Coincidence or Plagiarism? 'The Games' vs 'Twenty Twelve' *UPDATED AGAIN*

Posted Thursday, March 3, 2011, 9:09 PM

In the year 2000, the Olympic Games were held in Sydney, Australia. It was a major event for Australia, and I was lucky enough to witness the country in the throes of national pride as they presented a fantastic locality for visitors and viewers to enjoy the games within.

To lead up to the games, a comedy TV show was commissioned, a pseudo-documentary created by John Clarke and Ross Stevenson, that starred Clarke, Bryan Dawe, and Gina Riley as the organisers of the Olympic Event and the embarrassing incompetence of their attempts to get everything running smoothly. It was called The Games, and was incredibly funny, and a huge success, so much so they quickly commissioned a second series so that it would be screened in the weeks immediately preceding the real Olympics.

In 2012, the Olympic Games will be held in London. And a trailer was released recently for a new UK show called Twenty Twelve. It's a pseudo-documentary about the organisers of the Olympic Event and the embarrassing incompetence of their attempts to get everything running smoothly.

Hmm. Sounds familiar.

It stars high profile UK actors Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Hynes, and Olivia Colman. It is listed as being created (and directed) by John Morton. I have found no mention of any reference to The Games, John Clarke, Ross Stevenson, Bryan Dawe, or Gina Riley, or any suggestion it's an adaptation of it, or even inspired by it.

I even asked a couple of people directly about it, via Twitter. Tony Martin has his finger on the pulse of Australian TV, so I thought he might have some inside information, and he did suggest that it was a licensed adaptation. But then I asked Hugh Bonneville himself, and he implied it was just a coincidence, and if anyone was going to know I thought it would be him (I am a huge admirer of actor Hugh Bonneville, so it was quite a thrill to get a response from him in any case).

I've also asked John Clarke, and hope for a response but there are no guarantees of that. Twitter is not quite like a face to face conversation.

If it turns out it is not an adaptation, and they claim it is just a "coincidence" I'm not sure if I can believe that. It's not unheard of for similar ideas to be developed independently, but what is usually notable about those situations is they are also developed concurrently. In this case it's ten years since, and that has to be taken into account.

Even if this turns out to be a great show with significant differences, I am disappointed if they just stole the idea without attribution.

+++ UPDATE +++ (March 11, 2011)

Two things have happened. First, though he didn't respond to my contacting him directly, John Clarke is now following me on Twitter. Woohoo!

Secondly, he and colleague-in-arms Ross Stevenson have just written an interesting post on the ABC (AU) website that addresses this very same issue. And it seems I was correct to have such suspicions over the "coincidence".

This is a sad state of affairs, and it wouldn't have taken much to do it all legitimately, especially since, to the BBC, the ABC is a virtual sister in many ways. Or at least a third cousin who sits at the kiddy table.

+++ UPDATE +++ (March 13, 2011)

The BBC have responded, and claim there's no stealing going on, and it's just a coincidence. As I mentioned earlier, I say bollocks it is.