Alan Clarke (Sir John Hurt) is the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton, where he longs for a "proper" role as a Minister in Thatcher's government. When he gets the call, he joins the ...
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Thomas Bo Larsen
Alan Clarke (Sir John Hurt) is the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton, where he longs for a "proper" role as a Minister in Thatcher's government. When he gets the call, he joins the government, but is totally unprepared for the commitment involved, and is totally unable (and unwilling) to manage the rigors of bill reading and committees. Despite this, he rises up the ranks, still proving his apparent penchant for controversy and evasion.Written by
bob the moo
In episode three, Clark's ministerial globetrotting is charted on an animated map. Unfortunately the map used for this sequence is a present-day one and very obviously wrong for the 1980s setting (the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia should each be shown as a single country). This is especially conspicuous because Clark travels to Sarajevo, and Bosnia-Hercegovinia was a republic within Yugoslavia, not an independent country. See more »
The whole year stretches before me in which there is nothing but nothing to tie the structure to.
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Wonderfully acerbic wit in an great portrayal of governmental life
Alan Clarke is the minister for Plymouth South, where he longs for a `proper' role as a Minister in Thatcher's government. When he gets the call he joins government but is totally unprepared for the commitment involved and is totally unable (and unwilling) to manage the rigours of bill reading and committees. Despite this he rises up the ranks, still proving his apparent penchant for controversy and evasion.
Having watched this series, my immediate hope is that BBC have the good grace and common sense to bring this from the poorly watched BBC4 onto BBC1 or 2 in a reasonably good evening slot - it deserves a proper audience exposure and could easily get it if one episode is watched. The series is adapted from Alan Clarke's own books and it isn't afraid to show his inner thoughts - most of the dialogue is delivered by Hurt in narration. The writing is great, full of acerbic humour and the sort of approach from Clarke that we have come to bitterly expect from our MP's. It is maybe exaggerated, and not all MP's are as self seeking and selfish as Clarke is here, but many of the things that Clarke does or mentions can still be seen in government today. When Clarke says how the bills are passed and drafted on personal issues rather than good policy, it isn't hard just to think back a few weeks when Labour won a very close vote on tuition fees by trading concessions on other bills to get enough rebels to change their vote.
The series is full of this and it is surprisingly funny throughout; the exaggerated Clarke is funny but it is his inner thoughts that are funny and interesting. We are all used to seeing politicians spinning and concealing things but it is not often that you get to hear what they are really thinking! Even on Question Time they will evade and give the `proper' answers as opposed to the answers you know they're thinking inside!
The script is what makes the series, but it is Hurt's wonderfully colourful performance as Clarke that makes it as interesting and witty as it is. His delivery is good and his facial expressions betray his inner loathing for the little people who he considers himself for far above. It may not be true of all politicians but it is wonderfully refreshing to see a MP depicted in this way simply because I don't believe that Clarke is alone in his thoughts.
Overall this is a great little series that does a great job of presenting the world of politics in a way that is bitter, cynical, funny and, sadly, quite recognisable and believable. Hopefully BBC4 can stop just thinking of ratings and allow a bigger audience to get access to this type of programme - we don't all have digital tv you know!
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