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Twenty Twelve

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Twenty Twelve

Twenty Twelve
Genre Mockumentary
Created by John Morton
Written by John Morton
Directed by John Morton
Starring Hugh Bonneville
Jessica Hynes
Amelia Bullmore
Olivia Colman
Vincent Franklin
Karl Theobald
Morven Christie
Narrated by David Tennant
Opening theme "Let's Face the Music and Dance" sung by Nat King Cole
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 13
Executive producer(s) Jon Plowman
Producer(s) Paul Schlesinger
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) BBC
Original channel BBC Four (2011–2012)
BBC Two (2012)
Picture format (SDTV) 576i
(HDTV) 1080i
Audio format Stereo
Original run 14 March 2011 (2011-03-14) – 24 July 2012 (2012-07-24)
Followed by W1A
External links

Twenty Twelve was a 2012 Summer Olympics in London. It was first broadcast on UK television station BBC Four in March 2011 to coincide with the 500 day countdown to the opening ceremony.

Twenty Twelve gained mainly positive reviews from critics, and a four-part second series was announced on 15 April 2011,[1] which began airing on 30 March 2012 on BBC Two.[2] A further three episodes of series 2 began airing from 10 July 2012.[3] The series' last episode was broadcast on 24 July 2012, three days before the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games.



The series follows the trials of the management of the fictional Olympic Deliverance Commission (ODC), the body tasked to organise the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Over the series, the ODC have to overcome logistical difficulties, production errors, infrastructure problems and troublesome contributors. The main character is Ian Fletcher, the Head of Deliverance, who is in overall charge of the ODC, and is generally efficient but often has to clean up a PR disaster after the other managers make a mistake. A running thread in series one are the hints that his marriage to a high-flying lawyer is breaking down, which comes to a head in episode six. It is evident that his PA Sally is in love with him, although this remains unspoken.

Meanwhile, Siobhan Sharpe is the excitable, but ultimately clueless Head of Brand through her PR company Perfect Curve. She answers almost every problem with phrases that have almost no substance whatsoever, and never turns her phone off during meetings with the other managers. Consequently, the rest of the managers find her ideas and enthusiastic attitude tiresome, particularly Nick Jowett, Head of Contracts, a blunt Yorkshireman who generally opposes ideas without making alternative suggestions, whilst emphasising that he is from Yorkshire.

Kay Hope, Head of Sustainability, is in charge of sorting out what will happen to the buildings, stadia and other Olympic venues after the games. Hope is emphatic that Legacy is something separate from Sustainability although no one makes any attempt to differentiate these two apparently identical areas. In series two a new 'Head of Legacy' is appointed, whom Hope clashes with on virtually all subjects. She continually mentions that she is a single mother after a bitter divorce, and is paranoid about her public image. Finally, Head of Infrastructure Graham Hitchens gives the impression that he knows everything about the London transport and traffic systems, but evidently does not.


Series 1

# Title Original airdate Overnight viewers
1 "Countdown" 14 March 2011 417,000
PR consultant Siobhan Sharpe is preparing to unveil a countdown clock in front of Tate Modern. However, her boss Ian Fletcher is not impressed. Kay Hope struggles to find a post-games use for the Taekwondo Arena. Meanwhile, Graham Hitchins is planning a new traffic management system, which he decides to test on the day of the clock unveiling.
2 "Visitors From Rio" 21 March 2011 474,000
The ODC take a group of delegates to meet [4]
3 "Roman Remains" 28 March 2011 420,000
After the discovery of Roman remains near the aquatics centre, the building plans need to be modified at the last minute. Meanwhile, Siobhan Sharpe wants the 2012 Games to have their own audio logo.
4 "Raising The Bar" 4 April 2011 419,000
Former Olympic athlete Dave Wellbeck tours schools as brand ambassador for Raising the Bar, a campaign to get young people interested in the Olympic Games. But his lack of charisma has the opposite effect and Ian Fletcher and Siobhan Sharpe are unsure on how to proceed.
5 "Cultural Curator" 11 April 2011 389,000
For the post of Curator of the Cultural Olympiad three applicants are being interviewed. Meanwhile, Sebastian Coe suggests that the Olympic Deliverance Commission team consider entering the London Marathon.
6 "Equestrian Controversy" 18 April 2011 432,000
The ODC's plans for the equestrian centre annoy famous film director Tony Ward (Tim McInnerny), who dumps a pile of horse manure in front of their offices. Ian Fletcher decides to challenge him face-to-face on a Radio 4 Today interview.

