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The Thick of It
The Thick of It title card.jpg
Format Comedy (political satire)
Created by Armando Iannucci
Written by Jesse Armstrong
Simon Blackwell
Roger Drew
Sean Gray
Armando Iannucci
Ian Martin
Will Smith
Tony Roche
Starring Peter Capaldi
Chris Langham
Rebecca Front
Chris Addison
Joanna Scanlan
James Smith
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 16
Production
Producer(s) Adam Tandy
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Four (Series 1, 2 and Specials)
BBC Two/BBC HD (Series 3)
Original run 19 May 2005 (2005-05-19) – present
Chronology
Related shows In the Loop

The Thick of It is a British comedy television series that satirises the inner workings of modern British government. It was first broadcast on BBC Four in 2005, and has so far completed fourteen half-hour episodes and two special hour-long episodes to coincide with Christmas and Gordon Brown's appointment as Prime Minister. To date, the series has earned Best New Comedy and Best Comedy Performer for Chris Langham at the 2005 British Comedy Awards,[1] and won Best Situation Comedy and Best Comedy Performance, also for Langham (although Peter Capaldi was also nominated), at the 2006 BAFTAs.[2]

The series can be described as the 21st century's answer to Yes Minister, highlighting the struggles of the media and spin doctors against civil servants. Iannucci himself describes it as "Yes Minister meets Larry Sanders".[3] The former civil servant Martin Sixsmith is an adviser to the writing team, giving some of the storylines an element of realism to them.[3] In particular, the character of Malcolm Tucker bears a distinct resemblance to former Director of Communications and Strategy Alastair Campbell, a comparison Campbell himself has acknowledged.[4]

A feature film spin-off, In the Loop, was released in the UK on 17 April 2009. The third series was eight episodes long[5] and started on 24 October 2009, on BBC Two and BBC HD.[6][7][8]

Contents

Background

Armando Iannucci originally conceived of a modern political satire after "arguing the case" for Yes Minister in a 2004 Best British Sitcom poll for BBC2.[9] His idea was commissioned by Roly Keating, the controller of BBC Four, who granted Iannucci limited budget, telling him to "turn that into what you can."[10] Iannucci created the first series of three episodes, which aired in May-June 2005, and a second series, also of three episodes, which followed in October.

Production

The series is written by a team of writers led by Armando Iannucci, who also directs the series, with Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew, Sean Gray, Ian Martin, Will Smith and Tony Roche.[11] Some of the dialogue is improvised rather than scripted (with the cast credited as providing "additional material"), and includes some very strong language. Peter Capaldi has stated that "Fundamentally 80% of the final cut is the script that we started with. The improvisation just makes it feel more real and not written."[3] Prior to rehearsals, the scripts are sent to a "swearing consultant" in Lancaster called Ian Martin, who adds some of the series' more colourful language.[12][13] The programme's producer is Adam Tandy, who has produced all of Iannucci's television projects since 2000. The programme is shot with hand-held cameras to give it a sense of vérité or fly on the wall documentary. The documentary style is furthered by the absence of any incidental music or laughter track.

On 2 April 2007, a DVD of the first six episodes was released as "The Complete First Series". It also included audio commentary, deleted scenes, and photo galleries. The two specials were released on a second DVD in April 2009.

Plot

The action centres on the fictitious Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship ("DoSAC" – previously the Department of Social Affairs, or "DSA", prior to the reshuffle of episode five), which supposedly came out of the Prime Minister's passing enthusiasm for "joined-up government". Thus, it acts as a "Super Department" overseeing many others, which enables different political themes to be dealt with in the programme, similar to the Department for Administrative Affairs in Yes Minister.[14]

Hugh Abbot, played by Chris Langham, is a blundering minister heading the department, who is continually trying to do his job under the watchful eye of Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), Number 10's highly aggressive and domineering "enforcer". The programme also features James Smith as Senior Special Adviser Glen Cullen, Chris Addison as Junior Policy Adviser Olly Reeder, and Joanna Scanlan as Civil Service Press Secretary Terri Coverley.

Series one and two

In the first batch of three episodes, Hugh Abbot is installed as a new minister following the forced resignation of his predecessor Cliff Lawton. These episodes follow his attempts to make his mark on the department by introducing new policies while following the party line enforced by Malcolm Tucker. Due to a series of complications and mistakes, this leads to the minister coming close to resignation on a number of occasions.

