Tag Archives: Malcolm Tucker

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

Lustbox: Alastair Campbell

I’ve thought Alastair Campbell to be pretty darn sexy for quite some years, but have been reluctant to blog about it. This is because, from what I’ve seen (and I met him briefly because I know someone who worked with him) he has a pretty high opinion of himself. Plus his partner, Fiona Millar, is a mighty fine woman, and I can’t imagine he is the easiest man to live with, so the last thing I wanted to do was contribute to the monstrous ego of her other half.

But fanciable he definitely is, even if he knows it. I like his tallness. The fact that he used to write porn is amusing. And I know for a fact that far from being a monster to work with, he’s actually a witty man, warm too. He’s almost certainly too sharp for his own good, but I’ve always liked brains in men. His taste in women is impeccable, and his Sky News wind-up of Adam Boulton was one of my favourite moments of the election.

But I feel the need to speak out now after spotting him on Top Gear and with Fern Britton at 5 recently. On both occasions he was trying to play the nice guy in the face of irksome Jeremy Clarkson being rude and the rather strange sight of Fern trying to be tough. Campbell may well be much nicer bloke than his scary reputation would indicate, but it’s not something that anyone who doesn’t know him would ever believe. Or want to, frankly. As Qwerty demonstrated so nicely, it isn’t something that makes him less attractive. So this is a plea to him to stop with the chummy nonsense. We don’t want to see that. We want to pretend you’re a mustachioed pantomime villain, a sweary, shouty Malcolm Tucker-esque monster of control-freakery. It’s much more fun.

Posted by Inkface


Filed under Lustbox

Lustbox: Peter Capaldi

I’m sure he’s a very nice, polite man in real life. But that’s not what we want, is it, ladies? No! We want him as scabrously foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, cutting a divine swathe through crap civil servants and hapless ministers with a flash of his forked tongue. He’s scared of no-one. He’s the smartest man in the room, and he’s everywhere, all the time, all at once. His skinny formmalcolm, topped by that beaky, yet oddly attractive head, materialises silently just at the moment when everyone realises they’ve made another fine mess.

‘Hell, does he know?’ they say, and turn around to find him standing heart-attack close, toying with a smile as, first quietly, then noisily, he verbally breaks every limb, then hurls their quivering form to the floor. His stream-of-consciousness insults are layered and frosted with the most impressive feats of swearing ever achieved (Guinness Book of Records confirms this). Even when he’s pleased about something, he looks like he’s going to swallow someone’s head. It’s a moot point whether he’s more terrifying if he’s for you or against you. Both are very bad.

Andrew Marr famously said that The Thick of It was like real government, only with less swearing.  Listening to Malcolm paying back the compliment – ‘I’m fucking all ears. I’m fucking Andrew Marr here’ – one wonders how that’s possible.

It’s his focus, his intensity, his absolute in-the-moment commitment to the thing he’s trying to sort out that appeals. That and the swearing. Which of us has not longed to be as uncensored as Malcolm? To truly say what we think all day, every day, even when – especially when – those thoughts are violent and psychotic? Who among us does not dream of answering a colleague’s knock on the door with Malcolm’s sociable greeting, ‘Come the fuck in, or fuck the fuck off’?

 Malcolm, we salute you. We love you. Yeah. Okay. We’re quite scared of you.

Posted by Qwerty


Filed under Lustbox