Armando Ianucci: “Not All Americans Are Brilliant”

Armando Iannucci (in 2006)

Forgive the slight twisting of a quote, but Armando Iannucci, the man behind a gushing fountain of satirical British comedy, including The Day Today, the ever-evolving, ever-wondrous Alan Partridge franchise, The Thick Of It, and his latest, Veep, has been issuing harsh words for the TV execs that attempted to make an American version of The Thick Of It, and left out the good bits.

The year was 2006, the network was ABC, and the people making the show were “buffoons.” They ignored the mock-documentary faux-realism of the original, opting instead for a conventionally shot sitcom format, and worst of all, left out any improvisation or swearing, two of the main reasons the show worked in the first place. And the result, according to Armando, was “terrible.”

Speaking to the Radio Times, before the return of The Thick Of It to British screens, he said:”The mistake is to think that because America has this tremendous influence internationally, therefore all Americans are brilliant.

“When we were doing the pilot of The Thick Of It at ABC there were just scores of people working on it, all called vice president this and that, and a lot of them were buffoons.”
Luckily, this experience has neither tainted Armando’s views of Americans per se, or be replicated in his dealings with HBO, with whom he made Veep: “What has been great with HBO is that they are the opposite,

“It’s very much ‘Let’s keep it small and try to make it as good as it can be’. What you realise is that they are people at the top of their game, and you are actually benefiting from their experience.”

Although he’s not mad on LA, sorry Californians: “I get an absolute sigh of despair whenever I go to LA. I find it a huge, shapeless, heartless city full of people talking about television and films, morning, noon and night. I just wish they would shut up and read a book!”

And no, a novelisation of Entourage doesn’t count…

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser is a British writer, broadcaster and the the author of the book Stuff Brits Like. He is Anglophenia's resident Brit blogger, having written BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog, the Top of the Pops website, and for NME, the Guardian and elsewhere. Favorite topics include slang, Doctor Who and cramming as much music into Anglophenia as he can manage. He invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
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