It has been nothing but an upward journey for Ted Lasso, which, despite the odds, has become the crown jewel in Apple TV+'s streaming service. The series follows American football coach Ted Lasso (Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis), as he’s hired to manage the (fictional) AFC Richmond—despite knowing nothing about English football.
With its winning combination of heart and humor, Ted Lasso is essentially the TV equivalent of a hug. Its second season arrived in July, and with it more biscuits and optimism. Let's go behind the scenes of everyone's new favorite feel-good series.
1. Ted Lasso started out as a commercial.
In what was originally meant to promote NBC’s airing of the English Premier League, the character of Ted Lasso first appeared in an NBC Sports commercial way back in 2012. The commercial followed the same premise as the show, with Sudeikis’s character instantly charming audiences. It was such a hit that NBC created another commercial featuring Ted Lasso a year later.
With some encouragement from his then-partner Olivia Wilde, Sudeikis—alongside creative partners Brendan Hunt (who plays Coach Beard in the series) and Joe Kelly—began outlining what a possible Ted Lasso series might look like. Yet it wasn’t until a few years later, when Sudeikis ran into Scrubs and Cougar Town showrunner Bill Lawrence, that the idea became reality.
2. Ted Lasso star Brett Goldstein was initially hired as just a writer.
It’s hard to imagine anyone else embodying AFC’s grumpy captain Roy Kent, but actor Brett Goldstein was initially only hired as a writer on the show. Yet in writing Kent's character, Goldstein said he grew an attachment to the role and “just started to think I could play Roy.” On his last day in the writer’s room, Goldstein sent an audition tape to Bill Lawrence with an email saying, “If this is embarrassing you can pretend you never got this email.” Luckily the risk paid off, and Goldstein—who had a major role in Ricky Gervais's Netflix series Derek—got the part shortly after.
3. Nick Mohammed and Phil Dunster auditioned for the role of Higgins.
It feels odd imagining anyone other than Jeremy Swift embodying Richmond’s Leslie Higgins, yet quite a few other actors went up for the role. These included fellow Ted Lasso actor Nick Mohammed, who plays lovable Coach Nathan. More surprisingly, Phil Dunster even auditioned for the role, before he landed the role of star-player and narcissist Jamie Tartt.
4. Ted’s viral dance first found fame on Saturday Night Live.
The first introduction viewers have to Ted Lasso is a viral video of Ted celebrating with his players while doing an excited version of the running man. For Jason Sudeikis, the endearing moment was already an established part of his career. Former SNL cast member Sudeikis can be seen doing the move in the popular sketches What Up With That? Yet Sudeikis revealed to Entertainment Weekly that “it’s the same dance I did when I was 15 years old and one of the few white kids on a basketball team in Kansas City to make my teammates laugh.”
5. Ted Lasso broke an Emmy record.
The show has been an awards darling since its release, with Ted Lasso’s recognition reaching greater heights at the 73rd Emmy Award nominations. Ted Lasso scored a whopping 20 nominations for its first season, breaking the previous record of 19 set by Glee way back in 2011. These included nominations for Best Comedy Series, Best Leading Actor (Jason Sudeikis), Supporting Actress (Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple) and four nominations for Supporting Actor (Brett Goldstein, Nick Mohammed, Brendan Hunt and Jeremy Swift). It’s clear that football really is life to Emmy voters.
6. Ted Lasso also set an Apple TV+ record.
As the show’s award standing has improved, so too have the viewing figures. Apple has stated that the launch of season two saw the largest audience for an Apple original premiere yet. The company stated that season two’s arrival also saw increased viewership for their other original shows too. While no official figures have been released, proving once again that Ted Lasso really is Apple TV+’s crown jewel.
7. Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons composes music for Ted Lasso.
Marcus Mumford, the lead singer of Mumford & Sons, met Sudeikis in 2012, when his band performed on SNL. The pair remained friends, which is what led Sudeikis to leave Mumford a message asking if he would want to compose music for the show. Alongside musician Tom Howe, Mumford composes the entire score for the series, including the catchy and uplifting theme song.
8. Former Scrubs star Zach Braff directed an episode of Ted Lasso.
In another example of the series attracting high-profile behind-the-scenes talent, Scrubs star Zach Braff directed the show’s second episode, “Biscuits.” Speaking to ET Online, Lawrence said that while Braff was visiting London, he “suckered Zach into directing an episode,” bringing the pair back together once more.
9. Those delicious biscuits that Ted Lasso is always handing out? They're not so delicious.
You know Ted's famous biscuits? Well, Hannah Waddingham, who plays club owner Rebecca Welton, has shattered the illusion of the delicious biscuits her character obsesses over. Talking to Critics Choice Association voters, Waddingham revealed that pretending the biscuits were delicious was “Definitely the greatest acting job in my life. Try eating a bit of dried-out sponge that’s been left in your bathroom in a tiny pink box.” Maybe the show’s production team could try using Ted’s recipe?
