What was good about it?
• An excellent cast ensured, that despite all its other faults, the drama was superbly acted. Bernard Hill was a convincing David Blunkett, while Robert Lindsay’s Tony Blair mimicked all of his nervous tics.
• The way in which Blunkett’s two advisers Ashley and Keith reflected where he had come from – steadfastly working class Labour with a social conscience – and where he was going – callous fascism.
• Robert Lindsay’s Tony Blair relishing the duplicitous deployment of tanks at Heathrow to prevent a suspected terrorist atrocity when, in reality, the aim was to cow the populace from turning out on an anti-war march. This was typical of the petulant editorial rage of the whole drama, and was especially timely in a week when more “terrorists” were rounded up in the same week as the police demanded more resources to deal with “terrorism”.
• The carnival music used to give the drama the feel of Carry On Up The Cabinet.
• Lots of sharp dialogue by writer Alastair Beaton. For example:
Blunkett – “David is supposed to be a sad, lonely, old, blind bastard. David’s not meant to have fun or go to nice restaurants or – heaven forbid – have sex.”
Blair’ – “Yes, but she’s a married woman with close connections to the right-wing press.”
Blunkett – “We have close connections to the right-wing press!”
• The hilarious but surely untrue deiction of Blunkett’s MP’s surgery when he told a sick woman she’d be well if she wasn’t so fat (his aide had to reluctantly confirm his suspicion).
• Blunkett’s bored bodyguards who are envious that he has a sex life, despite his beard
What was bad about it?
• Rather than a drama, the whole episode seemed like a vengeful diatribe from Labour supporters who feel betrayed by Blair’s descent from champion of the common people to acolyte of a global tyrant. The grotesque characterisation of all the main players weakened any satirical authority the tale may have had, and distilled it into little more than a futile rant about the manner in which a left-wing government has betrayed its core support and sold its soul to American neo-conservatives.• David Blunkett was shown as a two-dimensional right-wing Home Secretary who was unwavering in his wish to force through anti-immigration laws in the Trojan Horse of anti-terror legislation. On a fire started in a detention centre for asylum seekers he complained: “You take the bastards out of prison and give them decent facilities.” There was no sense of why he warped from a man of the people to the amateur despot he was shown to be in this semi-factual drama.
• When Ashley composed a considerate intelligent speech for him, Blunkett dismissed it claiming the most important element was “to appeal to Sun readers”. And when Blunkett was applauded for his stringent anti-asylum laws by a tattooed ape, he made his excuses and left rather than attempted to argue his case.
• The patronising examples of old and New Labour supporters. The old Labour supporter was clothed in the guise of one of Blunkett’s most loyal constituency aides who applauded his attendance of local surgeries, but by the end she was little more than a conduit for all the compounded wrath of her political genus bursting in on Blunkett and decrying him as a “reactionary bastard” and being a figurehead in a party which was now as “plastic as my membership card”.
• Choice snippets of actual newsreel which endorsed the left-wing perspective on the War in Iraq, such as Donald Rumsfeld asserting the existence of WMDs.
• Blair was painted as a superficial, flimsy Prime Minister who while not sitting in Bush’s lap, he was being given his walkies by Alastair Campbell and seemed more concerned with residing in 15th century chateaus than running the country.
• Cherie Blair (played by Doon Mackichan), and her friend Carole Caplin, were sketched as a pair of superficial non-entities, who only worried about trivial matters such as Blunkett’s guide dog shedding hair on the sofa. Kimberly Quinn was also seen to be as superficial as Cherie after she became apoplectic when Blunkett’s dog gnawed on her £11,000 handbag.
• Boris Johnson was even more of a bumbling caricature than he himself projects on Have I Got News For You.