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The Thick Of It: Need to know

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Adam Tandy Adam Tandy | 17:00 UK time, Wednesday, 12 September 2012

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.

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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).

The secretary of state's job went to Peter Mannion, jazz fan and long-time social affairs shadow minister, but he was forced into working with Fergus Williams, an MP from the in-betweeners.

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.

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New secretary of state Peter Mannion gets to grips with DoSAC

Fergus has got a team of two advisors - Glenn Cullen and ex-Daily Mail hack Adam Kenyon - versus Mannion's long-standing team of Phil Smith and Emma Messinger.

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.

But by a staggering coincidence his new boss is the same as his old one, former DoSAC secretary Nicola Murray who got elected as party leader through an over-complex accident of transferable voting.

Some might call Nicola a claustrophobic neurotic.

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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.

The Thick Of It is on Saturday, 15 September at 9.55pm on BBC Two. For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    Why do you allow "strong language" on this programme but refuse to accept the same "profanities" as you suddenly now call them when written in a blog on this Public Service Broadcaster?

  • Comment number 2.

    @Colonel Bogey. Err, "Profanities" is not a new term coined by the BBC. It would be wrong to have swearing all over the BBC blog and not good for kids. Whereas it is acceptable in a post watershed comedy. please get some perspective

  • Comment number 3.

    I have not seen this series before but have heard good things about it. After watching 4 episodes the current series I cannot find anything good to say about it. I was hoping it would get better but I infact felt faintly nauseous at the end of each one I watched. There are no characters that are remotely likeable. Every other word is a swear word. Every sentence is full of vitriolic metaphors and similies. It is just so depressing and un funny. I just cant see who would find it even vaguely amusing. It is just a nasty negative little program that should never have been made.

  • Comment number 4.

    I love this programme. It's great to have a reminder of where everyone stands going into the new series.

  • Comment number 5.

    Best series yet, absolutely hilarious, amazed that anyone could be so negative about it, I know some people don't get it, it just goes over their heads, but who would watch something for 4 episodes if they hate it that much, some nutters out there! Annoyed about this 2 week wait... and can't you do something about Sky buying almost all the good british comedy? Come on dig deep!

  • Comment number 6.

    Brilliant. The fourth episode in this series was a masterpiece. Top marks to all involved!

  • Comment number 7.

    It's impossible to pick favourite moments as the speed with which the gags and plots and dialogue interweave leave you wanting to stop and rewind every half a minute. All the performances are perfect - every button is pushed, from revulsion to hilarity to pathos. Brilliant

  • Comment number 8.

    The final programme this weekend was a classic. I can honestly say this programme is the only comedy series that makes me laugh out loud. Yes, there's a lot of swearing but it isn't there to get laughs on its own, it only works when combined with brilliant script, characters and plots. This is up there with Fawlty Towers and one of those rare series where I would buy the complete set and watch when I need cheering up!


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