Twenty Twelve

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Twenty Twelve
Twenty Twelve.jpg
Created byJohn Morton
Written byJohn Morton
Directed byJohn Morton
StarringHugh Bonneville
Jessica Hynes
Amelia Bullmore
Olivia Colman
Vincent Franklin
Karl Theobald
Morven Christie
Narrated byDavid Tennant
Theme music composerIrving Berlin
Opening theme"Let's Face the Music and Dance" sung by Nat King Cole
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes13
Executive producerJon Plowman
ProducerPaul Schlesinger
Running time30 minutes
Production companyBBC
Original networkBBC Four (2011–2012)
BBC Two (2012)
Picture format(SDTV) 576i
(HDTV) 1080i
Audio formatStereo
Original release14 March 2011 (2011-03-14) –
24 July 2012 (2012-07-24)
Followed byW1A

Twenty Twelve is a BBC television comedy series written and directed by John Morton. Starring Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Hynes and Amelia Bullmore, the programme is a spoof on-location mockumentary following the organisation of the 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.

Several core characters went on to appear in a sequel, W1A, in 2014.[4]


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. Jowett briefly becomes Acting Head of Deliverance in Series 2 when Ian Fletcher becomes incapacitated.

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. She continually mentions that she is a single mother after a bitter divorce, and is paranoid about her public image. In series two Fi Healey joins the team as a new 'Head of Legacy', and instantly becomes Kay's nemesis due to being younger, ambitious and career savvy; the pair constantly clash. Finally, Head of Infrastructure Graham Hitchens gives the impression that he knows everything about the London transport and traffic systems, but is completely ignorant, has no clue about deadlines and frequently upsets various officials.


Character Actor Position Series
One Two
Ian Fletcher Hugh Bonneville Head of Deliverance of the Olympic Deliverance Commission Main
Kay Hope Amelia Bullmore Head of Sustainability Main
Sally Owen Olivia Colman Ian Fletcher's personal assistant Main
Nick Jowett Vincent Franklin Head of Contracts Main
Siobhan Sharpe Jessica Hynes Head of Brand Main
Graham Hitchins Karl Theobald Head of Infrastructure Main
Fi Healey Morven Christie Head of Legacy Main
Daniel Stroud Samuel Barnett Ian Fletcher's personal assistant Main
Barney Lumsden Alex Beckett Brand consultant Guest Recurrent
Karl Marx Joel Fry Brand consultant Recurrent
Coco Lomax Sara Pascoe Brand consultant Recurrent


Series 1[edit]

No. Title Overnight viewers Original airdate
1 "Countdown"417,00014 March 2011 (2011-03-14)
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"474,00021 March 2011 (2011-03-21)
The ODC take a group of delegates to meet Lord Coe at the London Olympic Park. However, the traffic and a bus driver who doesn't know London conspire against them. Olympic organiser Lord "Seb" Coe makes a cameo appearance as himself in this episode.[5]
3 "Roman Remains"420,00028 March 2011 (2011-03-28)
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"419,0004 April 2011 (2011-04-04)
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"389,00011 April 2011 (2011-04-11)
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"432,00018 April 2011 (2011-04-18)
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[edit]

No. Title Overnight viewers Original airdate
1 "Boycott" – Part 11,200,00030 March 2012 (2012-03-30)
The Algerian Olympic team threatens to boycott the Games after discovering that the Shared Belief Centre does not face Mecca.[6]
2 "Boycott" – Part 2972,000 (overnight)6 April 2012 (2012-04-06)
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.[7]
3 "Clarence House"TBA13 April 2012 (2012-04-13)
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?[8]
4 "The Rapper"TBA20 April 2012 (2012-04-20)
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"1,450,00010 July 2012 (2012-07-10)
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"1,800,00017 July 2012 (2012-07-17)
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"1,780,00024 July 2012 (2012-07-24)
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[edit]

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."[9] 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".[10] 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".[11]

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."[12]

Real-life similarities[edit]

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-day countdown clock, the real-life clock in Trafalgar Square broke soon after it had been launched by Lord Coe and London mayor Boris Johnson.[13]

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.[14]

The Games plagiarism accusation[edit]

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][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]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The programme was the winner of the Best Sitcom category at the British Comedy Awards 2011,[20] while Jessica Hynes received the Best Comedy Performance award for her role from the Royal Television Society.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23]

