BBC Radio 4, 21-24 February 2012
This series of four political plays had just about everything in it:
satire, drama, conflict, humour, plus a liberal dose of cynicism about politicians - irrespective of their persuasions.
Each play touched on issues of paramount importance to the contemporary world - the
pernicious influence of capitalism, media ownership, the power of the hypermarkets, overseas 'development,' computer hacking,
street demonstrations and devolution.
Sometimes the satire was reminiscent of political comedies of previous eras: The
New Statesman and The Thick of It sprung to mind as I listened to the perpetual bickering between Prime Minister
Simon Laity (Damian Lewis) and his various political minions including loud-mouthed Aussie Nathan Loltzn (Mike Sengelow),
Georgie (Gina McKee), Connie (Stella Gonet) and oleaginous elder statesperson Sir Hugo (Julian Glover). One member of staff,
Amjad Hernmati (Arsher Ali) tried to sustain his integrity, but found himself under pressure to 'revise' his judgments in
the interests of 'good' government (a nicely euphemistic phrase which basically meant suppressing any democratic
initiatives, designed to reduce the power of large capitalist organizations and prioritize the rights of the individual).
On the other hand the series did not ignore the human element, as it focused on Simon's
relationship with his partner Alan (John Hollingworth), whose apparently erratic behaviour concealed a secret that would change
both men's lives.
Clive Brill's production contained a host of strong performances: Damian Lewis' Prime
Minister tried to maintain his authority in the face of strong challenges from his staff, while revealing a softer side in
his personal relationships with Alan. Mike Sengelow's Nathan was all bluster and arrogance; but this was a deliberate facade,
designed to cover up his dubious status as an Australian immigrant in the United Kingdom. Julian Glover's Sir Hugo was a throwback
to colonial times, when Britain really did rule the waves; it seemed as if fifty years of social and political upheaval had
had very little effect on him. McKee's Gina tried to support the PM, but found it rather difficult in a dog-eat-dog world
where loyalties depended very much on the circumstances of the moment.
Number 10 proved fascinating entertainment: I have to admit I listened
to all four episodes back-to-back, as I waited eagerly to find out what would happen next. Catch it if you
can before it goes off; you won't regret it.