John Lloyd launches Comedybox

Warner opens Comedybox – Online comedy channel will showcase new talent

LONDON – Warner Music Entertainment, the video content division of Warner Music Intl., today announced the launch of Comedybox, a new online comedy channel.

Channel will bring together comedians from around the world, as well as offer a forum for auds to post their own user-generated content and be judged by John Lloyd, one of the brains behind popular UK laffers “Spitting Image,” “Blackadder,” and current BBC quiz show “QI.”

Lloyd will be credited as co-producer along with WME. Dan Schreiber, who previously worked with UK indie shingle RDF and the BBC, has been tapped as head of development.

“The site will appeal to a broad audience, ranging from comedy aficionados browsing the full spectrum of material, through to those who want to dip in for a quick humor fix as well as budding performers showcasing their talent,” said Patrick Vien, Warner Music Intl.’s chairman and CEO.

Comedybox will feature a mix of weekly skeins, one-off sketches and animation, as well as classic archive material. Among the shows already commissioned are “42,” a spoof of Fox’s spy skein “24,” and “QI News,” a weekly news show from the makers of “QI.”

The channel is set to launch in fall this year. A Wap version of the site for mobile phones is currently being developed which will give users access to all Comedybox content on demand.

Comedybox execs are in talks with leading UK shingles Baby Cow, Talkback and World of Wonder about developing future content for the channel.

Baldrick has a cunning plan to prevent typhoid

Source: Onmedica staff

TV personality Tony Robinson today launches a public awareness campaign to encourage holidaymakers to ensure they have appropriate travel vaccinations before flying off to exotic locations.

New figures released by the Health Protection Agency show a 68% rise in typhoid cases in recent years – most acquired abroad and fuelled by low air fares.

Typhoid kills 600,000 people worldwide each year. In 2002, 147 typhoid cases were reported in England and Wales, with 101 of those acquired abroad. In 2006, this had leapt to 248 cases, of which 122 were acquired abroad. A milder strain of the disease called paratyphoid increased by 78% over the last five years.

Mr Robinson, Baldrick in the historic comedy Blackadder and the host of the TV series Time Team, is launching the Valuing Vaccines campaign, a joint initiative by travel health specialists and the pharmaceutical industry to spread the message about the importance of immunisation.

A spokeswoman for the campaign said Mr Robinson agreed to become its public face when a trawl through his family tree revealed a great aunt died of diphtheria in 1884 – a disease which is now easily treatable with a vaccine.

Dr Jane Zuckerman, director of the Centre for Travel Medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, who is backing the campaign, said: “The level of public ignorance exposed by these results is extremely worrying. We have seen vaccine-preventable diseases like typhoid on the increase because people travel abroad to endemic areas without being vaccinated and return sick to the UK.”

Typhoid is caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi and is picked up through contaminated food or water. Typhoid fever can be life-threatening unless treated promptly with antibiotics. The disease lasts several weeks and it takes people a long time to recover.

A survey of more than 1,000 people to accompany the launch revealed that nearly two-thirds did not know that typhoid could be prevented by vaccination, while two out of five incorrectly believed there was a vaccine for malaria.

Free Valuing Vaccines booklets are being made available in GP surgeries, schools and online at

Hugh Laurie conquers America as celebrity band takes LA by storm

source: The Independent

By Emily Dugan

Published: 26 September 2007
Ever since he crossed the Atlantic and took American television by storm, Hugh Laurie has hardly been able to put a foot wrong. Once the darling of the British comedy circuit with his foppish and often intellectually challenged characters, Laurie has become a household name in the US, thanks to his award-winning role as the grumpy Dr Gregory House in the medical sitcom House.But Laurie has found new fame as the singer-cum-keyboardist in a celebrity-packed band that has taken the jet-set of Los Angeles, and iTunes, by storm.The group, which goes by the self-explanatory name of Band From TV, specialises in blues and soul covers and is fronted by some of the biggest names in US network television drama. Laurie’s fellow band mates include the Desperate Housewives star James Denton on guitar and Greg Grunberg, known for his role as a mind-reading policeman in Heroes, who keeps rhythm on drums.

The idea for the group started as a one-off gig for charity. But the band’s recording of Cab Calloway’s jazz classic “Minnie the Moocher” has taken iTunes by storm, out-selling not only original recordings of the song, but also all subsequent covers.

They recently recorded tracks for the House soundtrack, which included a cover of the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. But it is “Minnie The Moocher”, which Laurie also played during an episode of the British cult comedy Jeeves and Wooster, that appears to have clinched their cult following. Laurie said that theirs was a “a funky version” of the blues track, adding: “There are about 50 versions of ‘Minnie The Moocher’ on iTunes and I’m afraid to say ours is the most popular.”

Laurie, who began his acting career in Cambridge University’s Footlights club and achieved UK success through British cult comedies such as Jeeves and Wooster and Blackadder, said that music success “was a real thrill”. Still starry-eyed at the thought of being a temporary rock star, he noted that in their first concert they played alongside Yes, Fleetwood Mac and Macy Gray.

