The show might be called 'Ted Lasso' but there’s no doubt about it - actor Phil Dunster’s beloved fool Jamie Tartt is the best character. Now, you may think that this is slightly unfair given how impressive the ensemble cast is (personally I have a soft spot for sweet kit boy Will and beautifully maned reporter Trent Crimm) but no one has grown quite like Jamie has. First introduced as a cocky menace, Jamie has evolved from being the resident bad boy to perhaps the most mature man in the AFC Richmond locker room.
A better player, a better man
Whilst some may call it a dramatic transformation, Dunster believes that Jamie has always shown this potential, right from season one - and here he isn't just talking about Tartt's power on the pitch. Speaking to GamesRadar+, the actor explained: “He is stepping into the final form of Jamie. He’s always had this potential to be a leader and we have seen some of those skills come through. But when Zava turned up, we saw the disappointment in Jamie’s eyes - he had worked so hard towards being a member of this team, his life had changed so much. It’s about putting into practice the lessons he’s learned and that’s not just becoming a better player - but the emotional lessons from Keeley and Ted, as well as the grammatical ones from Beard!” Jamie correcting Beard on the use of the words "ironic" and "hypocritical" is definitely a season three highlight for this English literature graduate!
As Dunster mentions there, the arrival of god-like player Zava at AFC Richmond changed everything for Jamie who previously firmly believed that no one could play football quite like him. Seeing Zava on the pitch was undoubtedly a moment of awakening for our himbo king who then vowed to become a better player, turning to Roy Kent for help. The realisation that he can improve as a footballer and the seeking of advice from someone else are both huge steps for Jamie to take, but the biggest change comes in his motivation here.
Jamie isn’t just wanting to become a better player for himself, but for his team too, as Dunster emphasises: "In season one we see Ted say to Jamie 'you are so convinced that you are one in a million that sometimes you forget you are one of 11'. In season one he wants to be the best as he wants to be better than everyone else. And in season three he is still doing that as he is still Jamie Tartt, he wants to be the best because he wants to be the best - that’s what makes him brilliant, that competitive edge is something someone like Cristiano Ronaldo has. But here, as a by-product of that, he wants to use that for the team and it’s about putting that energy into a good place. He wants to be better for the team as well."
Enemies to friends
Whilst Roy has been training Jamie to reach his full potential on the pitch, it’s certainly not a one-way friendship, as we saw in the beautiful Amsterdam episode Sunflowers where Tartt showed Kent how to ride a bike - of course, this would have never happened only a few episodes back. Throughout the show Jamie has learnt not only how two-way relationships work, but that he often has something that he can share too that will help others. For Dunster, this is one of the "greatest lessons" that the series explores: "In any relationship both parties need to be able to be the teacher and the taught. We have seen Jamie and Roy both have to shift between the two, which takes humility, understanding, and love. The best relationships - whether it is intimate, a friendship, or business - have that reciprocity, that give and take. There are great moments where you see that the conversation could be shut down if one of them reacts in the way they had done before - it stops the growth, the learning."
A similar case can be seen with Jamie and Ted, who have resolved their conflict and are now on much friendlier terms. Whilst Jamie at first saw Lasso as an idiot getting in his way of being the best, he now realises that the coach can and wants to learn from him for the benefit of everyone at AFC Richmond. Although as Dunster emphasises, Jamie still isn't ready to publicly state how much respect he has for the manager: "He understands that Ted is a layered individual which for Jamie, wasn’t a concept that was a reality to begin with! Jamie has such an instinct for what makes a good footballer and Ted is great at delegation - he defers to other people for their expertise, like Beard is the football tactics guy. But with Ted and Jamie, I think Jamie feels seen by Ted even if it isn't said and that's the real build of that relationship. He respects and loves him, not that he will ever say that!"
And lovers to friends
Whilst both Ted and Roy have taught Jamie a lot, the role of Keeley shouldn't be underestimated here as she has arguably played the biggest part in helping Tartt become a better man. Sure, she doesn't know Total Football from the 4-3-3 formation, but Keeley has shared with Jamie lessons about love and life. And despite the whole 'will they, won't they' situation with her and Roy, several fans online are still hoping that Keeley and Jamie get back together - but let's just admit that the ship names are terrible though, 'Kemie' and 'Jeeley' really don't work!
However, Dunster firmly believes that the two characters shouldn't reunite, stating that there is now more value in their relationship being presented as platonic: "There’s always a desire for there to be intimate relationships between characters on-screen as we like that straightforward pay-off. But this forms a more lasting and realistic example of what somebody can teach someone else. Keeley has always been able to teach Jamie from a place of love - he can get it wrong but that’s okay, that’s just what happens. But that’s such an important lesson for Jamie, appreciating oneself. I think we all have a platonic relationship in our lives that has taught us things we didn’t know about ourselves and it never led to anything deeper than that. I think it’s wonderful that we see those relationships in the show - such as with Ted and Rebecca too." He's right and he should say it - sorry to all of you 'Tedbecca' stans reading this!
Although Jamie has been on quite the significant journey throughout the show so far, there is the question of 'have we now reached the end'? Given that the cast and crew have repeatedly teased that this season may be the last of Ted Lasso, all eyes are on whether any of the characters will get their own spin-off. And a name that keeps coming up in these conversations is a one Jamie Tartt.
Asking Dunster if he would be up for it, the actor's immediate reply is a resounding 'yes', followed by a request for GamesRadar+'s pitch for the spin-off series. Suggesting that it is set abroad keeping things nice and comfortable for the actor, Dunster becomes even more keen: "Yeah sure! Jamie starts a club in Jamaica or the Philippines, somewhere really hot, nice, tropical. Yeah!" And so, Tartt Ashore could be coming to your screens sometime soon.
Ted Lasso airs every Wednesday on streaming service AppleTV+. Check out the release schedule and our interview with Dunster's co-star Nick Mohammed (Nate), as well as James Lance (Trent Crimm) and Billy Harris (Colin).