21/10/2012 09:54 BST | Updated 21/12/2012 05:12 GMT

TV REVIEW: The Thick Of It Finds Malcolm Tucker, Nicola Murray, Peter Mannion All Deep In Inquiry Soup

'The Thick Of It's penultimate episode took off on a tangent, swapping the one-week each formula previously shared by Coalition and Opposition, for an hour-long special, focusing wholly on the Goolding Inquiry, digging into the death of Mr Tickell, and the prevalent culture of "dissemination of confidential information between political parties and the media" - so leaking, then.

Any likeness to real-life events was purely... the work of a mischievous Mr Iannucci and Co, as every Minister and staff member got to hang out not just dirty washing, but every prejudice, personal failing, unforgotten slight and mission to self-serve to boot.

Teri did her best to be truthful at the Inquiry

It was ambitious comedy drama, but in the week before we have to say goodbye to this lot - forever, if reports are to be believed - it was a chance to see each character in vividly painted glory, once and for all, from government director of communications Stuart Pearson - the man told to speak clearly by Lord Goolding - to the woman pretty much everyone in DOSAC tried to land with all the blame, a philosophical Teri - "Nicola Murray was jealous of me, well, a lot of women are."

Lord Goolding and his panel gave as good as they got. "Despite your shirt," Stuart was told, "this isn't CSI Miami," even if Goolding had to go it alone following his committee member's absenteeism "to deal with the Sunday Times allegations" - left wonderfully unexplained.

Lord Goolding and his panel appeared shocked, but not surprised, by what they heard

Teri gave a masterclass in in government subterfuge - "The email was leaked from my computer which is proof it wasn't me. That's not how it's done" - but despite their complete lack of cohesiveness and blatant disregard for one another, they all somehow managed to land one person squarely in the soup, a certain Malcolm Tucker.

Of course, the most bizarre aspect of all of this was watching Mr Tucker - the man 'described in the Spectator as Iago with a Blackberry' - in full vitriolic flow, but without the Anglo-Saxon rhetoric for which he was renowned, as he was asked the extent of lying in this inquiry...

Malcolm Tucker - caught in a corner, and wriggling like a cat

"This is the result of a political class that has given up on morality and simply pursues popularity at all costs."

But if Malcolm Tucker in one sentence summed up the the deeply satirical mission of the whole show, a few minutes later he was wriggling like a cat, caught out in a bare-faced lie and reaching out to the unlikely inspiration of Edith Piaf to go down in a final blaze of amnesiac glory... "Je ne remember rien."

Without the swear words, it proved that Tucker's uniqueness is not just down to his very blue syntax, as Peter Capaldi wrung every fibre of expression out of his rubber face in a tour de force performance, for which Bafta must surely come a-calling. Is Tucker really finished as he claims? Just the final episode to go.

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