It is now standard practice to proclaim that “The Thick Of It” is the Yes, Minister of the noughties, and that’s a fair assessment, but it’s more than that.
For a start, the exceptionally strong language in it has to be mentioned as a a) warning to fans of the more genteel humour of Yes, Minister, but also b) because its use is so creative that it has become a defnitive creative comedy feature in its own right.
The basis is that it is set in the minister’s office at the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship (DoSAC) and follows the attempts by two emotionally shattered nervous wreck New Labour ministers and their staff to craft and communicate “initatives” under the watchful eye and vicious tongue of Downing Street enforcer, Malcolm Tucker, who becomes the de facto star of the show with his vitriol, menace and extraordinary turn of phrase (“Working hard? I’m working so hard I’m sweating spinal fluid here!”)
Aside from Peter Capaldi’s masterclass as Tucker, the tone of the show is fascinating to political anoraks as an all-too-real parody of New Labour’s obsession with message control, whereby the minister and his/her staff are literally making policies up on the hoof to react to the whims of newspaper editors. It’s very funny, and not a little too close for comfort.