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I Am A Video (and a digital download)

24 Nov

The brand new Gary Le Strange single I Am A Video is available to buy now – and the video can be viewed below.

TVO reached out to Gary’s minder Waen Shepherd for a word from the eccentric but entirely sane cult synth-rocker about the new track.

Proudly describing it as “a 4-minute socio-political dance thesis,” Gary explains that his new single was originally written for his unfinished third album Glamoronica (which is now available as a digital EP), but abandoned when he felt the global record-buying public weren’t quite prepared to be dazzled by such uncompromising brilliance, nor were his chief financial backers prepared to stump up the cash to make the necessary video to go with it.

© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd

“It’s hard to believe this prophetic slice of pop doom was written over ten years ago,” he says. “Yet it’s just as relevant today as it was then. Especially the bits about George Bush and Osama Bin Laden, and the stuff about them wrestling naked on the beach.”

With its four-to-the-floor hardcore dance beats and its hard-hitting but easy-to-follow political message about video culture or Western decadence or the human condition or something, it’s a song that most if not all of the family can both sing and tap their feet along to. Providing they have vocal cords and/or feet.

As ever, TVO is impressed by Gary’s return, and urge you to pick up this single, and Gary’s previous work if you haven’t already! The track is available on Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and Spotify.

© Waen Shepherd

© Waen Shepherd

Noel Fielding XFM Charity Gig

25 Aug

Noel-Fielding-On-StageNoel Fielding will be performing alongside a smorgasbord of XFM favourites at a stand up comedy event for the radio station’s charity, Global’s Make Some Noise. The night’s compere will be John Robins and other acts on the bill include Crims star Elis James, Nish Kumar and James Acaster, with Fielding headlining this evening of fantastic comedy and fundraising.

The charity Make Some Noise is one that aims to give a voice to disadvantaged children and young people in the UK by providing personal and financial support as well as promoting projects that deliver life-changing work to young people and their families in their communities.

The gig will be taking place on Sunday 27th September at The Pleasance Theatre in Islington. Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at 8am and are amazingly only £10 each, with all proceeds of course going to the Make Some Noise charity. More information and a link to buy tickets are available over on XFM’s website.

The UK Comedy Guild

15 Jun

Sara PascoeThe comedy industry is a tough place to work, we all surely know that by now. It becomes quite obvious if we take time to consider the unpredictability of live performance, on stage and off stage. Not only does it cost comics money to perform at certain venues, but the many hours of travelling to and from them also burns a hole in the pocket.

So why, up until now, has there been no official support system for professional comics? This is where the newly founded UK Comedy Guild, with its 400+ members, steps in to act as a safety net for working comedians across the UK and provide personal, financial and even legal support, as well as campaigning more generally for sufficient pay and working conditions.

One of its founders, comedian Sara Pascoe, summed the work of the guild up better than we could: “Being a comic is a wonderful job, but it also leaves people vulnerable and solitary. For too long there’s been no recourse for individuals who have been mistreated.”

The Guild currently has one central council made up of 29 volunteer members who work within the industry, whether that be performing or promoting and consists of: Matthew Baylis, Bobby Carroll, Ben Norris, Jarred Christmas, Matt Green, Dan Edge, Susan Murray, JoJo Sutherland, Silky, Javier Jarquin, Ross McGrane, Cerys Nelmes, Sheraz Yousaf, Brian Higgins, Trish Caller, Kahn Johnson, Paddy Lennox, PierretteS’Cobaz, Doug Segal, Danny Worthington, Alexis Dubus, John Scott, Pam Ford, Dominic Frisby, John Ryan, Julian Deane, Paul Adams, Justin Moorhouse and James Sherwood.

The Velvet Onion Is Five

30 Jan

This weekend marks a historic landmark for The Velvet Onion, as we reach our fifth anniversary of bringing you the very latest in new wave, alternative comedy – primarily from the family of regular collaborators responsible for some of your (and our) all time favourites.


