On hearing of London’s victory in the 2012 hosting race at the Beijing Olympics, Boris Johnson declared “Wiff waff is coming home!” , (referring to Ping Pong, invented in England), while Seb Coe p*ssed himself in the background. Twenty Twelve, more a gentle joshing than hard hitting satire, never quite grasps that the farcical core of our Olympics effort isn’t the bureacracy, the Swastika-esque logo or the fatuous ‘sustainability’ plans – it’s really just Bozzer Jozzer himself.
This mock-u-drama follows the team in charge of London 2012, a format that seems almost quaint ten years on from The Office. Guesting Darren Boyd steals all the laughs as the endlessly enthusaistic, endlessly incompetent former athlete Dave Wellbeck, whose power point presentation in front of a school assembly is as compellingly cringey as any Gervaisian speech. Jessica Hynes’s ‘Head of Brand’ Siobhan Sharpe is funnier each episode, as she’s now perfected her overwhelmingly blank stare and an “mmhmmm yah yep, totally yeah great,” tick in response to anyone else’s ideas.
The subject is, of course, ripe for ripping. But Twenty Twelve is reticent to do anything more than tickle the ribs of the establishment, let alone tear them to shreds. Hugh Bonneville is too sympathetic as Head of Deliverance Ian Fletcher, the pointless PR and grating ‘sustainability’ are too affably British. Malcolm Tucker gave The Thick Of It it’s bite, David Brent anchored The Office – Twenty Twelve just lacks its pivotal character. Which begs the question, where on earth is Boris?
Surely they could have located a pink bowling ball of a man, untucked his shirt, slapped a blonde murkin on his head and perched him atop a Barclays bike. Without the surreal presence of a deluded Etionian poshboy trundling about on an oversized trike and attempting to run a city, Twenty Twelve’s Olympic commission will never be as funny as the real thing.