Twenty Twelve - In The Press

In essence, Twenty Twelve is an office sitcom, based around ordinary people who happen to be doing something huge.

Written by Jon Plowman. The Daily Telegraph, 20th July 2012

The first episode of the current seasonette of the wonderful Twenty Twelve (BBC Two) was called Catastrophisation and hit the screen just before the story came out about the Olympics security force being short of several thousand people. The people who make the show must be aware that reality is always going to beat them, but still they plug away, creating, with the Head of Deliverance and his team, the funniest ensemble since Dad's Army. Hugh Bonneville plays Ian Fletcher with a dead pan, yet his eyes are full of the awareness that the only sane course is to despair. When one of the team shot him with the starting pistol rigged to fire live ammo I fell at the same angle as he did.

Clive James, The Daily Telegraph, 20th July 2012

The Olympics are just one cock-up after the next. But are we in sitcom territory yet?

Written by Alex Hern. The New Statesman, 19th July 2012

Twenty Twelve exploited the potency of deferred pleasure last night with the return of Sally, Ian's haplessly lovelorn PA, recruited by the perky Daniel after he was headhunted for Lord Coe's team. Her arrival in Ian's hospital room, in the midst of a cloud of self-deprecation and apology, was wonderfully touching. This was partly down to Olivia Colman, who can do more by lowering her gaze than many actors can do with their entire body. But it was also to the credit of John Morton's script, which sits very sharp satire on a foundation of beautifully understated character studies. Without the latter the former might get a bit thin. But with them it is irresistible. He can write a punchline too, one of which might serve as a useful slogan for the Home Office team currently dealing with security: "If we get this wrong we're in danger of running out of feet to shoot ourselves in."

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 18th July 2012

The latest episode of Olympic comedy Twenty Twelve saw events take a bitingly funny turn, both chaotic and - given the recent headlines over security issues - oddly prescient.

Written by Caroline Westbrook. Metro, 18th July 2012

A bus carrying an important delegation to the London Olympic Park was badly delayed because the bus driver didn't know his way around the capital. Sound familiar? It's not the news story but the plot of episode two of the BBC comedy Twenty Twelve. But just how close to the truth is the Olympic spoof? Jon Plowman, the executive producer of the series, told The World At One's Martha Kearney that it was a case of art imitating life. "I think what's happened is they can't work out what disasters to have over there and so they're looking to our show to work out what should go wrong next," he explained.

Written by Martha Kearney. BBC News, 17th July 2012

No one was surprised when a member of the Olympic Deliverance Committee was shot in the foot last week. After all, they do it to themselves all the time. But this was an actual bullet from a real gun. As you would expect. the incident is smeared in a thick gloss of PR, when it's described as "a totally routine accident".

Meanwhile, bluff Nick "I can't help being from Yorkshire" Jowett takes command as everyone discusses Inclusivity Day. Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson makes a game cameo, Danny Boyle wants more nurses for the opening ceremony, Ian's PA is stolen by Sebastian Coe, though his replacement hits the ground running, and there's an excruciating tree planting ceremony. Hilarious.

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 17th July 2012

If the real Olympic Games are a fraction as entertaining as the fictional fly-on-the-wall comedy series Twenty Twelve (BBC2, 10pm) then we're in for a real treat.

Like so many brilliant programmes this wonderfully scripted and acted show emerged unheralded in the BBC backwaters and gradually seeped into our conscience.

Tonight a creative PR spin is put on Ian Fletcher's predicament.

The Olympics' Head of Deliverance was shot in the foot by a starting pistol last week.

Now the injury is described as "a totally routine accident."

There's another crisis looming as Diversity Day and Inclusivity Day appear to be on a collision course. And Ian's irritating PA finds a better job - working for Seb Coe.

Despite its hilariously comic themes, this show has a very real feel to it, which is what makes it so uncomfortable, yet enjoyable, to watch.

Mike Ward, The Daily Star, 17th July 2012

More quick-fire comedy from the incompetent members of the Olympic Deliverance Commission. And with ODC head Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) in hospital after being shot in the foot with a starting pistol, there's evenmore chaos than usual. Not least when it emerges that Lord Coe has poached Fletcher's PA Daniel (Samuel Barnett) with just three weeks to go before the Opening Ceremony. A replacement is quickly found - a welcome return to the series for Olivia Colman as obsessively devoted Sally.

Gerard O'Donovan, The Daily Telegraph, 16th July 2012

As the Olympics loom in real life, so they do in this short third series about the fictional - but it's a close call - "deliverance" group behind the Games in Twenty Twelve, still the finest comedy this year. This week we're mired in meetings of the "catastrophisation committee". The straight-faced delivery of such too-believable abominations is one of the joys: those offscreen must have their fists in their mouths. Only two things scare me: when the actual Olympics are over, so will this be, which leaves in me the same conflicting emotions as someone desperately wanting to be rid of a massive toothache but knowing they'll miss the fun drugs. And the fact that writer John Morton is becoming - as real and fictional universes curve faster together - ever spookily, supernaturally more prescient.

In the opener to this series there's a desperate attempt to "re-brand" the problems everyone expects with transport. Not to solve the problems, of course, but to call them something else. There are too-late-in-the-day panics about security, when they've had five years to get it right. There is much hustling for post-Games power over both "sustainability" and "legacy", when it's quite clear no one quite gets the difference. In real life it was even worse; just read last week's papers. But Morton and co made this a while ago, and if he is a djinn and a seer, he's also a psychopomp: one of those ancient spirits whose job is to lead us benignly into hell.

Characters get ever better, and we'll miss them. Logistics manager Graham Hitchins somehow grows ever more gauche and unknowing with every episode. As the team argue over special lanes for VIPs, and special special lanes for Americans, he deadpans: "Yeah, but what happens if you want to have some sort of... baby, or heart attack."

Towering over all, technically, has been a masterful Hugh Bonneville as Ian, a very modern doomed English Everyman, surrounded by fools and too polite to say so. But main memories will be of Jessica Hynes as grotesque "head of branding" Siobhan Sharpe; apparently London PR people now regularly quote her imbecilities ("It's not arugula science, guys!"), some of them maybe even ironically. Though I don't know whether they'll stick with this week's "If we get bandwidth on this, you've got maple syrup on your waffle from the get-go: what's not to understand, guys?" A quiet aside from Nick, the refreshing Yorkshireman, dry as a stone dyke: "Well, you, basically." Terrific ensemble, and I'd put up with more of the Games toothache for more of this. Almost.

Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 15th July 2012

Comedy is all about timing, and so - with the Olympics a matter of weeks away - here come the final three episodes of John Morton's strangely underloved Twenty Twelve, a chance for the men and women of the Olympic Deliverance Commission to get ahead of the game, or, as head of deliverance Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) deadpans, "ahead of the Games".

It is 8 o'clock on Monday morning at the start of another busy week ("32 Days to Go") and our crack team has been assembled for a breakfast meeting. On the agenda, the post-Games plan for the stadium, security, and public transport. But first there are the pastry options (muffins, croissants, "those Portuguese custard tart things, I'm not sure what they're called ...") and, once that's settled, the endless order for "double-decaf skinny soy macchiatos".

The long-suffering Fletcher sits through it all. Perhaps he knows, as we do, that when the meeting does get under way, the air will be heated with words only because that's what people are supposed to do in meetings. "I should say," offers head of legacy Fi Healey, "that in sustainability terms we've always had the stadium down very clearly as a legacy commitment first rather than a sustainability issue second." Eh?

With its "catastrophisation feedback", "pre-conversationals" and "preliminals" gobbledegook, Twenty Twelve could be accused of being a one-joke wonder. But what a glorious joke it is. And while we've seen this sort of thing many times before (the aloof voiceover, the fly-on-the-wall camerawork, the tumbleweed script), there is something uniquely British about admitting that the people who run things are as incompetent as the likes of you and me. If The Thick of It is a savage Yes, Prime Minister for the age of spin, Twenty Twelve is Dad's Army scripted by Joseph Heller, and I for one will be sad to see it go.

Simmy Richman, The Independent on Sunday, 15th July 2012

In BBC2's Olympics comedy Twenty Twelve Hugh Bonneville might not get to dress up in fancy costumes or enjoy furtive liaisons with frisky young ladies in maids' outfits. But he looks like he's having much more fun than he ever does on Downton Abbey.

That's probably because his character and the rest of the cast are given some of the sharpest lines I've heard in a British satire since The Thick Of It.

Although the idea that the real London 2012 organising committee hasn't got a clue what they're doing is quite ridiculous. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Ian Hyland, The Daily Mail, 14th July 2012

Olympic officials grant permission to film in a highly restricted security area, to a television sitcom satirising Olympic security. Said sitcom - a heavily trailed BBC prime time show - is then broadcast, creating an actual real life security risk. Only it's not satire, it's real life.

Written by Tom Peck. The Independent, 11th July 2012

With the end of the Games only a month away now, one of the things I'm already preparing to miss is Twenty Twelve.

Written by Caroline Frost. Huffington Post, 11th July 2012

In the first of a new run of the Olympics mockumentary Twenty Twelve, the hapless Games organisers were - as usual - struggling to fix a series of semi-consequential problems with signature incompetence. It's the same jokes all over again, and, like the most worn-out Sorkinisms (recycled material), they become less and less funny with each repetition. Still, in spite of myself, I chuckled at the Nathan Barley-esque names for the employees of PR company Perfect Curve: "Senior Trend Analyst, Coco Lomax; Information Architect, Barney Lumsden; and Viral Concept Designer, Karl Marx."