The origins of TVO lie further back in time, and began via initial correspondence with two people who have been crucial to our existence ever since: Dave Brown and Alice Lowe.  Discussions with these two powerhouses of – at the time – criminally underrated talents, led to the initial germ of an idea. Fans of this particular breed of alternative comedy were limited to gleaning information from posts on the old Mighty Boosh forum, which is still the source of many happy memories for some, and fear of the trolls in others. Some of these fans had moved to the short-lived Mod Wolves forum, set up as an official unofficial fan-club, and given the occasional free gift ranging from patches designed by Brown with Noel Fielding, to miniature packets of branded sweets.

At its core, there was no-where anyone was directly concentrating on this connected group of individuals, who were appearing in each other’s projects on a regular basis – and there was nobody promoting any of this stuff if it wasn’t on the telly, and even then, never specifically mentioning the importance of this unnamed movement.  And whilst there was a lot of love for some of the bigger names, and the huge hit shows, there were lots of equally amazing talents who were not getting the kind of attention they deserved.

Which is where we came in. Following a cheeky little web campaign for Lifespam – a much loved BBC Three pilot which was sadly not taken to series – ideas began to form, and though it would be almost a year before they realised, the advent of Jackal Films and their calendar project: a short film every month for a whole year – gave us the impetus to get cracking.

©  Lauren Taylor

© Lauren Taylor

And we haven’t stopped since. Over the last five years, we’ve promoted some of the very best comedy across television, radio, the web, print and stage, and developed relationships with the vast majority of artists we feature on these pages, by treating the project not as a ‘fansite’, but as a professional outlet that just happens to be run in our spare time.  By applying the principles of journalism and marketing, where members of the core team have experience, we’ve managed to turn this silly little blog into a well oiled information-pumping machine.

Over the last five years we’ve given you countless exclusives, interviews, previews, competitions… you name it. And that is exactly how we plan to continue – with a few adjustments, of course.  The web today is a very different place than it was five years ago. The site has already started to adapt to these changes, and we have a huge amount of background planning underway to revamp the look and day-to-day running of TVO, as well as bring you bigger and better exclusives, more visual content, more live shows – just more. More and more and more until we drop.  But more on those when the time is right.

Team TVO in May 2012. © The Velvet Onion

Team TVO in May 2012. © The Velvet Onion

For today at least, I want to say thank you. Not just to the many team members over the years, who have contributed their spare-time to indulge in their passion for comedy, but to all of the names we feature for welcoming The Velvet Onion – and us – into their hearts.  Many of you have blossomed over the last five years into huge stars, but you still keep in touch, and we like it that way. Nothing brings us greater pleasure than those times when our inboxes ping, and there’s a message from one of you, excitedly explaining your latest project, because it means you value what we do, and why we do it, and know that – at the very least – we’ll make some noise about it on your behalf.  You are all equal in our hearts and minds, and we want to do the very best for every single one of you. Let’s keep doing things that way, eh?

I also have to thank the countless names behind the scenes at various organisations, who have looked at TVO, realised we have a use for their project, and got in touch. We still rely on these communications, and the more of them that go on, the better we can become at providing exclusive content for our audiences.

Speaking of them… Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has enjoyed our work over the last five years, everyone who follows us on Twitter or likes our Facebook and YouTube pages. And everyone reading this now. You’re one half of the reason we do all of this: it’s as much about giving you access to incredible comedy and entertainment, as it is about giving something back to the talented souls behind it.

Here’s to the next five years. Keep on peeling!

Paul Holmes
– Editor in chief, The Velvet Onion [2010-present]

Coogan Gets Happyish

23 Oct

Steve Coogan is to take the lead in revamped Showtime series Happyish, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Thom Payne

© David M Russell/Showtime

The series was initially piloted last year, with the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead role, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell directing the first episode.

It featured Hoffman – who also acted as executive producer – as a fortysomething going through a mid-life crisis working for new bosses half his age, with Rhys Ifans as his co-star.

Granted a full series commission, the show was put on indefinite hold following Hoffman’s tragic death in February, with Showtime yet to confirm if they will ever release Hoffman’s completed episode.

