Paddy Power Breaks into Show Biz with The VAR Room

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It’s not uncommon for businesses to look at different ways to diversify their operations, but Paddy Power is really exploring diversification. The bookmaker has introduced a new sitcom that it describes as a “tongue-in-cheek” exploration of Stockley Park, the home of English soccer’s video assistant referee (VAR). The show kicked off this past Wednesday, with new episodes coming each Wednesday for the next three weeks.

Paddy Power Goes Hollywood

The show focuses on what happens at Stockley Park behind the scenes, what fans don’t see when a ref steps under the hood to review the game. It was written by Steven Quick and Noel Slevin and stars actors Tendayu Kembere, Ashley Margolis, Anthony Richardson and Mark Davison. The latter two form the comedy duo The Exploding Heads, whose soccer rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody can’t be missed. The VAR Room also includes guest appearances from former soccer stars like Teddy Sheringham, Paul Ince and Alan Curbishley, as well as at least one former Premier League zebra, Mark Clattenburg.

The show is already appearing on Virgin Media Two in a late-night (10:30 PM) slot. Paddy Power adds that it will also be available on its own YouTube channel and is expected to be added to Amazon Prime sometime later this month. This is Paddy Power’s second small-screen show, with The Mascot, based on Basildon Athletic mascot Frank the Tank, making its debut last year. If the new sitcom proves to be a smashing success, this could be just the beginning for Paddy Power’s attempted takeover of Hollywood, but that is likely still a long way away.

Fodder for the Show

Part of the premise of the show is the VAR’s inability to properly do its job, as witnessed last year. Three Premier League games played on July 9, for example, all had penalty decisions made by the system that were incorrect, according to a former referee. Last October, there were more high-profile errors made because of the system and, subsequently, players, team managers and others began putting pressure on the Premier League to make improvements. By then, however, the foundation for ridicule was already in place.

Paddy Poker says of its new show, “The shambles at Stockley Park last season gave our brilliantly talented writers enough creative ideas to fuel an entire sitcom series, which Virgin Media and Amazon Prime wanted a piece of it, too. We have long been renowned at Paddy Power for our content – and we really feel we’ve raised the bar with The VAR Room, which we hope is our first sitcom series of many from our team.”

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