Series 3 of Yonderland hits our TV screens later today, and we’re pretty darned excited about it. If you’re familiar with the show you’ll know that the unique visual world the team has created is one of its (many) pleasures. And if you’re not familiar with Yonderland yet, trust us – it is. And you really need to be.
We asked Larry Rickard and Jim Howick, two members of the talented Yonderland/Horrible Histories/Bill team responsible for creating, writing and performing the show, to talk us through a set of images taken from the new series. Their answers provide a fascinating insight into the surreal silliness that we’ll get to enjoy in the weeks to come, and the memories they have of filming each moment:
Anthony Head, Tom Meeten, Dan Skinner (Episode 5)
Larry: I love this shot. It would be easy for the real world story to get lost amidst the Yonderland insanity [Yonderland is a parallel world accessed via a cupboard in Debbie and Peter’s kitchen], but without Peter (Dan Skinner), the jeopardy just falls apart. And he’s got much more on his shoulders this series, as his new job becomes a major bone of contention. But he gets more fun this time round too – here he’s trying to cure his dad’s (Anthony Head) golf injuries in the least scientific way imaginable, with help from Tom Meeten.
Negatus covered in shit (Episode 5)
Larry: With Imperatrix gone, this should be a golden age for Negatus. But, as you can probably tell, he does not have a great time of it this series. Though his expression in this shot is alllll Farnaby. I’m not sure he much enjoyed getting covered in… whatever that it. Though I bit that bullet for five years on Horrible Histories, so I only have limited sympathy.
Jim: I don’t see Negatus covered in shit here. Just Farnaby covered in shit. He hated it. To be fair who wouldn’t? We thought it was hilarious. He was very professional. I think it was melted Snickers.
Biker Creatures (Episode 3)
Larry: Ah, these are the latest scourge to hit Yonderland and, with Debbie now wrestling a house move, a different sort of hero emerges to confront them. As you can imagine, it does not go smoothly. Fantastic creations from our puppet department – Bernie Clifton for 2016.
The Bird and The Cat (Episode 3)
Larry: So much great stuff in this episode (and some wonderful outfits), but it’s no accident that Simon is in this shot, despite being just ‘the barman’. It’s a great example of what happens when you give one of us a little two line background role. Scene stealing par excellence.
The WI (Episode 4)
Larry: In a case of art mimics life, a ‘bake off’ becomes a really big deal. This episode is like a war film as imagined by the Women’s Institute… but with one random ingredient in this particular cake mix. You might just be able to spot what it is. Timely huh?
Jim: Three of us dressed as middle aged women with heavy machine guns and we’re still upstaged by Baynton. He’s particularly funny in this episode – creepyfunny.
The Tummy-Tellies (Episode 1)
Larry: The Tummy-Tellies (Ariel and his daughter Lucy pictured here) crop up in the series opener, as a race with the video equivalent of ham radios attached to their bellies. A wonderful collaboration between our puppet and make-up departments. Though Lucy soundly out-cutes my character. The ‘awww’ at the BFI preview, when Lucy first appears, was audible.
Elders and Cuddly Dick (Episode 1)
Larry: There he is! Cuddly Dick is one of those oh-so-rare examples of writing a role with a specific actor in mind, and actually ending up with them playing it. He’s a special envoy of the Elders, imprisoned by Imperatrix, but freed following her demise. Now he’s back amongst his old friends, but clearly affected by his time behind bars. I think it’s the sort of character we’ve not seen Stephen play. Which, given his amazing CV, is saying something.
The Time Being (Episode 8)
Larry: There’s only so much I can say about this one. He’s part The Doctor (Who), part Doc Brown and part Richard Nixon. An eccentric hermit forced out of retirement by unlikely events. The episode itself is a real love letter to the fans – the reasons why will become clear. Great costume too. Especially that hat, which is a mechanical marvel.
Miss Smashing (Episode 7)
Larry: It seemed crazy that, with a populace as easily distracted and manipulated as Yonderlanders, there wasn’t reality TV shows. So we’ve fixed that. Enter ‘Miss Smashing’, the beauty contest that’s not quite what it seems. This is our ‘expert’ judging panel: John of Temple Meads, The Crone (who’s surname is finally revealed), and the ever impartial Tony Positive.
You can see Yonderland at 6.30pm today (Sunday, 16th October) on Sky 1.
Look out too for our interview with Larry and Jim, coming soon, when they’ll be sharing the show’s alternative names with us, telling us who their dream guest actors would be (besides Stephen Fry), and telling us what they enjoy and hate about the show.