London 2012 & Twenty Twelve: Life imitating art or…


As the world moves closer and closer to Friday’s opening ceremonies of the XXX Summer Olympiad in London, those associated with the genius comedy known as Twenty Twelve are beginning to wonder does life actually imitate art? Twenty Twelve, the brilliant mockery aimed at the organizers of the 2012 London Olympics stars Hugh Bonneville (the Earl of Grantham) plays Ian Fletcher, who leads a team of heroic incompetents at the fictional Olympic Deliverance Commission.

According to Jon Plowman, the man behind such classics as Absolutely Fabulous, Vicar of Dibley, People Like Us, Psychoville, League of Gentleman and French & Saunders to name a few had no idea when he began his Executive Producer role on Twenty Twelve that it would turn out to be so real.

Jon’s recent account in the Telegraph is priceless. Anything that starts out with, “…Right from the start, we decided that although we were making a programme about the Olympics, knowing nothing about sport was a prerequisite for all of our characters” is well worth the read.

After settling on the title of a spelled out version of 2012, life truly did begin to imitate art as Jon recalled, “…One of the unexpected pleasures has been the way life has imitated art, with actual events mirroring made-up moments in the show. We invented an Olympic Countdown clock that experienced a range of problems; the day after our first programme was shown, the London organisers installed their own Countdown Clock in Trafalgar Square, which broke down almost immediately. Siobhan Sharpe could not have arranged better PR.

The more Plowman thinks about whether it’s life imitating art or vice versa, the more the lines are blurred. “Actually, the closer we get to the Games, the harder I find it to separate Twenty Twelve from real life. We had a scene, for example, in which there was a discussion with an architect about the optimum number of athletes per lavatory, and there is, in fact, a book stipulating how many that should be in order to comply with Olympic regulations.” Further proof of lines being blurred comes from The New Statesman who created their own London 2012 v. Twenty Twelve Fact or Fiction contest. See how well you do…

If you haven’t had a chance to watch as of yet, book some time between now and Friday. It will cause you to watch the opening and closing ceremonies and all things in-between with just a little bit more understanding as to what went in to the planning of an event of such magnitude. Plus, it’s really, really brilliant.