The band has become an internet phenomenon, with more than 100,000 visitors to their MySpace site and thousands of enthusiasts logging on to view footage on YouTube. Earlier this month they played a blues and rock concert at the Emmys’ after-party, with a guest appearance from the Desperate Housewives lead Teri Hatcher.

Grunberg was originally asked to get together some television names for a charity concert at The House Of Blues. The gig was such a success that the actor was keen to keep it going. After meeting Laurie as a guest star on House, the pair got together with James Denton and Bob Guiney for another charity concert.

The band’s lead singers Bonnie Somerville and Guiney, are well-known in America, starring in the dramas Cashmere Mafia and The Bachelor. But they have yet to become household names in the UK.

The ‘house’ band

James Denton (Guitar)

The plumber from Desperate Housewives, who ranked in People Magazine’s 2004 list of the Sexiest Men Alive, showed surprising talent.

Greg Grunberg (drums)

The band’s founder member plays the mind-reading supercop Matt Parkman in Heroes.

Bonnie Somerville (vocals)

The lead singer has had several minor roles in sitcoms, including walk-on parts in Friends, NYPD Blue and The OC. She is now acting alongside Lucy Liu in Cashmere Mafia.

Bob Guiney (vocals)

One of many “celebrities” to be plucked from obscurity by reality television, Bob Guiney was The Bachelor in a series of the same name. Band From TV is a step up for the wannabe.

Baldrick has plans for underground passages

Exeter’s Underground Passages will be officially re-launched by actor and television presenter Tony Robinson and his Time Team.Mr Robinson, perhaps best known for his role as Baldrick in the Blackadder series, will perform the official reopening of the unique historic passages next Friday.

The passages reopened to the public earlier this month after being closed since 2005 during the development of Princesshay.

Mr Robinson, who has a keen interest in history and archaeology and has presented Channel 4’s popular Time Team series for 12 years, said that he was delighted to be invited to the city.

“Exeter has a rich history and these passages provide a fascinating insight into medieval life in the city,” he said.

“The new interpretation centre makes the experience even more enjoyable for visitors of all ages and helps to bring history to life.”

City councillor for economy and tourism Greg Sheldon said: “We are delighted to welcome Tony to our unique Underground Passages.

“We want to ensure that residents and visitors to Exeter are aware of the passages and it is vital that those working in tourism know how much the passages and our new interpretation centre have to offer.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for those in the industry to see the passages and explore the exciting new entrance and interpretation centre.”

The centre, located in Paris Street, offers hands- on activities and displays, telling the story of the passages and medieval life in the city.

Visitors can also look at a timeline of the city, see artefacts found in the passages and during the Princesshay redevelopment and see a replica cross section of Exeter.

People in wheelchairs, scooters or those who prefer not to take a guided tour will be able to journey through a life-sized mock up of the passages or take a “magic carpet” virtual tour.

Exeter is the only city in the UK to have underground passages of this type.

The mysterious conduits were first built in the 14th century to bring a supply of fresh drinking water into the city, and guided tours have taken place since 1933.

By the early 20th century the vaults were almost forgotten, but in 1935 they achieved Ancient Scheduled Monument status and are now protected by law.

During the Second World War, the vaults became an air raid shelter that could house up to 300 people, protecting them from fire bombs which destroyed much of the city centre.

Source: This is Exeter

Blackadder stars join Doctor Who

British comedy star Tim McInnery will feature in an upcoming episode of the hit sci-fi series, the BBC announced.

McInnery, best known for his portrayals of eccentric characters such as Captain Kevin Darling and Lord Percy Percy throughout four seasons of Blackadder, will also star in an episode later in the series.

Previously, Clive Swift from Keeping Up Appearances and Geoffrey Palmer, who has also appeared in Blackadder Goes Forth from have filmed roles for the Christmas Special.

TV star hops over to meet ‘namesake’

ACTOR Tony Robinson met a guinea pig called Baldrick, named after his much-loved character in the TV series Blackadder, during a visit to Crabbs Cross.

Hopper Haven and Littlefoot Sanctuary welcomed the celebrity, who also presents Channel 4’s Time Team, last week so he could meet volunteers and find out about the important work the refuge does in finding new homes for rescued guinea pigs and rabbits.

The sanctuary is always keen to hear from residents who could provide a home for one of the animals.

For more details, call 07949 657268.

Queen honours Hugh Laurie

Actor Hugh Laurie has built an impressive career in the entertainment industry, and in May, he received another high recognition for his work.

According to the Associated Press, the 48-year old actor was given membership to the Order of the British Empire, the first level in the British order of chivalry. The honour, which is given to accomplished individuals of the United Kingdom, was bestowed upon Laurie by Queen Elizabeth II herself.

