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The Thick Of It: Series 3 - Review

The Thick of It

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

BUOYED by the cinematic success of In The Loop, season 3 found BBC political satire The Thick of It arguably more popular than ever before… and deservedly so.

Wonderfully barbed, packed with inventive dialogue and expertly performed, this is a masterclass presentation from a creative team led by Armando Iannucci and starring the inimitable Peter Capaldi.

The season picks up as Hugh Abbot is replaced as minister by Nicola Murray, played by Rebecca Front, an unexpected, last-minute choice for the position, who is relatively inexperienced. As a result, she’s forced to retain Olly (Chris Addison) and Glenn (James Smith) as her advisors as she attempts to run the DoSAC.

Alas, with the government in trouble, and Murray surrounded by incompetence – not least in her attempts to formulate her “Fourth Sector Pathfinder Initiative” – it’s left to spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi) to step in and clear up the mess.

The third season also broadened its remit to include episodes set at the annual party conference and at BBC Radio 5Live, while including more of Murray’s rival, Peter Mannion, and other members of the Opposition first seen in the 2007 specials.

Perhaps most intriguingly, however, it presented a more humane (if that’s possible) side to Tucker, as the pressure of an impending General Election, and nervousness and scapoe-goating at No.10, took its toll and affected his overall power.

Capaldi – as vicious and insulting as ever – also proved fallible, culminating in a penultimate episode that was jaw-dropping in its audacity, and which also served to highlight the programme’s willingess to take risks.

But then part of its sustained brilliance is the way it turns politics into something to marvel at, as characters invent new and ingenious ways to insult each other, while offering probing insights at the bureaucracy and ineptitude that bedevils government departments (we all suspect it goes on, and this cleverly offers an imagined – but somehow all too authentic – peek behind the curtain).

Of the performers, Capaldi remains the essential component and commands complete attention whenever he is on-screen. But as an ensemble, The Thick of It rates among the best TV of all time… with Addison and new arrival Front all standing out.

Episodes set at Radio 5 Live and the annual party conference were also superb, offering countless laugh out loud moments and plenty of intrigue to fuel continued developments.

In short, The Thick of It is essential, unmissable viewing that deserves to find more and more success. We can’t get enough of it!

Certificate: 18
Number of discs: 1
UK DVD Release: April 19, 2010