TV review: W1A Series Two, BBC Two
- Henry Northmore
- 14 April 2015
Hugh Bonneville stars in scarily plausible BBC mockumentary
More management doublespeak and pandering to political correctness as Hugh Bonneville returns as the BBC's Head of Values in mockumentary W1A. It’s a faked but scarily believable peek behind closed doors at the Beeb. In fact if you didn't know better, you could easily be fooled into thinking W1A was the genuine article.
After the London Olympics came and went, while many missed the outstanding display of athleticism and sportsmanship that enthralled the world, comedy fans mourned the death of Twenty Twelve. A sort of mix of The Office and The Thick of It, the show charted the behind-the-scenes squabbles and procedural nightmares involved in staging such a large scale event. However, writer-director John Morton turned the camera's gaze on the BBC, drawing on his experience in the television industry for W1A.
Bonneville's character from Twenty Twelve, Ian Fletcher, is now at the BBC, with the meaningless title 'Head of Values'. In series two, he haplessly leads his team through plans to revamp Wimbledon and the Royal protocol surrounding an upcoming visit from Prince Charles, in a never-ending round of nonsensical meetings that never seem to resolve anything.
W1A really works because everything is played completely straight, from David Tennant's pitch-perfect deadpan narration to Jessica Hynes' insane PR, who in one scene literally bats ideas back and forth. TV shows such as Britain's Top Village (presented by Gary Lineker and Holly Willoughby), or the team getting their intern to make a running count of Jeremy Clarkson's use of the word 'tosser', sound utterly plausible.
Choosing the BBC as W1A's target provides plenty of sophisticated laughs at the institution's own expense, but it could easily be any large-scale company strangled by its own red tape and public image.
W1A starts on BBC Two, Thursday 23 April, 9pm