Do you recall The Politician’s Wife by Paula Milne? It was a TV drama that aired in the dying days of the Major government. Milne recognised that Major’s government was more Basic Instinct than ‘Back to Basics’, emphasising the toxicity, hypocrisy and general sordidness of the era. It was tremendous stuff.
So praise the Lord: Milne is back with a sequel. The Politician’s Husband gets underway this week on BBC2. The subject has set tongues wagging. Of whom was Milne thinking when setting her drama in the court of a grumpy and doomed prime minister, with leadership rumours swirling and one family destroyed by lust for power?
‘I would be disingenuous if said that was not in my mind’, Milne told a media crowd on Friday night when asked about the Miliband brothers. ‘There has to be a recognition factor for the audience. Odd moments where people go ahh.’
Viewers may recognise more than a re-run of Cain and Abel. The relationship between David Tennant and Emily Watson’s characters – a husband and wife who are both highflying MPs – bears more than a passing resemblance to that of Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper,
‘I watched Prince William’s wedding on television and the camera panned around the Abbey. Yvette was talking and Ed was looking her with such pure love. It was so unexpectedly touching because he is so thuggish in his persona, it was so touching. That it really reinforced what I was trying to do.’
Milne has not been in contact with the Ballses, which, when they see the series, may turn out to have been a wise move.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.