Armando Iannucci’s new programme, The Thick of It, is finally starting next Thursday on BBC Four. The Observer has a preview piece on it, and it sounds like it’s going to be one of the very best programmes of the year.
…Chris Morris, his friend and collaborator on The Day Today, says [it] ‘is one of the best things he’s ever done, if not the best thing’.
In the first of the series, a new unit, the Anti-Benefit Fraud Executive (ABFE) understatedly goes through several name changes in the course of the programme, becoming Scambusters, Snooper Force and Sponge Avengers. The idea that getting the name right has become the most important thing feels horribly realistic, as does a pervasive sense that politicians are making things up as they go along.
Someone says of the press secretary: ‘She’s not just thinking inside the box. She’s built a box inside the box and she’s thinking inside that box.’
…the naturalistic feel of The Thick of It gives the viewer a sense of eavesdropping on reality. The script is only 80 per cent written at the start of rehearsals and the cast is expected to improvise. They talk over each other, speak tentatively or not quite at the right level and, as the hand-held cameras swing around trying to catch them, you lose the old-fashioned sitcom sense of worked-up punchlines, the lack of contrived and pointed satirical moments giving the dialogue more bite.
Meanwhile, Iannucci has this to say about the election:
In the event, he pronounces himself satisfied with the polls: ‘Despite the immensely stupid electoral system that can allow massive changes in seats at very little change in the proportion of votes, the electorate turned out to be mightily sophisticated in getting precisely what it wanted, which was to keep Labour in power but with a very scared look on its face that we can all laugh at.’
Finally, why oh why oh why oh why oh why haven’t The Armando Iannucci Shows been released on DVD yet?