“ Genre: Television - The Thick of It / Theatrical Release: 2005 / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Armando Iannucci / Actors: Chris Langham, Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison, Joanna Scanlan, James Smith ... / DVD released 2007-04-02 at 2 Entertain Video / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL „
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The Thick of It was first broadcast on BBC in 2005, and this DVD of the first series was launched a couple of years later. I bought this to revisit it after watching the spin-off film In the Loop, and just cannot stop watching it, such is its brilliance.
Like a modern day Yes Minister, this is a comedy set in the heart of government. This series follows the day-to-day struggles of the minister for social affairs Hugh Abbott, played brilliantly and sympathetically by Chris Langham.
He is not so ably assisted by Ollie Reader (Chris Addison), Glenn Cullen (James Smith) and Terri Coverley (Joanna Scanlan), as well as Robynunder the watchful eye of the government's director of PR Malcolm Tucker (played by the magnificent Peter Capaldi who rightly won a BAFTA for his performance here).
The series is written and directed by Armando Iannucci, but the show's tremendous energy is drawn from the way in which it's filmed. It has the documentary feel of the Office to it as it's filmed with handheld cameras, and two versions of each scene are shot; a tightly scripted version which is immediately followed by an improvisation of the same scene. Both are edited together, making it feel vibrant and realistic.
Having the series on DVD means you can appreciate just how amazing and ground-breaking it is. It is one of the funniest things I have ever seen - I would say it's up there with the best of the best; Fawlty Towers and of course, Yes Minister itself. It has won a clutch of BAFTAs and awards. The acting is breathtaking. Sometimes when Malcolm Tucker unleashes one of his genius, expletive-ridden, hairdryer-like torrents of abuse, I have to remind myself it's not real.
The swearing is just incredible. Not just swearing, but brilliant, captivating swearing poetry. Some of it can be quite brutal, so not one for everyone, but it's not swearing for swearing's sake. Almost every line uttered by Malcolm Tucker is a quotable quote in itself and his rants are elevated to an art form.
Malcolm Tucker is often claimed by various people to have been based on Alistair Campbell, but is most likely an amalgam of various government 'enforcers'. His character is one of the nastiest, yet realistic, ever to be portrayed on TV, and will go down in history as one of comedy's best ever.
Not only is this series a comedy gold, it has a truth about it. There's a scene where the minister talks about going to the toilet as a treat - you can totally empathise with him and perhaps realise that MPs aren't all bad. Perhaps they do enter Parliament for the right reasons, but just get swept along by their parties and don't get to do the things they wanted to.
There's another scene from the first series where the minister is ambushed by a member of the public who demands help with her elderly mother which is eerily reminiscent of Gordon Brown's 'bigot' moment five years later...
The DVD has the six episodes of the first series, alongside with a cast and crew audio commentary, bonus scenes, script to screen guide with Armando Iannucci and photo galleries.
Highly, highly recommended..