Laurie, who has also worked as a comedian and writer, first rose to fame with his performance in the annual revue, The Cellar Tapes. He, along with co-stars Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Tony Slattery, Paul Shearer and Penny Dwyer, were the recipients of the first Perrier Comedy Award. The revue began airing on television in 1982, and from there, Laurie continued to work with Fry, most notably on the Blackadder series.

Currently, he is known among the television world as crabby diagnostician, Gregory House. His portrayal has earned him 2006 and 2007 Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Television Drama and a 2007 Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Male Actor in a Drama Series.

House has been a favourite among viewers since its debut in 2004. The show has also been a recipient of many prestigious awards, including a 2006 Peabody Award and a 2005 writing Emmy for the show’s creator, David Shore, for the episode “Three Stories.”

Fry’s English Delight

Source: Timesonline

Book early to avoid disappointment. Stephen Fry has written a pantomime version of Cinderella to be staged next Christmas at the Old Vic theatre in London. Oh yes he has.

Fry is not just a comic actor and raconteur. Oh no he isn’t. An accomplished writer, he is responsible for a large handful of books. He also earned tidy sums with his reworking in 1983 of Me and My Girl, the musical, which gives him tried and tested stage script credentials. Oh yes it does. Fry has no difficulty meriting a place in our pantheon of national treasures. Oh no he doesn’t. For all his plummy locution and toffish mannerisms, Fry’s appearances in Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster, and as compere of the Baftas, has wide appeal. He is well placed to take the pantomime formula and improve it. Oh yes he is.

The cross-dressing tradition of pantomime dames, coupled with Fry’s own tendency to delve into the language of the sewer for gags and bons mots, provides no shortage of openings for tasteless double entendres and savvy smut. These could also become tedious and appeal more to a knowing adult audience than impressionable youth. Oh yes they could. There is, happily for Fry and his doting public, little chance that another unfortunate episode of melancholia will strike Fry and prompt him to leave audiences in the lurch as he did in 1995 by fleeing to Belgium instead of treading West End boards.

So is Fry’s Cinderella set to be a Christmas cracker? As long as the naughtiness is nicely framed, and the deft Fry uses this most English of dramatic forms to display refined examples of his wonderful English wit, success is almost guaranteed. Oh yes it is.

Atkinson, Howitt set for ‘Copperfield’

Having proved his status again as a worldwide draw even without mastering American auds, “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” star Rowan Atkinson is set to reunite with his “Johnny English” director Peter Howitt for a version of Charles Dickens’ “David Copperfield.”

“Holiday” has made $157 million overseas but won’t open in the U.S. until Aug. 31.

The $30 million “Copperfield” project is being lined up to shoot in early 2008. Howitt and his producing partner Richard Johns are making the film through their production company Flaming Pie Films.

Simon Crowe’s financing and sales company Velvet Octopus will start pre-sales at the Cannes market this month. The U.K. Film Council’s Premiere Fund is also lining up to back the project.

In “Copperfield,” Atkinson will play Mr. Micawber, Copperfield’s landlord and one of Dickens’ most famous comic characters, eternally and irrationally optimistic as he slides toward financial ruin.

Micawber was played by W.C. Fields in George Cukor’s 1935 movie. That pic was the last bigscreen adaptation of the novel, although it has been made numerous times since for TV.

Howitt, who co-wrote the “Copperfield” script with Douglas McFerran, originally developed the project under his first-look deal with Miramax and Intermedia just after his debut hit with “Sliding Doors” in 1998. It subsequently came back to him in turnaround.

“This is a very fresh adaptation of the novel, not the chocolate-boxy, stolid version of Dickens that we are used to,” Johns said. “It won’t be mannered or reverential. With Dickens, filmmakers have been trapped in this place where you have caricatured characters, but Peter wants to deal with them like real people.”

Howitt has just finished shooting “Dangerous Parking,” a low-budget Brit comedy financed by the cast, crew and private investors. Velvet Octopus is handling international sales for the movie, which will premiere at the London U.K. Film Focus in June.


The Red Adder

Hi, all… With the Bean sequel opening in the UK this weekend, there’s been lots of the usual puff stories in the British press concerning Rowan Atkinson. The only new Blackadder tidbit is in today’s edition of the Sun. Atkinson brings up BA at one point, which I quote in full: “He says: “There was a plan for a film set in the Russian revolution, a very interesting one called The Red Adder. He would have been a lieutenant in the Secret Police. “Then the revolution happened and at the end he is in the same office doing the same job but just the colours on his uniform have changed. “It was quite a sweet idea and we got quite a long way with it but in the end it died a death.” The success of Blackadder and the affection with which the series is held gives Rowan just as much satisfaction as the worldwide success of Mr Bean. He adds: “I have been amazed that Blackadder has stayed in the public consciousness even though it is years since we finished making it. And I think it will continue to do so. I get equal satisfaction from the show and Mr Bean.” To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve been given the title of Ben Elton’s idea for a film set during the Russian Revolution. I wish RA had mentioned the Colditz/WWII idea as well. I’ve been wondering for ages what they’d intended to call that.