In the second batch of episodes, a reshuffle is in the offing, and the series follows the minister's attempts to keep his job. Olly is seconded to Number 10 "to phone his girlfriend" Emma Messinger, who happens to be a member of the shadow defence policy team, where he is under the close eye of enforcer Jamie. Meanwhile, Terri Coverley is on compassionate leave following the death of her father, leaving her role to Robyn Murdoch, a Senior Press Officer. The department also has to contend with the interference of the Prime Minister's "Blue Skies" adviser Julius Nicholson. The minister and the department survive the reshuffle, with the department being rebranded as the "Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship" and moved to a new building. However, the mistakes and compromises continue.

Specials

In the two specials, following the Christmas break, Hugh Abbot is in Australia and the department has to "babysit" Junior Minister for Immigration Ben Swain, who is described as a "nutter" (a supporter of prime-minister-in-waiting Tom Davis[15]). The first special ("Rise of the Nutters") revolves around a computer problem at Immigration, which is exacerbated by the junior minister appearing in a disastrous Newsnight interview. The opposition policy advisor Emma Messinger capitalises on the error by stealing an idea from Ollie Reeder, her boyfriend, to send the shadow minister Peter Mannion on a factfinding mission at an immigration centre. Meanwhile, Malcolm Tucker is concerned about his position in the government after speculating that the Prime Minister's handover to Tom Davis[15] is expected in less than six months. Tucker conspires with Ollie to leak the Prime Minister's "legacy programme" (the PM's plan to move the handling of immigration policy to a non-political executive board) in the hope of stalling his departure, inadvertently leading the PM to resign early. The next episode ("Spinners and Losers") follows a single night of "spin", as advisers, junior politicians and enforcers all try to better their position during the transition.

Series three

In series three, Hugh Abbot is replaced as minister by Nicola Murray, played by Rebecca Front. She is an unexpected, last-minute choice for the position, and given her inexperience and lack of staff, she is forced to retain Olly and Glenn as her advisors. The series continues to focus on the general running, or mis-running, of DoSAC, with Murray's attempts to formulate her "Fourth Sector Pathfinder Initiative" being a running thread throughout the series. However, with the cloud of the forthcoming general election and tension at 10 Downing Street looming, the series also broadened its scope to include episodes set at the annual party conference and BBC Radio 5Live. We also see more of Murray's opposite number, Peter Mannion, and other members of the Opposition first seen in the 2007 specials. The gradual breakdown of Malcolm Tucker and appearance of new threats to his dominance are also major plotlines.

Characters

Most episodes focus on the department's incumbent minister and a core cast of advisors and civil servants, under the watchful eye of Number 10's enforcer, Malcolm Tucker. However, over its run, the series has developed a large cast of additional characters, who form the government, opposition, as well as members of the media.

  • Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) is the aggressive, profane and feared Director of Communications for the Government. He serves two main roles: acting as the Prime Minister's enforcer to ensure the cabinet ministers all follow the party line, and managing the government's crisis management PR, usually in the form of spin. He regularly uses smears or threats of violence to achieve his ends. Tucker also appears in In the Loop.[16] The Guardian is using the character in their coverage of the 2010 general election.[17]
  • Hugh Abbot MP (Chris Langham) is the Secretary of State for Social Affairs (later Social Affairs and Citizenship) in series 1 and 2. He is an inept Cabinet Minister who is generally out-of-touch with his electorate. While he believes he has some influence, he often finds himself at the mercy of events and bearing the brunt of Tucker's vitriol. He reads the New Statesman and has two children, Alicia and Charlie, whom he barely sees. Although he survives the cabinet reshuffle of series 2, he does not appear in the programme again and is replaced by Nicola Murray in a subsequent reshuffle at the beginning of series 3.[16]
  • Nicola Murray MP (Rebecca Front) replaces Hugh Abbot for series 3. She is promoted to Social Affairs and Citizenship Secretary as a last-minute choice in a government reshuffle in the run up to a general election. Inexperienced and naive, she begins her tenure poorly with a number of public embarrassments over her husband's career. She also finds it difficult to maintain a healthy balance between her home and work lives, conflicting with Tucker when he demands that she send her daughter to a comprehensive school, rather than her preferred choice of an independent school. Relatively powerless in the Cabinet, her dour public image, largely encouraged by Tucker, leads her to be referred to as "glummy mummy". Although she and Tucker regularly clash, he is occasionally shown to be much more sympathetic towards her than her predecessor.
  • Glenn Cullen (James Smith) is Senior Special Adviser to the minister. A long-standing friend of Hugh's since the campaign days, he acts as his chief adviser. He is generally politically adept, often being a voice of sense within the series, although due to his age is often ignored and emasculated by younger members of staff.[16] Despite a number of mishaps, such as swearing at a member of the public who confronts Abbot, he keeps his job due to his loyalty to Hugh. Following Hugh's departure, he expects to retire, but is unexpectedly kept on as advisor to Nicola Murray. His home life is troubled, being divorced and with a disabled son.[18][19] Originally intending to run for parliament at the next election, working with the disastrous new minister leads to him being refused permission to run as an MP.[20]
  • Oliver "Olly" Reeder (Chris Addison) is a special adviser to the Secretary of State (formerly Junior Policy Adviser) to Hugh Abbot and his replacement, Nicola Murray. An Oxbridge graduate, he is arrogant, inept, inexperienced, somewhat gawky and is often inadvertently the cause of departmental mistakes.[16] However, the minister often takes up his ideas believing them to be vote-winners. He was seconded to 10 Downing Street after he slept with an opposition party worker and was told to use his relationship to gather information on opposition party policy.[21] He is described by Terri as "a bit morally bankrupt".[22]
  • Terri Coverley (Joanna Scanlan) is Director of Communications for the department. Notionally responsible for press relations at DoSAC, Coverley was Head of Press recruited from supermarket chain Waitrose as part of an ill-advised scheme to make government run like a business.[16][23]. Professional but prudish, she is often left to "mop up" the bad press garnered by the department.[24] As a civil servant, compared to the MPs and advisors she is relatively safe in her job, a fact which she repeatedly states to their annoyance. She takes a leave of absence during series 2 due to the death of her father.

Episodes

The first run of three episodes screened on BBC Four from 19 May 2005. A further three episodes were transmitted 20 October – 3 November 2005. The six episodes were repeated on BBC Two in early 2006, and later on BBC America together as a single series. The subsequent DVD release of all six episodes calls them The Complete First Series.

An hour-long Christmas special, "The Rise of the Nutters", aired in January 2007 with a further ten episodes planned for later on in the year. However, Chris Langham did not reprise his role as Hugh Abbot, due to legal allegations against him,[25] and his subsequent conviction has ruled him out of any further roles. To fill this void, Iannucci introduced new characters into the series forming the opposition.

Another one-off hour-long episode "Spinners and Losers" aired on 3 July 2007.[26] It was followed by a 15 minute extra episode through BBC Red Button, following the same story from the opposition's point of view.

For Series 3, transmission switched to BBC Two, with subsequent repeats on BBC Four. The series ran for eight episodes from 24 October 2009 to 12 December 2009. As a Red Button extra, each episode had an accompanying 10 minute documentary titled Out of The Thick of It broadcast immediately afterwards and on the BBC Comedy website, which featured cut scenes, specially written scenes and, later, discussion of the programme by the series' writers, makers and with figures involved in British politics.

American adaptation

On 27 October 2006, it was announced that The Thick of It would be adapted for American television, focusing on the daily lives of a low-level member of the United States Congress and his staff. Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz would be the executive producer, along with Armando Iannucci and Richard Day. The pilot was directed by Christopher Guest, and produced by Sony Pictures and BBC Worldwide.[27][28] The cast included John Michael Higgins, Oliver Platt, Michael McKean, Alex Borstein, and Wayne Wilderson.[29][30]

ABC did not pick up the show for its 2007 Autumn schedule,[31] Iannucci distanced himself from the pilot stating "It was terrible...they took the idea and chucked out all the style. It was all conventionally shot and there was no improvisation or swearing. It didn't get picked up, thank god."[32] Other networks including HBO, Showtime, and NBC expressed interest in the show,[33] and in April 2009, Iannucci re-entered talks with HBO over the possibility of an American adaptation.[32]

