BBC's Twenty Twelve - Why didn't I know about this?

Only a few more days to go in the Olympics and I’ve just discovered the BBC’s mockumentary Twenty Twelve on Itunes. It stars Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham) as the head of the “Olympic Deliverance Commission” responsible for preparing London for the 2012 games.

It’s kind of a hoot. Narrated by Doctor Who’s David Tennant and also featuring Olivia Colman from Peep Show.

The show sparks a couple of questions.

I’ve never before encountered this usage of the term “deliverance.” Is it something that is well known in the Olympics or other large event jargon?

One of the ongoing jokes is a struggle over the use of the terminology “legacy” instead of “sustainability.” I understand that one of the characters is very picky about this, but I don’t quite get the underlying issue. I know what “sustainability” is in modern large-enterprise parlance, but I don’t really know what they mean by “legacy” – is it something that the Olympics has traditionally used? And why would it be replaced by “sustainability”?

A big chunk of the humour in that show is that people are flinging these words around like crazy when obviously there’s not a single person who knows what any of them mean in a practical sense. It portrays the entire Olympics management as building this massive house of cards. It was a pretty amusing show, but I thought they stretched the premise a little too thin by the end. There was a lot of repetition of jokes.

It’s great stuff.

And yeah, I’m with Smeghead: the whole point is that it’s corporate jargon gone insane - the words themselves are used like they’re hugely important, but they don’t have any actual meaning attached to them.

And I think the idea behind ‘deliverance’ is that some committee thought it would sound cooler than ‘delivery’ and didn’t cop to the film allusion.

Saw this on BBC America in the weeks leading up to the games, and in combination with a couple of serious documentaries on building the venues it made for laugh out loud moments through out the Olympics. Every time somebody on the serious documentary about building the stadium used the word legacy, my wife and I would turn to each other and say “its a sustainability issue, I really feel that.”

In all of the episodes I had the feeling these were the people Douglas Adams meant when he thought of the Golgafrinchan B ark.

I’ve seen a couple episodes of 2012. They were good, but not as good as The Games, which was a very similar show done in Australia before the 2000 Olympics. This is one of my favorite moments.

The ‘legacy’ argument was a big part of the London bid. The obvious argument against London was that not only would the new venues have no real purpose after the Games - the usual Olympic problem - but that, because it is a huge first world city already, they actually duplicate what exists elsewhere in London. The London organisers therefore went out of their way to argue that the new venues can be adapted, that much use would be made of existing venues and that the Olympic Park will be part of a longer term plan for urban regeneration. They were also keen to argue that they could limit the environment impact (‘the first Green Games’). There was also the claim that they would be particularly strong on the social impact, which is why its slogan is ‘Inspire a generation’. All this, of course, was based on the assumption that none of those issues would be of the slightest concern to the Chinese in 2008. And by all accounts, these argument did help convince the IOC to give the Games to London. So, yes, ‘legacy’ and ‘sustainability’ are indeed the big buzzwords about London 2012.

(What the actual legacy is remains to be seen and will doubtless become next week’s sole talking point in the UK media.)

One of the scriptwriters for Twenty Twelve was recently quoted as saying that the inspiration for the joke was that, in looking at the official London 2012 website, he realised that the terms were interchangable.

Loved this. It snuck under the radar last year for many people but got much more of an airing with the new episodes.

As it turned out, it was able to foreshadow many of the issues that the real games have had. (clocks that didn’t work properly, buses getting lost)

It was a great ensemble cast and sure enough the catchphrases have wormed their way in our family vocabulary. “the thing is, the thing with this is, OK here’s the thing”. “I really think that”. “OK…what, this Friday?” “not a problem”

It was all good.

The Siobhan character is amazing. I don’t know how the others resisted strangling her.

She also has the most annoying accent in the world. Is that what’s called the Estuary or Sloan Ranger accent?

I don’t know really. Not estuary that’s for sure. I just hear it as “posh media bint”.

And yes, she is monumentally annoying and one wonders how she is so successful within her own company…then you see her underlings…*then *you understand!

Is there something behind the name “Perfect Curve”? An allusion, a pun, a reference? They say it so often as if it should mean something.

I presumed she hired them all herself.

She’s played by the same actress that played Daisy in Spaced, for anyone who didn’t realize that.

I suspect they are all “friends of friends” and she is first amongst idiots.

And “Cheryl” in “The Royle Family” Jessica Hynes, nee Stevenson.

Some of the gags are just fantastic – in the very first episode the thousand-day countdown clock that started on July 27, 2012 and counted backwards, so that on the opening day of the Olympics it would indicate … some day in October 2009?

Whoever came up with that one deserves a medal or a peerage or something.

Seconded. The Games is fantastic.

There were originally plans for Clarke and Dawe to do a new show for the London Olympics, but for reasons that still aren’t quite clear to me, it was cancelled.

And the artist who created it was played to arrogant, monosyllabic perfection.

Ah so the real entity was the, so Olympic Deliverance Commission is merely a modification of that. I just don’t understand how any form of the word “deliver” is applicable.

As I understood it, their job was to get everything ready to go, then hand it over, or deliver, it to the people would would actually run the games.

You are clearly (and fortunately) unfamiliar with the world of retarded business jargon, where every simple idea or concept needs to be wrapped in a complicated-sounding name. Like, for example, deliverables.

I swear that the MBA community is worse that poststructuralist philosophers and literary critics when it comes to obtuse and unnecessary terminology.