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24 September 2014

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The Thick of It

Paul Higgins and Peter Capaldi

Beautifully made, rich and funny, and with the best swearing known to man, The Thick of It is perfect British TV comedy - and has won BAFTAs and British Comedy Awards to prove it.

For most of its run, The Thick of It has observed the activities of the Minister for Social Affairs, Hugh Abbott, as he tries to stay one step ahead of the public, his own weakness and desperately keep his head above water.

The Thick of It is a rarity in UK comedy; it's at least as good as the series that inspired it. A quite deliberate attempt to update and rescore the territory of Yes Minister, it brilliantly brings that series' gentle satire into a sharp modern atmosphere.

Made using the techniques and tone of The Office, it feels as natural. It's as swift and sure in its dissection of character, place and motive as The Larry Sanders Show, previously thought to be a virtually impossible act to follow.

Hugh Abbott's meandering nature is beautifully brought to life by Chris Langham - absolutely venal, bumbling and keen to be seen as fulfilling his PM's commitment to 'joined up government'.

Peter Capaldi and Paul Higgins

The greatest creation of the show, however, is undoubtedly Malcolm Tucker, the government's director of communications, whose ferocity is only equaled by his skill with delivering incredible, swearing-filled tirades to everyone he regards as an incompetent moron – basically, everyone around him.

Reportedly modelled on Alistair Campbell, Tucker is one of the best screen monsters in recent TV history.

Though most of the series' run has looked on Abbot's attempt to fulfil his brief as Minster for Social Affairs, the format was broadened in the two recent specials, The Rise of the Nutters and Spinners and Losers, which saw the focus shift partially to the Opposition during the run-up to the PM's supposed departure.

Chris Addison as Oliver Reeder

This has given a bigger role to Chris Addison's Olly Reeder, but most especially pushed Malcolm Tucker into the position of being truly under threat for the first time in the series – and even funnier as a result.

The Thick of It is rich with the satirical anger of Armando Iannucci, its creator, but is firmly about the people in their desperate and self-inflicted situations, rather than just about the satire.

Garlanded with rave reviews and packed with awards, the series is justly seen as a jewel in the BBC’s crown.

Scheduled for reproduction in the US, The Thick of It is that rarest of comedy beasts - something that it’s very hard to over-praise.

Cast

Chris Langham
Hugh Abbott
Peter Capaldi
Malcolm Tucker
Chris Addison
Olly Reeder
Joanna Scanlan
Terri Coverley
James Smith
Glenn Cullen

Crew

Armando Iannucci
writer
Jesse Armstrong
writer
Tony Roche
writer
Simon Blackwell
writer
Armando Iannucci
director
Adam Tandy
producer
Jon Plowman
executive producer
Armando Iannucci
creator

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