Year Award Nominee Category Result Reference
2011 British Comedy Awards John Morton Best TV Sitcom Won [24]
Hugh Bonneville Best TV Comedy Actor Nominated
John Morton Best New Comedy Programme
2012 BAFTA TV Award Olivia Colman Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme Nominated [24]
Hugh Bonneville Best Male Performance in a Comedy Programme
British Comedy Awards Twenty Twelve Best Sitcom Nominated [24]
Hugh Bonneville Best TV Comedy Actor
Jessica Hynes Best TV Comedy Actress
Olivia Colman
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards John Morton, Paul Schlesinger Best Comedy/Entertainment Nominated [24]
2013 BAFTA TV Award Olivia Colman Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme Won [24]
John Morton, Paul Schlesinger, Catherine Gosling Fuller, Jon Plowman Best Situation Comedy Won
John Morton Best Writer: Comedy Nominated
Jessica Hynes Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme Nominated
Hugh Bonneville Best Male Performance in a Comedy Programme Nominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards John Morton Best Comedy/Entertainment Won [24]
Writer's Award Nominated
RTS Television Awards Jessica Hynes Best Comedy Performance Won [24]
John Morton Best Writer - Comedy Nominated

DVD release[edit]

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 Rio de Janeiro games in 2016, or becoming management consultants.[26] When asked about whether the hit show could return, main star Bonneville said, "Absolutely. They could go and help with the organisation of the Rio Games in 2016...but ultimately, this is a crack team that could go anywhere and manage anything – the City, say, or the armed services. The NHS also needs rebranding. They could get Ian in to announce, 'If health is about anything, it's about managing expectations. We have got to get people to appreciate there are a lot of positive things about ill health. We need to make it sexy'."[27]

A sequel was announced by the BBC in late 2013 and broadcast 19 March to 9 April 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. A second series was commissioned in September 2014 and broadcast 23 April to 14 May 2015. A third series began airing on 18 September 2017.

See also[edit]


  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. ^ "BBC's Twenty Twelve sequel to focus on the corporation itself". 5 December 2013.
  5. ^ Frost, Vicky (11 March 2011). "Sebastian Coe proves he's game for a laugh in BBC Olympics spoof". The Guardian.
  6. ^ "Boycott—Part 1". Twenty Twelve. BBC. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Boycott—Part 2". Twenty Twelve. BBC. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Clarence House". Twenty Twelve. BBC. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  9. ^ Cumming, Ed (15 March 2011). "Twenty Twelve, BBC Four, review". The Daily Telegraph.
  10. ^ Wollaston, Sam (14 March 2011). "TV review: Twenty Twelve; The Secret War on Terror". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Viner, Brian (15 March 2011). "Last Night's TV – Twenty Twelve, BBC4; The Secret War on Terror, BBC2". The Independent.
  12. ^ Viner, Brian (19 April 2011). "Last Night's TV – The Reckoning, ITV1; Twenty Twelve, BBC4". The Independent.
  13. ^ Gibson, Owen (15 March 2011). "London 2012 Olympics countdown clock stops". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Magnay, Jacquelin (16 July 2012). "London 2012 Olympics: American and Australian team buses get lost from Heathrow to Olympic Park". The Daily Telegraph.
  15. ^ Clarke, John; Stevenson, Ross (11 March 2011). "How television works: a heart-warming story for all the family". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  16. ^ Quin, Karl (16 March 2011). "BBC imitation no flattery: Clarke". The Age.
  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'". The Daily Telegraph.
  19. ^ Clarke, John. "The Games". MrJohnClarke. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  20. ^ "British Comedy Awards 2011". 16 December 2011.
  21. ^ "Gold for Hynes!". Chortle. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  22. ^ "EastEnders up for four MVSAs". EastEnders. BBC Online. 4 October 2012.
  23. ^ "Olivia Colman wins two Bafta awards". BBC News. 12 May 2013.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g "Twenty Twelve Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  25. ^ Lambert, David (19 September 2012). "Twenty Twelve - The BBC Comedy Series is Now Scheduled with a Street Date". Archived from the original on 22 September 2012.
  26. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (29 July 2012). "Games for a laugh". The Sunday Times Culture Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. (Subscription required)
  27. ^ Rampton, James (29 March 2012). "Twenty Twelve: Back on track with Hugh Bonneville, the lord of office jargon". The Independent.

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