Article by Susanna Lazarus for the Radio Times
Head of Deliverance Hugh Bonneville discusses the future of John Morton’s hugely popular mockumentary.
It’s been three long wintery months since the Olympic Park closed its doors to spectators after the phenomenally successful London 2012, but it’s not just sporting excellence that has been missing from our television screens.
John Morton’s hugely popular mockumentary Twenty Twelve was a ratings hit with viewers – brilliantly tapping into the general public’s mistrust of Seb Coe’s LOCOG. The show finally wrapped with three episodes in the run up to the Opening Ceremony but, with the absence of an Olympic organising committee, is there any scope for a follow-up?
Well, one of its cast members Hugh Bonneville has revealed that it’s something of a hot topic amongst the team. “We talk about it quite a lot, actually. It was such a glorious ensemble to work with and I adore John Morton’s writing.
“But I think the clue’s in the title, really. There was a moment when we thought maybe we could and we jokingly talked about how they could go on to sort out the NHS or Armed Forces cuts – or even the BBC, which now seems more pertinent than ever!
“The stakes were so high that it would have to be something even higher than that and I don’t know what that would be. Maybe the UN? But I don’t know – John will come up with some other ideas and maybe even the same ensemble but I can’t see it yet.”
Bonneville – whose next project is a starring role in David Walliams’ BBC adaptation Mr Stink – is quick to sing the praises of writer and director John Morton. “For a man who doesn’t really go out much, and I really mean doesn’t go out much – he’s a hermit – for him to have caught so many catchphrases of the way we speak and abuse language was quite phenomenal. He’s got an amazing ear for nonsense.”
So what did the fictional Head of Deliverance make of Britain’s summer of sport? “It was one of the most incredible things to have ever been alive for in this country. It was a remarkable achievement and such a success, not only on the field in events but also in terms of Britishness. I think it’s re-adjusted our position and our pride in Britain which, let’s face it, has been knocked around a bit over the last couple of decades.”
So, to sum up: he’s rather proud… And in his capacity as head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission (ODC), Bonneville found himself a figure of public interest when he attended the Opening Ceremony with the cast of Downton Abbey. “It was a bit schizophrenic when I went with the Downton gang and we were walking up to the stadium and people were asking for photos. The Gamesmakers were all coming up and asking about Twenty Twelve – it was a bizarre, doppelganger-y evening.”
He also revealed he was one of the lucky 80,000 ticket holders to have spent Golden Saturday inside the Olympic stadium. “It was pure fluke and expensive but wonderful – and I was hoarse for three days afterwards. We were in the middle of shooting Downton and I had to ask to re-voice a couple of scenes because I could hear the rasp in my voice after yelling ‘MO!’ For a lazy old armchair sportsman like me I felt very athletic and very proud.”