Mike Bassett: England Manager

Mike Bassett: England Manager was a mock documentary following the England football team embarking on yet another disastarous World Cup campaign.  Managed by surprise candidate Mike Bassett - an old fashioned '4-4-2' style English manager from the lower leagues - the film follows his descent into madness as the results, the fans, the press - even his own wife - turn on the beleagured manager. 


Mike Bassett: England Manager was the top low budget (under $10 million) Brit film at the UK box office in 2001.  It has gone on to spawn dozens of fan sites, facebook pages and twitter sites.  As well as being a big success at the UK box office - it also sold a massive 215,000 DVDs and spawned the TV series spin off 'Mike Bassett: Manager' (see next page).


I originally conceived and wrote the film (starring the brilliant Ricky Tomlinson) back in the mid 90's along with my writing partner Johnny Smith.


We initially sold the project to Duncan Kenworthy (producer of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill) who brought in Steve Barron (Coneheads, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) to direct.  After many years of development with Duncan, refining and improving the script - Steve took on the project as producer and made the film in 2001. 


We shot it in Brazil (I got the chance to score a goal at the Maracana and meet Pele) and at the old Wembley before they knocked it down (we relaid the turf so we could film there).  Many people believe the last game ever played at Wembley was Kevin Keegan's England defeat at the hands of Germany in 2000.  But they are wrong.  The last game ever played at Wembley was the Bassett cast vs the Bassett crew.  I can confirm that the crew won 2-1 - and climbed the famous 39 steps to lift the cup (more of a coffee mug really) to scenes of wild jubilation.


Many years after the film's release it still retains a keen following - particularly amongst English football fans. Every time an England manager is fired (quite often) 'Mike Bassett' becomes a top ten trending topic on Twitter.


Indeed Joey Barton (the former captain of my own beloved QPR) tweeted that ex-manager Neil Warnock was Mike Bassett in disguise (deeply unfair on Warnock btw - who I love almost as much as Bassett himself).


The film even managed to cross over into other sports.  Former Saracens Rugby coach Brendan Venter hit the headlines for doing an impression of 'Doddsy' (Bassett's right hand man) in a post match interview - which was both bizarre and very funny.


Sven's England watched the game before the final World Cup qualifier against Greece back in 2002 (in which we qualified thanks to a last minute Beckham free kick) and the Irish team watched it for inspiration before their recent game against Spain in the Euro 2012 tournament.  They went on to get thrashed 4-0.


Pretty much every manager connected with the England job continues to be compared to Bassett in particular dear old Sam Allardyce who played 4-4-2 and last one game in charge. 


Reviews include:


"This sports satire is arguably the best football film ever made, and unarguably the funniest." Radio Times.


"Packed with laughs from end to end - a winner" People.


"The Best British Film since Bridget Jones" The Movie Chart Show.


"Hilarious" The Sun.


For the TV series spin off click the 'TV Series' button above.

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© Robert Sprackling