Monthly Archives: November 2011

Interview: Paul Kaye


Now, this truly is a man with a legendary reputation. Blurring the lines between performance mediums for more than twenty years, the legendary Paul Kaye lends his voice to potty-mouthed proper, f***ing fox, Vince.

Knee deep into previews for his role in Tim Minchin’s stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, in which he plays Mr Wormwood, Paul took the time out of his hectic schedule to tell The Velvet Onion about his work on Mongrels, having fun with Oram & Meeten, and his incredible career.

© Paul Kaye

Hi Paul, welcome to TVO.  So… Series Two of Mongrels: what can we expect?

A furious furry frenzy of fucking filth.

What attracted you to the series first time around, and how does the second series build on that?

I met John Brown about 8 or 9 years ago and helped out on a few pilots and tasters for Mongrels.  He’s such a talented guy and together with Adam, Steven and Daniel, he and they always had such a strong vision and belief in the project.  Creatively, it just gets better and better, I think.

As a writer yourself, do you get much input into the scripts?

Well as far as improvising or throwing in ideas into the mix, they’re are always up for us trying things out while we’re recording and we all have open auditions for new characters as we go which is fun.  Nothing should be totally locked down in comedy.  Why deny yourself the chance to make things funnier? Read the rest of this entry


Interview: Warrick Brownlow-Pike


Hi Warrick, welcome to The Velvet Onion! Now, what’s new for Series Two?

Me!  I was in the first episode and second episodes once or twice! We’ve got 54 puppets this time around, with some new ones – a badger Doctor, two beagles, a goldfish. The main characters have all been rebuilt too – these are all new puppets. The sets have all changed too – we now have a sky, and houses behind. It looks amazing now.

This is the thing. When we shoot it, it’s out of sequence. Obviously, you keep reading the scripts, but you soon forget the storylines, because you’ve got eight episodes to film, and each one has two of three storylines. It’s hard to keep hold of it all – you just deal with individual scenes.

One thing I can say is that there’s a Hangover spoof coming up. Marion wakes up one morning and finds he has a wife… which is really funny.

© Warrick Brownlow-Pike

How did you get involved with the show?

I was doing Ed & Oucho [7am daily on BBC2 fact-fans!] for CBBC, which involves a puppet cactus, and I was getting guest puppeteers to come in and be Oucho’s family members. Andy Heath, who performs Nelson, came in and performed Viva Voom, who was a Gok Wan style guest catcus, getting Oucho ready for his marriage…

Andy liked what I was doing with Oucho, because it’s quite a flat faced character and he was impressed with how much emoting I was getting out of it, so he gave me a dvd of the pilot episode of Mongrels, and said: “Watch this, you’ll love this.” I went home and watched it five times in a row, and knew I just had to be on it. I knew I would give up anything – I just had to be on the show.

I went in and auditioned with various puppets. At that point, Marion wasn’t finished, and had no ears so he looked like a gopher! I auditioned with the old Destiny puppet from the pilot, singing “Do You Know The Way To San Jose” by Dionne Warrick, and smashed it. I really wanted to be Destiny, but now I’m really thankfull I’ve got Marion, because everyone really likes him! Read the rest of this entry

Interview: Katy Brand


Hi Katy, welcome to TVO.


Mongrels returned this week: what can we expect from Series Two?

All the good stuff from series one is still there: the silliness, the swearing, the gratuitous sex and violence between puppets, the naughty little asides and the songs, but I think the scripts are even tighter this year, and a lot of the ‘secondary’ characters like mine, Kali the pigeon, have their own little story lines going on, which I think makes the whole show feel richer. It’s a very silly show, but every so often there’ll be a much tougher joke that takes you by surprise – I like that.

© Katy Brand

What attracted you to the series first time around, and how does the second series build on that?

The creator and director of Mongrels, Adam Miller, was the First Assistant Director on my first series of Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show, and we got to know each other then. I could see he was very talented, and was having lots of ideas on the set for how my show should be directed, so I decided I would like him to actually direct series 2 and 3 of my show, instead of first a.d.’ing them. He did a great job, but it was obvious Mongrels was his passion. During the first series of my show, he told me all about the idea for it, and showed me a short taster tape he had put together, which was brilliant, and also the pilot script, which was also incredibly funny. I made a few small suggestions, and did an early read-through and the pilot episode when it was commissioned by the BBC.

I was so thrilled to be asked to return as Kali for the series itself.  This is showbiz, daaarling, there are no guarantees!  I had really taken to the show from the very beginning – it has a great sense of noisy anarchy, which is right up my street, comedy wise. I like the way the second series has taken the playground elements of the first series and really pushed to the limits, and also the mini-film parodies have got very sophisticated. I think the characterisation is much more developed now, too. Read the rest of this entry

Interview: Dan Tetsell


Hi Dan, welcome to TVO.  It’s time for Series Two of Mongrels! What’s in store for fans?

Laughs, a goldfish, a chimp, some proper acting from Nelson and Destiny, a very long joke about a living history museum, songs – including a Marion rap, violence and lots and lots of Vince saying ****. The usual.

What aspects of the first series were you most proud of, and how does the new run up the ante?

When I told people I was working on a puppet show for BBC3 a got mix of reactions. Some winces, some rolled eyes, some outright expressions of pity. I hope we’ve proved most of those people wrong. I think Mongrels is on BBC3 because it’s a show that tries something different and not because it’s demographic obsessed lower common denominator stuff. I hope that alongside all the stupid offensive stuff we also did some clever offensive stuff.

© Dan Tetsell

Do you have lots of chances to develop and hone the script?