10. Yes, the Ted Lasso cast really can play soccer.
It’s easy to wonder when watching the show whether any of the actors playing AFC Richmond members can actually play football or not. The truth is that they actually can, according to casting director Theo Park. When casting the show, the actors were asked to not only display their acting chops, but “to show us their football skills on tape as well.” Park stated that “it was vital that all the team could really play football.” Cast member Cristo Fernandez (Dani Rojas), actually has professional experience, having played football for Tescos F.C in Mexico.
11. Ted Lasso’s biscuits are nice again!
Rebecca Waddingham has revealed that the famous biscuits that Ted brings Rebecca every morning (which she previously stated tasted like “dried-out sponge”) are actually now “really nice.” While she admitted it was “because I’ve had such a global tantrum about their flavour every time I’ve been asked about it,” it’s a fitting end to the saga.
12. Hannah Waddingham’s iconic performance of Frozen’s “Let It Go” almost didn’t happen.
It’s impossible to reference Waddingham and not mention her history as a famed West End performer, with her performing skills on full display in an incredible performance of “Let it Go” from Frozen in episode 7, “Make Rebecca Great Again.” Yet according to music supervisor Tony Von Pervious, Disney at first rejected the show’s application to use the song. “The catalog is very particular about uses ... it’s kind of a fine line,” music supervisor Tony Von Pervieux told Nerdist.
The show ended up filming a back-up version, with Rebecca performing Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Yet after sending Disney Rebecca’s version of “Let it Go,” and seeing they weren’t “Denigrating the song in any way,” Disney reversed the denial.
13. Ted Lasso’s karaoke episode is based on a true story.
With the karaoke episode being a highlight of the series in celebrating the show’s lovable ensemble, these scenes actually stem from football history. Sudeikis explained to Bustle that he took inspiration from Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, saying, “When I heard about him taking his squad to go do karaoke, I was like ‘Hellooo, story idea.” (Though we doubt any of the players did a Frozen cover that matched Waddingham’s.)
14. Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham have become close friends offscreen.
In a story for Variety, the Emmy-nominated pair gushed about their friendship, saying “It was just completely natural and effortless.” Their friendship was helped by the close bond their characters formed over season one, which deliberately played “on the preconception that they’re not going to get along”. Keeley and Rebecca’s unexpected friendship reiterated that “Women are such extraordinary creatures, and we don’t have to be competitive.” Temple said the friendship is “one of the things I’m proudest of being a part of, actually.”
15. Juno Temple inspired the writers to make Keeley funnier.
Actors can help shape the writing of their characters, but according to Roy Kent actor and staff writer Brett Goldstein, “the character that changed the most in the writing was Keeley because of Juno.” The star went on to say that it was at the “first read-through” where the writers realised that “She was so much more fun than what we had written.”
16. The Ted Lasso cast once stayed in character while being interviewed.
A large group of the cast were invited to watch the FA Cup final last year, where they had a hilarious encounter with unsuspecting reporter Chris Skudder. Skudder interviewed what he thought were a group of fans after the game, yet they were actually members of AFC Richmond, including Phil Dunster (Jamie Tartt), Toheeb Jimoh (Sam) and Cristo Fernandez (Dani Rojas). Jimoh even managed to convince Skudder that Dani Rojas was a real person, with Fernandez joining in with the rest of the group to sing Dani Rojas’s theme song. It’s a sweet moment that reminds us how much the show’s popularity has skyrocketed since.
17. Ted Lasso has become an awards darling.
After a unanimously positive critical reception, it didn’t take long for Ted Lasso to start receiving awards. At the 2021 Golden Globes, the show was nominated for two awards, with Sudeikis winning for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy. It also won three Critics Choice Awards (for Comedy Series, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series), a SAG Award, and is currently nominated for the prestigious Peabody Award. With season 2 on the horizon, we’re sure there are plenty more awards in store.
18. Diane Sawyer responded to her Ted Lasso shoutout.
The season 2 premiere featured a nice shoutout to famous journalist Diane Sawyer, with Ted’s response to a cocktail invitation being “The same thing I’d say if Diane Sawyer ever asked me out on a date: yes please.” It seems the offer has been accepted, with Sawyer posting a clip of the scene on Twitter and writing “ Dear @TedLasso – I’m in. Your move.”
19. Season 2 of Ted Lasso will feature a new AFC Richmond member.
When season 2 returns, viewers can expect to see a new member of the AFC Richmond squad in Sharon (Sarah Niles), the team’s new sports psychologist. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Niles described her character as “Straight-talking, very good at her job, very kind, and wants the best for everyone.” Yet from the season 2 trailer, it appears that she and Ted may not be on the same page when they first meet.
20. There are currently three seasons planned for Ted Lasso.
With the second season imminent and a third season renewal already received, it appears the Ted Lasso team have the show’s endgame planned. Talking on the Scrubs rewatch podcast Fake Doctors, Real Friends, Lawrence said Ted Lasso is “mapped out” as a “three-season show,” as "Sudeikis has a family, and likely will not want to be spending half his years an ocean apart from his kids.” While it’s sad the show will depart our screens, it’s comforting that “Everybody knows they get an end to this story in the third season.”