Hugh Bonneville and Jason Watkins took to Twitter on Saturday to partake in the ongoing drama surrounding Gary Lineker and the BBC after the broadcaster decided to take him off the air.
The actors poked fun at the channel by returning to their famous roles from the 2014 mockumentary sitcom W1A – in which their characters work for the BBC.
Gary, 62, will not present the flagship football show Match Of The Day this weekend after the BBC proclaimed his ‘Nazi’ jibe tweet comparing the Home Office’s immigration policy to the German impartiality policy of the 1930s .
BBC bosses told the former England striker on Thursday afternoon that he must end his politicized posts or leave the BBC altogether.
And as they joined the crowd of stars to get involved in the saga, Hugh and Jason performed a skit through a series of tweets to each other – where they pretended to be in charge of finding a replacement for the sportsman .
Back in character: Hugh Bonneville and Jason Watkins mock the BBC’s decision to take Gary Lineker off the air as they revive their W1A characters this weekend
Taking Gary off the show also led to pundit Jermain Defoe refusing to take part in the show, while Alex Scott, Kelly Somers and Jason Mohammad all refused to go on air as well in solidarity with Gary.
Hugh and Jason joked that they were chatting with the likes of David Attenborough and Lord Sugar to replace Gary, and mocked the situation with the exchange.
W1A ran from 2014 to 2017 and saw Hugh play Simon Harwood, the Head of Values at the BBC – while Jason played manager Ian Fletcher.
Hugh called each other the names of their characters and kicked things off by tweeting a fake schedule: “Right no yes, it’s all perfectly under control: Alan Sugar will host #MOTD and if Ian Wright ends up playing truant, Richard Sharp says Boris Johnson will vouch for £800,000. So that’s all good. #W1A’
Keen to keep things going, Jason replied, ‘Yeah no brilliant brilliant brilliant Ian. I mean, you’ll know how you want to handle this, but Timmy sweats a little bit as it is, (did you know?) Boris asks for the 800K PER SHOW.
‘He knows less about football than about throwing parties. And Alan supports Spurs!! #W1A’
Jason continued in another tweet, “Ah now no yeah it’s a gnarly one isn’t it? Shearer is now also behind the bicycle shed. Says HE won’t (Match of the Day) (Hate being left out!) Nobody’s going to upset Lineker now – not even Rob Walker and he’ll do anything’.
Hugh drew even more names from the hilarious exchange and then introduced new Wimbledon presenter Clare Balding.
Pulled: Gary, 62, will not be hosting flagship football show Match Of The Day this weekend after the BBC proclaimed his ‘Nazi’ jibe tweet comparing the Home Office’s immigration policy to 1930s Germany that violated impartiality rules
Twitter exchange: Joking that they were chatting with the likes of David Attenborough and Lord Sugar to replace Gary, Hugh and Jason, mocking the situation tweeting back and forth
In character: W1A ran from 2014 to 2017 and saw Hugh playing Simon Harwood, the Head of Values at the BBC (pictured in the show)
Hugh joked that football could just be canceled instead, concluding with: ‘I suppose we could just ask the FA to cancel all games. That would help us out of a sticky. I mean right?
‘I’ve just had a missed call from Sir David Attenborough. Do you think he qualifies for #MOTD? #W1A’.
The BBC was forced to apologize after the carnage which saw last-minute changes to this weekend’s sports schedule, saying it was ‘working hard to rectify the situation and hoped to do so soon’.
Football Focus and Final Score were hastily replaced by old episodes of Bargain Hunt and The Repair Shop after hosts Alex Scott, Kelly Somers and Jason Mohammad all refused to go on the air in solidarity with the former England star.
While tonight’s Match Of The Day is still scheduled to go ahead tonight without any presenters, pundits or BBC commentary, Sunday’s Match Of The Day 2 is now in jeopardy after Jermain Defoe announced he would not be appearing on the show .
BBC Radio 5 Live’s schedule has also been devastated today when their main Saturday football presenter Mark Chapman pulled out along with Colin Murray and pundit Dion Dublin, forcing the replacement of 5 Live Sport and Fighting Talk with old football podcast episodes.
The BBC’s radio and TV schedules have been disrupted as a host of pundits withdrew from shows in ‘solidarity’ after Gary Lineker was told to step down as host of Match Of The Day in the row over impartiality.
In a statement, a BBC spokesperson said: ‘The BBC can only bring limited sports programming this weekend and our schedules will be updated to reflect that.
“We are sorry for these changes, which we recognize will be disappointing to BBC sports fans.
“We are working hard to resolve the situation and hope to do so soon.”
ready? The pair jokingly threw names David Attenborough (left) and Alan Sugar (right) into the presentation ring
Controversy: BBC bosses told the former England striker on Thursday afternoon to stop his politicized postings or leave the BBC altogether