Socialists (like the fictional Harry Perkins) believe in promoting social change through the democratic system, whereas communism is opposed to democracy. Perkins is only referred to in the... See full summary »
Socialists (like the fictional Harry Perkins) believe in promoting social change through the democratic system, whereas communism is opposed to democracy. Perkins is only referred to in the film as "communist" by some of those who oppose him, and the actual quote in the film is "Harry Perkins from Sheffield, steel worker and third generation socialist" When Harry Perkins, a third-generation socialist, becomes Britain's Prime Minister, he sends shockwaves through the government, both at home and abroad. Nuclear disarmament and open government are just two of the things he wants to accomplish. US interests combine with the old boys network to try and defeat Perkins with spies, tabloids, tapes: quiet, behind-the-scenes tools to accomplish a very British coup. Written by
Very fine underrated british drama released in 1988 and now sadly passed into oblivion. Alas by all accounts there are no copies on video or dvd. The story focuses on one Harry Perkins. Former coal miner and popular left wing leader of the british parliamentary labour party. Following a landslide election he is soon to be sworn in as prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, first lord of the treasury and the Kings first minister, with whom he appears to get along fine. Others however take more convincing. His arrival to say the least causes consternation amongst the mandarins of the civil service and their underlings, a few media barons not to mention the white house, britains NATO allies, the head of the BBC and a few others besides. It is not an auspicious beginning. Their main concern of course is how far left the Kings new first minister is going to take them. Old Harry has a few radical policy changes in mind which is sure to rattle a few established institutions and practises of whom he is quite prepared to ignore. He has a manifesto to follow, promises to keep his electorate and more important matters to ponder over. It is then that a few partisan members of his own intelligence service together with a powerful media baron(shades of R.Murdoch) decide to take matters into their own hands and initiate measures to ensure that Harry Perkins is brought back into line. They do this in the most unsubtle ways. Like opening his mail, prying into his past life and even manipulating his bank accounts to show unaccounted deposits. To a wider degree and on a more machiavellian scale they also manipulate the head of one powerful union and there is suspicion about their involvement in the unexpected death of the PM's chief scientific adviser on the eve of an important meeting. Most of this is accomplished through the old boy network within the civil service and other organs of the government where the 'old school tie' comes into prominence. It is the start of a very british coup...! Harry of course is not entirely ignorant of this skullduggery behind his back and pretty much knows who is behind it. He bides his time and with only a few trustworthy helpers in his inner circle including the blunt spoken chief of his security detail, he ponders over how to foil their plans and pinpoint the traitors in their midst. Enough said.
This is an amazingly good drama as only the brits can produce these days. Ray McAnally shines in his portrayal of the politically savvy and down to earth Harry Perkins. It is one of his best roles and sadly one of his last. Alan McNaughton stands out also as Sir Percy Browne the treasonous MI5 chief and Tim McInerney as his able but weasley paranoid assistant Fiennes. It is a story of excessive political manipulation at its worst and written by Chris Mullin at the height of the Thatcher years when despite the economic upturn only a few people were actually benefiting from it. It was also a time when Great Britain had never actually been so close to the USA in their foreign, defence and economic policies. Thatchers close working relationship with Reagan outlined all that very clearly. Hopefully the drama will be released in video form so that others can also appreciate this low budget but very canny political tale.
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