Channel 4's Partygate Drama Sounds Like An Anger-Inducing Watch – Here's What The Critics Had To Say

This one-off show is a searing dramatisation of the scandal, but not everyone is in agreement about it.
Channel 4's Partygate drama is streaming now
Channel 4's Partygate drama is streaming now
Channel 4

Partygate may no longer be dominating the front pages, but the arrival of a new Channel 4 dramatisation about the scandal is serving as a reminder to the public of the antics in government during the Covid lockdowns – just as the Tories are wrapping up their party conference.

The one-off film is based on the research and the findings of the Sue Gray report, recounting what was happening at a series of rule-breaking parties inside 10 Downing Street.

Critics have now had their say on the show – which interweaves real-world footage and interviews with people who lost loved ones in the pandemic, with dramatised scenes inside No. 10 – and if its one thing that most of them appear to agree on, is that it will likely stoke up a lot of fury and emotions for people again.

However, some reviews are less taken with how the drama is presented in almost satirical fashion – here’s what they all had to say...

The Guardian (4 Stars)

“Partygate’s core mission is to say, yes, the rule-breaking really was that bad, both in terms of the number of parties – each of the 15 shown is numbered and dated by a caption on the screen – and how debauched they were. Its signature scene is a horribly authentic rendering of a full-on blowout: sweat, snogs and spew in a confined space.

“Whenever you wonder whether the dramatisations can possibly be accurate, relevant quotes from Sue Gray’s report pop up to corroborate them. News clips are also spliced in to show us where we are on the Covid timeline, and to remind us of the extent of the catastrophe.”

The Times (4 Stars)

“Well, the scheduling was perhaps mischievous, the TV equivalent of a stink bomb, even if it also coincided with the revival of the Covid inquiry. Yet as a drama, the subject of Covid parties might have felt somehow a bit soon and a bit late. ‘Not this again!’ would have been a thought that rather worked against it, for all its punch. Because in every other way this exercise in provoking fury was extremely skilfully done.”

The Independent (4 Stars)

“The details may have faded from the mind, but Channel 4’s enthralling, emotionally draining Partygate is here to remind you of them in highly graphic form. It’s a matter of: you’ve read the report, you’ve seen the news coverage… now watch the play. If you can bear it.”

The Telegraph (2 Stars)

“Who knows why it took Partygate so long to reach the screen, but it’s a drama that has missed its moment. No doubt Channel 4 thinks it’s being smart by screening this during the Tory party conference, but the conversation has moved on: immigration and HS2 are now consuming all the oxygen...

“Those responsible for the Downing Street parties deserve all the contempt that is heaped upon them, not a docudrama played for laughs.”

“This film by Joseph Bullman, who writes and directs, is surprisingly affective. Don’t be taken in by its slight, rather flimsy appearance. It made me angrier than I’ve felt for ages. It also made me weep.”

Financial Times (3 Stars)

“The film, which combines research-based re-enactments, archive material, imagined interactions and Adam McKay-style meta-interjections, is perhaps a hard sell given its simultaneously enraging and tedious subject... Seeing recreations of the 16 No 10 parties still boils the blood but it does little to captivate the mind.”

Evening Standard (4 Stars)

“Perhaps this will convince no more people – this battle is over and the antagonists have almost all left the stage (and their jobs). Yet it is a stark reminder of what moral outrage was allowed to carry on in the house that, as Partygate reminds us, was the most fined house in the whole of the UK for breaches of lockdown laws: the heart of our government.”

iNews (4 Stars)

“Since we, the British public, know all too well what was going to happen, there is little in the way of tension. Still, as a piece of enraging political agitprop, Partygate is bang on the money. I’m sure Keir Starmer will love it.”

Partygate is available to stream now on Channel 4.


What's Hot