Harry Perkins, steel worker and trade unionist from Sheffield, becomes Prime Minister of the UK by a landslide, partly because of corruption and public disillusionment with the Conservative... See full summary »
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Harry Perkins, steel worker and trade unionist from Sheffield, becomes Prime Minister of the UK by a landslide, partly because of corruption and public disillusionment with the Conservative Party and financial institutions of the City of London. The IMF, the military and their secret service "comrades" start to plot against of the elected PM. They are unhappy with the non-nuclear and neutral aspirations of his party (during the Cold War) and are supported in their fears by nationalistic media moguls. Quietly, the protagonist Harry is driven by an underlying desire to compensate for the corporate manslaughter of his granddad, "who were killed at work" when he was "splashed by molten steel". Harry inherited his shaving mug, nothing more, and was originally determined to see workers participate in decision making for safety on the job. As his national-political consciousness grew he formed a wider agenda for a reinvestment in health and education as well as public ownership of public ... Written by
I'd like to think that this isn't particularly credible, but, allowing for that, this is a well made and gratifying piece of television drama.
It's all built around a towering performance from Ray McAnally, who simply doesn't put a foot wrong. The blend of kindness and steel we see in his portrayal of Harry Perkins is perfect. He is ably supported by a cast of British stalwarts, of whom Keith Allen and Marjorie Yates deserve special mention.
Whatever your politics, it's impossible not to be swept along in the sheer exhilaration of the opening twenty minutes or so as Perkins wins a landslide victory in a General Election and becomes Prime Minister at the head of a radical Labour government. After that, the pleasure comes mainly in some clever scripting and interesting use of Mozart's music.
The conclusion is pleasingly ambiguous. Too many dramas these days wrap up everything neatly, giving us nothing to think about. That's not the case here.
Excellent effort all round then. Rating: 8/10.
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