The Thick of It

February 20, 2015 at 7:51 pm (Uncategorized)

Many, many years ago, when I was in a little Trotskyist groupsicle, we spent a lot of time engaged in contact work. I.e., trying to convince other to join our little band of brothers so they in turn could drink endless cups of coffee trying to convince others of the same. It was a bit like a Ponzi scheme where no one won any money.

But I digress. Once we had a contact. Young guy still in school. While making conversation, we casually asked him  what he was going to do after he finished college. He replied he wanted to be a politician. We all shuddered.

Years later, The Thick of It. Remember  Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, the award-winning BBC production starring Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne?  In the Thick is a similar style in exposing the unpleasantness of “public” servants, but Yes Minister was a charming look at the bureaucracy of British politics (one episode about the best run hospital in Britain had bureaucrats glossing over the fact that despite this it actually had no patients. Whimsical and often hilarious, it didn’t exactly have teeth.

Now imagine Yes Minister with a lot more swearing. A lot more back-stabbing and positioning, and you likely have something that’s a bit closer to the real experience of the inner workings of government.

In the Thick features the enormous talents of Peter Capaldi (who is now internationally famous as the eleventh doctor in Dr. Who), as the fearsome government spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, known behind his back as the Gorbals Goebbels  or my favourite, Iago with a Blackberry.

Tucker is terrifyingly awful in his role, spitting creative profanities at anyone who gets in his way, although it should be noted that it is actually his assistant Jamie, also Scottish, who seems genuinely likely to inflict violence. Malcolm is the master of Machiavellian intrigue and utterly ruthless in achieving his objectives

Here’s one of my favourite bits as Malcolm chastises a new minister who he has just discovered has a fear of elevators:

Not only have you got a fucking bent husband and a fucking daughter that gets taken to school in a fucking sedan chair, you’re also fucking mental. Jesus Christ, see you, you’re a fucking omnishambles, that’s what you are. You’re like that coffee machine, you know: from bean to cup, you fuck up.
—Malcolm Tucker to Nicola Murray, “Series 3, Episode
Omnishambles is now a word.
The movie version In the Loop, which features many of the same actors now always playing the same roles was less successful, and the American loose adaptation Veep, I didn’t really like.
Well worth watching the original show.


  1. Darren said,

    I was hoping you were going to tell us that the ‘young guy’ turned up on Question Time. 😉

    • fischerzed said,

      Sadly no. I was a New Democratic (Canadian social -dems) back in the day, but no one I knew amounted to much. I did used to know the guy who is now a spokesperson for the insurance industry. I see him on TV all the time. Didn’t like him back then either.

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