I actually started on the show as a writer. I came in at the read-through stage to help punch up the scripts and as they hadn’t cast Marion yet, or even really decided what he should sound like, I read in. Through the biggest and most wonderful fluke ever that ended up with me being offered the part. It means I’m lucky enough to be around for the storylining and writing process and then get to say some of the stupid stuff we’ve made up. I’ve co-written a whole episode this series, so I hope that one isn’t the Doctor Who “Space Pirates” of Mongrels. Read the rest of this entry

Interview: Lucy Montgomery


Hi Lucy, welcome to TVO. Now… Mongrels has returned: what can we expect?

The scripts are very sharp and funny and there are of course lots of new songs including a Lily Allen parody from Destiny.  Also, I think the puppets have been re-made too so they’re plusher and have even more fur.  If that’s not a reason to watch I don’t know what is.  Extra fur people, extra fur!

Has the second series upped the ante?

I think the joy of a second series is that you arrive with fully rounded characters so we hit the ground running really.  I particularly enjoyed the episode where Destiny takes Nelson aside and in no uncertain terms tells him that there will be never be an “us”.  I think you will shed a tear.  So this time round there is laughter, nob gags and dare I say it, real emotion.  But only briefly, so don’t be put off by that – it’s mainly nob gags.


You knew some of your co-stars, and director Adam Miller, before the show. What do you enjoy about working with them?

I think I knew everyone which is really nice.  It’s a great atmosphere in the recording booth. I have known Rufus since I was 18 (ahem, a very, very long time).  I worked with Paul Kaye on his brilliant Strutter series and we did a lot of dry humping in that, so Mongrels hasn’t really come as a shock in terms of rudeness.  Katy and I got our bums out for Tittybangbang. Goodness, I seem to have done an awful lot of “blue” stuff in my career so far. Read the rest of this entry

Interview: Rufus Jones


Hi Rufus, welcome to TVO.  Now… Mongrels is back! What can we expect from series two?

Series 2? Well, I can’t say too much as the BBC likes to keep Mongrels under wraps. If I say the wrong thing, the director general will swoop through my window like a Pre Crime Unit from Minority Report. But let’s just say Series 2 explores our heroes’ relationships a little deeper. There’s a wedding, multigenerational sex and a tender exploration of bisexuality. I may have said too much. 

© Airwolfhound

What were you most proud of about series one, and was there anything about the first series you felt has been improved upon a second time around?

Well, I think we were all really proud of Series 1. Proud to be involved with the scripts, really, because chief writer Jon Brown is a genius and his writing team are terrific. Also, the way Andy Heath and his amazing puppeteering team gave life to our voices – we lay down the voices first and then the puppeteers work to that. This second series, the voice cast and the puppeteers know each other a little better, so the characters are just so much more rounded.

You learn so much from a first series as ambitious as Mongrels – it’s been a long time since a puppet show on this scale has been attempted on TV. The learning curve is huge across the board. There are also a couple of moments of pathos for Nelson which, personally, I found really interesting. It’ll be great if we can pluck the audience’s heartstrings, if only for a moment. Then Vince will say **** or something and the show will just carry on.  Read the rest of this entry

Interview: Tony Way


Hi Tony, welcome to The Velvet Onion. As well as being a cult performer of note for many years now, you’ve been on our radar  thanks to various projects with our regular subjects: making you part of our ‘family’. How did you first get involved with the TVO crowd?

It’s hard to place really.  It depends on who you mean.  I first met Tom Meeten and Simon Farnaby properly on the pilot of Blunder, but I had met them both here and there before.  The same goes for Alice Lowe, Steve Oram and James Bachman.  Lucy Montgomery I met on Tittybangbang.  There is a large group of people who all came out of Ealing Live.  I wasn’t part of that, but am lucky enough to be friends with and work with lots of them.  The world of comedy in general is pretty small and incestuous and I really enjoy meeting and working with as many people in that world as possible. 

Of course, we’re here to talk about Mongrels – which is back for a second series! What can we expect from series two?

More of the same, only even funnier, I think.


What were you most proud of about series one, and was there anything about the first series you felt has been improved upon a second time around?

The scripts.  They were excellent in the first series and in my opinion they have got even better for the second.  The gag rate is really high on Mongrels, but they are all well crafted, not just throw away rubbish.  They work very hard on the scripts – much harder than I have to work!  I probably have the easiest job on the show.  Actually no, the actors who do the voices have the easiest job: just popping into a recording studio for a few hours a week.  No 5am starts for them the lucky sods, I hate them all!  I’m joking… (I’m not)… Read the rest of this entry

Interview: Adam Miller


Hi Adam, welcome to TVO.

Thank you for having me.

Mongrels is back! What can we expect?

I think you can expect a show that’s grown up a bit. We know more about the characters this time around so we’ve been able to push the envelope a lot more than last year in terms of story, fun and action. I think we’ve become a show that’s comfortable in it’s own skin. Also, we have a chimp.

Were you surprised at the audience response to the first series?

Well, that kind of depends on what audience reaction you mean. It’s really lovely to hear and see appreciate for something that we’ve all poured so much time and love into, but I think that Mongrels is a show you have to commit to a bit. If you take it in a five-minute, face-value chunk then you won’t get it. I think you need to invest. And I personally believe that if you DO, you reap the rewards because, my God, do we sweat the details.


The show was a bit of a sleeper hit… do you think series two will get an even bigger reaction?

Well, it’s just impossible to say until we see the figures. Last series we were, at launch, something like the fourth highest comedy launch ever on the channel, that felt pretty good but it also didn’t feel vastly successful. BBC Three has backed us a great deal over the years and we really want to repay that. Mind you, I think that we’ve grown a bit since then. Read the rest of this entry