Ask

February 20, 2016

“Ask me I won’t say no, how could I?”

I’m having a deja vu moment. I’m pretty sure I used this Smiths line for a blog post before. Most probably about the same thing. But I’m not going to check, because it’s just right. Ask. Always ask. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

We asked Rufus Hound if he would be in Episode 2 of STRANGENESS in SPACE. He said yes. As did Peter Guinness. Oh, and Carol Cleveland. You can hear them in Episode Two, Featherheads, here. And at the risk of just too much repetition have I told you, it’s free, so what have you got to lose? (Ok, about 24 minutes of your time, but if you feel it wasn’t worth it I will refund you the cost).

Last weekend we launched Episode 3, Step Back in Time. We asked Alexei Sayle if he’d be in it. You can hear the Episode here.

We are now funding Episode 4. It is called Pet Shock Boys. Our main guest will play a character called The PuppyMaster. Any more news would spoil it. But who could we ask to play The PuppyMaster?

I’d had someone in mind from the beginning, and when Sophie said she’d once worked with him on a Big Finish Dr Who audio drama, we just had to ask.

We didn’t hold out much hope. It can take a while to get an answer from an agent; and we do need a bit of luck on our side… all our eps are crowdfunded, all of our guests are paid the same. It helps a hell of a lot if they want to do it. If, indeed, they would enjoy doing it.

Things were silent for a while. And then Clare (our producer) received a succinct email that said “he’s in”.

So. Episode Four, Pet Shock Boys, will guest star Paterson Joseph as The PuppyMaster.

If you’re thinking ‘I don’t think I know him’, well, I bet you do. He’s a great actor. Here is is in one of his more well-known comedy roles:

I was thrilled when Paterson said yes. The last thing I watched him in was The Leftovers, where he played ‘Holy’ Wayne. If you haven’t seen it, do track it down. It’s amazing and moving and manages to be that rare thing; groundbreaking TV.

Paterson in Episode 4 is incredibly exciting, and I’m still getting over the shock of the yes! Ask!

Now I’m going to ask you folks to help us get it made. If you’re as excited as me at having Paterson Joseph take part, please help us fund this episode. We aren’t crowdfunding through Kickstarter (as we did to get STRANGENESS in SPACE off the ground in the first place). We’re crowdfunding it through our own website. Please take a look at our ‘shop‘ and see if anything takes your fancy. We have some new items now too! Episode 1 will be available on CD, remastered by our sound maestro Dave Palser, and also with lots of extras including remixes of the songs, interviews, bloopers etc. (I put etc. because they are all to be confirmed; but I promise you, you won’t be disappointed). We also have a new T-shirt bearing the logo of our (fake) sponsors Thorleigh’s. Dave designed this, and it’s lovely. Thank you Dave.

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And how did we get Dave to do these great sound designs, to make our logos, to help us way beyond we could have expected?

 

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Something Sunday

November 29, 2015

It’s Something Sunday isn’t it. Yeah, it is. Something Sunday. Comes two days after Black Friday and the day after Shrug Saturday.

Something Sunday. The day before Cyber Monday. Two days before Tired Tuesday. Followed by What Wednesday, then Green Thursday, and then, a full week on from Black Friday, we have Just Friday, when all the magistrates use No Win No Fee claim forms as auxiliary toilet paper. Next Saturday is Next Saturday, when all branches of Next offer Same day Delivery, tomorrow. And then, we come full circle to the following Sunday which, at the moment, is flirting with calling itself Sallow Sunday; a day where all yellow gifts that have been left in sun-bleached windows over the summer will be sold off at bargain prices to the first customers who skin-tones match the product.

It’s difficult keeping up isn’t it? Do you remember the good old days when days just had a number, or a one-word name? Monday the 12th, or Wednesday the 29th… and so on. Do you remember? Think back. Do you remember when there was that Monday in your childhood that was just a Monday, any old bog-standard Monday, but what a great Monday it was? We all loved that Monday. I think it was Monday 16th July, 1979. What a Monday! Glorious. A Monday. With a number. 16.

The good old days.

