that stands out in my mind is Fulchfest (Rich Fulcher‘s legendary comedy night in Kentish Town). I’d say that was the most fun I could have. This Pete Heat video that we filmed summarises it perfectly:

I’ve also had some brilliantly fun nights at Dan Clark gigs – often with Mog. Here’s a review of one of them.

© Mog

Aggie

I think my favourite moment is the Zappa Plays Zappa gig at the Camden Roundhouse, with The Mighty Boosh Band as support. Being surrounded by odd men with moustaches while weird music was playing… and then rushing across town to a Rich Fulcher gig – where all the familiar faces already were. It was a perfect blend of what started it all and the new direction TVO had pushed us all in.

Rosanna

Seeing the Boosh warm-up gigs in 2013 was great, and it was lovely going to Soho Theatre as part of the TVO team. It was brilliant to see them on stage together again, in a lovely small venue, with the magic between them there as if they’d never gone away. The review was great too!

I loved going to see the Inside No. 9 preview at the BFI. It’s now one of my favourite pieces of TV and seeing it in the cinema was really special.

Michael

Being involved in filming TVO Live was one the most fun shoots I’ve done, but also the toughest because it was so difficult holding the camera still due to my laughter! We couldn’t have wished for a better line up. Fingers crossed for a TVO Live 2!

Trixie

My favorite TVO memory is of when I interviewed Rich Fulcher in LA. I hadn’t done anything like it before, and he was so funny and generous! I admire Rich so much, and it was wonderful that he was everything he seems to be and more. A truly funny man.

Becca

The Luxury Comedy coffee competition was great, because it encouraged people to create something artistic. And I loved the series of Noel Fielding interviews to celebrate his birthday, which featured questions from our readers:

So there you have it – a sprinkling of very happy memories from a few of us. A big TVO thank you to the artists who we write about, who have provided us with these highs and who make it all possible. And thanks too to you, for being interested enough in what we do to come with us on our journey to the outer reaches of the comedy universe. It’s been quite a ride so far…

Ooo, Eee, It’s A New Song From Dee!

15 Dec

Dee Plume has unleashed the third single from her solo project Psycho Delia.

Formerly one half of Robots In Disguise and a regular guest star in The Mighty Boosh, Dee has been working on Psycho Delia for some time now, and this track: The Ooo & The Eee, comes complete with a charming music video you can see below.

The song will be available to buy shortly, but links are still being confirmed. We’ll try to update you when we can, but in the meantime, keep your eyes on Dee’s Twitter page for more info.

Gold After Dark

7 Sep
© gold.uktv.co.uk

© gold.uktv.co.uk

UKTV Gold are running a new late night strand at the weekends. Starting on Friday (5th), they are “celebrating the very best in dark humour and cult comedy classics every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11pm”.

There are a lot of TVO related people and shows, starting with the reason most of you are here: The Mighty Boosh will be shown on Friday nights at 11:40pm. It’s been a while since the show has been on TV, and I’m sure, like us, even though you have worn out your DVD’s, you’ll be tuning in!

Of course there’s nothing dark about our favourite show, but that can’t be said for the next TVO related offering – Nighty Night starts it’s run at 11:40pm tonight. The show, written by and starring Julia Davis, is described as “a West Country Fatal Attraction”, and also stars Kevin Eldon, Mark Gatiss, Ruth Jones, Angus Deaton and Rebecca Front among others. If you like watching your comedy from behind the sofa then this one is for you. It’s not for those of a nervous disposition, but is very funny once you get over how nasty Jill is.

Gold are also showing another Julia Davis dark comedy. Human Remains is written by and stars Julia and Rob Bryden as six different dysfunctional couples. The first episode follows Nighty Night at 12:35 tonight.

Today at 11pm sees the first episode of The League of Gentlemen (maybe the picture gave you a clue!). As you probably already know, this was the work of writer/performers Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, and writer Jeremy Dyson. This one is definitely in the ‘dark’ category, but also very funny.

Saturday at 11.40pm is The Thick of It, starring Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison, Justin Edwards, Jo Scanlan, James Smith, Roger Allam and Alex McQueen. This is a dark political satire, with some laugh out loud moments.

Also on Saturdays at 1am is  The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, starring Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Best just watch it and see what happens.

Also scheduled is 15 Storeys High, a flat-share comedy written by and starring Sean Lock and Benedict Wong (The IT Crowd), straight after The Mighty Boosh on Fridays.

To see the full schedule and more information about the programmes, see the Gold Website.