Tim Walker, The Independent, 11th July 2012

Ready, steady, bang - who shot Hugh Bonneville with the starting pistol?

Written by Stuart Jeffries. The Guardian, 10th July 2012

Benjamin Secher reviews the return of BBC Two's spoof Olympics comedy Twenty Twelve.

Written by Benjamin Secher. The Daily Telegraph, 10th July 2012

What must the actual Olympics deliverance team think of this brilliant, searing satire, in which each scene is a beautifully crafted showcase of staggering incompetence?

As it returns for three new episodes, Kay (Amelia Bullmore) goes even more off-piste to find future uses for the stadium, while saintly Ian (Hugh Bonneville, super as the straight man) has a meeting with the police 'catastrophisation' unit about starting guns that you just know is going to end in, well, catastrophe.

Metro, 10th July 2012

As the Games get closer, the pressure is ratcheted up along with the mangling of the English language. Tonight, we're treated to 'preliminals', 'additionality' and even 'catastrophisation'. Two episodes remain of this pitch-perfect sitcom before London is finally judged by the world. Hopefully, we'll soon discover that the Olympics aren't, after all, being coordinated by doormats, pedants and jargon-spouting 'creatives' who can't locate a world beyond the latest focus-group findings. This week, the Americans are in town, checking security arrangements for their various 'high value' envoys. Not a great time for a row to erupt about the possible customisation of starting pistols to fire live rounds. Oh, and the stadium's post-Games legacy is still a problem. Exit Spurs and West Ham, enter Dagenham and Redbridge FC...

Phil Harrison, Time Out, 10th July 2012

The blockheads from the Olympic Deliverance Committee return for three episodes before the Games begin. As usual, Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville, who should win every comedy award going) and his quarrelsome minions are wading through a towering mess of inconsequence, PR drivel and pointless bureaucracy.

There are problems with the Olympics travel advice pack, which is too dull and needs a "brand refreshing exercise" so is renamed, with exquisite vacuousness, Way to Go. This is all down to dead-eyed halfwit Siobhan (Jessica Hynes), who seeks to "dial in visual noise".

Then Ian has a disastrous, painfully funny meeting with a nervous and inept police chief, the head of the "catastrophisation unit", who quite obviously has no grasp of her job or the business end of a starting pistol. A joy.

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 10th July 2012

This is the least on-message sitcom imaginable: you have to wonder how the London Olympics types feel about being painted as inept morons bouncing from one strategy buzzword to the next. This week, legacy expectations of the Olympic Stadium are downgraded from Spurs or West Ham to Dagenham & Redbridge FC, before the Americans arrive to assess security concerns over dodgy starting pistols. It's almost too realistic to be funny, and - considering the bill for the real thing - a bit like rubbing sandpaper on a nasty graze.

Ben Arnold, The Guardian, 9th July 2012

As London's big moment looms ever closer, the Bafta-nominated Olympic-themed sitcom returns for a final run of three episodes. This curtain-raiser, entitled Catastrophisation, opens with 32 days to go until the Games. Newly divorced Head of Deliverance Ian Fletcher (the excellent Hugh Bonneville) chairs his usual succession of interminable meetings, rammed with well-observed management-speak: "going forward", "win-win", "no-brainer" and other such babble. Lord Coe's on the phone, flapping about transport. Boris is worried about bikes. Everyone's obsessed with "sustainable post-Games legacy". Translation: desperately trying to flog the stadium to anyone who fancies it. Meanwhile, a delegation of American officials arrives to check security arrangements. As usual, Jessica Hynes as clueless branding consultant Siobhan Sharpe and Karl Theobald as incompetent infrastructure guru Graham Hitchins steal most of the laughs. Twenty Twelve's subtly satirical style is much gentler than The Thick of It or Veep but it does share one quality with those shows: as you're chuckling, there's also a creeping sense that somewhere this is all actually happening.

Michael Hogan, The Daily Telegraph, 9th July 2012

Morven Christie might have been playing it for laughs in Twenty Twelve, the BBC's spoof documentary about the shambolic Olympics organising committee, but she has no interest in the real Games.

Written by Brian McIver. The Sunday Record, 8th July 2012

Gerard Gilbert is granted an exclusive guided tour behind the scenes of the award-winning comedy Twenty Twelve - and discovers how sometimes life imitates art more closely than you imagine...

Written by Gerard Gilbert. The Independent on Sunday, 8th July 2012

The Twenty Twelve and Scott & Bailey star reveals why she is so rarely recognised in the street.

Written by Andrew Anthony. The Observer, 29th April 2012

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