And then came Saturday. Saturday 21st 1979. What an awful day. Mondays were never the same after that were they? Bob Geldof and his bloody pop song. Released on the 21st; completely buggering up the 23rd. So he didn’t like Mondays? He could have kept it to himself. But no, too late, he’d opened the floodgates. Blue Monday was next and the world was never the same.

And now here we are, on Something Sunday.

Let’s try and make the most of Something Sunday. Let’s try and make something positive out of the hell Geldof unleashed.

Let’s make Something Sunday something special. Let’s make it Strangeness Sunday.

Have I told you about STRANGENESS in SPACE?

(I know. I can hear you; “so that was his plan all along. To start off with some nonsense, some improvised rubbish, and then to slowly suck us all in only to bang on about his new thing.”

Yes. It was my plan. Sorry. Sorry Sunday.)

If you haven’t heard about STRANGENESS in SPACE, it’s a new audio sci-fi comedy me and Trev have done (done as in written, acted in etc) along with Sophie Aldred (Ace to Sylvester McCoy’s Dr Who). We’ve also had the most amazing special guests involved, including Doon Mackichan and Rufus Hound.

You can listen to Episodes 1 and 2 here. For free.

We’ve now written Episode 3, and the writing for Episode 4 is underway. We also have a great new special guest for Episode 3. Only the comedy legend that is Alexei Sayle! This is so exciting for us. It’s just amazing to be able to ask some of our favourite funny people and for them to actually say yes.

And the great thing is, because this project is crowd-funded, we have no suits hovering over us, telling us we can’t do this, we must do that. We are lucky enough to be able to do exactly as we want. And if we want Alexei Sayle in it, we ask and cross our fingers. And the great man said yes.

Crowd-funding made this happen. You all made this happen. It’s a great thing, and we’re all in it together. Tell me why, I do like crowd-funding.

But (oh, I know, there’s always a big but)…

We crowd-funded Eps 1 and 2 through Kickstarter. We went beyond our intended target enabling us to fund not one, but two episodes. But now we are on to Episodes 3 and 4 we need to raise the money ourselves and crowd-fund through our own website.

We’re getting there, but the sooner we can hit our target the sooner we can get our great cast back into the studio to record the next two episodes.

If you’ve enjoyed listening to STRANGENESS in SPACE please do take a look at our ‘shop’. We’ve lots of things in there costing from just a few pounds to… well… a few more. Anything bought in the shop goes straight towards our goal to fund the next episodes; to pay all the people who are working so hard on our behalf to get this made; our Production Team, our cast, all those helping behind the scenes. All these great people are working long and hard hours, and often for ridiculously favourable ‘mates rates’. I promise you, everything we spend is up there on that audio “screen”.

Here’s some of my favourites from the shop:

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This is our first set of STRANGENESS in SPACE badges. You can get the set for £6 including Postage and Packing (posted and packed by me or Clare, with a handwritten note too).

We liked these so much we had a second set made too… a little more in the know for ‘Mirthlings’ who’ve listened to the first two episodes.

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We’ve also got T-shirts, Beanie hats, Bags for Life. You can find our shop by clicking on this link.

Christmas is coming soon too. We have our own STRANGENESS “Merry Spacemas”card in the shop. It’s signed by me, Trev, Sophie, and Clare. It can be dedicated to whoever you choose. And we can post it to them for you, or we can post it to you.

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If you fancy helping us get the next episodes made but you don’t necessarily want us to post you anything, why not consider sponsoring a page of our script. Each page can be ‘commissioned’ by you. It will have your name at the top of the page for all the cast to see and we will also email you the script once it is released. This is limited to the number of pages in the script, and at the mo we have 11 left. You can be one of our page commissioners for £20 and you can do that by clicking on this link.

Ok. Enough I think. Enough trying to flog you stuff for today. Enough Something Sunday. You came here for a bit of fun, I reeled you in, and then I gave you the hard sell.

But… if you can help, please do. We are having so much fun getting STRANGENESS in SPACE made, and we can’t wait to be getting on with the next two episodes.

Happy Sunday everyone. And remember, tomorrow is Monday. Just Monday. But do watch out for the Cybermen.

