Getting into ‘The Thick of It’

So. Peter Capaldi. That guy, you know, he’s the next Doctor. Number 12, or 13 or perhaps technically 14… (THANKS Moffat). Anyway, as is natural when there’s a new Doctor, I want to know more. We really haven’t seen him yet apart from a very brief appearance at the end of ‘The Time of the Doctor’ and an even briefer one in ‘Day of the Doctor’.

When Matt Smith was announced, I bought the DVDs for ‘Party Animals’ to see what we were getting. Peter Capaldi is widely known for ‘Malcolm Tucker’, the Director of Communications for an unnamed party in ‘The Thick of It’. I soon heard that Tucker swears a lot and is an angry man, but beyond that I didn’t know much at all. So recently I watched ‘The Thick of It’ – from start to finish.

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It’s not a long series – 24 episode encompassing 4 seasons and 3 specials, the first two series are a mere 3 episodes each, and I have to say, pardon my French, it’s a fucking good series! Like ‘Party Animals’, it’s a political series, and like ‘Yes, Minister’, it’s a satire. But it’s more than that. Now, a word of warning, if you do go down the path I did and watch it, the camera work is NOT smooth. In fact after two episodes I was seriously sick! I got used to it and I’m sure they backed off with the style of camera work after the first series – people complained about it.

Now – if you don’t like swearing, it’s not for you. Because it’s not just Capaldi’s character who swears, it’s pretty much the whole cast. The humour is a bit black at times, but it is a genuinely funny series, the sort that at the same time makes you think ‘it could really be like that’. MPs bumble and fumble and make mistakes, office staff act as if they are in control of everything, when in fact it’s character’s like Malcolm Tucker pulling all the strings and barking, nay shouting orders.

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If you don’t know much about British politics and civil servants, then you’ll probably learn a bit. You’ll be shocked, then you’ll laugh, then you’ll be shocked again. The whole cast are simply brilliant, and as the series progresses we see the opposition (presumably meant to be the conservatives) in action, and in series four [SPOILER ALERT] they are in government. Their Director of Communications is very different to Tucker, trying to be ‘zen’, but losing the plot regularly and lapsing into aggressive craziness.

To try and find the perfect analogy is difficult. It’s one part ‘West Wing’, one part ‘The Office’, one part ‘Yes, Minister’ and one part ‘Red Dwarf’ – with a bucketload of swearing thrown in for good measure. Three things are clear about Capaldi from the series. He is a brilliant actor, his Doctor might be more aggressive but he won’t be playing him like Tucker, and Capaldi runs funny!

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Do yourself a favour, if you like political satire at all, watch this series. I seriously had no idea how brilliant it was until I did.

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