TV: The Thick Of It

The Thick of it … reflecting the dark claustorphobic world of modern politics.
AFTER seven years, four series, a feature film and several armfuls of awards, the finest political comedy of recent years has, in its own words, “fucked the fuck off”. The opening episode of this series showed a stark contrast to the previous, which was three years ago – it was always going to be a huge challenge bringing it back after this time. As always, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche and company have chosen to reflect the current political climate – meaning that the mainstays of Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), Oliver Reeder (Chris Addison), and Nicola Murray (Rebecca Front) now have to share more screen time with the new coalition, bringing several minor characters to the fore and introducing a few new ones. Such a radical change ensured a slow start, but the series built up to a chaotic conclusion as the ground disappeared from under everyone’s feet and they were exposed for who they really are.

There were two separate locations at the beginning of the series. We found out that the coalition has been ruling over at DoSAC for the past two years, headed by old-school politician Peter Manion (Roger Allam). Most of his old advisors, headed by media-savvy blue sky thinker Stewart (Vincent Franklin), remain, much to his disdain. Two new characters were introduced in the forms of the “Inbetweener” parties’ junior minister Fergus Williams (Geoffrey Streatfeild) and his advisor, former Daily Mail hack Adam (Ben Willbond). Out of the public eye, the two sectors visibly dislike each other, with both Fergus and Adam trying to undermine Manion at every opportunity. Series regulars Glen Cullen (James Smith) and Terry Coverly (Joanna Scanlan) are firmly in the middle; both miserable and desperately wanting out.

Over at the opposition HQ, inept MP Nicola has found herself in the very unlikely position of party leader. However, her incompetence and constant lambasting by the media, chiefly by a tabloid journalist dressed as a pork chop, leads Malcolm to organize a coup, forcing Nicola to an early resignation and replacing her with the charmless Dan Miller (Tony Gardner).  He also encourages her to accuse Manion of bullying a protestor named Mr Tikeall who is currently homeless due to his home being compulsively sold off. His eventual suicide sets the events of the rest of the series into motion including an inquiry about the nature of information leaking.

The elements that make The Thick of It easily recognizable are thankfully still present. There are a slew of endlessly quotable lines and more slurs that I previously didn’t know existed (my personal favourite is “Stuart, any thoughts from within your fucking dream yurt?”). Glen becomes the closest thing that the show has ever had to a moral compass and is repulsed by Fergus’s tactics regarding the Tikeall incident before resigning in a glorious fashion, delivering a damning speech to the DoSAC staff. The final episode had the resignation and arrest of series tyrant Malcolm. Stitched up by Ollie, he was denied a dignified exit but not before he warned Ollie about how taking his place would eat him alive. In the end, Tucker was a truly exasperated man, a victim of his own ruthlessness.