‘The front door to Ted Lasso’s flat [11A Paved Court] is starting to rival Bridget Jones’ place in Notting Hill for selfies,’ beams Gareth Roberts, the leader of Richmond Borough Council. ‘I guess you could say the show has really put Richmond on the map.’
An unlikely success story over lockdown, Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso is a sitcom about a hapless American football manager (played by Jason Sudeikis) intentionally hired by AFC Richmond’s owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) to derail the club. But when the dopey coach starts inspiring good results, Richmond becomes re-energised, with Lasso treated as an unlikely hero by the locals.
‘Ted has had a transformative effect on the area,’ says Cristina Lelli, the co-owner of Reale Camiceria, a family-owned Italian knitwear business a few doors down from Lasso’s front door in Paved Court. It’s down this historic alley that Lasso regularly swaggers with his trademark goofy grin in the show.
Lelli and her husband Claudio, who embroidered face masks for the cast on season two, have seen the area starting to buzz with tour guides showing off filming locations to visiting ‘Ted Lasso’ fans. ‘A lot of people visit the shop because they recognise us from an episode,’ she says. ‘They always ask us if Rebecca is as beautiful in real life.’
‘Ted Lasso’ has provided a similar lift for the local boozer. ‘There are more American tourists,’ says Dan Creek, the general manager at the grade-II listed Prince’s Head. The pub goes by ‘The Crown & Anchor’ in the show and features scenes of anxious locals biting their nails while watching Lasso’s misfits grind out results. ‘There’s been a lift in sales,’ notes Creek. ‘The pub will be back at some point for the third series, and I believe filming is already well underway.’
Originally conceived as an online marketing character by NBC Sports to help sell Premier League coverage to Americans, Lasso has become an unexpected cult hero in this sedate, affluent corner of London. Asked to put his charm into words, Lelli says: ‘He’s a common person with weaknesses, but also all these little obsessions to try to become better. Even though he’s a fish out of water, we consider him one of us.’
Richmond has a rich film history that long predates the show. Its council offices doubled as the sanatorium in Michael Caine’s ‘Alfie’ in 1966, while the nearby Twickenham Film Studios were frequented by legendary director Stanley Kubrick. More recently, the area was a hunting ground for con-woman Anne Hathaway in ‘The Hustle’, moonlighted for Gloucester in ‘Peter Rabbit 2’, and had its beautiful Ham House doubling as the Prime Minister’s Chequers estate in the BBC series ‘The Bodyguard’.
Ted Lasso has put a smile on a lot of faces in Richmond.
‘If you’re an American company and want to capture a piece of London that’s idyllic and quaint, well, that’s Richmond,’ says councillor Roberts of its rising appeal. ‘It’s how Americans imagine London looking when they close their eyes. It’s postcard London.’
At a time where the news cycle feels bleak, ‘Ted Lasso’ offers an unashamed slice of feelgood escapism – and a boost for the borough. ‘Its fans come to see the location, but stay for the shops,’ notes Roberts. ‘People might raise their eyebrows at a big mega corporation like Apple coming to a quiet area, but the investment they’ve made in Richmond has trickled down to all the independent businesses. At a time where there’s a lot of struggle, “Ted Lasso” has just given us a real boost. He’s put a smile on a lot of our faces.’
Ted Lasso seasons 1-2 are streaming on Apple TV+ now. Season 3 is out later in 2022.
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