From the makers of Twenty Twelve, W1A is the new BBC comedy show recycling the Twenty Twelve the main character, Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville). Fresh from screwing up his role as head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission, he is now ‘Head of Values’ at the BBC, a job title that is as nebulous as Data Conversion Analyst or Talent Delivery Specialist.
The first episode revolves around Fletcher arriving for work and the Head of Output (Sarah Parish) trying to recruit Carol Vorderman, playing herself, to front a show called Britain’s Tastiest Village after Clare Balding drops out. There is one great scene where three BBC staff try to explain the premise of the show to Carol, “Countryfile meets Bake-Off, with a bit of The One Show thrown in.” Carol is not too impressed by the pitch, and gradually, the BBC staff dig bigger and bigger holes for themselves, however overall this sequel is very light on comedy.
Sadly, there are very few laughs through the first two episodes. Many comedies rely on the plot or central characters screwing up to some degree. But, unlike The Thick of It, where Malcolm Tucker’s fiery Scottish temper in response to a screw-up could make an episode, the screw-ups in W1A lack the wit of their predecessor.
W1A also seems to try a bit too hard to be funny as well. Two digital strategists called ‘Ben and Jerry’ and an arm wrestle between Alan Yentob, the BBC Creative Director and Salman Rushdie seem puerile and cheesy. Sequels are always difficult to make because usually, they fail to live up to their prequels, and rather unsurprisingly W1A continues that precedent.