So far, in this series of The Thick of It, the Opposition’s Director of Communications Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) has been noticeably more reserved compared to previous series. However in this episode the calculating, ruthless political animal returns with full force.
After putting her on a train to Bradford, Malcolm begins to orchestrate the departure of the hapless Nicola Murray’s (Rebecca Front), with a subtle smirk of renewed contentedness. Whilst Nicola is struggling to articulate her own ‘here to here’ policies in front of a cynical press, Malcolm is at ease with himself once again. He seduces naïve political shuttlecock Ben Swain (Justin Edwards) with promises of prominent government positions, as well as enlisting the infirm junior adviser Oliver ‘Ollie’ Reeder (Chris Addison), in order to achieve his goal.
In this episode, The Thick of It does what it does best in showing the harsh, sometimes ridiculous, often worrying realities of government politics. The viewer sees the unrelenting political games that lead to politicians changing positions with almost as much frequency as they change policy. As well as this, the writers leave the audience in no doubt about who holds the power within government, as career politicians like Nicola and Ben and are mercilessly taken advantage of by the political advisors, Malcolm and Ollie.
In short, this is a classic episode. Whilst being funny as always (‘I need you to make like a train and f**k off!’ is Malcolm at his brusque best), the show also portrays the cutthroat nature of British politics and the human collateral that arises as a result. The cold, heartless extraction of Nicola from her position as Leader of the Opposition and her career crumble as a result of Malcolm’s actions, is tough to watch. Despite this, it is impossible not to admire Malcolm. Although he can be seen as an attention seeking, power hungry special advisor, the audience can be left it no doubt that he wants what’s best for the party as the suave, unsullied Dan Miller (Tony Gardner) is appointed as Leader of the Party.
As the series goes over the halfway mark the show is poised in a tantalizing position as the audience is left wondering what plans Malcolm has for Dan Miller and whether his labyrinthine political games will ever come to an end.
You can catch up with this episode here.
Image from B.B.C. website