Series 2

# Title Original airdate Viewers
1 "Boycott – Part 1" 30 March 2012 1,200,000
The Algerian Olympic team threatens to boycott the Games after discovering that the Shared Belief Centre does not face Mecca.[5]
2 "Boycott – Part 2" 6 April 2012 972,000 (overnight)
It is the second half of a very long day. The Algerians issue a deadline of midnight for a solution to their demand for a Shared Belief Centre which faces Mecca, while the French threaten to pull out of the Games if a separate mosque is built. The team have to come up with an idea that will please everyone.[6]
3 "Clarence House" 13 April 2012 TBA
A decision must be made about the future of the Olympic Stadium, and Clarence House has asked the ODC to look at ways of linking the 2012 Olympics with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee – is 'Jubilympics' the perfect branding solution?[7]
4 "The Rapper" 20 April 2012 TBA
Siobhan's team design a major sexual health campaign, complete with a rap song "Get It On", which may upset the Catholic competitors.
5 "Catastrophisation" 10 July 2012 1,450,000
Thirty two days to go, and with Head of Deliverance Ian Fletcher chairing the final ever meeting of the Twenty Twelve Security Committee's Special Catastrophisation Unit, it emerges that someone has been caught converting official Olympic starting pistols to fire live rounds; with the US Security Forward Team about to arrive.
6 "Inclusivity Day" 17 July 2012 1,800,000
Having been shot in the foot with a doctored starting pistol, Ian Fletcher discovers that he is also shortly to be without a PA as current PA Daniel Stroud has been offered another job. Back over at the offices of the ODC, they try to work out how to launch Inclusivity Day in London on the same day that Seb Coe is launching Diversity Day in Oldham, when even though both Boris Johnson and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson have agreed to take part, no-one knows what Inclusivity Day is. Meanwhile over at PR company Perfect Curve, Siobhan Sharpe and her team devise a viral campaign designed to change the face of women's football without mentioning women's football following catastrophic ticket sales.
7 "Loose Ends" 24 July 2012 1,780,000
Ten days left to try to tie up loose ends before the Deliverance Team finally hands over to the Live Team, the main problem being that the opening ceremony fireworks display will launch the ground-to-air missiles installed to protect the Games, and newly divorced and soon-to-be redundant Ian must decide what to do about Sally. The programme ends just before he expresses his feelings...


Critical reviews

Reviews for episode 1 were mixed, commenting that it was milder in its satire than they expected; Ed Cumming in The Telegraph stated "Perhaps it just needs some time to settle. Though it was very funny in parts, the first episode of Twenty Twelve suggests that the series, like the actual cost of the Olympics, might hit slightly wide of its ample target."[8] Likewise, Sam Wollaston in The Guardian suggested that due to the participation of Seb Coe it was "on song": "Biting satire this isn't. It's nibbling satire, delivered by Garra Rufa fish...The Thick of It is a lot more entertaining...I don't think that politicians were removing their shoes, rolling up their trousers and queuing up for cameos in The Thick of It".[9] Brian Viner, writing in The Independent was more impressed by Coe's cameo; "There is surely no other country in the world that would laugh at itself in this way, even persuading the vast project's principal mover-and-shaker, in our case the Rt Hon Lord Coe KBE, to participate in the joke". He went on to commend the series "...I was hooked anyway, by the mischief in John Morton's script and the beautifully nuanced performances of, in particular, Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes".[10]

Brian Viner, reviewing the series as a whole stated the series was "always amusing and sporadically very funny... It's hard to think of a spoof documentary that has been more fortuitously timed than Twenty Twelve."[11]

Real-life similarities

It was widely commented upon in the press that the day after the broadcast of the first episode, which features problems with the 1,000 days countdown clock, the real-life clock in Trafalgar Square broke soon after it had been launched by Lord Coe and London mayor Boris Johnson.[12]

An additional coincidence occurred when some of the first athletes to arrive in London for the Olympics suffered delays; their bus drivers were unfamiliar with London and unable to find the Olympic Park in scenes that closely resembled the plot of episode 2.[13]

A further similarity was also noted in the plot of the final episode, which involved the idea of "The Big Bong", put forward by a conceptual artist, that everyone around the UK could play as many instruments as they like to signal the start of the Opening Ceremony; which is almost exactly what was asked of the nation – "to ring thousands of bells at the same time, whether schools bells, church bells, town hall bells, bicycle bells or door bells" at 8.12 AM on the first day of the Olympic Games. The idea, "All the Bells" is the work of Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed.[14]

The Games plagiarism accusation

Twenty Twelve has been criticised as bearing a strong resemblance to the Australian mockumentary series The Games, a similar series set before the 2000 Sydney Olympics.[15] Writer of The Games John Clarke said, "We worked very hard on that project and we had long conversations with these people who've now done a show like that in Britain".[16][16][17]

