There was a real Ted Lasso? Kind of. As season 2 of the Emmy-nominated show approaches, let’s dig up some trivia about the Apple TV Plus pandemic hit.
Brendan Hunt (Coach Beard) and Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso) took inspiration for the show from hours of playing video-game soccer together.
Most fans likely know Ted Lasso began not as a TV show, but as oversized commercials for NBC’s coverage of the English Premier League. The popularity of the ads inspired the development of the series. Those ads are still online, and they’re hilarious.
In the first video, Ted begins coaching the (real) Tottenham Hotspur F.C., and quickly learns how much he has to learn. (“Ties, and no playoffs. Why do you even do this?” he says at one point.) By the end of the short film, he’s fired after about six and a half hours on the job. Whoops. But at least he tried to call the queen.
In 2014’s The Return of Ted Lasso, he moves from coaching to sports announcing, and guess what? He’s just as adorably confused, and has no idea he’s broadcasting live even though the word “LIVE” is displayed in huge letters behind his desk.
In one first-season scene, Ted Lasso makes a quick exit from Rebecca’s office and exuberantly jumps as he does it. Wham, he hits his head smack on the door frame. If the injury looks real, uh, it is.
“I really hit my head there,” Sudeikis confirmed to Drew Barrymore in an interview. “That was a complete accident.” It wasn’t until he got off stage that his head started gushing blood, the actor said. “They had to glue my head shut,” he told Barrymore.
Ted bribes team owner Rebecca with homemade shortbread served up in delightful pink boxes. Perfect with a nice cuppa. Apple TV Plus has teased at giving away the recipe. At the very end of a video hyping the streaming service’s new and upcoming programs, Apple rolled credits. Sharp-eyed viewers saw the words “Ted Lasso’s Secret Shortbread (makes about one box)” plus an image of a shortbread box, but then the credits stopped. Ha ha ha?
But numerous recipe sites have taken up the challenge and offered their versions of a shortbread recipe that fans could make and call Ted Lasso’s. People magazine has one that looks good, and pop-culture pro Binging With Babish offers both a classic rendition and a browned-butter recipe.
Hannah Waddingham, who plays Rebecca, says the shortbread she’s offered on the show, however, has been left around to dry out and tastes like “eating a bit of dried-out sponge.”
The velvet-toned announcer on Ted Lasso knows his stuff. That’s because he’s Arlo White, a native Brit who’s the lead play-by-play voice of NBC Sports’ US Premier League coverage. (In one of the ads that inspired the show, Ted makes him say “champions” again just to hear how it rolls like butter off White’s tongue.)
And while White is British, he was named after American folk singer Arlo Guthrie. As befits his name, he’s a true fan of all things American, including the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears, inspired by a trip he took to Chicago as a kid.
“That two weeks in Chicago changed my life,” he told the Derby (UK) Telegraph. “I became obsessed with America. I loved everything about it.” That star-spangled side makes him a perfect addition to a show that blends America and the UK.
Fans may be getting impatient waiting for season 2, but at least they can rest assured there’s still more Ted Lasso to come. In October 2020, months before work began on season two, Apple renewed the show for a third season.
What to expect in each season? Since Ted’s team, AFC Richmond, was relegated at the end of season 1, season 2 will show the team fighting its way back to the Premier League. It seems likely season 3 will show them clambering to the top of that league, though who knows if they’ll win it all? For that to happen, Ted might need to learn the definition of “offsides” first.
Hannah Waddingham, who plays team owner Rebecca, was on the huge HBO hit Game of Thrones. But you may not recognize her, because she was mostly hidden under the habit of her character, Septa Unella, the religious zealot who rang a bell and shouted “Shame!” while marching a naked Cersei through the streets.
Do you recognize Ted Lasso’s boss from her unnerving role in Game of Thrones?
But Cersei swore she’d get her revenge, and she did. Eventually, Waddingham’s character was waterboarded with wine, then left to die horribly at the hands of the undead Gregor Clegane. Waddingham’s spoken publicly about how gruesome and painful the waterboarding was — eating stale shortbread must seem like a picnic after that.
The plot of Ted Lasso might seem just a little too Hollywood — how could an American football coach end up hired to coach a sport he knows nothing about? But there’s some precedent.
American Terry Smith played football for the New England Patriots from 1982 to 1984. He coached in the US and then moved to Manchester, England, to become the player-head coach of the Manchester Spartans — though that’s an American football team, not a soccer/British football team.
However, in 1999, he moved out of American football and into the British kind when he bought Chester City FC, also deciding to coach them himself. And from then on, well, you can just see the Ted Lasso elements in the news stories. Smith apparently said that “all coaching is 90% the same, regardless of the sport” — can’t you just hear Ted bellowing that? He also tried such Lasso-esque tricks as having the team practice with an imaginary ball. The BBC called his coaching career “one of English football’s most bizarre soap operas.”
In the first episode, a clip is shown of Ted dancing in the locker room with his Wichita State Shockers football team. (Spoiler: The real Wichita State does not even have a football team these days, but Sudeikis, who was born in Virginia, moved to Kansas as a child and wanted a Kansas school for Ted.)
If Ted’s enthusiastic dancing looks familiar, you may have seen some of his moves on Saturday Night Live, when Sudeikis danced in the recurring “What Up With That?” sketches.
Brendan Hunt, the actor who plays Ted’s reserved right-hand man, Coach Beard, is a lot more active behind the scenes. He’s one of the show’s co-creators and also wrote or co-wrote several episodes.
To create the show, Hunt and Sudeikis drew on experiences from the years they spent working in Amsterdam, when they loved to play Man United vs Arsenal in the FIFA video game.