The Thick Of It’s been away from our screens for three long years. While its creator Armando Iannucci was looking the other way – small matters of a US TV series, Oscar nomination, all the usual distractions – Westminster went and got wed. But if he missed the nuptials, Iannucci is obviously having a field day chewing over the marriage.
The Thick of It returns, and Peter Mannion MP is already in trouble with a "gaffe dump"
And so the fourth series found us knee-deep in Coalition territory – Peter Mannion MP (Roger Allam) holding laconically the reins of power at the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, and sharing the gig with a frantic junior partner, earnest Fergus (Geoffrey Streatfield).
It was a close-run thing as to which Mannion despised more, his Coalition counterpart or the contents of his red box. While his paisley-shirted spin-doctor Stewart waxed lyrical over network nations, silicone playgrounds, innovation and influx, Mannion could only despair, “All my gallstones have come at once” – his ignorance leading to an almighty “gaff dump” over an Asian student’s name, much to the horror/delight of his Coalition partners/competitors.
Peter Mannion - not the most technical of types
The insults came so thick, so fast, so furious, that it wasn’t possible to recover from each verbal grenade before the next one came hurling through. “You used a lot of words this morning, it was like a ****ing Will Self lecture”… “here comes Denis Norden with his laughter file”… just for starters, although Mannion’s biggest ire was reserved for his predatory admirer Terri (Joanna Scanlan)… “She’s a fart in a frock and I want to waft it out of here.”
Twenty minutes in, and time for damage limitation
Fortunately, Teri proved she could hold her own, with arguably the finest put-down of the 30 minutes, after an abrupt phone call from colleague Emma… “She’s hung up. Ever the charmless minor royal.”
Watching this bunch in action brought into sharp relief just how hard Iannucci must have worked for the well-received Veep to find its own, slightly mellower feet. It must be a particularly British thing to enjoy with such bottomless glee the schadenfreude of such debasing, wound-picking asides, and that’s before a certain Mr Tucker makes his return to the political arena next week…