The Thick of It

Special: The Rise of the Nutters (1 Jul. 2007)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy
8.3
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With Hugh in Australia and Glenn in Wales, Ollie is left in charge, feeding policies to junior minister Ben Swain. He is one of the 'Nutters', the group keen to take power when the P.M. ... See full summary »

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Title: Special: The Rise of the Nutters (01 Jul 2007)

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With Hugh in Australia and Glenn in Wales, Ollie is left in charge, feeding policies to junior minister Ben Swain. He is one of the 'Nutters', the group keen to take power when the P.M. resigns and keen to make a name for himself - which he does in the wrong sense when Jeremy Paxman skewers him on 'Newsnight'. This is music to Tucker's ears as it is in his interest for the P.M. to remain in power for as long as he can. Ollie's new girlfriend Emma is working for Shadow Minister Peter Mannion and hopes to impress by stealing one of Ollie's idea for use on their immigration policy though things do not go fully to plan. Written by don @ minifie-1

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1 July 2007 (UK)  »

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The Newsnight (1980) interviews between Jeremy Paxman and Justin Edwards (as Ben Swain) were created by splicing together archive footage from Paxman on Newsnight with newly filmed shots of Edwards. See more »

Quotes

Emma Messinger: [arguing about Emma stealing Ollie's coalface idea and their relationship] Christ, Ollie, if it'd been such a fucking disaster, why didn't you break up with me sooner?
Oliver Reeder: Well, if it'd been up to me, I would have broken up with you sooner!
Emma Messinger: If it'd been up to you... This is Malcolm, isn't it? Malcolm has been pimping you out!
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Rise of the Nutters: A wonderfully foul special that doesn't suffer from the missing or added cast
12 July 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

While Abbot is away in Australia, suspicion is in the corridors of power that the PM will soon announce that he is stepping aside but spin doctor Malcolm Tucker has more pressing concerns over the new "two-tick" procedure for controlling decisions. It is because of the failure of this procedure that the terminally unprepared Ben Swain is signed to go on Newsnight to defend the Government's current management (or mismanagement) of immigration. Once Paxman has spat Swain back out after a breakdown witnessed live by millions, Tucker tries to work out how to salvage the mess. Meanwhile the opposition are busy styling and modernising and looking forward to capitalising on the failure.

With Langham still awaiting his day in court on sexual charges, director Armando Iannucci decided to wait before making a new season of The Thick of It and instead we were given this Christmas special to help tide us over. I must admit wondering whether or not the absence of Langham would cast an inescapable shadow over the special but very quickly it is clear that this is never going to be a real problem. Sure the "Hugh's in Australia" thing clunks every time it is mentioned but this is not often and the flow of the material more than makes up for it. The plot faces up to another challenge by bringing in the opposition and their spin doctors. This is a partial success. It is clever and funny and it does work but the only problem is that the viewers are almost always going to miss Malcolm when his character is off screen for too long. As it is though, it does balance well as the material for both camps is very funny.

As usual the language is foul and constant but yet it is almost poetic. It is hard to describe but for all the contrast with the West Wing in terms of view of politics (with WW being very sentimental and wish-fulfilment and Thick being incredibly cynical) they do share common ground in the writing. I'm not suggesting that President Bartlett was ever referred to as an "inflatable c*ck" but merely that both has this wonderful, fast paced flow of dialogue about them that does create a strong current where the narrative is involved. Personally I prefer Thick's dialogue as, although the swearing is intense, it is somehow totally convincing and of course hilarious. It won't be to everyone's taste but as a political satire it is very cynical and smart while also producing regular belly laughs.

The cast react well to the opportunity to ad-lib across a strong script. Of course Capaldi is my favourite as he rips across people in pursuit of his selfish goals but he is ably supported by Higgins who gives just as good himself. Addison fits below these two well and is good in a less showy role, although Edwards' Ben Swain is a wonderfully puffed up man whose collapse on Newsnight is a joy to behold (not unlike Boris Johnson in some regards). The opposition are enjoyable even if they do rather feel too similar to the performances of the main group to stand out as all that smart. The direction and camera movement is hand-held as before and, although I know some hate it, I think it works well in adding to the frantic, constantly changing air to the narrative of the show.

Overall then a very funny and very smart special that fans will gratefully lap up. The absence of Langham is momentarily felt but everyone else steps up and the good work form the opposition suggests that a second season will be a strong proposition even if Langham becomes, ahem, "unavailable" for a longer term.


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