Review: The Thick of It – The Inquiry

Peter Capaldi as Malcom Tucker; The Thick of It, BBC2Madness in their method acting made this bravura episode of BBC2’s political satire one of the finest episodes of TV ever made.

The hour-long special (season4, episode 6) mounted a Leveson or Chilcot-style inquiry into the sucide of NHS campaigner Mr Tickell after his flat was sold off.

What ensued was one of the funniest, most painfully accurately observed assassinations of politics ever made.

Armand Ianucci’s too-clever-by-half comedy saw politicians Nicola Murray and Peter Mannion, with their spin-doctors Malcolm Tucker and Stuart Pearson, quizzed under oath at the Goolding inquiry.

Led by Lord Goolding and his team of expert inquisitors, their determination to uncover the truth would tolerate no lies, diversions or any pretence to amnesia. Which would never happen.

Assorted ministers, spin doctors, civil servants and the inquiry team itself fell apart before us as the cynical, murky and chaotic microcosm of government withered in the full scrutiny of a public inquiry.

All the previous four seasons’ rivalries came home to roost as battered egos tumbled, careers wilted and any coherent thought or argument crumbled. As each testimony disintegrated, lies were exposed and all human dignity was stripped.

At the summit, as always, spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, plying his cynical trade. Only this time, Mephistopheles became Faustus and fell into the pit he himself constructed. This was a gem of a performance as the normally self-assured Tucker ran out of track and watched his career plunge into the ravine. But did he go quietly?

On his recall to the committee room, with the damage already done, Tucker reverted to the thing he knew best and went on the attack. It was a futile, empty and humiliating last hurrah, digging still deeper his political grave.

Is it really the end? We suspect not.

If you missed it, search out the DVD box set. Priceless. AJS

The Thick of It
The Inquiry. Season 4, episode 6.
Transmitted BBC Two and BBC HD, Sat 20 Oct 2012 21:45
Director and Executive Producer: Armand Ianucci
Writers: Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew, Dan Gaster, Sean Gray, Ian Martin, Georgia Pritchett, David Quantick, Tony Roche, Will Smith

Related: Review: BBC Review: Radio 4 Book of the Week – Tubes by Andrew Blum

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