Wednesday, 21 November 2012

British Borgen - Channel 4's Secret State, DON'T MISS IT!

We've had a mixed affair with Political Drama in the UK over the years. It's seemed to ping pong between satirical and thriller with Yes, Minister paving the nation's appetite for House of Cards, jumping years later to The Thick of It and leaving avid viewers of political fiction in a maelstrom of schedule-empty fatigue.

Peter Capaldi reprised his role as Malcolm Tucker!
Television watchers in other countries have fared better with the US being gripped to the West Wing and much of Scandinavia in a feeding-frenzy over Denmark's Borgen. I'm not getting at the UK's broadcasters too much, when we do thing's right like The Thick of It, the US quickly picks it up in the form of In The Loop (film) and Veep, both produced by Armando Iannucci and have been major successes state side.

I consider this a badge of success but others may think of US TV as a poor cousin to the quality of British broadcasting. What we've been missing for years is a good, enticing and thought-provoking thriller that is relevent to Britain in its references and yet continues to captivate viewers with characters and political predicaments which draw us ever closer to the human imperfections of those leading and those being lead.

Statsminister Nyborg behind the desk of power!
Borgen managed to cause a stir in the media and the Westminster bubble alike back in January when BBC Four broadcasted the first season of Birgitte Nyborg's first term as Denmark's fictional Statsminister. It saw Birgitte rise to fame following a Leader's Debate and lead her Moderate party into a Coalition with Labour, Danish Green's and the far-left Solidarity Party. The drama watches her and her team battle the challenges of Coalition as well as her family struggles. I'm sure the political similarities were lost to no one in the shadows of Big Ben!

Don't worry though, Borgen will be back on our screen's in January 2013 so get the boxset and set your PVR's for the second season. In the meantime, it's reopened a chasm, a void if you will of British political thriller and thankfully, Channel 4 has stepped into the breach with Secret State which is based on the book '
A Very British Coup' by former Labour MP, Chris Mullin.

The drama see's the incumbent Conservative Prime Minister killed in a mysterious plane crash, leaving Deputy Prime Minister Tom Dawkins to fight the upcoming General Election. Challenges include the aftermath of a petrol refinery disaster and the intertwining of secret services into the world of politicians and corporates. In my opinion, it has the characters that you can relate to as well as highlighting their weaknesses within themselves and towards others. It's exciting, engaging and has future promise.

Tom has enemies on all sides, who to trust?
Unfortunately, its a mini-series with the next installment tonight on Channel 4 at 10pm. I suggest you treat yourself to a mid-week break and catch-up with series so far at 4OD. I'm hoping they will bring it back as a full series as it already has the faces and themes required to create a world of political darkness and intrigue. It marries up with the gloomy world of our economic situation and could easily feed the appetites of political lovers as we head into the next General Election.

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