The BBC took a bold move with this drama, by casting relative unknown David Tennant in the title role. Just kidding, if anything they took a bold move casting such a giant of British television, especially as unluckily for them, The Politician’s Husband went out just 3 days after the conclusion of Broadchurch, also starring Tennant and one of this year’s must watch programmes. Thankfully, DI Alex Hardy and Aiden Hoynes MP are very different characters and allow Tennant to showcase the subtlety of mannerisms and vocal inflections that make him such a popular choice.
So, who is Aiden Hoynes? Well, for starters he isn’t in any way Ed Balls (altogether now: ED BALLS!), nor does wife Freya bear any resemblance to Yvette Cooper. For those of you not clued up on politics, Balls and Cooper are a real life married couple and both hold Shadow Cabinet positions. As the series opens, Aiden is Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Freya is a junior Education minister. It has not yet been explicitly stated which party they belong to, the presumption is Labour and a reference to a Policy Forum dinner would suggest this. Not to mention the glorious little dig at Theresa May’s taste in shoes.
Aiden resigns from the Cabinet after disagreeing with the Prime Minister (a shadowy figure we haven’t met yet) on immigration and to set himself up in a Leadership bid. Intriguingly, the current Shadow Secretary for BIS is Chuka Umanna, widely believed to be a contender for leader one day. Anyway, he does so believing he has the full support of his best mate and fellow Cabinet member Bruce, played with oily charm by the gorgeous Ed Stoppard. Bruce, quelle surprise, wastes no time in stabbing Aiden in the back, convincing the PM to let Bruce take over Aiden’s duties, leaving his previous post, Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions to be offered to Freya. She initially intends to refuse as it will look like she is going against her husband, but agrees after Aiden suggests she goes in as a mole to destabilise the PM and keep an eye on treacherous Bruce.
What could possible go wrong? Well, turns out Freya has had enough of being the underdog and rather likes her new position. The scene where she has a private moment in the Cabinet Office, just drinking in the atmosphere was brilliantly done. I felt very proud of her. And Aiden isn’t the most sympathetic of characters, I was under the impression he would have stabbed someone in the back if necessary and it had never occurred to him to let Freya have the limelight and he take the backseat. The media previews had implied that Freya had been in on the plot from the beginning but this clearly isn’t the case. I feel much more warmly towards her than I thought I would. But then there is something slightly childlike about Emily Watson acting, which was of course used to great effect in Appropriate Adult.
I’m not really sure where this drama will end up. Either Freya will soar to great political heights and the two men will be left on the scrap heap (my current preferred option) or Aiden will get his revenge and make a triumphant return. The intrigue will come from seeing how this unfolds, although I shall also be tuning in to enjoy the meticulous research. I particularly enjoyed the many references to significant bloggers and tweeters, though please, don’t give Guido Fawkes too much airtime! Perhaps in a few years time dramas will include the line ‘if we pull this off they’ll make a TV show about it and CustardTV will review it’. We live in hope.
Contributed by Victoria Prior