Ambassadors (TV series)

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Ambassadors
Ambassadors titlecard.png
Also known as Our Men
Genre
  • Comedy
  • Drama
Written by
  • James Wood
  • Rupert Walters
Directed by Jeremy Webb
Starring
Composer(s) Daniel Pemberton
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Russian[1]"Tazbek"
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 3 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Kenton Allen
  • Luke Alkin
  • Matthew Justice
  • David Mitchell
  • Robert Webb
  • Chris Sussman
Producer(s) Chris Carey
Editor(s) Chrispin Green
Location(s)
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor BBC Worldwide
Broadcast
Original channel
Original run 23 October 2013 (2013-10-23) – 6 November 2013 (2013-11-06)
External links
Website
Production website

Ambassadors is a three-part British comedy-drama television series that premiered on BBC Two on 23 October 2013. Ambassadors follows the lives of the employees of the British embassy in the fictional Central Asian nation of Tazbekistan.[2]

Cast[edit]

Britons
Tazbekis
Embassy Tazbekis
Others

Production[edit]

Cast of Ambassadors (left to right)
Shivani Ghai, Amara Karan, David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Susan Lynch

On 23 August 2012, BBC Two's controller Janice Hadlow announced the commissioning of the television series.[3] The series was commissioned by Janice Hadlow and Cheryl Taylor, the controller of BBC comedy commissioning.[4] The series went into production in January 2013.[5]

Robert Webb said: "It's sort of Yes, Prime Minister meets Spooks at a bad disco".[5] David Mitchell said: "It's credible, hopefully funny at times, but serious at times. It was very nice to do something in a slightly different genre. It was nice to do a bit of acting alongside all my sitting in a sparkly chair telling a joke."[6]

Part of the series was filmed in Bursa in western Turkey. According to AZ Celtic Films, Bursa was chosen because of its diversity and closeness to Istanbul, which is called the "hub of the film industry".[7] The series received help from the Turkish military and the local airport, where filming took two days. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office allowed the cast to run a read-through in one of its grandest rooms.[8]

James Wood, the co-writer of the series said "The stories we were told by diplomats were very closely reflected in the series. We ended up with 200 pages of research" and that a week was spent in Kazakhstan with the Ambassador there.[8] According to Craig Murray, a former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Big Talk Productions tried to buy the rights to his book, Murder in Samarkand, for a film and believes the series is based on it.[8] He also thought the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had backed the comedy to "defuse the horror of our alliance with Uzbekistan and make it banal, accepted and safe".[8]

The title sequence for the show was created by Joe Berger and Pascal Wyse.[9] Throughout the series the Union Flag always appears upside-down: in the title sequence, outside the embassy and on the ambassador's Land Rover.

Episode list[edit]

# Title Directed by Written by Original air date UK viewers
(millions)[10]
1 "The Rabbit Never Escapes" Jeremy Webb James Wood and Rupert Walters 23 October 2013 (2013-10-23) 1.67
Davis (David Mitchell) and Tilly (Robert Webb) attempt to secure a profitable helicopter contract, but things go awry when Davis accidentally shoots an ibex, Tazbekistan's national animal, and the embassy's Best of British festival fails to win over the natives. 
2 "The Prince's Trousers" Jeremy Webb James Wood and Rupert Walters 30 October 2013 (2013-10-30) 1.00 (overnight)
Prince Mark (Tom Hollander) of Bath, a minor royal, travels to Tazbekistan in his capacity as trade envoy, and soon makes himself unpopular with his demands on the embassy staff. His arrival coincides with the escape of one of the country's most celebrated and outspoken dissidents, the blind Amil Zarifi, who asks for sanctuary in the embassy. Neil takes the decision to bring him into the compound, which not only incenses his boss but also infuriates the Tazbeks. Unexpectedly Prince Mark's closing speech resolves the situation. 
3 "The Tazbek Spring" Jeremy Webb James Wood and Rupert Walters 6 November 2013 (2013-11-06) 0.90 (overnight)
While celebrating the Tazbek president's Platinum Jubilee, gunfire erupts on the streets. Worried that this is the start of the Tazbek Spring, the ambassadors must decide whether to back the rebels or the government. At the same time, the vetting officer arrives fresh from Guantanamo Bay. After getting captured by the rebels, Davis and the French Ambassador get saved by British troops helping Tazbek soldiers suppress the rebellion. 

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

Overnight figures showed that the first episode attracted 1.21 million viewers on BBC Two. It was watched by 5.4% of television viewers during its original broadcast.[11] The second episode saw an audience share of 4.5%.[12]

Critical reception[edit]

Alison Graham of Radio Times said: "There are some funny bits, but it’s a drama with a light touch, rather than an out-and-out comedy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as this is an engaging, even winning, hour."[13] The Daily Telegraph journalist Jake Wallis Simons gave it four out of five stars and said: "The two leading actors, Messrs David Mitchell and Robert Webb, brought the thing alive."[14]

Michael Deacon of The Daily Telegraph said "it was intriguing to see a change in the dynamic of their [Mitchell and Webb] on-screen relationship. In Peep Show, Webb's character is an overgrown child, with Mitchell effectively his sighing guardian, but in Ambassadors it's Webb's character who seems the wiser and more authoritative, if only because Mitchell's character is new to the job."[15] The Guardian's Sam Wollaston said: "It's not lol-tastic(sic). More of a drama with jokes than jokes strung together with some kind of story. The funniest bits are almost incidental" and "Ambassadors didn't blow me away, but it grew on me as it went along."[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Seale, Jack (23 October 2013). "Mitchell and Webb on Ambassadors, holidays, learning Russian, tea and global politics". RadioTimes. 
  2. ^ "Ambassadors". BBC. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "BBC Two announces raft of new commissions". BBC. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "First-look behind-the-scenes video for BBC Two's Ambassadors, starring Mitchell and Webb". BBC. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "BBC Two announces Our Men starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb". BBC. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (3 October 2013). "David Mitchell talks new Channel 4 quiz, Twitter and a move into drama". Digital Spy. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Goundry, Nick (8 October 2013). "Mitchell and Webb BBC comedy Ambassadors films on location in Turkey". The Location Guide. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d Sherwin, Adam (8 October 2013). "Can new Mitchell & Webb comedy help the Foreign Office improve its image?". The Independent. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "Latest: our title sequence to Ambassadors". Retrieved 30 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "BARB Top 30s". 
  11. ^ Eames, Tom (24 October 2013). "'Poirot' final episodes begin with 4.4m on ITV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  12. ^ Eames, Tom (31 October 2013). "'Poirot' holds steady at 4.4m for second episode on ITV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  13. ^ Graham, Alison. "Ambassadors Series 1 Episode 1". Radio Times. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  14. ^ Wallis Simons, Jake (24 October 2013). "Ambassadors, BBC Two, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Deacon, Michael (24 October 2013). "Michael Deacon: The Great British Break Down". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  16. ^ Wollaston, Sam (23 October 2013). "Ambassadors – TV review". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 

External links[edit]