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.
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.
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!
– Editor in chief, The Velvet Onion [2010-present]