The Thick of It Series 4: I’m on the train

ImageYes! Yes he does! Ollie Reader DOES look like a Quentin Blake drawing. How can you not love a programme that notices things like that? How can you not love The Thick of It? Certainly this latest episode (four), the One On The Train, has already taken its place on the shelf marked ‘finest things ever seen on tv’. But even the previous three episodes, which common tedious consensus decided were ‘not as funny as earlier series’ were actually still miles better than just about anything else. I love everything about the Thick of It, and everyone in it, every second of the time. Here’s some of my top loves, in no particular order:

  • Ollie and Glenn, the Steptoe and Son of the civil service. Glenn’s so tragic, and Ollie can’t stop taking the piss, but – and here’s the genius – we know that they’ll never be able to separate permanently. I’m surely not the only one who hears the Steptoe music whenever they appear together, am I?
  • Peter Mannion. Despite being a posh floppy-haired Tory, he’s the right sort of Tory – the Ken Clarke kind. He’s also the Everyman, being permanently infuriated and baffled by the ghastly (but actually not as ghastly as real Coalition) ideas that are constantly being chucked in his direction. Quick quiz: Is the following a TToI policy or a real-life government proposal: reduce the benefit paid to council tenants if they have a spare bedroom, unless they fill it with a homeless lodger?
  • Malcolm. Obvs. Done Malcolm already, here. Today I tried out his ‘why don’t you make like a tree and fuck off?’ The kids were suitably impressed.
  • Nicola Murray. TToI is brilliant at making its women characters seem like real people: sweary, ambitious, a bit useless, not having the moral high ground just because they’re female. Nicola – having the huge advantage of being played by Rebecca Front – is the best of them, but there are plenty of others, such as:
  • Terri. I love that she is highly incompetent but thinks she’s the only one who knows what’s what. I have known so many Terris. I love watching her; even when the actress playing her hasn’t much to do she is doing so much.
  • The sheer speed of everything. The banter, the u-turns, the rise to chancellor and fall to meet his sword by poor old Ben ‘Bental Illness’ Swain in less than thirty minutes, the short space of time in which Nicola runs headless-chicken style up and down a train platform and her career runs in the other direction, the facades of politeness dropping like shit-covered bricks the moment someone’s back’s against the wall. The verve and energy is a thing of beauty.
  • The fundamental darkness at the programme’s heart. Is there a character on it that isn’t in some way depressed, a relationship that isn’t in some way compromised, an initiative that doesn’t ultimately lead to a futile outcome? It truly is a fine mirror to hold up to these bizarre days, in which rich men keep making poor people poorer, and real health secretaries are far worse than anything Armando could conjure up.

 Please add your favourite things below.

Posted by Qwerty


Filed under Comedy, political coverage

2 responses to “The Thick of It Series 4: I’m on the train

  1. I think my favourite thing this series has been ‘I’m bored of this, I’m going for a Twix’, although I’m not quite sure why. Something inherently great about the image of bored politicians eating Twixes, perhaps. .

  2. After a slow start this series has been superb. The best episode IMO was the one where it was revealed the key worker had committed suicide, simply because it did that classic TTOI thing of starting off reasonably good then inexplicably finding another gear halfway through and becoming absolutely brilliant. Plus, it managed to find humour in the subject matter without belittling it, merely highlighting the ridiculousness of the whole system. Referencing of social media is also done brilliantly – I genuinely thought I would never stop laughing at the “revelation” that the picture of Mannion going down the childrens’ slide had been “tweeted by a dog walker”.