There is a wooden bench outside the Prince’s Head pub in Richmond-on-Thames where people are lining up to sit these days. Often, these people are wearing fake moustaches, white sun visors and tracksuits of two particular shades of blue.
They are an incongruous sight in this historic riverside village on the western edge of London. The white sun visors particularly look out of place in the grey UK weather, as they weave between the teashops and sixteenth century ally-ways. But the locals are apparently used to seeing them now. They’ll even smile and wave.
“Welcome to Ted Lasso’s neighbourhood,” announces our tour-guide opening her arms wide in front of the two old-fashioned red telephone boxes next to the wooden bench. We ‘ooh’ collectively. It’s a spot that feels so familiar, so comfortably cozy, it’s like being hugged by an old friend, perhaps Ted Lasso himself.
For anyone who has yet to discover Ted Lasso, the Emmy award winning, fish-out-of-water comedy on Apple TV+ about an American football coach who arrives in London to coach soccer, a sport he knows nothing about, the wooden bench will mean little.
For the rest of us, the millions who fell in love with the show, co-written by and starring Jason Sudeikis, this spot is a pinch-me moment. It’s what we have come for. It’s where we have seen Ted so often, outside this pub, renamed the Crown and Anchor in the show. “I feel quite emotional,” whispers one among our group and I know exactly what she means”.
There are twelve of us in total. Most are from the States, two from Australia, a couple from Singapore, two girls from Germany, and me, a Brit and former Londoner who relocated to Los Angeles more than two decades ago but had somehow never visited Richmond before. I’d never felt the need until now.
We are being led by Emmy McMorrow, actor, comedy writer and Richmond local, who began Ted Lasso tours a year ago after being repeatedly stopped by fans of the show looking for the locations used for filming.
Richmond is such a small village, that when a big American film crew comes here, locals tend to notice, so McMorrow found herself giving directions before she had even watched the show. Then, after two nights binge-watching and being charmed by the show’s message of kindness and positivity, she saw an opportunity to put together her own TV fandom with local knowledge.
“Ted Lasso is so much more than a show, it’s not surprising that everyone wants to come here,” she says. “And Richmond is a really beautiful historic area. It’s got grand Georgian houses, picturesque pubs, lovely little shops. I’m honestly not surprised they chose to film here.”
When you take in the exquisitely preserved houses, narrow lanes, and riverside views, you can see what she means. Richmond is London at its best, illustrious heritage laced with emerald-colored greens and parkland; an almost rural village but within the boundaries of a chic metropolis. Even without Ted Lasso leading us here, it’s special in its own right.
Our tour begins at Richmond station, a twenty-five-minute journey from central London on either an overground train or the Underground’s District line. Almost instantly there is a feeling of camaraderie between those of us who trekked here. “I feel like I must have fallen out of the lucky tree and ended up in a pool of cash and Sour Patch Kids to be here,” says a woman from New York, quoting a line from the show and all of us laughing.
It’s that spirit of gratitude, woven into the show that won the hearts of so many fans. Between us, it’s the hot topic of conversation. “Ted believes in the goodness of people,” says Vic Chen, a student from Singapore. “I try to adopt that in my own life.”
Diane Mercer, an attorney from Playa Del Rey, California, agrees. “I loved the show, and I’m kind of hard to please when it comes to TV shows. But I loved it, and coming here, taking this tour, is unbelievable. It’s a highlight of coming to London.”
Taking a sharp left down Golden Court, a street so narrow it could only have belonged to the sixteenth century, McMorrow explains that were we to be pedestrians here five hundred years ago, we would have had to dodge the contents of ‘piss pots’ from upstairs windows.
And before we have fully digested this thought we are outside the tiny barber shop, Gents of Richmond, where Jamie Tartt had his hair cut in season two, then onto a neat row of cottages where Roy and Keeley went door-to-door in the Christmas special in Roy’s ‘stupid posh neighborhood’; and onto Pembroke House, a grand mansion on Richmond Green, used for the exterior shots of Rebecca’s house.
Mixing local history with Ted Lasso titbits, it’s a lively tour. McMorrow bounces her stories between the centuries with the agility of an AFC Richmond soccer player. Here is the last remaining structure of Richmond Palace built by Henry VII which became a beloved residence of Queen Elizabeth 1 who died here in 1603. Here is where Roy and Keeley had their first kiss. Here are buildings referenced in Charles Dicken’s novels because he liked to escape to Richmond. Here is Goucho, the restaurant where Rebecca had her not-so-great date with John Wingsnight.
Because we are ‘curious not judgmental’ as Ted Lasso has taught us to be, we ask McMorrow a lot of questions too. Do we think there will be a series four? Were the film crew as kind and well-behaved to the locals and as we are hoping they might have been?
“Yes, everyone loved the film crew when they were here,” says McMorrow. “Filming disrupted a lot of local business, but the crew were really nice. And of course, when the show began airing, well everyone loved them even more. A lot of the businesses have seen their trade triple with fans of the show coming here.”
We nod sagely, like true cult enthusiasts. It makes perfect sense that anyone who loved the show as much as we do, would want to come here.
Outside number 11a Paved Court, we stop outside a black front door. A cardboard cutout of Ted is produced from a local shop and without hesitation, we pose for photos. We know it’s silly and touristy, but we can’t help ourselves. This exterior was used for Ted’s apartment, renumbered to 9 ½ for the show. We can’t miss this.
And we can’t miss the pictures of Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt propped up in the window of the tiny shop opposite either. Reale Camiceria is an Italian fashion knitwear and embroidery emporium that was a favorite of the actors when they were filming here. The store’s owner Christina Lelli made Ted Lasso embroidered face masks for the stars and crew when they filming during lockdown. The shop now sells Lasso-inspired souvenirs, allowing us to exit via a gift shop as all good tours tend to do.
As we say our good-byes to McMorrow and each other, we remark that we are going out “like Willie Nelson, on a high.” It’s another line from the show that makes us giggle but happens to have the good fortune of also being true, reminding us once more that Ted Lasso’s feel-good factor extends so much further than just our tv screens.
Recommendations for Richmond-on-Thames, London.
For drinks: The Prince’s Head pub, used for the exterior shots of The Crown and Anchor in Ted Lasso. They also serve food and have AFC Richmond scarves pinned up behind the bar.
For Fish and Chips: Quality Fish Restaurant, 11 King Street. Restaurant dates back to 1920s.
For ice-cream: Danieli On The Green recommended as the best by McMorrow.
For a place to stay: Richmond Hill Hotel, 144-150 Richmond Hill. Luxury hotel overlooking the River Thames. https://www.richmondhill-hotel.co.uk
For beautiful knitwear and fashions: Reale Camiceria, 10 Paved Court. https://www.realecamiceria.co.uk