Donate & Win – Noel Tickets & Signed Prints!

11 Jul
© Dave Brown

© Dave Brown

Would you like to win a signed Mighty Boosh print and/or tickets to see Noel Fielding live? Of course you would – well all you have to do is donate £5 to Oriel Colwyn via this link.

Dave Brown has generously donated 4 prints to Oriel Colwyn – the dedicated photographic gallery space where he showed his Behind The Boosh exhibition in 2012.

There are four prizes up for grabs:

1st Prize

Noel Fielding – Oversized A3 print signed by Dave. This is an original image from his personal collection.

+ A pair of tickets to ‘An evening with Noel Fielding’ at Venue Cymru, Llandudno

2nd Prize

Boosh Busts – A2 sized print signed by Dave.

Image originally from ‘Behind the Boosh’ exhibition – Proud Galleries, Camden, London

3rd Prize

Moon Noir – A2 sized print signed by Dave.

Image originally from ‘Behind the Boosh’ exhibition at Oriel Colwyn, Flint Norwich and Proud Galleries, Camden.

4th Prize

Stance in Pants – A3 sized print signed by Dave.

Image originally from ‘Behind the Boosh’ exhibition at Oriel Colwyn and Flint Norwich.

There is no limit to the number of times you can enter, so if you have £10 to spare you can enter 2 times etc. The date for the last entries/donations 8:00pm on Sunday 12th October so there is plenty of time to save up for more than one entry – why not give it a go? You will be donating to a great cause and might be a lucky winner of one of these unique prints, or tickets to see Noel. The winners will be announced on Monday 13th October.

Click here for more details of the prizes and terms and conditions.

“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.

© BBC

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.

© BBC

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.

Dead Dog Unbagged

10 Feb

The archives of Dead Dog In Black Bag are open, and are now available to hear via Soundcloud.

© Angel Ceballos

© Angel Ceballos

The band began life around 2006, as Holly Jane Shears joined forces with Amy Richardson to form a dynamic duo responsible for pure electropop filth. Together, they both appeared in the third series of The Mighty Boosh the following year, most notably as party-goers invited by Vince to what was meant to be Howard’s party – both suitably unimpressed by the corset clad corduroy catastrophe trying to chat them up!

After releasing their debut EP, featuring a collaboration with Rich Fulcher, Richardson departed the band, to be replaced by the delightful Suzy Evelyn-Hall.  Their single Calimari Queen was an underground favourite, and the band continued to appear live sporadically around the duo’s other commitments, including Holly’s time with folk-rockers Circulus.

In recent years, Dead Dog have been somewhat quiet – appearing only on special occasions, such as The Velvet Onion Live in May 2012, which you can see footage of below.

Now in a moment of retrospection, they’ve gone and released a selection of their previous work on Soundcloud.

This includes the aforementioned Fulcher duet, Uncle Kevin; the ode to internet dating, Digital Princess; and the smutty fun of Love Meat.  Also uploaded are collaborations with Frisky And Mannish and a remix made for Robots In Disguise. You can hear them all over at the DDIBB Soundcloud account now, or below via our handy playlist. Enjoy…

The Bleedin-Great-White Polar-Bear In The Room

5 Jan

No, we don’t do elephants. Too cliché.  We’re here to talk about The Mighty Boosh, and we’re sure most of you know why.

© Baby Cow Productions

© Baby Cow Productions

It all started on Sunday morning, when at the bottom of a pile of showbiz drivel on their website, The Daily Mail ran a short piece, that didn’t even warrant a photograph: too busy touting shots of pop-stars no-one cares about.

It read, and we quote:  “Fans of cult TV series The Mighty Boosh will be thrilled to hear that its stars are at last putting together a script for a big screen version.  Almost two years after Noel Fielding, 40, who plays Vince Noir in the quirky comedy, announced plans to turn the show into a film, he and co-star Julian Barratt are finally putting pen to paper.  ‘We’re going on tour early in the New Year and we’ll be working on material that hopefully could make a movie,’ says Julian, 45.  ‘We want to make something great for the fans.’”

Now, quite understandly, this vexed us something chronic.  Was this, perhaps, Julian Barratt being assailed on the red carpet at the première of The Harry Hill Movie last month, chronically misunderstood?  Or was there more to it?

Naturally, we went digging.  And whilst other comedy sites picked up on the story – both Chortle and British Comedy Guide (merely doing their job of course) publishing pieces based on this seemingly random quote – we spoke directly to Boosh management, who very kindly confirmed this was a no-go story.

