The Thick Of It Review

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Politicos beware this pin-sharp satire.


After 25 years of Yes, Minister repeats, Britain is long overdue an upgrade on TV political satire. Brilliant as that series remains, and as fun as The New Statesman was as short-term stop-gap, thank God for Armando Iannucci. The Thick Of It is the finest shot of pitch-black comic vitriol to be aimed at Whitehall in many a moon.

This DVD release is actually comprised of two short series — only three episodes each — but it’s very much a case of ‘less is more’, as we watch the hapless Hugh Abbott (Chris Langham), Minister for Social Affairs And Citizenship, in his daily struggle to avoid rocks, hard places, bureaucracy and party head-kicker Malcolm Tucker (a career-best, BAFTA-winning Peter Capaldi). With a fly-on-the-wall look, the show’s formula is for the actors to improvise from a carefully established script, provided chiefly by Jesse Armstrong (one half of Peep Show’s writing team). As with The Office, this spontaneity is what gives the show its edge, and superb supporting turns from Chris Addison, Joanna Scanlan and James Smith should be shouted from on high.

The beauty of the show lies in its ‘dig your own grave’ structure — Abbott‘s own worst enemies are frequently himself, his party and his own civil servants who are trying to help.

It’s a grower, to be sure, but who can fail to appreciate lines like, “I don’t know which is worse — watching him rumble towards you like prostate cancer, or him appearing suddenly out of nowhere, like a severe stroke.”

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