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The Thick of It: New viewers start here

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David Thair | 18:00 UK time, Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Thick of It team
Glen Cullen, Terri Coverley, new appointment Nicola Murray MP, Malcolm Tucker and Oliver Reeder

The Thick of It is back - for a glorious eight episodes starting this Saturday at 10.10pm on BBC Two - with extra fun on the Red Button straight after.

The show began life on BBC Four, so it might be new to some viewers on BBC Two. In that spirit, here's an overview for anyone who might be feeling a bit left out:

Thick of It Producer Adam Tandy writes...

Don't be confused by all the panicking politicians in The Thick Of It on BBC Two this weekend. If you're wondering how they all got in that state, it's all very simple.

The old Department of Social Affairs was set up by the old PM and was used as a dumping ground for all the bits of government that everyone else didn't want to touch, let alone deal with. Then they put Cliff Lawton MP in charge, and made it a Cabinet job as a kind of poisoned carrot.

Even the Civil Servants there are not that hot - look at Communications Director Terri Coverley, head-hunted from the retail sector at great expense but probably to the great relief of her former colleagues at Waitrose. Her press officers are just as rubbish - Robyn Murdoch particularly. Robyn's let more cats out of hats than Dr Suess, according to Terri.

Cliff lasted 18 months before the PM sacked him for attracting too much press attention, by sending his own spin-doctor (Director of Communications) Malcolm Tucker round to extract a resignation.

Cliff's replacement as Secretary of State, Hugh Abbot MP, has lasted a bit longer.
He's even managed to pick up another sizeable disaster area to add to his portfolio, the Department of Citizenship run by the gaffe-prone Ben Swain MP. And thus DoSAC was born.

Hugh's had a couple of right-hand men to keep him out of trouble: Glenn Cullen, an old pal going back years, and bright young thing Oliver Reeder, as wonk-y as they come but good at coming up with policy on the hoof. Olly and Glenn aren't civil servants, but political appointees called Special Advisors (SpAds). If the Secretary of State goes, they go with him.

Hugh Abbot has even managed to survive a change of Prime Minister by carefully staying on holiday while the old PM was forced out by leader of the Nutter tendency, Tom Davies MP, despite the rumours about Tom's debilitating bouts of depression. Ben Swain gained politically, and Malcolm Tucker only managed to hang on to his job with a bit of nifty footwork and stabbing some ex-colleagues in the back.

Olly Reeder, encouraged by Malcolm, has started an up-and-down relationship with Emma Messinger, posh totty working for the Opposition. Emma has prior experience of Social Affairs policy so she was the obvious choice when the Opposition's PR guru Stewart Pearson assigned her to Peter Mannion MP, the shadow minister for Social Affairs and Citizenship. Peter's an old war-horse of a politician: he's even been a junior minister at DEFRA in the dim and distant past.

PM Tom Davies has finally got round to his first major reshuffle, and so probably the last before the election. Frankly, anything could happen.

Look out for more from a member of the Thick of It team each week here on the Comedy Blog.

Further into The Thick of It

Get even better prepared for Saturday...


  • Comment number 1.

    I am compeletely appalled! Never saw such a monstrocity on TV Before! The show id RUDE, gross, bad taste, bad, acting, the camera is sickening! If people are that rude and incompetent just fire them and get someone good and nice to do the job. The problem with this country is that there are so many ammateurs doing "professional" jobs. Get rid of this show (well at least it won't be on my TV set anymore) and if the civil servants and polititians are like that: get rid of them too! Please re-run the Death of Respect on its place!

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh.. and Please do not compare this rubbish with YES, (PRIME)MINISTER which was a gem of political portraing, beautiful competent writing and extraordinary acting!
    If it is thick and rude it shouldn't be on our TV!

  • Comment number 3.

    I'd compare this to Yes, (Prime) Minister. They're both gems of 'political portraing [sic], beautiful competent writing and extraordinary acting'...

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This may sound a dumb question but is there a Series 2...?
    I've seen Series 1 + the Xmas special, but have never seen any mention of Series 2, yet now seeing Series 3.......did I miss it...?

