The Games accuses BBC of rip-off

The writers of 1998 ABC comedy The Games have accused the BBC of ripping off their concept for a new comedy, Twenty Twelve.

The writers of ABC comedy The Games have accused the BBC of ripping off their concept.

It aired in 1998 as a mockumentary about Australian Olympics organisers with John Clarke, Bryan Dawe, Gina Riley and Nicholas Bell.

This week BBC Four has a new comedy in the lead-up to next year’s London Olympics. Twenty Twelve stars Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Hynes, Olivia Coleman and is narrated by David Tennant.

Games writers John Clarke and Ross Stevenson confirmed Kath and Kim producer Rick McKenna pitched a British version of their show to Twenty Twelve’s producer Jon Plowman five years ago when he was head of comedy at the BBC. DVDs of the show were given to writer John Morton (People Like Us).

Writing on ABC website The Drum, they noted: “After many phone conferences, meetings and almost four years of email exchanges, Mr. Morton and Mr. Plowman have now apparently made a satirical series for the BBC about the organising committee of the London Olympics without our participation or permission.”

However, the BBC denies anything untoward took place.

In a statement to UK website Chortle, the BBC said: “Twenty Twelve is an original and distinctive comedy series looking at London as it counts down the last 1,000 days before the 2012 Games begin. It is written by John Morton who created People Like Us and Broken News for the BBC. Its comedy is delivered through a distinctively British sense of humour.

“We have investigated the complaints made in relation to The Games and have found no evidence to support the allegations of copying. No use has been made of any material deriving from The Games and we are confident that the allegations are without foundation.”

But the team from The Games remain unimpressed.

Clarke and Stevenson insist, “In other words, it seems that in 2008/9 Morton had already had the idea he’d never heard of and was so excited by, and he was interested in obtaining episodes of The Games only so he could check out how someone had created his original idea in Australia, 12 years previously. We have suggested that once Mr. Morton finds out that repressed memory is not an Olympic event, perhaps he could return the DVDs.”

Nine will have a new series of The Games to air this year -about the Australian Olympic contingent preparing to compete in London in 2012. Yikes.

Source: Chortle

18 Responses

  1. No, really, we should be thanking our overlords for just stealing it, and not striking us down in the process. It’s rubbish stuck up pommy attitudes like this that make me scream Republic!

  2. I’m sure ‘Twenty Twelve’ will be quite funny, and I can see how they can make the *claim* that it’s not a rip off, because after all they haven’t used any specific plot points or exact dialogue from ‘The Games’. But at the least they should’ve put in an “inspired by…” disclaimer in the credits and promotional material.

  3. Might be forgivable if they’d come up with it independently but the fact John Clarke had meetings with Jon Plowman (who is also the EP of 2012) and John Morton is pretty hard to go past.

  4. This is painful. I love John Morton for People Like Us, and I adore Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes. But The Games was magnificent, and you can’t deny the similarities. Terrible 🙁

    The only thing I can say is that stylistically the shows do look a bit different. It’s obviously the exact same idea, but Morton usually relies a lot more on word play and the cluelessness of his characters. Twenty Twelve seems like it’s going to focus a lot on spin culture and media relations, as well as the stupidity of the characters.

    Whereas The Games incorporated an overarching satire on the corrupt nature of politics and the absurdities of the public service, as well as the incompetence of the media (‘there won’t be any analysis, it’s the Australian media Gina!’). John, Bryan and Gina definitely seemed more cluey than these guys, even if they ended up in ridiculous situations.

  5. This is not the first time the BBC has been pitched to by Australian writers, shown interest in the idea then dropped it. Only to have their own ‘new’ idea by their own writers come to the surface. But this is the highest profile one I’ve heard of.

  6. “We have investigated the complaints made in relation to The Games and have found no evidence to support the allegations of copying.” Well of course the BBC is going to say that, they’re not exactly impartial in this. They’re hardly going to respond with “Yes, we ripped it off. Our bad. Best wishes, the BBC”

  7. It is so laughable that the BBC could claim that this is not plagiarism! It is probably the clearest case of just that I have ever seen!!!

  8. Of course they stole it. I have to laugh at the line “distinctive British sense of humor”, god the English are a bunch of w*nkers. They couldn’t possibly tolerate using anything developed by a colonial that doesn’t feed some godawful bigoted stereotype.

  9. I can see it, just watched the clip and it has the same dry humor, no laugh track so really not suitable for the commercial channels as the audiance won’t know when to laugh 🙂 So I guess Nine will ad a laugh track?

    BTW why do they have the rights, why isn’t it on ABC?

    Also any news if this (Twenty Twelve) will be on ABC or any where locally?

  10. That is almost an exact rip off of ‘The Games’ a mockumentary of the preparation of the Olympics, the same character persona of Gina, John and Bryan are even reflected in this BBC video.

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