The second episode of the new series of ‘The Thick of It’ came to our screens on Saturday night, and this is the one we were waiting for – the return of Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). Initially it seemed that two years of opposition had mellowed the scathing Scot, but it wasn’t long before the gleam returned to his eye as he hid in a closet with a fellow plotter to engineer the departure of the inept party leader, Nicola Murray.
As the expletives started to roll, Capaldi seemed on more familiar ground; but his character felt constrained without the power of a PM behind him – hence his desire to put in place a better (or at least less bad) leader – and he explained this to the hapless adviser Ollie with a hilarious Star Wars analogy.
The political brainstorming sessions between Murray, Ollie and her policy advisor Helen were excruciatingly embarrassing and cringeworthy to watch, presenting a taster of how our elected leaders come up with their soundbites. In this case, the result was ‘Quiet Bat People’.
This second episode was a great improvement on the first, which gave us a glimpse into the inter-coalition machinations at the political graveyard that is the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship. Here the minister, Peter Mannion, is an old-school Tory struggling to come to terms with his LibDem colleagues and the technological revolution. But the biting metaphors felt stilted, and it was Capaldi’s Tucker that we were really waiting for.
Now Tucker is back and deploying his trademark withering and foul-mouthed scorn, we can enjoy the chaos, muck-throwing and insults. As Tucker himself says: “Good. Life is interesting at last. I have been so fucking bored for the last two years.”