Thursday, September 06, 2012

In opposition

When the Observer's chief political commentator Andrew Rawnsley met Armando Iannucci, it was always likely to be the latter's toughest interview in the run-up to the new (and final) series of The Thick Of It.

It's interesting to learn how Iannucci's feelings have mutated over time and from series to series. He set out straightforwardly wanting to deride politicians, but then found that that desire was tinged with some sympathy for them, and is now finally coming to the conclusion that it's the whole system - one which is conducive to career politicians with little experience of life in the wider world - that is rotten and needs overhauling.

As an interviewer used to giving politicians a tough time, Rawnsley is quite antagonistic in much of his questioning, for instance teasing Iannucci about his acceptance of his OBE (a mistake, to my mind - a patronising pat on the head from the Establishment). He also raises the fact that Malcolm Tucker is seen by some as an admirable figure to aspire to be like (a real worry, Iannucci admits) and essentially accuses the show of encouraging political apathy through its portrayal of behind-the-scenes incompetence and chaos within Whitehall. It's a charge Iannucci that fails to rebut convincingly, though some commenters have leapt to his defence, (rightly) pointing out that the onus for the satirist is on identifying and zeroing in on problems and absurdities, with positive redress and the search for solutions lying beyond their remit.

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