Three series in, and there have been the inevitable critical rumblings of discontent with The Thick Of It. In truth, the belly laughs have been fewer, but it remains as swift, sharp and acutely observed as ever, and Saturday's episode indicated that it's been a sustained narrative moving subtly towards a big climax.
You could see this article by one of the show's writers, Sean Gray, as somewhat self-congratulatory (and perhaps a strike back at those who've been sniping at the new series), particularly as it's been given prominent place on the BBC website. However, it can't be denied that he's got a point - art is no longer imitating life when it comes to the relationship between the show's fictional world and the real political realm. It's not a first for Armando Iannucci - The Day Today has proven to have been perceptive in its satire of the direction in which news broadcasting was heading, but the difference is that now the ridiculous creations of Iannucci and his team seem to be taking shape in reality barely days after the shows air.
Writing about Andrew Rawnsley's interrogation of Iannucci before the series started, I disagreed with Rawnsley's belief that satire should be positive rather than merely negative, endorsing the view that actually its remit is simply to flag up absurdities rather than to also suggest remedies. And here's some ammunition for my argument: the news that the show has prompted the public administration committee to urge ministers to take greater care when appointing special advisers. A case of satire really making a positive difference.