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Sick of it: Iannucci blasts ‘buffoons’ behind US remake of hit comedy

Armando Iannucci has high hopes for new series of The Thick of It

Armando Iannucci has high hopes for new series of The Thick of It

Armando Iannucci, creator of The Thick Of It, has slammed the “buffoons” who remade his political satire in the US.

Iannucci, 48, acted as executive producer as he tried to adapt the hit BBC show for an American audience.

Broadcaster ABC rejected it after viewing the pilot and Iannucci distanced himself, saying: “It was terrible … conventionally shot and there was no improvisation or swearing.

“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.”

Since The Thick Of It, he has enjoyed more success in the US as the creator of Veep, starring the Seinfeld actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus as US vice-president Selina Meyer.

“What has been great with HBO [the maker of Veep] is that they are the opposite,” Iannucci told the Radio Times. “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.”

The Glasgow-born comedian and satire writer said of his experience of working in Los Angeles: “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.”

Iannucci has previously hinted that something similar to the Leveson Inquiry might feature in his new BBC Two series of The Thick Of It, which is set to feature government embarrassment, coalition rows and foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker. Iannucci said: “Inquiries? They’ve become the new black, haven’t they? People will look back and think of 2012 as the ‘summer of inquiries’, you know. They all begin to blur into one…”

He added that Steve Coogan, who is starring in Iannucci’s new Alan Partridge film, found it amusing that he and actor Hugh Grant, who both gave evidence to the inquiry, were seen as the new moral arbiters.

“Steve will say himself he can’t believe that it’s reached the point where he and Hugh Grant are the ones going ‘This is … [too much]’.”

Despite creating shows about politicians, Iannucci said he could never hold such a job himself. “I don’t think I could survive. It’s the whole idea of accepting the party line. I just can’t have someone over me telling me what to do,” he said.

“What a lot of politicians complain about once they are in office is that it’s unstoppable – they haven’t got time to kinda pull back. I think it affects your decision-making process because you’re tired all the time. When I’m at home, for instance, I always have a 20-minute nap after lunch.”

He added: “I am aware of the importance of time, so especially during the past four or five years, I’ve been very rigid: ‘I stop at this time … I don’t work at weekends’.

“If I’m doing a show in America, I make it clear that I’m not going to move to America and I don’t want it filmed in LA.”

Iannucci, who as a teenager read Hansard in his spare 
time, has co-written and is directing a slapstick film based in London that he says is “about a guy who becomes famous for the wrong reasons on YouTube – just for something that somebody has filmed of him, and he wants to track down the person who shot it”.

 

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