The second series of this critically acclaimed mockumentary following the Olympic Deliverance team attempting to organise the Games is equally as hilarious, if a little more self-assured, as its first installment.
With clear inspiration from The Office and Peep Show, the eye-watering awkwardness of the office environment and peculiarity of the individuals who work to âtension the last few guy-ropes and tighten the canvasâ? of âLondonâs tentâ?, as project chief Ian (played by a magnificently downbeat Hugh Bonneville) likes to label the Olympic mission in his customary office jargon, Twenty Twelve is both surreal and delectably quotidian.
The first episode follows a near-diplomatic crisis when the Algerian Olympic Delegation threatens to pull out of the Olympics because the Shared Belief Centre does not face Mecca. France and Morocco become embroiled in the controversy, causing Ian and his team frenziedly to make comments in favour of âmulticulturalityâ? to anyone who will listen.
This results in Ian having to visit the Foreign Office to conduct a disastrous four-way video conference involving Seb Coe and the Algerian representative Dr Benhamadi, in order to avoid âliterally a minaretâ? in the middle of the Olympic Village. The tension and bizarre authenticity of this scene is exquisite.
A wickedly cruel under-secretary of state becomes increasingly frustrated when both his underling taking the Fast-Track programme âat his own speedâ? and Ianâs hapless employee (who is attending instead of meeting Boris Johnson, because he doesnât âknow any Latinâ?) fail to get the video links working.
Particularly amusing is Jessica Hynesâ ditzy PR girl, Siobhan, who baffles her haggard colleagues with a reluctance to âwhack this racoonâ? and assertions that they are in âa barrel load of shit hereâ?. This performance is drolly complemented by Nick, Head of Contracts, a perpetually incredulous Yorkshireman played by Vincent Franklin, who in this episode is hassled by the âsustainableâ? or âwhateverâ? new hand driers installed in the offices.
Yet the programmeâs highlight is the relationship between Ian and his PA and general dogsbody (âIâll just do your knucklesâ? – she dabs his hands with a wet cloth during his important phone call) Sally. Olivia Coleman deftly executes this role as discomfited and tongue-tied, bringing complexity and a certain sadness to her character, as we try to work out whether she is madly in love, or simply furious, with her boss.
Making a hilarious mockery of the Olympic preparations, the Deliverance team may even be more fun to watch than the âwomenâs ping pongâ?, âRussian Orthodox weightliftersâ? and athletes who âthrow stuffâ? they refer to as participating in the actual Games.