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Series / W1A

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The sequel to 2012. Following his success as head of the Olympic Deliverance Committee, Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) is appointed the new Head of Values at The BBC and has to deal with a new group of crazies at his new job. The series also features Jessica Hynes, Sarah Parish, Monica Dolan, Jason Watkins, Nina Sosanya, and Hugh Skinner.

Tropes in W1A:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Will gets to stay at the BBC as Ian's temporary assistant after accidentally revealing that his sister's boyfriend is tennis star Jo Wilfried Tsonga, whom the corporation is after for Wimbledon commentary. Will had absolutely no idea who Tsonga was until everyone else spelled it out for him.
    • Will also somehow manages to swap desktops through the BBC's Syncopatico system with coworkers. Apparently the Syncopatico instructor had thought such an event to be theoretically impossible because it's not a feature built into the software.
  • As Themselves: Carol Vorderman and Clare Balding.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The BBC's Synctopatico software, that networks all the corporation's employees and controls the building's security system, is prone to going on the fritz at inopportune moments. Like when Prince Charles comes for a visit.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: It's a BBC sitcom poking fun at the BBC.
    • Lord Tony Hall, the BBC's real life Director General, is depicted as an eccentric who nonetheless terrifies the staff without ever being shown on screen.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Done and lampshaded by Ian Fletcher: "At the risk of sounding like Tracy Pritchard, I've got a bad feeling about this."
  • Call-Back: Many to 2012, inevitably.
  • Catchphrase: Aside from Ian' and Siobhan's returning verbal tics, there's:
    • Tracy Pritchard: "I'm not being funny or anything...", "I've got a bad feeling about this"
    • Anna Rampton: "The fact is..."
    • David Wilkes: "Well yes no."
    • Will Humphries: "Oh yeah no yeah cool totally yeah cool. No worries. Yeah, no, cool.
  • Deadpan Snarker: David Tennant, as the narrator, gets in his fair share of jabs all while speaking in the most soothing tone imaginable.
  • The Ditz: Oh, poor sweet, adorable Will. He really does want to help, it's just that he's completely hopeless at everything. He had no idea that his internship at the BBC was over and simply kept coming to work.
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  • Doing It for the Art: In universe, David Wilkes' plan to get rid of Amanda Holden from Cycling Shorts by offering her a derisory fee, backfires when it turns out she's so keen to front the show that she agrees to do it for free.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Siobhan Sharpe, who is even worse here than in Twenty Twelve. Hired on the (completely incorrect) assumption that because she and Ian both worked on the Olympics, they must be a really great team, she spends the entire series obliviously undermining Fletcher's work, while her Perfect Curve colleagues develop a new BBC logo that nobody asked for, and that accidentally turns out to be the Star of David.
  • Hipsters: PR company Perfect Curve and its Nathan Barley-esque staff are a fairly vicious parody of the type.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • "Generic Head of Comedy and/or Drama Matt Taverner"
    • "The Department of Culture, Media, and also Sport"
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: Many characters, particularly Siobhan and her PR people, speak almost entirely in buzzwords.
  • McGuffin: The tribulations of casting presenters for Britain's Tastiest Village generate a lot of the plotlines for the first series.
  • Narrating the Obvious: The narrator has a tendency to explain things that don't require explanation.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Ian has difficulty doing his job because those in power simply don't want to make any dramatic changes to the BBC.
  • Office Romance: The series resolves the ambiguous ending to Ian and Sally's storyline from Twenty Twelve and introduces a new romance between Ian Fletcher and Lucy Freeman.
  • The Reliable One: Izzy Gould is certainly this in the first series when she is Simon Harwood's PA, though after she is promoted to Junior Development Producer she becomes a small fish in a big pond, and while undoubtedly more capable than those around her, has less opportunity to show it. Her role then becomes more that of the Token Good Teammate.
  • Scenery Porn: Makes full use of the BBC's recently-opened New Broadcasting House, particularly in the gorgeously-shot timelapse sequences that punctuate the show.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The Narrator often speaks in this manner.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The BBC is filled with people like this, trying to wring as much leverage out of their positions as possible even though it's abundantly clear that they have very limited scopes of responsibility.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: used to prevent the audience from learning Ian Fletcher's salary. It's funnier when the Fridge Logic kicks in and you realise that this would have been completely useless in-universe as the whole point of the storyline was that his salary was already public knowledge.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Sadiq the weatherman in episode 2.4 has a rather unfortunate description of a cloud, which is lampshaded by Tracey: "I'm not being funny or anything, but did he actually just say the cloud was going to be blowing itself off?"
  • Those Two Guys: Who are those two guys who always turn up to meetings and say nothing? According to the show's publicity material, they are "digital strategists" Ben Rosenstern and Jerry Guildernkrantz. In the second series they do speak, a little (but pretty much just echo other people) and in the third they get a storyline, of a kind - they're both sacked.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Ian Fletcher has a pretty rough time throughout the first series, but does at least get (albeit accidentally) shipped with drama producer Lucy, who for once actually looks like a good match for him.
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • Lucy Freeman is given a place on the Way Ahead committee mainly because Ian Fletcher regards her as this.
    • Izzy Gould increasingly becomes this, particularly in the third series when she goes out of her way to protect Will, even putting her own job on the line rather than dropping him in it over the Hugh Grant incident.
  • The Unseen: BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall (who really does hold the position in real life) serves as an omnipresent force on the program, with every character basing their decisions on how he'd react. The closest viewers ever get to see him, however, is his office door. He does turn up in the final episode, but doesn't speak or interact with any of the main characters at all.
    • In the Series 2 premiere, Jeremy ***'s name has to be bleeped out and his face (in archival footage) blurred because he is the subject of an (in universe) internal BBC investigation over his use of offensive language. (The episode was shot before ***'s real-life "fracas" with a producer on Top Gear.)


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