“Ted Lasso” took home seven Emmy Awards this year after receiving 20 nominations, more than any comedy has ever received in its first season. But while the series has been criticized for its originality (Variety recently praised the risky storytelling of season 2), the idea of ”Ted Lasso” had been underway for almost two decades before the premiere.
Co-creators, writers and stars Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly first conceptualized the character of Ted Lasso in Amsterdam in the early 2000s while performing in the comedy troupe Boom Chicago, according to an interview with Hunt in the Daily Beast. They then debuted the character on screen in the form of an NBC Sports ad in 2013.
Sudeikis, who plays Ted and also produces, first learned the football rules from Hunt (Coach Beard), who developed an obsession with the sport in Amsterdam. Between backstage talks and games “FIFA” on the squad’s joint PlayStation, the pair found an American football coach who was hired to lead a team of English footballers while they knew nothing about the sport, according to the Daily Beast interview.
NBC Sports acquired the rights to broadcast Britain’s Premier League football matches in 2013 and needed a way to join the American audience. Enter Sudeikis and Hunt, Sudeikis has just completed a decade-long stint on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” They made a series of commercials that garnered millions of views on YouTube and helped establish a solid viewership in the United States.
Although the campaigns achieved what they set out to do, Sudeikis found that Lasso did not leave him. Something about the character continued to resonate with him, and his then-partner Olivia Wilde encouraged him to create a TV series about him, according to Sudeikis’ latest GQ profile. Sudeikis, Hunt and Kelly came together in 2015 and wrote a pilot episode along with an overview for the first season. But the script sat on the back burners for two years – until Sudeikis came to talk to “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence in 2017, who liked the idea, read the script and came on board, as Sudeikis told Sports Illustrated. They sold the series to Apple TV Plus in October 2019, and the rest is record high history.
See the first iteration of “An American Coach in London” below.
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