Bradley Walsh

Comedian and Actor

Mike Bassett England Manager

The manager of England's national football unexpectedly succumbs to a heart attack, and suddenly the search is on for a replacement. Most people who seem qualified for the position have the good sense to turn it down, and so the responsibility falls to Mike Bassett, a scruffy and loud-mouthed lout whose claim to football fame is leading a previously undistinguished team to a league championship.

Mike Bassett England Manager

Bassett insists that England will win the World Cup under his leadership, but that's before he replaces his star player with a once-gifted footballer who has since developed a drinking problem, and hired a one-time car salesman as his assistant. After stunning losses to Poland and Belgium, Bassett goes from a favourite of both fans and the press to one of the most hated men in England; hoping to whip his team into shape, he subjects them to the high-tech training methods of eccentric Dr. Shoegaarten, which injures more players than it helps. Despite Bassett's ineptitude, England manages to qualify for the World Cup tournament thanks to group opponents Turkey losing their final game, and he flies to Rio with his team in hopes of somehow turning their bad luck around.

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The latest in the ubiquitous mockumentary genre, Mike Bassett: England Manager follows the eponymous hapless head-honcho of the England Squad through the build-up to the World Cup. Ricky Tomlinson is Bassett, once again donning the sheepskin coat of the nation's favourite working-class northern underdog (Riff Raff, The Royle Family). Plucked from obscurity and literally out of his league Bassett is the last choice for the unwanted job of England Manager. He's also hamstrung by a team of misfits, clearly modelled on well-known England players, including a violent psychopath who's more interested in breaking limbs than breaking away with the ball and a blubbing Geordie team-joker. Bassett and his team of allsorts are further hampered by drunken arrests, forgotten balls and Brazilian girls turning out to be boys.

Though primarily a vehicle for Tomlinson, there's the usual smattering of Lock Stock faces and cameo appearances here: Phill Jupitus underacts a jaundiced sports hack; Keith Allen sends himself up as a new-lad celeb leading the team through the their awful World Cup song; and Atomic Kitten are, well, Atomic Kitten. Fart jokes and swearing provide plenty of beer-belly laughs, and the Henry V "once more unto the breach, dear friends"-style attack on the fickle back-stabbing English press proves unexpectedly poignant. Throw in a trendy soundtrack featuring Robbie Williams and Artful Dodger, and we have a cup-winner. It may be episodic, patchy and xenophobic in places, but football fans, or anyone who can take the odd high tackle, will enjoy this bittersweet taste of flawed glory leavened by British humour at its self-deprecating best.

Mike Bassett England Manager

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