©  Dan Hallman/Invision/AP

© Dan Hallman/Invision/AP

The series creator Shalom Auslander, told The Hollywood Reporter: “Steve’s range is astounding — he is a comedy legend, a gifted satirist, and he possesses the unique combination of talents this role demands.”

As big fans of Hoffman’s work here at TVO, we can only say they’ve picked a fine man to step into his shoes, and we offer Steve all our support, as always. Happyish will presumably air in 2015, and we’ll be watching!

Enjoy 8 Minutes On Your Sofa With Kaye

20 May

© Matador Pictures

Back in February we revealed that Paul Kaye was starring in a cinema release called 8 Minutes Idle. The film will be getting its DVD release on Monday and is now available to pre-order.

8 Minutes Idle is a part Kickstarter-funded debut feature from director Mark Simon Hewis, based upon the novel by Matt Thorne.

The warped urban comedy was set and filmed in Bristol, it features Tom Hughes (Cemetery Junction), Ophelia Lovibod (Nowhere Boyi), Antonia Thomas (Misfits), Pippa Heywood (Green Wing) and, of course, Paul Kaye.

The film follows the story of Dan – a man looking for an easy life, who deliberately chooses what he believes will be the easiest job out there: working in a call centre. However, a misunderstanding leads to him eviction, and he is forced to secretly move into his office, along with with his most prized possessions and his cat.

Check this out to pre-order the film from our amazon store for £14.75. In case you’re deliberating, check out the trailer for 8 Minutes Idle below.

New Julia Davis & Dan Clark Project

18 Apr

© Sutton Guardian

Following hot on the heels of the award-winning Hunderby, Julia Davis has been working on a new pilot for Channel 4.

Morning Has Broken follows the story of Gail Sinclair, the star of daily television programme, Good Morning… with Gail Sinclair. After eight years of high ratings and awards, the show featuring ‘The Queen of Daytime’ starts to lose viewers and tensions build within the production team.

Morning Has Broken has been written by and will star Davis, and the 45-minute pilot episode (which will be filmed in London next month) will be directed by none other than Dan Clark!

Producers of the show have said: “It’s a show less about the making of television and more about the relationships between a group of co-workers who, everyday, are under the immense pressure to deliver topical, meaningful content in the world of current affairs, lifestyle, medical issues and showbiz.”

If the pilot episode proves popular with the big cheeses at Channel 4, a full series should go into production later this year.

We’re seriously looking forwards to this one!

Fun Boy Sings

7 Mar

© James Cook

James Cook has released the final track from his covers album, Reverse Engineering, in the form of the  early 80’s pop classic ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’.

For the uninitiated out there, Reverse Engineering consists of two 7-track EPs featuring reworkings of musical material with which Cook feels a connection. Previous releases have included Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie, XTC’s Making Plans For Nigel and Hiroshima Mon Amour by early-incarnation Ultravox.

Our Lips Are Sealed was originally written by The Specials/Fun Boy Three singer Terry Hall and The Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin (who were alleged to have been having an affair). It was first recorded by The Go-Go’s in 1981 and was released by Fun Boy Three in 1983.

Of his version of the track, Cook says: “As a little boy this song helped me get through bullying and teasing of playground days. Although I sensed the deep adult emotions than ran through it, it would only be fully understood by myself in my 20s.”

To listen to the new instrumentation click here (where you can also buy the download by naming you own price). And if you fancy checking out the two previous recordings, here are The Go-Gos and Fun Boy Three doing their thing:

More On Horrible Histories Movie

23 Feb

© BBC Films

A long, long time ago we revealed that the debut feature film from the Horrible Histories cast would be called Bill, and would offer up a uniquely alternative view of Shakespeare’s life story. With production now underway, further details about the film are starting to emerge:

Another TVO-connected artist will be joining Horrible Histories’ regular, Simon Farnaby, in the cast – in the shape of Rufus Jones. Behind the scenes, the movie also involves Ben Wheatley‘s regular collaborator, Laurie Rose (Sightseers, Kill List, A Field In England).

Bill will hit UK cinemas in just under a year’s time – on 20th February 2015, with preview screenings 18/19th February.