 

 

Some of you may be aware of STRANGENESS in SPACE, the new audio sci-fi comedy drama we’ve made with Sophie Aldred (Ace in Dr Who). If I’ve been a little bit neglectful of my own blog here, the poor old Mummified Fox, it’s because I’ve been putting all that good stuff that some folk call content into another area: The STRANGENESS in SPACE WormHole!

The WormHole is a members only area giving those who join up Access All Areas passes to all that is STRANGENESS. So far there’s over 70 posts of photos, stories, interviews, and videos. Membership is for… well, a long time. We’ve never really pinned that down. Somewhere between a Year and Life… more likely falling towards the Life end (it’s not like we’re internet librarians with stamps and stuff).

Now here’s the thing. Normally Membership is £20. But this week is WormHole Week, and we’re making Membership only £5 for the first 100 to sign up. So, if you fancy it, please spend a fiver to gain access to some really funny stuff. And if you do, that money will go directly to funding the next Episodes of STRANGENESS. If you’ve not listened yet, please do. It’s free, and we have two completed episodes featuring me and Trev, Sophie, Doon Mackichan, Barnaby Edwards, David Annen, Sarah Madigan. And also special guests like Carol Cleveland, Peter Guinness, and Rufus Hound!

You can hear Episodes 1 and 2 here. They are FREE! Please take a listen. If you like them, that’s lovely. And if you’d like to hear more, please help us. Please take a look at our shop. It’s our own version of crowdfunding. We’ve got the cut-price WormHole membership, and we’ve also got badges, hats, bags, and scripts and all sorts of ways you can help us get these crazy episodes made.

Here’s a one minute version of a video in the WormHole. It’s when Rufus met Sophie.All improvised, with none of us having any idea what could happen. It’s funny. Very funny. And the full version is four times as long and even funnier… with some rude words. Easily worth a fiver. I hope you enjoy it. And if you do, please spread the word and help us hit our target.

What a journey this has been! And we’re still Earthbound! (Hmmm… just confused myself there; Earthbound as in bound to the Earth not bound for Earth… tricky… reboot:

What a journey this has been! And we haven’t even left yet. Earth, that is. Snappy!

For those who know what I’m on about, you know. For those who don’t, it’s Strangeness in Space; a new adventure, a Space podcast, an audio comedy; devised, conceived, by four of us – Me, Trev, Sophie, and Clare.

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The journey started about a year ago when we decided we wanted to do something together. Now, nearly a year on, we are reaching the end of our Kickstarter campaign.

Ooh! Kickstarter! I say that so casually, that Kickstarter campaign thing. A year ago I would have thought crowdfunding was (insert your own witty line here). A year ago I would have thought a ‘perk’ was (ditto). A year ago I would have… (finish this of yourself. And remember the rule of three! Then feel free to break it).

Anyway. My point. It’s a new thing and we’ve done it! We’ve succeeded! I would say just the four of us, but it’s been a team of seven. Maybe eight or nine. I don’t think ten. (And you others know who you are and you know just how grateful we are). And beyond that, the 550+ backers who are bold enough to come into Space with us. Without you, our backers, this wouldn’t have worked. With Kickstarter it is all or nothing; if you don’t raise the money you don’t get any of it.

BUT WE DID IT! A BIG BIG HOORAY!

AND WE HAVE PETER GUINNESS IN IT! BARNABY EDWARDS! SARAH MADIGAN! DOON MACKICHAN! CAROL CLEVELAND! DAVID ANNEN! RUFUS HOUND!

We’re a small team and we’re doing pretty much everything ourselves. When you get your perk the chances are I’ll have put the badges in the envelope. The chances are Sophie will have put the stamp on. The chances are Trev will have walked to the Post Office. And the chances are Clare will do the other 549. (See? I’ve already overruled the rule of three with a rule of four; that’s the problem with a quartet).

And now, with just over a day to go, I am pleading with all of you who have come on this journey with us, to pester your friends, pester your family; anyone you think would like to join us on this adventure… LET THEM KNOW THERE’S ONLY 26 HOURS TO GO!

Here’s the thing. We’ve reached our target, and we WILL get Episode 1 made. But Episode 2 is waiting and it’s ready to go! But we didn’t dare, we didn’t know… it’s a new adventure and we couldn’t have dreamed we could reach the funding for Two Episodes. But now I do believe we can.

