Ian Fletcher begins his new gig as Head of Values at the BBC tonight as John Morton’s Twenty Twelve follow-up W1A swings into action.
Surrounded by a new team and some familiar faces, the former Head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission (played by Hugh Bonneville) is starting a new chapter in his life in a key and very specific new senior post, created in light of recent learning opportunities at the corporation. It’s all very straight forward, really, as Ian sets out to clarify, define or re-define the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions.
Bolstered by some esteemed colleagues, what could possibly go wrong? Meet the team before you watch tonight to find out…
Name: Ian Fletcher
Played by: Hugh Bonneville
Role: Head of Values – tasked with redefining its role in a digital age. Or something.
Most likely to say: “So, that’s all good”
Weakness: Crippling inability to fold up his bicycle
According to Hugh… “We’re not deriding the BBC but we’re having an interesting look at the way some decisions are reached, which ranges from hot desking to the way programmes are put together. The characters resonate through other organisations. This could just as easily be about the NHS or elements of Whitehall.”
Name: Siobhan Sharpe
Played by: Jessica Hynes
Role: Brand BBC Consultant – Twenty Twelve’s marketing guru of PR Company Perfect Curve is now selling us what we pay for already
Most likely to say: “I totally am listening… what it is is, you guys aren’t saying the right stuff.”
Weakness: No idea how to put any of her many communications theories into effect
Name: Anna Rampton
Played by: Sarah Parish
Role: Head of Output – recruited from ITV, she’s sure she’s right, even when she’s wrong
Most likely to say: “No”
Weakness: Although delivered with conviction, Anna’s decisions leave a lot to be desired.
According to Sarah… “She’s really good at appearing to know what she’s talking about. Everybody over-talks and Anna under-talks so she’s one of those people you feel awkward around because she’ll say very little but she’ll say it in a very intimidating definite way. She’s not talking because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”
Name: Simon Harwood
Played by: Jason Watkins
Role: Director of Strategic Governance – the Director General’s self-appointed right-hand man.
Most likely to say: “Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant”
Weakness: Bragging about having the DG’s ear
Simon is an important figure at the corporation and underneath his apparent informality and almost relentless bonhomie he is probably one of the BBC’s most strategic Directors.
Name: Tracey Pritchard
Played by: Monica Dolan
Role: Senior Communications Officer – a lifer at the BBC, she’s seen it all. And she’s Welsh.
Most likely to say: “I’m sorry I’m not being negative or anything, but…”
Weakness: Too straight talking for her own good.
According to Monica… “She’s quite excited because she’s been working at the BBC since August 1994 and now it’s 2014 so her 20th anniversary is coming up – I think she’s hoping there might be some sort of celebration organised by her colleagues…”
Name: Neil Reid
Played by: David Westhead
Role: Current Controller of News and Current Affairs – a BBC stalwart with responsibility for a vastly complex operation in a fast-moving digital age.
Most likely to say: “Why don’t we just get Bruce Forsyth to present Newsnight and have done with it. Then everybody’s happy.”
Weakness: Tends to be the last to know when breaking news stories he was unaware were about to break are then subsequently broken on his programmes.
According to David… “Neil’s job is largely on the newsroom floor so he tends to come into contact with all the other characters when they’re in damage limitation meetings. Something’s always gone slightly wrong or monumentally wrong. Neil’s job is to ride that.”
Name: Lucy Freeman
Played by: Nina Sosanya
Role: Producer – experienced in her role, Lucy has inherited some unlikely projects due to “rationalisation”
Most likely to say: “I think we’re almost there.”
Weakness: An inability to climb from her lowly position on the food chain
According to Nina… “She’s somebody who actually gets things done as opposed to just talking about getting them done. The other characters talk a good game and Lucy is the person who actually ends up doing the work. She does her job very well and she’s a very optimistic character, she’s not cynical. In this world she is quite a rare item.”
Name: David Wilkes
Played by: Rufus Jones
Role: Entertainment format producer – David has theoretically devised the corporation’s next big Sunday night format, Britain’s Tastiest Village
Most likely to say: “I know we haven’t started yet but can I just say, I never want this lunch to end.”
Weakness: More than likely to change the face of Sunday night television for the worse
Name: Will Humphries
Played by: Hugh Skinner
Role: Intern – “nice but dim” and not exactly sure what he’s doing there
Most likely to say: “Yes… say again?”
Weakness: Unable to process coffee orders
According to Hugh… “He’s not particularly bright but very well-intentioned. He’s an intern but he doesn’t really have a job so he spends his whole time walking around trying to find a job. I don’t think he knows the Charter rule is impending – he doesn’t know who Lord Reith is either. I don’t think he’s thought much past the next ten minutes.”
W1A begins tonight at 10pm on BBC2