To keep on top of the latest news updates and photos from the set of Bill, we recommend liking the movie’s Facebook page or following its twitter feed. Or you could just keep checking in here, of course.

Philomena meets Oscar

17 Jan
© The Weinstein Company

© The Weinstein Company

It’s happened! And TVO couldn’t be happier.  Steve Coogan’s Philomena has been nominated for not one but FOUR Oscars!

The film, based on a newspaper article he wondered if he “might be able to turn into a film” is up for the categories of Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Original Score.

I was absolutely dumbfounded,” he told The BBC today.

Ever the gracefully humble one, Coogan says he thought it might be a “small interesting film”that some people might like and that he “failed [his] English O level twice . . . so if I can do it, anyone can.”

Well we think your talent is enormous, and apparently the Academy does too. So best of luck with the votes and we’ll see you at the Oscars.

And if you haven’t seen it yet (what are you waiting for?!?!), here is the official trailer.

Justin Edwards Goes All P.C.

13 Jan

© BBC Drama

Justin Edwards made a surprise guest appearance in today’s edition of day-time period drama Father Brown.

In yet another sign of TVO regulars taking over television drama (cropping up in Sherlock, Game Of Thrones and Doctor Who to name a few of late), the former Ealing Live regular – perhaps best known to mainstream audiences for his role as Ben Swain in The Thick Of It – played a Welsh constable in the popular murder-mystery saga.

Led by Mark Williams (The Fast Show), the ensemble cast make this show a feel-good treat, but we have to admit that as we’re not avid viewers of daytime telly, even we were surprised to stumble upon the one episode that happened to have a connection to Onion Land.  Call it our comedy sonar, eh?

To make matters even more Oniony in the most trivial of ways, the episode revolved around a character called Stephen Evans, which must have been a bit weird for Justin!

You can see the episode now on iPlayer via this handy linkage, where it will stay until 24th January.  Whilst there’s currently no sign of a UK release, Series 1 was recently released on dvd in Europe, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled should the second series – featuring this episode – follow suit.

Stateside Coogan

7 Jan

Steven Coogan is busy Stateside promoting his new film Philomena.

On CBS This Morning he discusses the topic of the film, which has already won a screenplay award and has chatter around it for an Oscar nod.

The hosts also bring up Coogan’s UK comedy fame, which he humbly acknowledges along with his interest in branching out to dramatic roles and projects. Peelers can see the interview here:



And for an added treat, he’ll also be appearing tonight on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which can be viewed tomorrow on either the Comedy Central website, or by Hulu+ subscribers.

Luxury For Sale

21 Dec

© Noel Fielding

Waaaaay back in February a little bird told us about some exciting new Luxury Comedy merchandise that was in development. So we waited…and we waited. And then we waited a bit longer. And now those items are now available to buy!

You can now get your mitts on an actual Bryan Ferry kite, a Pele mug, character finger puppets, an array of awesome t-shirts and a very pretty keyring. As you’d expect of anything Noel Fielding-related, it’s all beautifully executed and a cut above standard TV show merch. We want it all, please.

Click here to view the full range and to buy stuff.

Even if you’re super-speedy and the Royal Mail are ON IT it’s still unlikely that you’ll get your goods by Christmas, but then we reckon Luxury fans wouldn’t want anything as predictable as giving and receiving presents on Christmas day – so here’s to receiving that parcel from Firebrand on 28th December!

Time to start saving…

Coogan’s Hand On Your Alpha Papa!

6 Dec

© Baby Cow / HMV

Steve Coogan will be making an in-store appearance at HMV Oxford Street next week to promote the home media release of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

The man behind Norwich’s finest will be signing copies of the dvd and blu-ray of his debut feature film, which was released this week.  The event takes place on Monday 9th December between 5:30pm and 6:30pm.

HMV are currently stocking a limited edition version of the film, which features both formats, the soundtrack CD and an exclusive Shortlist mini-mag for good measure, so there’s never been a better excuse to get a copy and meet the legendary comedian.