In the Loop

The poster for In The Loop

In May 2008, the BBC issued a press release stating that filming had commenced on a feature length adaption named In the Loop starring Tom Hollander, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Peter Capaldi, Gina McKee and Steve Coogan.[34]

In the Loop premiered in the US at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and in the UK at the 2009 Glasgow Film Festival. It was released on 17 April 2009 in the United Kingdom.[35] Although many of the cast return, the only actual returning characters are Malcolm Tucker, Jamie (given the surname "McDonald" for the film) and a very brief cameo from Samantha Harrington as Malcolm's secretary Sam, with series regulars Chris Addison, James Smith, Joanna Scanlan, Alex MacQueen, Olivia Poulet, Eve Matheson, and Will Smith playing new characters altogether.[36][37]

See also

References

  1. ^ British Comedy Awards 2005. Retrieved 4 January 2007.
  2. ^ Awards at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 4 January 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Interview with Armando Iannucci, at bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  4. ^ Alastair Campbell, "Was I offended by this brutal spinmeister? No. I was bored" in The Guardian, 24-03-2009
  5. ^ Parker, Robin (6 April 2009). "The Thick of It to return". Broadcast. http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/multi-platform/news/the-thick-of-it-to-return/2016613.article. Retrieved 17 October 2009. 
  6. ^ "The Thick Of It – back for a new series on BBC Two". BBC Press Office. 2009-04-27. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2009/04_april/27/thick.shtml. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  7. ^ Iannucci, Armando (14 October 2009). "New series of Thick of It starts on BBC2. Saturday 24th Oct, at 10.10pm. Will be repeated later each week on BBC FOUR.". Twitter. http://twitter.com/AIannucci/status/4861933882. Retrieved 14 October 2009. 
  8. ^ BBC Programmes - The Thick of It: Series 3: Episode 1
  9. ^ Britain's Best Sitcom, bbc.co.uk, URL accessed 24 January 2009
  10. ^ Armstrong, Stephen (16 July 2006). "Television: Why our sitcoms need to pack a punch". The Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/article686618.ece. Retrieved 22 November 2009. 
  11. ^ Cast list at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  12. ^ Interview with Armando Iannucci atUncut.co.uk. Retrieved 29 June 2007.
  13. ^ Above and Beyond, interview with Chris Addison by David Whitehouse in The London Paper, Wednesday 20 December 2006
  14. ^ BBC Press Release. Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  15. ^ a b The new PM is variously called Davies and Davis in reasonably authoritative sources. A newspaper draft in the second special clearly reads Davis, however.
  16. ^ a b c d e The Characters of series 1, BBC Press Release 08.12.2005
  17. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/series/malcolm-tucker-s-election-briefing
  18. ^ Series 1, episode 6
  19. ^ Character profile at bbc.co.uk, URL accessed 7/12/09
  20. ^ Series 3, episode 6
  21. ^ Character profile at bbc.co.uk, URL accessed 7/12/09
  22. ^ Series 3, episode 1
  23. ^ Series One, Episode Two
  24. ^ Character profile at bbc.co.uk, URL accessed 7/12/09
  25. ^ Paramount Comedy.com. Retrieved 4 January 2007.
  26. ^ BBC Press Release. Retrieved 21 June 2007.
  27. ^ Hollywood Reporter.com. Retrieved 4 January 2007.
  28. ^ "Christopher Guest Jumps Into 'The Thick of It'". Zap2it.com. http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-christopherguestdirectingthethickofit,0,7175185.story?track=rss. Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  29. ^ "Platt, 'Piz' Pluck Pilot Parts". Zap2it.com. http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-pilotcasting-oliverplattchrislowell,0,2672707.story?track=rss. Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  30. ^ "'Gilmore' Regular Joins ABC Pilot". Zap2it.com. http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-gilmoregirlsmelissamccarthyjoinsabcpilot,0,3297088.story?track=rss. Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  31. ^ "Sometimes buzz about TV pilots is just a lot of hot air". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/21/DDG0MPU2QM1.DTL. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  32. ^ a b Rosser, Michael (2009-04-24). "Iannacci in talks with HBO over US Thick of It". Broadcast. http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/2009/04/iannacci_in_talks_with_hbo_over_us_thick_of_it.html. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  33. ^ "Rejected by ABC, political satire sparks interest". Reuters. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070604/tv_nm/thick_dc. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  34. ^ BBC Press Office - Principal photography commences on Armando Iannucci's In the Loop [1], URL accessed 19 May 2008
  35. ^ Official site, URL accessed 11 March 2009
  36. ^ [2]
  37. ^ Ambrose Heron. "UK Release Date for In The Loop". FILMdetail. http://www.filmdetail.com/archives/2009/01/30/uk-release-date-for-in-the-loop/. Retrieved 2009-11-21. 