And then, as if by magic, the boys themselves got in on the act.

First off the block, came Dave Brown, and Bollo himself had some heartwarming words of wisdom for us all…

Then before we could say a word, in waded Noel Fielding himself, who was by now being named as the person who spoke to the Mail by other publications, with a succinct denial…

So that’s that, then.

As much as we ourselves look forward to whatever the Boosh have got planned in da foocha, we nevertheless must confirm that, at present, any talk of future plans is just that: talk.

The Boosh will be loose, and a little bit raw at some point in our future.  The movie is always an ongoing concern, the album is in the can and waiting for the right moment to be released, and the success of their live dates in September and October proved there’s life in the Sunshine Kid and Captain Corduroy yet.

BaP0gDaCQAELQGx

© Paul Holmes / The Velvet Onion

But for now, we must be patient.  Series two of Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy nears completion, and though a challenging first series polarised opinions, we’re confident the show is bigger, bolder and above all else, better than before – and we can’t wait for you to see the results.

Indeed, we visited the set last summer for another of our stonking video exclusives, which we’ll be bringing you in due course, along with a whole host of other Luxury related goodies as soon as we can.  The moment is being prepared for, and when the time comes, we’ll do the same for the Boosh return too.

When it happens, you’ll be ready… and that’s because we’ll still be here, keeping you abreast of everything else the boys, and the numerous fine and wonderful comics who encircle them are up to on stage, television, film, radio, online and in print.

There’s so much to savour, it’s hard to believe there’s been so little Boosh activity since TVO started four years ago.  We think all these other projects keep things ticking over rather well, don’t you?

But here’s the thing…

As of today, there are no confirmed live dates.  There’s no confirmed movie details.  There’s no plans for the television series to return.  The album release remains in limbo.  
The only reason we’re posting this now is to make that absolutely clear, so no more fans get caught up in the false excitement that the original article, and subsequent recycling online has created.
The Mighty Boosh are back on hiatus, but this could change at any time.   And as Dave suggests up above, with any luck we’ll be amongst the very first to know.  
And therefore… so will you.
Stay peeled.

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.

Continue reading

The Boosh Is Loose In CAL-I-FOR-NI-AAAAA!!!!!

22 Oct

© Gina R Snape

This weekend saw The Mighty Boosh play two shows in California, with a last minute gig at The Comedy Store being followed by Tenacious D’s well publicised Festival Supreme.

TVO’s US correspondents Gina R Snape and Teresa Whelan were on hand to document events, and this is their exclusive report…

Peelers around the globe either woke up in hazy happy disbelief or frantically searching the internet for all the glorious proof that The Mighty Boosh really did play two gigs in California this weekend.

© Gina R Snape

Have no fear! It wasn’t a dream. And The Velvet Onion was there for everything! So here’s our round-up. (Apologies for the delay. But unfortunately Naboo’s flying carpet didn’t have WiFi on our return trips home).

The Friday night benefit at The Comedy Store for Drop In The Bucket was a heck of a show. Viewers were treated to a full hour set!

Despite terrible jetlag, Naboo must have provided some incredible energy potion because the boys pulled all the stops out! Here for our readers is a TVO exclusive shot of the setlist.

Next came Festival Supreme, with an intense half hour set (sleuthy peelers can find clips on YouTube). The Boosh opened with “Electro Monk”, Julian performed Yeti solo, Noel returned to the stage for Hello Little Deer, and Old Gregg (who proclaimed he located Howard thanks to Tenacious D)  appeared for Mangina and Love Games – ending with a fan service nod to Stockholm Syndrome.

IMG_3444

Introducing the Mirrorball Suit 2.0!
© @NickYoussef

Fans went mental as Noel stripped down to Mirrorball Suit 2.0 And Julian ripped off his elbow patches to reveal elbow tassles! No Boosh show would be complete without a “Don’t Touch Me!” declaration, Noel throwing artwork into the crowd, and a healthy dousing of Bailey’s by Old Gregg. The crowd cheered for an encore when they left all too soon. (Dave Brown confirmed on twitter that they had a 30 minute pull-the-plug limitation).

Olly kept the beat in the back, and fans screamed with delight when Naboo and Bob Fossil made their appearances.

Readers are welcome to click here for the full collection of TVO photos. The events may be over, but the magic lingers. Thank you, boys, for bringing the Mighty Boosh together, coming to the States, and leaving us with tears of Oniony joy.

