The Thick Of It

Satirical political sitcom. Number 10's foul-mouthed policy enforcer Malcolm Tucker rules the Government's PR team with an iron fist

2005 - 2012  (BBC Two / BBC Four)
23 (4 series)
Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison, James Smith, Joanna Scanlan, Rebecca Front, Chris Langham, Roger Allam, Lucinda Raikes, Tony Gardner, Polly Kemp, Paul Higgins & more
Jesse Armstrong, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Roger Drew, Will Smith, Sean Gray
British Broadcasting Corporation

Caustic comedy, set in the corridors of power. This satirical sitcom focuses on the civil servants, the PR team and ministers who work for the (fictional) Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship.

Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) is the Prime Minister's Director of Communications. He uses bullying, intimidation and lots of swearing to try and keep The Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship in the press for the right reasons, but out of the press whenever there is something that needs covering up.

Staff in the department include naive spin-doctor Ollie, jaded Senior Special Advisor Glenn, and Terri, the ineffectual Departmental Press Secretary.

Series 1 focused on Hugh Abbot (Chris Langham), a put-upon MP who is continually harassed by Malcolm and let down by his not-so-reliable team of civil servants.

With Hugh "away in Australia", the two specials that followed in 2007 expanded the show's premise to observe Peter Mannion (Roger Allam) and his team over at Opposition HQ too.

The third starts just after a reshuffle - the last shift around before the General Election. As a result, Malcolm now has a new Social Affairs Secretary to deal with in the form of Nicola Murray (Rebecca Front).

Our Review: After a very successful debut in 2005, two equally successful specials, and even a big-screen outing (In The Loop)... this show is finally back on TV for its much anticipated third series.

If you've not seen The Thick Of It before, it's quite easy to describe: it's basically a modern day Yes Minister with much, much more swearing. Just like the classic 1980s sitcom, this programme observes what goes on behind the closed doors of power, and reveals that, much of the time, those in charge haven't a clue what they're doing. However, this is Yes Minister with modern twists: its semi-improvised; there's a 'fly on the wall' feel to the filming style; and the civil servants and ministers use PR teams and spin doctors in a much greater way than Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey ever did. Plus, the modern corridors of power echo with the sound of swearing - in fact, so much so, that rude language is one of this show's signatures.

Those in the know say that, despite being a comedy, The Thick Of It fairly accurately mirrors what it's really like in government at the moment - something which should make us all quite worried! For example, although the creators often deny it - the character of Malcolm Tucker is blatantly based on Tony Blair's former chief press secretary Alastair Campbell. There are just too many similarities for it to be a coincidence.

Now transferred to BBC Two, The Thick Of It is likely to begin to picking up a much bigger fan base now. However, many of the new viewers may not be aware that the show had to navigate its way through a particularly delicate and awkward situation in 2006 which, for a period, looked like it would cause the show to be cancelled...

Throughout 2006 Chris Langham, who was the major star of the two 2005 series, was under suspicion of downloading indecent images of children - this effectively put the third series of this the show on hold for nearly two years. It wasn't until the actor's conviction in 2007 that the creators could formally remove Langham from the show and start work on replacing his character with a new one.

The Thick Of It is looking as topical, clever and smart as ever - long may it continue!