The BBC denied claims of plagiarism. "It is a very different show, the only similarities between them are that they are both set around the Olympics," a corporation source said.[18] Clarke's own website later made a reference to the dispute by describing himself and writing partner as "run[ning] a charitable institute supplying formats to British television".[19] This itself is revealing, because it's not clear that plagiarism can only be a "format" (eg mock documentary) or situation (eg preparation for the Olympics): the content - ie the episode plots and dialogue - and style were entirely original to the BBC.[20]


The programme was the winner of the Best Sitcom category at the British Comedy Awards 2011,[21] while Jessica Hynes received the Best Comedy Performance award for her role from the Royal Television Society.[22] For his role in Twenty Twelve Osy Ikhile was nominated for "Best TV Comedy Performance" at the Black International Film Festival and Music Video & Screen Awards.[23]

In May 2013, the programme was awarded title of 'Best Sitcom' at the annual BAFTA awards, with star Olivia Colman also picking up the award for 'Best Female Comedy Performance', a category in which co-star Jessica Hynes was also nominated. Hugh Bonneville also received a nomination for his role of Head of Deliverance, Ian Fletcher.[24]

DVD release

On 23 October 2012 BBC Home Entertainment released the entire series in a two-disc DVD set.[25]


After the final episode had aired, there was speculation in the media about a third series with the team liaising with the organisation team of the [27]

A sequel was announced by the BBC in late 2013 for broadcast in 2014. Named W1A, it follows Ian Fletcher (Bonneville) and Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes) as they pursue new careers as part of the BBC management team.

See also


  1. ^ "BBC Four recommissions hit comedy series Twenty Twelve". BBC Press Office. 15 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "The British Comedy award-winning Twenty Twelve returns tonight for a four-part second series.". BBC Press Office. Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Mickel, Andrew (17 December 2011). Twenty Twelve' gets third series"'". Digital Spy. 
  4. ^ Frost, Vicky (11 March 2011). "Sebastian Coe proves he's game for a laugh in BBC Olympics spoof".  
  5. ^ "Boycott—Part 1". Twenty Twelve. BBC. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Boycott—Part 2". Twenty Twelve. BBC. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Clarence House". Twenty Twelve. BBC. Retrieved 6 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Cumming, Ed (15 March 2011). , BBC Four, review"Twenty Twelve". Daily Telegraph. 
  9. ^ Wollaston, Sam (14 March 2011). "TV review: Twenty Twelve; The Secret War on Terror". The Guardian. 
  10. ^ Viner, Brian (15 March 2011). "Last Night's TV – Twenty Twelve, BBC4; The Secret War on Terror, BBC2". The Independent. 
  11. ^ Viner, Brian (19 April 2011). , BBC4"Twenty Twelve, ITV1; The Reckoning"Last Night's TV – . The Independent. 
  12. ^ Gibson, Owen (15 March 2011). "London 2012 Olympics countdown clock stops".  
  13. ^ Magnay, Jacquelin (16 July 2012). "London 2012 Olympics: American and Australian team buses get lost from Heathrow to Olympic Park".  
  14. ^ Creed, Martin (26 July 2012). "All the Bells". Work No. 1197. Archived from the original on 2012-07-18. 
  15. ^ Clarke, John; Stevenson, Ross (11 March 2011). "How television works: a heart-warming story for all the family". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  16. ^ a b Quin, Karl (16 March 2011). "BBC imitation no flattery: Clarke".  
  17. ^ Plunkett, John (16 March 2011). "BBC denies Olympics comedy stole from Australian TV show". The Guardian. 
  18. ^ Hough, Andrew (15 March 2011). "'"BBC in plagiarism row over 'Australian Olympics show copy claims.  
  19. ^ Clarke, John. "The Games". MrJohnClarke. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  20. ^ Plunkett, John (16 March 2011). "BBC denies Olympics comedy stole from Australian TV show". The Guardian. 
  21. ^ "British Comedy Awards 2011". 16 December 2011. 
  22. ^ "Gold for Hynes!". Chortle. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "EastEnders up for four MVSAs". EastEnders ( 
  24. ^ "Olivia Colman wins two Bafta awards". BBC News. 12 May 2013. 
  25. ^ Lambert, David (19 September 2012). "Twenty Twelve - The BBC Comedy Series is Now Scheduled with a Street Date".  
  26. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (29 July 2012). "Games for a laugh".   (Subscription required)
  27. ^ Rampton, James (29 March 2012). "Twenty Twelve: Back on track with Hugh Bonneville, the lord of office jargon". The Independent. 

External links

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