For more pictures from the shows, click to read more…  Continue reading

Fielding The Market For Mike

20 Sep

© The Velvet Onion

Londoners will have a rare opportunity to view and purchase Mike Fielding‘s artwork next month.

The Luxury Comedy star will be playing it Smooth (see what we did there?) as part of the one day event from local arts network, The Design Marketplace.

The DM runs various markets and events all year round, bringing together the funkiest makers and thinkers to share ideas and spark new inspiration, and October’s event takes place at Proud Camden on 13th October, starting at 3pm and ending at 9pm.

It’s free to visit, and there’s loads to explore, plus the added bonus of the chance to own a painting by our very own magical shaman turned volcanic island barrister himself.

To get involved, or just to learn more about the event or The DM itself, visit their Facebook page.

Fans of Fielding should also remember that he will be appearing at the Now You Will Listen creative storytelling event in Sheffield on 29th September, which of course means he will be absent from the first Boosh Band show at the Soho Theatre that evening.  Mike has assured us however, that he’ll be around for the following evening’s performance, so if you’re going to both, you’ll still get your Naboo-fix!

GuruMediator Gets Isolated!

28 Aug

Here at TVO Towers, we’re big fans of YouTube remixer GuruMediator, who has been taking British comedy classics and given them messed up dance remixes for the last few years – check out his channel for a string of delightful pieces featuring the likes of BottomRed Dwarf and Withnail And I to name but a few.

So imagine our delight when this popped up on our screens – a full blown dance mix given to Isolation: Howard Moon’s ode to an eternity left alone on a desert island from series two of The Mighty Boosh.

It’s short and sweet, and is making us itch for more… and joins ZooZoo by Pogo, Ol’ Gregg by Godeemis and Electro-Man by T-Pain on the hypothetical TVO mix-tape. Play it loud!

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:

 

Noel Fielding Interview Part 5: The Mighty Boosh

25 Jun

Two weeks ago we brought you Part 4 of our exclusive interview with Noel Fielding, in which he answered your questions about Luxury Comedy. This week Noel talks about The Mighty Boosh, a topic very dear to many people’s hearts (if the recent social media furore around the team’s reformation for Festival Supreme is any indication!).

Please accept our apologies that this one has been a wee while coming. We hope that the end result was worth the wait, and that we’ve been able to provide you with an angle on The Boosh story which we don’t ususally get to hear about in interviews; anyway, we’ll let you be the judge of that!

This marks the end of our series of interviews with Noel; we hope you’ve enjoyed watching them (feel free to let us know what you think in the comments box below). Thanks to all of you who sent in questions in the first place, and thanks for subsequently commenting, capping and giffing (is that a word?) the hell out of our little films across tumblr, twitter and the like. Fieldmice, we salute you!

Of course, the biggest thanks goes to Noel for allowing us to badger him with questions, and for his amazing energy, patience and downright loveliness throughout the project.  Thank you, Noel – you’ve been brilliant!

If you’ve missed any of the previous instalments, here are the links in easy-to-click-on format: Teaser; Part 1 (Turning 40); Part 2 (Random questions); Part 3 (Random questions); Part 4 (Luxury Comedy). Enjoy!

Ayoade Gets Animated

26 Apr
@www.comedy.co.uk

@www.comedy.co.uk

Richard Ayoade of Submarine, The IT Crowd, and The Mighty Boosh fame, will voice a part in Strange Hill High, a CBBC series that has been commissioned for 2013.

The series was created by Josh Weinstein, (Futurama, Simpsons) and is filmed using a new technique that includes, vinyl puppets, stop motion, cgi, and movie-style lighting and effects. Strange Hill High chronicles the mystery solving adventures of Doc Brown ( Ben “Doc” Brown), and his two best friends, Becky Butters, (Emma Kennedy), and Templeton (Richard Ayoade). New kid Doc, confident Becky, and nerdy Templeton, get to the bottom of the other-worldly happenings that take place at the school.

13 episodes have been commissioned for the first series, and additional episodes have been requested for season 2, before the first series has even premiered.

As per his usual, Richard Ayoade’s new project is current, interesting, and sure to gain the attention of viewer’s everywhere.

Look for Strange Hill High on CBBC this spring.

2012: A Year In Interviews

2 Jan

In 2012 we were lucky enough to get the chance to chat to a few of the artists that we write about on these pages. So here’s a look back at some of the year’s interviews – and the fascinating, colourful and revealing comments that were shared. A big thank you to everyone who gave us their time and permitted us to poke cameras and dictaphones in their faces – we couldn’t do this without you! 