To all who have backed us, spread the word! If you’re on Twitter, please retweet. If your on Facebook, please… refacebook? If you’re on the phone, please just casually slip it into the conversation.

Heck, Strangeness in Space isn’t a religion, but it’s as good as. And, occasionally, funnier. Spread the word!

This is where I picture some of our team putting their heads in their hands, thinking “this blog post was going so well, why did he have to-

Ok, ignore that last bit. Let me start again. Strangeness in Space isn’t butter, but it’s as good as. Spread the word!

£4 gets you a chance to hear the first Episode before it is made available to the public. And you get your name in our Roll of Honour.

£10 gets you an emailed script. £20 for a T-shirt.

There’s just under 20 different perks to pick from, suiting all pockets (what a weird phrase that is!) If you haven’t a clue what I’m on about with perks, just take a look at our Kickstarter page and scroll down the list of perks on the right hand side. You can find our page by clicking here.

26 hours to go! Our current backer are called Mirthlings (because the strange planet we visit is called Planet Mirth). calling all Mirthlings! Send the message out.

Let us recruit new Mirthlings! (sounds sinister)

Let us be like an army (but without guns and things… or people barking orders at us!)

Let us form a cult (Not a sinister one, like Scientology or The Moonies)

This blog post is going wrong.

Let us be Strangeness.

Today’s Mission

April 12, 2015

Ok, here’s today’s mission, should you choose to accept it:

Strangeness in Space is well under way. At this moment we have £13113 of our £15000 target! That’s amazing, and we are well on our way to getting the first episode made. But (and sorry to keep pestering) we won’t stop there because another £7000 will get the second episode made too!

A lot of you reading this will already have backed us. And a huge thank you to you all! (If you haven’t, and you want to, just click here). But today’s mission is simpler, easier, less taxing on the pocket. I am just determined to get a retweet from Richard Branson.

Let me explain:

Ok. Retweeting. It’s a Twitter thing. Some people are Twitter, some are Facebook. Facebook people don’t get Twitter, Twitter people don’t get Facebook. People who get neither are people with lives, and people who get both are people with no lives. Most of us fall in the middle. I’m a Twitter person. (We do have a FB page too, and I do go there; I just don’t know how it works).

Anyway, the Mission. Before it self-destructs.

Years ago, when we did Live and Kicking on Saturday mornings on BBC1 we did a sketch where we came up with a spoof product called “Branson Pickle”, and we thought “wouldn’t it be great if we got Richard Branson to do a voiceover for it?” Well, if you don’t ask… (see my past blog post).

Our producers got in touch with Richard’s producers (or whatever he has) and they said “Sure!” So, one Friday, during rehearsal, we went up to the sound room (sorry, I don’t know the technical terms) and we called Richard Branson so he could do his voiceover “down the line” (technical speak – I believe – for over the phone). It only turns out that he’s at his private island, somewhere off the coast of Saundersfoot!* And he’s playing tennis! With Obama!**

So, we are interrupting his tennis game! And he comes on the line and he does the voiceover for us! Thank you Richard.

And now, years later, I am pestering him again. Just for a retweet. See, he’s got over 5 million followers (it’s a Twitter thing, nothing sinister) and if his 5 million saw our Strangeness in Space kickstarter thing I reckon it could bring in a bob or two. And! We are off into SPACE! That’s Richard’s kind of thing.

So… The Mission. Help me out. Let’s get a retweet from him. If you get him to retweet our Kickstarter link we’ll give you a prize of some kind. Don’t know what yet. Something or other. What!? Stop asking! It’s just- you should be doing this for the love of it! Not for some damned reward!

We’ll see.

Here’s a Space related pop song to allow us all to calm down a little.

* His private island is not off the coast of Wales. I am not allowed to divulge it’s actual location. it is is a well-guarded secret.

** Ted Obama

Everything else is true.

ASK

April 6, 2015

It’s one of the great pop songs. And since hearing it, it’s one I’ve always tried to take to heart. Yes, shyness is nice and (more often than not) the antonym is hideous. So, it’s always worth an ask.  “Ask me, I won’t say no, how could I?”

