Sport on TV: Olympic pastiche ticks all the boxes in race against time
Sunday 20 March 2011
One of the dilemmas of writing a topical comedy must be that your script can be overtaken by events. The makers of a new sitcom about the London Olympics, Twenty Twelve (BBC4, Monday) might have been bemused by the apparent ability of Locog, the real organising committee, to deliver on time and on budget. Not many laughs there.
But then came the clock, which was supposed to count down 500 days to the start of the Games – until it stopped on Tuesday, a day after it was launched. This was a gift from the gods which Mount Olympus itself would have been hard-pressed to deliver, because the first conceit of this new series was a big clock that is launched 1,000 days before the Games. Suddenly the programme is looking like a time bomb, and Seb Coe, who is slated for a guest spot on the show, may soon be developing a nervous tick. Well, they say that comedy is all about timing.
Grumpy artist Anthony Preston designed the fictional timepiece and, like most British modern art, no one understands how it works until they discover on the launch day that it actually counts backwards from 5pm on 27 July 2012 to an utterly irrelevant date in the past. "It's kind of a dynamic thing, constantly in motion," says PR consultant Siobhan Sharpe of the Perfect Curve agency, excellently played by Jessica Hynes in full ditzy flow. It's a sign of the times, as are the torch-bearers she proposes: Bruce Forsyth, Sir Alan Sugar, Gok Wan, in "a list that accurately reflects Britain today".
Meanwhile Kay Hope, like the clock, is dealing with the future. She is trying to identify a suitable tenant for the Taekwondo Centre when the Games are over, and wants to give it to Rudolfo's Travelling Circus as a permanent home. Then it's pointed out that she hasn't asked the British Taekwondo Control Board. Perhaps Gok Wan Do might be interested.
And Graham Hitchens, in charge of logistics, implements a Traffic Light Phasing trial in the capital which brings the city to a standstill. It's like "doing open heart bypass surgery with the patient still alive", he says.
No doubt Boris Johnson will be tuning in each week, and like Coe he may have a cameo role. It's no surprise that he would play himself, though. After all, it's hard to imagine a fictional character who could be quite as much of a buffoon as BoJo. It simply wouldn't be believable, even in a comedy.
* Thank goodness for the England cricket team – again. Their Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em levels of ineptitude at the World Cup have left us enthralled in what has otherwise been an interminable and extremely dull tournament. We should not berate them for their clownishness. After all, they were simply splendid in annihilating the Aussies in the Ashes, and now they're managing to transform the least interesting format of the game into an insane carnival of emotions. Keep it going, lads, we're right behind you – and the sofa.
* Rio Ferdinand was not allowed to go to Africa to promote Comic Relief (BBC1, Friday), we're told, because he can't make himself cry. James Corden's latest amusing sketch was obviously written before Fabio Capello stripped Rio of the England captaincy. That strange upper lip has probably been quivering ever since.
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