© Dave Brown

“You kind of get sick of photographers going: ‘What about this? Let’s try a look. Gimme a look! thumbs up, relax that jaw, big smile, oooh, Cheeky! Whuhey!’ All that kind of crap. Whereas with this, it was the opposite and I think they enjoyed the novelty. I think there’s a certain power to looking moody.”
Dave Brown talks about the un-comedy portraits in his photography exhibition ‘Tough Crowd’

“You do sort of wonder how many more good dresses you can pull out of your wardrobe. I might just turn up to the next one looking like Tina and go: ‘Hi, everyone. I’m not actually a film star. I don’t have the wardrobe for this.’”
Alice Lowe discusses dressing for the multiple Sightseers premiers

“They keep going on! The London Film Festival was the gala screening, and I went to Cannes for the premiere there, which was very exciting. They had one last Thursday, which I couldn’t go to, and then this one tonight, which is being called the UK Premiere. I’m not sure what the difference is anymore, but it will be fun. I get to wear my suit again.”
Richard Glover’s take on dressing for the multiple Sightseers premiers

© Examiner

“That is completely Noel’s fault. I kept saying ‘Can’t I be called something like Jana or another German name?’ and he said ‘No, Dolly is better’ and he and Nigel Coan were absolutely certain that I was going to be called Dolly. I got really self-conscious about it, and in the early days of filming Tom Meeten enjoyed putting my name in every single sentence because I was so embarrassed about it.”
Dolly Wells squirms about playing a character called ‘Dolly’ on Luxury Comedy

“Before Boosh, I was the shyest person in the world. I was scared of my own shadow, I wouldn’t talk to anyone that I didn’t know. Boosh has made me who I am now. It’s given me an animated, childish confidence. People say that when you’re thirty, you can’t be stupid like that anymore, but who says? There’s no rules!”
Mike Fielding in introspective mood

“We thought we knew what we were doing – we didn’t – and suddenly we found ourselves on stage with all these people like Simon Farnaby. They assumed we must be good, so we had to come up with something. It was all an accident, no actual decisions were made.”
John ‘Willie’ Hopkins talks about his appearances at Ealing Live with Richard Glover.

© Amelia’s Magazine

“I’m not sure I have much of an opinion on mainstream music – I just don’t really listen to it! I imagine if I did listen too much I might not be too complimentary about it, so best not to get involved! Or maybe that’s where I’m going wrong. I think I’ll go and check out the charts RIGHT NOW!”
Sue Denim’s views on mainstream music

“You do get to see why it’s a bad idea to go and kill people, in a really cathartic way.”
Alice Lowe notes that Sightseers has a strong moral code 

“Maybe he doesn’t like the idea of being moody for me…the offer’s there, Paul, whenever you’re ready, stop body swerving me and get on your frown for Brown!”
Dave Brown courting Paul Foot for ‘Tough Crowd’

“Yeah. It’s not like I’m gonna go: ‘Well, actually, it’s funny you should say that. I’ve got a little pot of spunk in my pocket.‘”
Mike Fielding’s reaction to fans screaming at him that they want to have his babies

“My brother never stops talking. Usually about sweets.”
Noel Fielding’s analysis of bother Mike

“I’ve secretly always wanted to be in the S.A.S. A friend of mine used to say I could have been in the S.A.S. but on reception.”
Richard Glover talks about his alternative career path

“I’ve got my balls out on telly, they’re horrible things…I’ve got really dangly balls.”
Tom Meeten discusses his award-winning appendages

“Keep the faith! And let’s get The Boosh to make a film before they get too old and grey!”
Oly Ralfe’s message from NY to TVO readers

“Writing with Alice is like writing with your wife. It really is just like being with your wife, and arguing on holiday, whilst sightseeing, then writing it down.
Steve Oram’s take on writing Sightseers with Alice Lowe

© Big Talk Pictures

“I tend to write the first draft of stuff, then Amy totally rewrites it! She changes everything, and I’ve learnt over our twenty-odd year relationship to understand how that works for the greater good.”
Director Ben Wheatley’s approach to working with his long-term partner, Amy Jump

“We’ve got the power to take people on a journey – if we want to go to the moon, then let’s go to the moon for 10 minutes!”
Joey Page on the power of stand-up