Years back, last century, when I worked with Trev Neal on Saturday morning TV, we’d get to perform daft sketches with the stars of the day (Big Fun, Craig Machlachlanchlachlan, Nathan from Brother Beyond) and sometimes the stars of many days (Kylie, Cher, Mel Brooks). When it came to the Christmas and New Year shows there was always an attempt by our boss, Chris Bellinger, to up the ante, to aim high, to get the big guns in. And we would always ask for the top bananas. Year after year, for ten years, we’d hand in our wish list. Always the same names. And always, at the top of our list, the same two. We never did get Eddie Murphy or Gorbachev. But the point is, ASK! Always ask.

During one series of Live and Kicking we had a weekly feature called Every Loony Wins*. It was a daft phone-in quiz and we had a band as part of it, all played by kids from the audience. The leader of the band was called Des Tindeby (The Des Tindeby Band). And during their musical performance (miming to the very real Spike Jones and his City Slickers) a character would jump on stage (again one of the kids) as The Lone Yodeller (a Lone Ranger type, in a mask, yodelling like a loony). And each week we would end the segment by looking into the camera and saying; “Just who is the Lone Yodeller?”

When we reached the end of the thirty week run it was time for us to reveal just who was the Lone Yodeller. The obvious way to do this was for it to be one of the guests of the week. The only problem was (me and Trev being a picky pair) none of the guests were up to the task. (Anyone remember Little Danny Mangrove? or Nu Boxxx? Or Jennifer Bush?** No, I thought not.) And so we went to Chris… and we asked… we begged… please, please, can we get another guest. One worthy of the title of The Lone Yodeller? Chris wanted it to be Little Danny Mangrove. Little Danny, who was actually 6’2″, had just won Pop Zinger on ITV and his record company, BIGPUSH, were desperate for him to be the Lone Yodeller. They’d even recorded a special yodelling version of his current hit, A Pocketful of Promises, for him to mime to. We couldn’t have it though. We insisted; the Lone Yodeller had to be a bigger name. And then we asked Chris this; “if we can get a big name to play along will you let them be the Lone Yodeller?” This, of course, depended on who the big name was. We said to Chris; “if we can get Jonathan Ross to be the Lone Yodeller will you let him do it?” And Chris said yes.

Just one snag. We didn’t know Jonathan Ross. Not really. He’d been a guest before on the programme, but it’s not like we played tennis with him or anything. It’s not like we’d been to his house, or had his telephone number. All we had, on our side, was the ability to ASK.

It’s time to get to the races now so… we asked… we found a phone number for his production company and we asked… and they said “we’ll ask”… and we waited. And he said YES!

Jonathan turned up on the Saturday morning, played the Lone Yodeller and also brought along a friend of his who went on to declare “No! I’m the Lone Yodeller!” Our second Lone Yodeller wore a shoe hat, made from two shoes and a coat hanger. That was was Vic Reeves.

Ask.

We’ve been asking again recently. We are working on a new thing. A Sci-Fi audio comedy adventure with me, Trev, and Sophie Aldred. Some of you reading this will already know about Strangeness in Space. ***

And we’ve been asking people to help us out with it. We’ve given up on Eddie Murphy and Gorbachev, but we have asked two top people who have only gone ahead and said YES!

YES! Doon Mackichan has said yes to being our narrator, Bounty Flightingale.

YES! Rufus Hound has said yes to being Atrocious Knocious, an alien hoverbiker who’s never even heard of Evel knievel!

All from asking.

* based on Nick Berry’s hit Every Loser Wins. We had a minor battle with some BBC bigwigs to get them to accept the use of the word Loony. I’d grown up with it, reading the works of Spike Milligan. It was accepted in the end when dictionary definitions, on the whole, gave the word two meanings; one meaning (and our one) was silly, the other mad.

** Ok, I’ve made all these acts up. And the ongoing business with Little Danny Mangrove. Other than that, this story is true.

*** A final ask. Please help us get this made. We’ve loads of perks available if you join us: T-shirts, badges, scripts, signed photos and artwork, etc. We’re not far off our target now, but the more money we raise, the more episodes we can make. You can back us here.