External links

Videos


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Thick Of It is a British sitcom, satirising the inner workings of modern government, that is currently in its third series and stars Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker.

Contents

Series 1, Episode 1

Malcolm Tucker: What did the Prime Minister actually say to you?
Hugh: He actually said this is exactly the sort of thing we should be doing.
Malcolm: SHOULD be doing. "Should" does not mean "yes".

Hugh Abbott: I want a new driver. Get me a new driver. I don't wanna see this guy ever again.
Glenn Cullen: On what grounds?
Hugh: Smiling! Inappropriate smiling! And smirking! Smiling and smirking! I don't wanna see that smile or smirk ever again, ok?

Series 2, Episode 2

Malcolm: Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off.
Hugh: Well I'll come 'fuck in' then.

Special 1- Rise of the Nutters

Ollie: Very powerful, very attractive sexually due to all this power-
Jamie McDonald: Ey, Poxbridge! Hey dickhead, Happy New Queer!
Malcolm: I'm really sorry, don’t be so offensive, I apologise for my friend’s behaviour. Did you have a nice Poofmas?

Series 3, Episode 1

Malcolm Tucker: He’s making Paul Remington a Cabinet Minister. Remtard Remington. I mean the guy is an epic fuck-up. He’s so dense that light bends around him.

Malcolm: Come on people, let’s get going here! I’ve got a to-do list that’s longer than a fucking Leonard Cohen song.

[discussing the Cabinet reshuffle]
Terri Coverley: Oh look, Fatty's staying put! They're not moving Fatty.
Ollie Reeder: That's because they haven’t got five big blokes and a winch.
Terri: They couldn't really demote Fatty because he knows too much.
Ollie: Well he doesn't know where the Ryvita is kept, does he?

[on the phone to a colleague about how busy he is]
Malcolm: I've got more on my plate than a spinster at a wedding. That wasn't a reference to your daughter by the way, Andrew.
[later in the episode, on the phone again]
Malcolm: Doug Hayes is a massive abortion. Again, not a reference to your daughter.

[when he's upset with a colleague for turning down a job]
Malcolm: Do you know 90% of household dust is made of dead human skin? That's what you are to me.

Malcolm: Get me Nicola Murray. Yeah, if she says no the only other candidate is my left bollock with a fucking smiley face drawn on it.

Terri: It's so sad, isn't it Hugh?
Ollie: You don't give a shit.
Terri: No, perhaps I don't.

Ollie: Who's Tom Rudd?
Terri: Isn't he in Harry Potter?
Glenn Cullen: Tom Rudd is army slang for standing up buggery.

Terri: Well it was a bit of a shock for us. In a good way. Like twins or a tax rebate.

Glenn:The thing is, and please Ollie correct me here if I’m wrong.
Ollie:I will certainly do that.

Series 3, episode 5

Terri: The problem is that if you say to a journalist, "Can you avoid that topic?", thats when they really go for it. Its like saying to the school bully, "I'll wet myself if you tickle me."

Series 3, Episode 7

[reading a newspaper article on Malcolm]
Ollie: Hey! There's reference to you here, Cullen. Alledged to have assulted an elderly aide at a party conference.
Glenn Cullen: Elderly aide? That makes me sound like a fucking stairlift.

Series 3, Episode 8

Nicola Murray: Ollie! Glen! I need you in here now. Quick!
[Glen approaches the officw while taking off his glasses]
Nicola Murray: Oh Glen! Don't faff around with your glasses, i know you take them off everytime you come in here. Its not impressive!

Terri:"Give us the Bald-facts?". Its very rude that, isn't it. I was always told never to make personal remarks about people.

Terri: That is a complete disaster. There will be nothing on television for weeks now.

Cast

The Government

Her Majesty's Civil Service

The Opposition

The Media

Former Characters

External links

Wikipedia
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