Free to Read: My Walking Tour of Richmond from Ted Lasso's Brendan Hunt
And a dose of feel-good that I didn't realize how much I needed.
RICHMOND, England — Imagine if you visited the Cheers bar in Boston today and encountered George Wendt (who played Norm), or got a sandwich at Tom’s Restaurant in New York City and saw Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander (aka George Costanza). You’d be thrown a little bit. Or a lot.
That’s exactly what happened on Saturday when Brendan Hunt (Coach Beard on Ted Lasso) brought me to The Prince’s Head—the real-life bar in the show—and joined me for a beer at a table outside, right by Richmond Green.
Almost instantly, people started going nuts. And they wanted to share just how much the show has meant to them.
“You got me through the pandemic,” said one American who was visiting Richmond as a fan of the show.
“I can’t believe this,” said one woman, in town for the NFL game, who removed her Green Bay Packers sweatshirt to reveal a ROY F*ING KENT t-shirt.
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One fan stopped and told us he had been in an accident several months ago and suffered severe facial injuries, and the thing that got him through his recovery was watching Ted Lasso over and over again. Then he and his girlfriend bought all of us shots from the bar. Even though Hunt and his partner, Shannon Nelson, had been out late with Jason Sudeikis and crew after attending the England-USWNT game, he eventually came around and downed a shot with us. (Of course he did.)
Everyone wanted a picture with Hunt, of course, and he was incredibly gracious about the whole thing.
Truth be told, this was kind of my fault. I got to know Brendan a couple years ago, during Season 1, when I DM’d him about coming on my podcast. Ted Lasso was just starting to break out, and they had already done their main round of media promotion, but Brendan went out of his way to rope in Sudeikis (“We should do this one”) and they joined me for a tremendously fun group interview on Thanksgiving weekend in 2020. It’s still the second-most-downloaded podcast episode I’ve ever had, ahead of Jürgen Klopp and just behind Paolo Maldini.
I had messaged Brendan earlier in the week saying I would be in London for the game, and he suggested coming out on Saturday for a personal walking tour of Richmond. He and Nelson and their baby son (who’s U.S. and England-eligible, having been born in London) have been living in Richmond during the shooting of Ted Lasso Season 3, which is almost (fingers crossed) complete.
After I finished writing my USWNT story on Saturday morning in central London (huge thanks to Gabriele Marcotti and his family for letting me crash at their place again), I took the District Line out to Richmond and met Hunt and his family at their house. If I’m being honest, it had been a hard, heavy week covering the fallout of the Yates Report into systemic abuse in women’s soccer.
Meeting up with Brendan, seeing the actual locations of my favorite Ted Lasso scenes and (most of all) connecting with people who have been so deeply affected by the show brought a lightness that I didn’t realize how much I needed. It was a little like the effect the show itself had on me when I started watching during the pandemic.
And so Brendan bought me coffee (we consumed a lot of liquids in a short time) and took me on a walk: Up to sit on a bench in the area of Richmond Park (“the best view in England,” Brendan said) where Keeley and Ted got shot by the Rebecca-hired paparazzo in Season 1; down the hill into town past Ted’s apartment; over to Richmond Green; and eventually to The Prince’s Head.
Nearly every place we passed reminded me of a scene in the show. And Brendan shared a few things along the way:
• The airplanes constantly flying overhead on their way to Heathrow Airport are a regular challenge when shooting the show. When Sudeikis shot the emotional scene in which Ted says good-bye to his wife, he had to do it a bunch of times due to the airplane noise overhead (and summon the emotions every single time).
• When they originally wrote the script for the show, they intended for the town to be working-class. But after a site visit the decision was made on Richmond, which is … decidedly not working-class. They obviously have done quite well making it work.
• Whenever anyone asked him if there will be a Season 4, his response was a smile and: “We’ll see.”
• He shared a couple spoilers, which I’m not repeating here! (But they are very cool.)
The other thing Brendan and I did was just talk soccer. Can the USMNT get it right for the World Cup? How has the last week been for the USWNT? He is most certainly not a new fan to the sport, having followed soccer since he lived for several years in Amsterdam, where he became friends with U.S. midfielder John O’Brien when he was playing at Ajax. Brendan knows ball. It’s cool that he has now been part of something truly tangible to grow the game in the United States.
And he was a good sport on Saturday, saying yes to every request for picture. I have always wondered what it would be like to be, say, Pelé, and know that your mere presence can bring a smile to the face of so many people around the world. Actors and comedians aren’t on that level, of course, but there’s something about Brendan that makes people feel hyper-comfortable approaching him, and there’s something about Ted Lasso that has resonated with so many fans. Something more than a typical successful show. Something that causes people to see you in real life, and smile, and want to share with you how the show has touched them.
Everyone we met on Saturday in Richmond wanted Brendan to know that. Seeing their interactions was a jolt of feel-good at a moment when we all could use more of that. Bottom line: Season 3 can’t get here fast enough.