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A pilot episode was filmed in early 2003, and the rest of the series was due to be filmed and aired later that year. However, the producers of Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001) then demanded a much higher percentage of the royalties than they had originally been offered, delaying production of the series by two years. As a result of this delay Bradley Walsh, who had originally been due to return as Doddsy, dropped out and was replaced by Steve Edge. See more »
So, van Needlemans, are you happy joining Wirral?
[Van Needlemans speaks Dutch to the press. Doddsy is behind him frantically flicking through a Dutch phrasebook while Mike looks suspiciously at van Needlemans]
[jumping to conclusions]
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STAR RATING: ***** The Works **** Just Misses the Mark *** That Little Bit In Between ** Lagging Behind * The Pits
Colourful football manager Mike Bassett (Ricky Tomlinson) returns to manage Wirral County FC, a struggling football club in need of wins. The series follows the trials and tribulations of his run as manager and the various scrapes he gets into.
This series leaves me in a bit of an unusual predicament. Usually, it's the case that a great comedy series spawns a movie adaptation that turns out to be a very bad idea (usually because the length of the film can't handle the 30 minute segment of a show and stretches the joke out a bit too far.) But here it is the opposite case and we have a TV series adaptation of a film that was obviously popular enough to spawn it. And, the great news is, it ain't half bad.
Like the film, the series simply has moments that genuinely work and are really quite funny, not the moments of 'laugh-out loud hilarity' the film had, but still quite amusing. This is owed in no small part of course to the cast, mainly Tomlinson, whose standard loud-mouthed, barking, over-reacting scouser act is worked to pleasingly funny effect. The supporting cast (like Tonka!) also have their moments, but he is the driving force of the show.
The show is not big or memorable enough to be an absolute comedy classic, but when it has it's moments, like the film it was adapted from, it works. ***
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