A thriller set in London, in which a politician's life becomes increasingly complex as his research assistant is found dead on the London Underground and, in a seemingly unrelated incident, a teenage pickpocket is shot dead.
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Top Rated TV #162 | 16 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Series cast summary:
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 Cal McCaffrey (6 episodes, 2003)
...
 Della Smith (6 episodes, 2003)
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 Cameron Foster (6 episodes, 2003)
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 DCI William Bell (6 episodes, 2003)
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 Stephen Collins (6 episodes, 2003)
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 Dan Foster (6 episodes, 2003)
Amelia Bullmore ...
 Helen Preger (6 episodes, 2003)
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 Pete Cheng (6 episodes, 2003)
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 Liz (6 episodes, 2003)
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 Anne Collins (6 episodes, 2003)
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 Dominic Foy (5 episodes, 2003)
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 Andrew Wilson (5 episodes, 2003)
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 Sonny Stagg (5 episodes, 2003)
...
 Syd (4 episodes, 2003)
Maureen Hibbert ...
 Olicia Stagg (4 episodes, 2003)
James Laurenson ...
 George Fergus (4 episodes, 2003)
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 Greer Thornton (4 episodes, 2003)
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 Adam Greene (4 episodes, 2003)
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 Sergeant 'Chewy' Cheweski / ... (3 episodes, 2003)
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 Sonia Baker (3 episodes, 2003)
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 Karen Collins (3 episodes, 2003)
Charlie Ryan ...
 Louis Collins (3 episodes, 2003)
Stuart Goodwin ...
 Robert Bingham (3 episodes, 2003)
Patrick Brennan ...
 Neil Woods (3 episodes, 2003)
Madeleine Potter ...
 Professor Tate (2 episodes, 2003)
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 Young Guy / ... (2 episodes, 2003)
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 Sheena Gough (2 episodes, 2003)
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 Yvonne Shaps (2 episodes, 2003)
Carla Du Bois ...
 Hotel Receptionist (2 episodes, 2003)
Elizabeth Elvin ...
 Apex House Receptionist (2 episodes, 2003)
Pui Fan Lee ...
 Joy Cipriani (2 episodes, 2003)
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Storyline

A thriller set in London, in which a politician's life becomes increasingly complex as his research assistant is found dead on the London Underground and, in a seemingly unrelated incident, a teenage pickpocket is shot dead.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Sometimes you have to read between the lines


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Release Date:

18 May 2003 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Den tredje makten  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(6 episodes)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Trivia

Michael Kitchen was first offered the Bill Nighy role. See more »

Connections

Featured in Timeshift: Political Thrillers: Plays of State (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
State of the nation, state of the art
24 June 2003 | by (Saffron Walden, UK) – See all my reviews

What makes a good political thriller? Some things are obvious. Firstly, strong believable characters. Secondly, a fast-paced, complex, dazzling plot. But the plot must resolve into something comprehensible - there may appear to be one hundred mysteries, but beneath the smoke and mirrors, there must be one story. Anyone can write an infinite collection of coincidences and conspiracies - but a strong story makes simple sense in the end. Finally, a political drama needs to say something authentic about the current state of the world. If the final conclusion is that the Prime Minister has a prediliction for drinking the blood of teenage girls, then however plausible this is made to seem, an opportunity has been lost - if politics really is the subject matter, and not just the setting, then the personal drama must make some wider political point. Paul Abbott's 'State of Play' succeeds gloriously on all these points, and confirms his reputation as among the the sharpest writers in British television today.

Director David Yates also deserves credit, for keeping the mood tense but unmelodramatic throughout, while the cast show uniform excellence in bringing Abbott's characters to life. Abbott has commented that he knew he would have failed if any of his (largely journalistic) heroes could be sumarised as "mavericks" - a simple lesson ignored by ninety percent of writers today. Instead we have real, three-dimensional portrayals. What's especially impressive is how well the female characters are realised - neither passive decoration nor kick-ass post-feminists, but believable, not necessarily glamorous women - the contrast between the sexes has a low-key ring of truth. David Morrissey as the MP around whom the storm breaks is also excellent - when politicians are held in universally low stock, 'State of Play' avoids all the easiest shots. If one of the tragedy of politics is that many of its protagonists are first rate idiots, another is what it makes out of those who are not. Morrissey's Stephen Collins is never sympathetic, and yet comes across as the sort of man you might almost choose to try and run the country. Paul Abbott, meanwhile, is certainly the sort of man you'd choose to write a drama. In 'State of Play', he has produced the best British TV series since 'Holding On'.


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