Did we like it?
On balance, we did. Maxine Peake as Tracey Temple and John Henshaw as the ‘randy old goat’ DPM (Deputy Prime Minister) John Prescott romped through this Whitehall farce that covered their five-year affair. No reflection on Henshaw and Peake – who we love – but some of the images it conjured up of the real life Prescott shagging (and more) all over the place left us feeling pretty nauseous. Billed as a comedy, it appeared to be docudrama for a fair amount of its 90 minutes. Luckily, there were some belly laughs to be had.
What was good about it?
• The titles and voiceover a la Adrian Mole, set the scene nicely and let us know pretty quickly that the DPM would not be treated with the utmost respect.
• Maxine Peake, great in last year’s ITV dramatisation of the Moors Murders was excellent once more as Temple. Playing the role straight meant that the laughs when they came were well deserved, and the key change from comedy to tragedy – when the affair was exposed and Tracey’s life came crashing down around her – convincing.
• The DPM’s post coital outfit of dressing-gown, socks and shoes certainly rang true with us..
• We loved the bit where. lying in bed after Prescott’s failure to rise to the occasion, Tracey suggests using Viagra. “Where am I supposed to score Viagra at this time of night?” complains the DPM. “Blunkett?” suggests Tracey.
• Anticipating a night of passion after being summoned for dinner at the DPM’s flat, Tracey is dismayed to find herself acting as waitress for a reconciliatory dinner between Prescott, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.
• There were some great cameos, including Joanna Munro (where on earth has she been?) as Mo Mowlam; a stuttering Damien Lewis as Blair, and an almost unrecognisable Tony Slattery as Brown.
• Prescott getting himself in the mood for a night of passion by eating a roll in bed and necking a can of John Smiths.
• The running joke about Prescott giving various people framed photos of himself. Also the cupboard in his office containing unwanted gifts such as red cowboy boots and a kimono.
What was bad about it?
• Not so much bad, but Henshaw’s portrayal of Prescott just seemed a buffoonish variation on his pub landlord Ken from Early Doors. Though finding a sympathetic angle to Prescott must have been an impossible task.
• The footage of September 11 jarred with the farcical nature of the film.
• There did seem to be an excessive crowbarring of famous Prescott incidents in there. Two Jags? Check. Punching a protestor? Check. Croquet on the lawn? Check. All without trying to integrate them into the film.