Wednesday 12 September 2012, 18:00
With The Thick Of It back on our screens after a bit of a gap there may be more than a few confused viewers trying to remember who did what and needing a bit of a lie-down.
So here's a rough guide to what the panicking politicians are doing in the new series.
Watch a trailer for series four of The Thick Of It
A long time ago (and given that even a week is a long time in politics, three years is almost geological) there was an election. The interesting thing was: no-one seemed to have won.
The biggest party, run by a team of public schoolboys, wasn't elected outright and could only sweep into government using the third party ('the in-betweeners') as a massive crutch, like some kind of electoral version of Long John Silver.
And this particular pirate's pact obviously included a share-out of the loot, and that included DoSAC (Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship).
Fergus is a hotheaded hotspur of a politician, keen as mustard to make a mark in what is probably his only chance of wielding power.
Fergus is a minister full of ideas making him an extremely dangerous proposition. Peter Mannion's out to neutralise this threat by giving Fergus the uninteresting bits of the job and ignoring him as much as he can.
Fergus, on the other hand, is doing his best to be noticed. All the time.
DoSAC's communications director Terri Coverley does her best to pretend they aren't there but then she's always had a bit of a thing about Peter, ever since they were photographed together with a sustainable salmon for the Waitrose staff newsletter.
New secretary of state Peter Mannion gets to grips with DoSAC
To say there was tension between Glenn and Adam on one side and Phil and Emma on the other is a bit like saying the Arab Spring was 'quite lively'.
Emma and Phil used to share a house and Emma used to go out with a guy from the opposition called Olly Reeder, but that's all political history now.
Glenn used to be a mate of Olly's too but hasn't spoken to him since Glenn defected to the in-betweeners.
It seemed like a good idea at the time but Glenn didn't expect to be in a coalition with the very people he despises most.
Ambitious as ever Olly thinks he's making the most of being out of power having held onto a job as policy advisor to the new leader of the opposition.
Some might call Nicola a claustrophobic neurotic.
Nicola Murray, the new leader of the opposition, with her loyal and hardworking team
She hasn't enjoyed the last couple of years as her colleagues (people like 'Big' Ben Swain and deputy leader Dan Miller) are blaming her inability to come up with anything like a coherent set of policies as the reason why they aren't doing well in the polls.
Nicola has Olly's 'unwavering' support, of course, as well as the 'solid' backing of her other policy advisor Helen Hatley.
And she thinks she has the support of Malcolm Tucker, feared throughout SW1 for his delightful way with words and his career-lethal contacts.
Malcolm's always undyingly loyal to the party, but is that exactly the same thing? We'll find out.
Adam Tandy is the producer of The Thick Of It.
Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.
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Thursday 6 September 2012, 13:02
Thursday 13 September 2012, 09:40