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Some of the coolest Good Omens Easter eggs, according to Neil Gaiman, David Tennant and crew
It might not be apparent on a first watch, but Good Omens is chock full of easter eggs, carefully placed by showrunner Neil Gaiman and director Douglas Mackinnon. Since the show is an adaptation of the book by the same name written by Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, some are in homage to them both. Others are tributes to their shared love for fellow geek properties, including some they've had occasion to work on in the past.
How do we know this? Well, we asked Gaiman, Mackinnon, and more to bless us with just a few examples, and they found it good and proper to oblige.
**Spoiler Warning: Obviously, there are mild spoilers for Good Omens ahead**
Terry Pratchett: "There's a lot of Terry Pratchett in there," David Tennant said. You can find Pratchett's scarf and signature fedora hanging on a coat-and-hat rack in Aziraphale's bookshop.
"We never focus on it," said cinematographer Gavin Finney. "It's just there, and the camera goes past the hat and scarf. It was cool not to foreground it, but just to have it in the background."
An eagle eye might also spot a display of Pratchett's books as well. And a careful listener might hear a voice that sounds suspiciously like Pratchett's, although it's actually actor Paul Kaye. Kaye had previously played Pratchett in a documentary for the BBC, and so Gaiman and Mackinnon recruited Kaye to portray the author once again for a little voiceover work in Episode 4.
"There's a tiny scene where there is a radio conversation, and a guy who is supposed to be the PR guy for the nuclear power station is talking," Mackinnon told SYFY WIRE. They thought the voice should be Pratchett's, "because Terry used to be that very man," Mackinnon said, referring to the author's former career as a press office for the Central Electricity Generating Board in an area that covered four nuclear power stations.
Neil Gaiman: Pratchett and Gaiman had planned to do cameo roles together, appearing in the background while Aziraphale ate sushi in a restaurant (and Gabriel interrupted him) in Episode 1. "We would be eating all the sushi we wanted," Gaiman said. Without Pratchett to join him, Gaiman didn't feel quite right to appear in the sushi scene, so he asked Mackinnon to find him another part.
When they were talking about the movie theater scene in Episode 4, Mackinnon asked what sort of extras they should have in the background. "I said, 'We should have a couple making out in the back corner, and probably a drunk asleep,'" Gaiman recalled. "And an expression of pure joy grew on Douglas' face. And he said, 'I think we found your part.'"
"I said, 'An asleep drunk might just measure up to your acting ability,'" Mackinnon said with a laugh. (You can find Gaiman slouched in the front of the cinema.) The director cast the showrunner in another part — as the voices of the bunnies in the animation being screened at the cinema — so essentially Gaiman (as the drunk) is watching Gaiman (as the bunnies).
"All the noises of the bunnies are me," Gaiman said. "And I'm also the frog. When the animated head frog makes a weird little noise, that's me." Gaiman gets one more nod in the show. When unexpected visitors arrive at the U.S. airbase in Episode 5, the soldier at guard duty is reading American Gods.
Doctor Who: This might be one of the biggest areas of easter eggs, especially if you count the fact that Crowley is played by the Tenth Doctor, Aziraphale is played by House (from Gaiman's episode "The Doctor's Wife"), and the Metatron is played by the Master.
Beyond that, the rest are "all factored into the texture" of Good Omens, Tennant said. Adam's father Mr. Young drives a car with a license plate that reads "SID RAT" (TARDIS backwards). Mr. Young first addresses Crowley — again, the Tenth Doctor — as "Doctor" when he encounters the demon at the Satanic nuns' hospital, mistaking him for an OB/GYN in Episode 1. A child named Brian says "Exterminate!" when hanging with friends in Episode 4.
In that same episode, Crowley wonders where in the universe he might go, and one of the papers circulating around his head reads "Gallifrey." And an awkward character named Newton Pulsifer wears the Fourth Doctor's scarf as a necktie on his first day to work in Episode 2. "It's something a grown-up man might not do," costume designer Claire Anderson said. "But they thought the character would rather like Doctor Who."
Sherlock: Mackinnon, who had worked on Sherlock, was also eager to plant some easter eggs relating to the books and the show, although they might be the hard to spot (other than Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, who appears during a World War II flashback, and Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, who provides the voice of Satan).
In Episode 1, Crowley meets Aziraphale in a park, and then they walk out to Crowley's Bentley, parked in the street. In the background of the shot is the Diogenes Club, where Mycroft Holmes likes to hang. They then go to eat crepes at the Ritz (where they will return in Episode 6), but it's not quite the Ritz — it's actually the Criterion, which is famed in both Sherlock lore (as the place where Sherlock and Watson meet for the first time, in the books) and in behind-the-scenes Sherlock history.
"When Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, and Stephen Thompson signed up to do Sherlock, they went to the Criterion to celebrate," Mackinnon said. "But they never got to film there. We did. And so on the day we were filming there, I was texting them going, 'Guess where I'm filming!'"
Random bits: Richmal Crompton's Just William book series -- which inspired Good Omens -- appear in Aziraphale's bookshop. As a nod to Terry Gilliam, who once tried to do a movie version of Good Omens, Gaiman and Mackinnon threw in a little reference to Gilliam's origins doing animation for Monty Python.
"The license plate of Crowley's Bentley is 'Curtain' backwards," Gaiman said, because of the writing on the mausoleum in the suicidal leaves section of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. "Curtain backwards, like it's the final curtain," Mackinnon explained. The part of the Internal Express delivery man is played by Simon Merrells, who worked with Mackinnon on Knightfall, playing the character Tancrede. And so in the end credits, his character's name here is listed as Lesley Tancrede.
The Isle of Skye: Mackinnon is very proud of being from Scotland's Isle of Skye, and inserted references to his home area wherever he could. An Isle of Skye shop is near Aziraphale's Soho bookshop, called Skye Suits. Crowley's drink of choice to drown his sorrows in Episode 5 is the Isle of Skye's most famous brand, Talisker Whisky. When turning on the radio in his Bentley, Crowley hears the "Just a Minute" host present an upcoming topic, the Isle of Skye, before a demon hijacks the broadcast. And so on.
"There are so many more easter eggs that I don't think we could just casually list them all," Gaiman said. "But the lovely thing about all of these things is that you can miss them, and you won't mind."