© Marjorie Keak

“If a drama show goes out on TV and it’s not that good no one kicks up a fuss, no one goes ‘Whoever commissioned this should be shot. I want my license fee back!’ I could easily say that a drama that doesn’t engage me in the first five minutes is the same as a comedy that doesn’t make me laugh, but people just don’t mind as much – they just accept that it’s not their cup of tea. But rarely do people accept that about comedy!”
Dan Clark takes on the harsh critics of comedy

“There’s no limits with him, whereas when you meet an actor for the first time it can be a bit awkward to pull their trousers down or something. With Richard, you can punch him in the face, rape him, and he’ll still come back for more.”
Steve Oram shows his love for working with Richard Glover on Sightseers

“I’ve been looking at Noel’s face constantly for three years, and even I watch him and say ‘There’s NY Cop’. I don’t say ’There’s Noel doing NY Cop’. You’re not looking at Noel, you’re looking at the character. It’s pretty incredible because he’s got such a pointy, distinctive face.”
Nigel Coan, director of Luxury Comedy, talks about Noel’s character performances

“I can’t believe they didn’t have Minstrels!”
Mike Fielding

© Secret Peter / Channel 4

Sightseers Spotlight On: Steve Oram

1 Dec

Earlier today we profiled Alice Lowe, who played the female lead in Sightseers.  But what of her collaborator, co-writer and co-star? How much do you know about Steve Oram?  Trust us, there is far more to the man than just a ginger beard and a caravan. Please allow us to enlighten you…

Many Boosh fans were first introduced to Steve when he played the surprisingly articulate, cape-lovin, anti-hero, Donny the Tramp, in The Mighty Boosh episode, The Strange Tale of the Crack Fox. But in fact the industrious Mr. Oram has been at work behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera since 2001 as very productive actor, writer, and musician.

Steve Oram first came to our attention when he appeared as a policeman in the second series of the spoof documentary People Like Us. In 2002 came the hilarious Ant Muzak, a short film that chronicles Adam Ant and entourage as they grocery shop in the wee hours. In addition to performing his stand-up comedy, he made appearances on Greenwing, Tittybangbang, and also made a feature-length film,  It’s All Gone Pete Tong. 

Steve acted in the TV series The Comedy Lab, alongside many other well-known performers, including, Kevin Eldon, Ricky Gervais, Alice Lowe, Tom Meeten, and Katy Wix. One outstanding work that came from this series was the short film, Matthew and Tone: Tales of Friendship and Innocence. Steve starred as Tone, alongside Tom Meeten’s Matthew. In fact, Tom and Alice often create and collaborate with Steve, and appear with him in shows.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Ralfe Band Reminder

7 Sep

© Ralfe Band

We mentioned it a while back, but don’t forget that the Ralfe Band will be appearing as part of the bill at The Lexington in London on Tuesday 11th September.

If you haven’t encountered their music and you’re wondering what their connection to the world of TVO is, Oly Ralfe has appeared in The Mighty Boosh, the band created the soundtrack for Paul King‘s Bunny and The Bull, and Oly filmed and directed the Boosh tour documentary Journey of the Childmen. So quite a TVO pedigree. Plus, their music is enchantingly beautiful – which is even more of a reason to check them out.

Ralfe Band will be performing alongside Piney Gir and Correatown on the night. Tickets are only £7 and the gig starts at 7.30pm. For more information and tickets click here.

Terry Nutkins: 1946-2012

7 Sep

The Velvet Onion is saddened to report the death of Terry Nutkins.

© BBC

A veteran of British television, Nutkins presented wildlife shows Animal Magic, The Really Wild ShowBrilliant Creatures and Growing Up Wild to name but a few.   There’s not a person alive in Britain over the age of fifteen who hasn’t at some point enjoyed the work of Terry Nutkins.

In 2010, he spoofed his animal-loving image in the first series of TVO’s very own Mongrels – firstly performing Semi-Automatic Surgery on Nelson the Fox, and later attempting to take Marion’s one remaining life before he could have his way with his kitten girlfriend.

Prior to this, he also became a subject for a joke in The Mighty Boosh in a similarly vulpine themed episode – The Strange Tale Of The Crack Fox.  When an imprisoned Naboo took control of a trendy friend of Vince Noir, he accidentally revealed that Vince was once caught tonguing a photo of Terry in his Really Wild Show annual!

A true tv great and a cultural reference point to generations, Nutkins sadly died from leukaemia yesterday, aged 66.  Our thoughts are with his family and friends.  For more news on this story, visit BBC News.

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