  • Comment number 6.

    Worth it (all the crap and brickbats), if only to watch Mr Capaldi's (and others' as well) brilliant performance. Go for it.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think they're counting the two specials as being series 2.

  • Comment number 8.

    Absolute genius - this series alone justifies the licence fee.

    Every time I watch it there's something new to laugh at.

    Peter Capaldi is such a versatile actor - Malcolm Tucker and John Frobisher (Torchwood), two such radically different characters and both played totally convincingly.

  • Comment number 9.

    Fran899 - if you don't like it don't watch it again! you obviously don't understand and/or appreciate satire. For those of us who enjoyed series 1 and the specials, this was a good start.
    I suggest Fran, you Stick to the X factor, Come Dancing or some other garbage

  • Comment number 10.

    fran899-you're brilliant, "if people are rude and incompetent just fire them" you sound like the principal of a nunnery. "if the civil servants and polticians are like that: get rid of them too!" 899 must be your age then.
    This show is brilliant, it's nice to see something on TV that has a hard iron pair. I'm so sick of unrealistic tea time, boringly acted dramas.

  • Comment number 11.

    SERIES - always confused me this one. Some people call all of the previous 6 (normal) episodes series 1, while others split them into two, 3 episode series....and god knows where the specials fit into that.

  • Comment number 12.

    Fantastic programme. Really needs to be viewed several times to pick up all the lines and visual asides.

    I wonder how many takes are needed to complete a scene? It amazes me that they managed to keep their faces straight when 'Malcolm' is going off on one!

  • Comment number 13.

    alistairc749: have a look at the additional material on the first series DVD. It shows how they make it, using 2 takes for each scene...i cant explain, but it's worth having a look at!

  • Comment number 14.

    Ammaters eh?

    The only thing that's thick and rude here is the spelling.

  • Comment number 15.

    Why no Jamie in this series? He and Peter Capaldi were a brilliant duo

  • Comment number 16.

    In Episode 6 Peter Capaldi takes his acting to another level, which I wouldn't have thought possible. It's a performance worthy of not just a BAFTA but an Oscar and a Knighthood. Absolutely breathtaking!

  • Comment number 17.

    Where is Jamie?

  • Comment number 18.

    Why no Jamie? Excellent question, I thought the whole "bad cop, even worse cop" thing he and Malcolm had going on was great. Maybe though, they decided that with Malcolm going off the rails this series Jamie was a bit superfluous, and also bear in mind that he loathed Tom and the Nutters - he might have quit in disgust and gone back to trying to become a priest. Pity though!

  • Comment number 19.

    "Watch the Thick of It special, The Rise of The Nutters, on iPlayer"

    I would love to, but at the time of posting (13/12/2009) it has been removed from iplayer! Please could it be reinstated? Thank you.

  • Comment number 20.

    This is the most groundbreaking comedy fron the BBC since Monty Python, it's absolutely BRILLIANT and I can't watch enough! Its hilarious! It's defenitely a future classic, up there with Fools & Horses and Fawlty Towers. Like all masterpieces it will take a while for everyone to get around to watching it, but it will happen no doubt! Brilliant scripting, excellent casting and acting - well done BBC Comedy Dept, I had almost given up on you! Roll on series 4...

  • Comment number 21.

    WOW! This is stunning TV. Absolute comedy gold - I feel like a fool for letting this slip below my 'comedy radar' for so long. The script is perfect, the cast unbeatable - well done to the Beeb for having the bottle to make TV like this and not pander to the lowest common denominator which seems to be the standard.

    This is Armando Iannuccis masterpiece and I hope he is suitably showered with praise, awards & trinkets for creating this series.

    As for the acting. Oh boy. BAFTA's & Oscars all round if I had my way. All the cast are fantastic, and in particular Rebecca Front is superb, but lets face it - the real star, who steals every scene he is in is Peter Capaldi. So many scenes are set to become legendary its hard to pick the best... but the "I used to be a Pharoah..." takes some beating.

