I laughed more at the Antiques Roadshow than I did at The Thick of It. In fact, finding the louche Eric Knowles delivers more cutting gags per minute than Malcolm Tucker has become a feature of my weekends. And it’s a sad one because The Thick of It was the sharpest and most savage programme on television – a welcome focus for one’s anger at the Labour government.
Truth is, Armando Iannucci’s show has dated. The outwardly crisp style of government it satirised has descended into a very public ‘omnishambles’. The reality is funnier than the fiction. The Prime Minister’s belief that he’d saved the world; a 24 hour pursuit of the Messianic US President that culminated in a political version of Ready Steady Cook; the disclosure that Fred Goodwin was knighted for services to banking; the hopeless smear campaign launched against General Dannatt. These gaffes are beyond satire.
The obvious new target is Cameron’s media-conscious Tories. However, all that Iannucci can do is re-hash the clapped-out gags about huskies, the Tory old guard (the Peter Mannion character is a nod towards this group), the Bullingdon Club and Tory links with the City. It hasn’t worked for Gordon Brown, and, sadly, it isn’t working for The Thick of It.