Yes, yes, I know I’m two weeks behind the times, but I’ve just seen MoFo’s A Very Social Secretary.
Pluses? It was useful to be able to put the events of the Blunkett Affair in perspective with the deeply serious events that the man was intricately involved with at the time, even if I doubt that many non-political obsessives would be able to follow the events.
Minuses? A complete lack of insight into the dramatis personae. The problem is, how could you really make a farce out of a true story with plotline that is so high concept that it is already halfway to the moon before you even begin? You’re doomed to anti-climax.
Casting all the main characters as buffoons and utter shits was simply too easy, and perversly stopped the programme from being able to say anything really interesting. The overall thesis seemed to be that everyone who works in politics and political journalism are all so ghastly that, really darling, these things were bound to happen. In media circles this may be what passes for revelatory, but the rest of us, who are all too aware that reality is a bit more complicated, are simply left wanting.
The mistake was to portray what was pure tragedy as farce. Tony Blair was simply portrayed as the posh twat that every political impressionist was doing circa 1997 before we discovered he was really a mad evil genius, and don’t even get me started on Cherie. Bernard Hill, to give him his due, gave Blunkett real pathos (he was the only remotely sympathetic character), but his talents were wasted on a script that kept steering him in the opposite direction.
Being a story about an outsider desperately trying to find acceptance in an intolerant society by becoming its sin-eater, this is a modern version of Othello. Only one where the hero shags Iago instead of Desdemona.