    In my opinion true comedy quality, (scripted, cast & acted- not including stand-up), the 'Gold Standard' runs something like this: Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Laurel & Hardy, Goons/ Milligan/ Python, Fawlty Towers, Only Fools & Horses, The Young Ones, Cheers, Frasier, The Office, Spaced, Extras, Peep Show, The Inbetweeners and now The Thick Of It... Im sure I missed a few - but you get the gist.

    Well done to all involved- please make another series... and release a DVD box set of Series 1,2 & 3. Also, dont let the Chris Langham conviction embarass the Beeb in to not giving The Thick Of It the credit, attention and publicity it deserves- as a whole body of work.

    All the best, for once, a very happy Licence Fee payer!

  • Comment number 22.

    I saw most of the Yes, Minister/Yes, Prime Minister series first time round and greatly enjoyed them.
    I'm also of the generation that is supposed to be shocked and horrified by so-called "strong" language. As it happens, I'm not at all bothered by f-words (I have been known to use them!)
    The Thick of It, which I love, would not be the same without the spectacularly creative use of language. Highly believable, superbly acted (especially by Peter Capaldi and Rebecca Front) and brilliantly written/improvised. Sadly, I missed the first series. Any chance of it coming around again?

  • Comment number 23.

    This series is an utter disgrace that fails in every respect, and everyone involved in spending public money on it should be bused off to be used as targets by the olympic archery team. I hang my head in shame at being British, hell at being human if this is all we are capable of. If this truly is humanity, let me leave this world behind me with immediate effect. I sigh deeply when I reflect upon sharing the same the same city, breathing the same air, sending children to the same schools, and finding myself in the same public spaces as the people who created this pitiful abomination that mascarades as art or creativity.

    Governors of the BBC, managers earning over £100k a year, your punishment should be that you are made to watch this entire series from beginning to end 5 times in a row. The Samaritans would need a tent on site. Was quality control off down the boozer? Who, yes who exactly, allowed this monstrosity to proceed? You need to take a long look in the mirror and question everything about yourselves, everything about an organistion that considers this to be a worthy undertaking in any way other than keeping peopele employed, in which case might I suggest that their labours would have been better spent doing something, anything vaguely useful. I never thought I would say this, but I want my money back.

  • Comment number 24.

    Class above and beyond any comedy since The Office. The originality, script (ad-libs included) and acting make this a gem. Worthy of all the accolades it achieves.

    This is the level of class that the Beeb should always strive for, none of that terrible The Persuasionists nonsense, The Thick of It is on another plain.

  • Comment number 25.

    I find it interesting that there are still people around with the opinions expressed by 'Fran889' and 'MissinginActon'.
    Interesting that some people still 'at large' have such quaint, quirky yet charmingly odd views. I believe these are the only people who get terribly excited whilst watching Julie Andrews’ “The Lonely Goatherd” puppet scene.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think the thick of it is brilliant but despite this it will never be a classic like fawlty towers or only fools because so many people will refuse to watch it and fail to understand it due to the amount of swearing. if you like this then the film In The Loop is definately worth watching. Tom Hollander, who appears in the last episode of series 3 in a completely different role in every way to the film, plays (brilliantly) the minister of foriegn affairs and there is a return for the wonderful Jamie...

    Brilliant film and brilliant tv series

  • Comment number 27.

    fran899 (comment 1) and Missinginaction (comment 23) - your mind boggles as much about this comedy programme as my mind boggles about your belief structure.

    Unfortunatley reality imitates art and vice verser- our 'real politics' has stooped to new depths even further than satirised on The Thick Of It. Look at our 'cabs for hire' selling the country out to the highest bidders- the sorry saga of undeclared freebie holidays, expenses, lobbying, peerages etc. etc. The whole Gordon Brown throwing mobiles about, bullying allegations etc. The entire 'belief structure in politicans being great statesmen' has collapsed. The public now know the truth- and the truth is very ugly indeed. This satire is spot on. Your anger and rage may be real- I feel it to. But dont direct it at this programme. I, along with the rest of the country, know that the true root cause is not the satirists, but the actual real politicians and workings of government.


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