thu 25/07/2024

Twenty Twelve, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Twenty Twelve, BBC Two

Twenty Twelve, BBC Two

Olympics behind-the-scenes spoof returns

Love is blind: Olivia Colman and Hugh Bonneville

If Twenty Twelve's creators were looking for inspiration for their mockumentary about those making London 2012 happen, they need have gone no further than reading the headlines (now daily) in London newspapers about Tube drivers demanding more wedge to work during the Games, the Civil Service asking their staff to work from home and the London Mayor's transport officials suggesting that August may be a good time to find an alternative route to work - this after Londoners have put up

with years of delays and cancellations while the system was being upgraded not for their benefit, but for visitors to the event.

As it is, every scenario writer/director John Morton thinks up has the ring of truth about it, however surreal it may initially seem. The tone of the comedy, meanwhile, is set by David Tennant's nicely sardonic and over-detailed narration: “Siobhan is busy both meeting and greeting their next guest...”

Hynes gives a note-perfect observation of a dim and deluded media type who talks in clichés and believes she is running the show

The second series of Twenty Twelve, which started last week, opened with a kerfuffle arising over a threatened Algerian boycott – because the “shared belief centre” at the Olympic site doesn't face Mecca. But what should have been a relatively simple matter requiring the smooth skills of Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville), head of deliverance at the “Olympic Deliverance Commission”, quickly grew into a massive diplomatic row when one of his numbnut assistants inadvertently described an Algerian official as looking like a schnauzer.

Fletcher is constantly fire-fighting (as he would say) logistical difficulties, delays and cock-ups, many of them caused by the idiots who surround him, not least the head of brand, the ill-named Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes). Hynes gives a note-perfect observation of a dim and deluded media type who talks in clichés, and who believes she, not Ian, is running the show. She thinks Islam and Muslim are two different religions and when told the Archbishop of Canterbury had entered the row about the faith-centre furore, she says dismissively, “Maybe he should just stick to Sussex.”

There are multiple strands in each week's episode, and as one storyline is tied up, another unravels. So last night some “emergency architecture laughing in the face of physics” was devised by an architect driven to distraction by the increasingly bizarre requests made for the shared belief centre. He managed to come up with a multi-sided building that faces in every direction for every faith and with a minaret cunningly disguised as a heating duct.

Being cued up was a rivalry between new girl Fi Healy (Morven Christie, left in picture with Amelia Bullmore), brought in as head of legacy, which put head of sustainability Kay Hope's (Amelia Bullmore) nose seriously out of joint. Where does her job end and Fi's begin?

But amid the comedy there's a more poignant story riffling through; Sally, Fletcher’s assistant. We can all see she's head over heels in love with him, but he is blind to her charms. She runs not just his office, but his increasingly chaotic personal life after his wife threw him out in the first series – choosing the curtains for this flat, having coffee and a danish ready for him when he arrives at work because she knows he won't have had time to make himself breakfast. Sally (beautifully played, as ever, by Olivia Colman) and Ian is a love story reminiscent of Tim and Dawn in The Office – but when will he notice her? Last night's episode ended with her desk empty and no one knowing where she was...

Much of the series is filmed in Canary Wharf, where the real Olympic Delivery Authority has its offices, and Sebastian Coe makes occasional appearances as himself, or rather a more withering version of himself, to great comedic effect. The scripts are chock-full of funny lines, with the meaningless verbosity that bureaucrats love - “multiculturality isn't about semantics” - and some zinger throwaway lines; “like Davina McCall gone wrong”, a character says about the hectoring Siobhan at one point. Bonneville is nicely long-suffering, Bullmore does twitching paranoia well and the supporting cast play it straight to great effect.

  • Twenty Twelve continues on BBC Two on Fridays
Fletcher is constantly fire-fighting (as he would say) cock-ups, many of them caused by the idiots who surround him

Explore topics

Share this article


What's happened to Sally? where is she?

Unresolved- need online petition/ debate in the House of Commons demanding a positive resolution!

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters