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I received the boxed set edition of this "spoof" series as a birthday gift and am pleased to say that this is one collection that won't sit on the shelf unwatched. It's a droll, if not laugh- out-loud comedy satirising the doings and undoings of the team set up to ensure the smooth operation of the then impending London Olympic Games of 2012.
Peopled by just-exaggerated-enough characters all too believable in their ineptitude, it gently mocks their blundering officiousness with fly-on-the-wall scrutiny, pieces to camera and occasional interaction with them by an unseen interviewer. Heading the team is the bumptious Ian Fletcher, played by Hugh Bonneville, the archetypal 24-7 workaholic, whose private life is foundering under the strain, while carrying an Olympic-size torch for him is his super-efficient P.A. Sally, forever plying him with massive portions of fast food, played in best scene-stealing fashion by Olivia Colman.
Of the remainder, Jessica Hynes as Siobhan Sharpe, the domineering on-the-go "Head Of Brand", with her catchphrases "Cool" and "This is the thing" and Karl Theobald as the crisp-munching but out-to-lunch Head of Logistics are particularly funny while for added realism, real life bigwigs Lord "Seb" Coe and London Mayor Boris Johnston are happy to put in cameo appearances too.
The format of Ian arriving for the daily hot-air group-meeting does grate a little after a few episodes while some of the supporting characters lack definition but I think the humour improves when the scenarios are opened out, for example the crazy coach-trip with the Brazilian Olympic delegation or the unveiling of the bizarre backward-counting Olympic Clock complete with its artistically-temperamental creator. The actors cope very well with the demands of their supposedly off-the-cuff, overlapping dialogue although as the DVD-extra cast interviews make clear, not a single line is improvised.
All in all, I think this fresh take on the "mockumentary" concept is a winner, not quite gold-medal standard, but certainly on the podium somewhere.
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