As the small print explains, space in the queue will be operated on a first-come, first-served basis, and due to the short time-scale of the event, only copies of Alpha Papa bought that day will be signed.

If you can’t make it down there, the magnificent Alpha Papa is still available to buy on dvd and blu-ray from The Velvet Onion Amazon Store now, alongside that soundtrack cd for good measure.  You can see the theatrical trailer for the film below.

Psycho Delia in Willyburg!

14 Oct

© Gina R Snape

Calling all Psycho Delia fans! Dee Plume has lined up one more gig before departing NYC!

Billed as an “Acoustic noodlings of the extensive PD songbook” Dee Plume invites all to “Join in on vox and foot-tap” for this tour of Psych Delia oeuvre at Spike Hill Music in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

So come on down for this free gig, before she flies back to the UK for Oxjam Brixton!

(Stay tuned for more on her adventures in the Big Apple!).

Class Whore At The Pleasance

11 Oct

© Jonny Donahoe

Jonny Donahoe, one half of magnificent musical comedy duo Jonny and the Baptists, is bringing his solo stand-up show, Class Whore to the Pleasance, Islington tomorrow and next week.

Slightly outside TVO’s normal remit, we recommended Class Whore, along with Jonny and the Baptist’s show Bigger Than Judas, back in July. Having since gained much acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe (**** from The Scotsman, Broadway Baby and more), this will be the show’s first outing in London. In it, Jonny takes a witty and insightful look at the British class system through satire, jokes and some heartwarming stories of his upbringing.

Class Whore is at The Pleasance, Islington on 12th and 16th October and tickets are a steal at just £6 (available here). Jonny is also gigging with Jonny and the Baptists in venues up and down the country, the full details of which can be found on their website.

Eldon’s Joking For Justice

27 Sep


Joking for Justice, the World Development Movement’s annual comedy night, is on next month and TVO favourite Kevin Eldon is on the bill.

The night has a spectacular line-up of Arthur Smith, Ava Vidal, Kevin Eldon, Holly Walsh, Sara Pascoe, Catie Wilkins, Ria Lina, Daniel Simonsen, Amadeus Martin and David Morgan. Returning for its fourth year, Joking for Justice will showcase some of the country’s finest satire, musical comedy and downright silliness, all in aid of the World Development Movement’s campaign to win justice for the world’s poor.

It’s at London’s Leicester Square Theatre on 17th October and is just £20 for a ticket which can be grabbed here.

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.

Peeling for Pedigree O’Dowd-style

16 Jul

UK fans of Chris O’Dowd will now get a chance to watch Family Tree. The 8-part series airs on BBC2 beginning 16 July.

Chris O’Dowd takes the lead as the show looks at character Tom Chadwick’s exploration of his lineage after inheriting a mystery box of goodies from a relative he doesn’t recall ever meeting.

Fans of Christopher Guest’s other creations (Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind, Best In Show) will find familiar faces and humour. Peelers might recall an interview last week with Radio Times.

And here is another trailer (courtesy of HBO).

Boosh Do Beck – Tonight!

4 Jul

You may have spotted from our tweets last night that something Booshy is happening at London’s Barbican Centre tonight.

© Mog

The full picture has now been revealed, with Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding  reuniting for a special gig as part of Beck’s ‘Song Reader’ night at the Barbican in London.

They will be performing one of the songs from Beck’s 2012 Song Reader album (actually a book of 20 songs of sheet music, which people were asked to interpret themselves and perform).

As well as the Boosh, Beck himself, Jarvis Cocker, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Franz Ferdinand, Beth Orton, Guillemots and Michael Kiwanuka will be bringing the music to life at the venue.

Noel told XFM earlier today: “We’re so excited to be playing with Beck tonight, he’s an absolute genius! He’s one of our biggest influences and the song they gave us is actually pretty Booshy… It’s perfect.”

Unfortunately, the show is sold out, but if you’re lucky enough to have a ticket, we’d love to hear all about it tomorrow!

This marks the first Boosh musical performance since they announced that they would be reforming for Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme in LA in October. Let’s hope there will be many more!


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