"I still get people coming up to me in the street and shouting 'Oi, Tone, where's your dossier?' and 'Found those WMDs yet?' which I think shows how much the war resonated with viewers". Tony Blair is in reflective mood as he leans over his grande cappuccino, contemplating another sip. It's been ten years since he and co-creator George W. Bush took the world by storm with their hit show The Iraq War and, as is often the case when an enduring series reaches a milestone anniversary, fans are debating the possibility of a reunion. However, Blair is quick to pour cold water on the idea.
"It's unlikely", he says as he reclines in his chair and interlinks his fingers with typical Blairite assuredness. "We've all gone on to do other projects. George famously went on to write and star in the very popular Financial Crisis of 2008 - which I still think is one of the funniest shows on TV - and I too found success with my series where I play a bumbling peace envoy so it feels wrong to go back over old ground, particularly with Saddam gone".
I raise the thorny issue with Blair that some fans of The Iraq War thought the show jumped the shark when they killed off arch-rival Saddam Hussein in season three. "I can understand where they were coming from", he says, "but it just felt like we were running out of ideas with him. I think the problem is we really layered on the comic book baddie stuff early on and by season three, his story arc became muddled and fans were beginning to empathise with him. We couldn't have that". "It's been well documented that Saddam was opposed to being killed. Did you ever reconcile your differences?" "No, he was killed. So... "
As a waitress comes over to take away our empty coffee mugs and make big oscillatory wipes across our table with a cloth of questionable hygiene, I push Blair for the secret to the show's success. "I don't think there's one definitive answer", he says as he flashes the waitress one of his hypnotic yet vile 'insincerity beams'. "First and foremost, we had a great cast. As soon as we got them together for a read-through, I knew we had something with these guys. Donald Rumsfeld in particular had us in stitches the very first morning. He did his 'Unknown Unknowns' speech and then improvised this bit where he knocked over a jug of water and got tangled up in a curtain, it was amazing. Of course we had to cut most of it".
The Iraq War lives on today with several spin-off wars as well as the hit MTV show Pimp My Dossier but the original series itself will not return. Is Blair planning on doing anything to celebrate its tenth anniversary? "I may give George a ring. Occasionally we'll call each other and talk about favourite episodes, although his knowledge of the show is far more comprehensive than mine. He's got the box set".
A sketch by Michael Spicer
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