On Saturday night I watched possibly the most incredible bit of telly since we waved farewell to the Olympic and Paralympic Games a few weeks ago. Political comedy The Thick of It offered up a seminal moment as the cast of SpAds, spinners, civil servants and politicos appeared before the Goolding Inquiry in the hope of establishing the truth behind departmental leaks that had catastrophic results.
It featured a mesmerising turn from Peter Capaldi's Machiavellian spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (though he is argued to be far worse than that, more the "Chief Medical Practitioner of spin.") Tucker turned the Inquiry on its head with an argument around breaches of privacy that many of us would do well to pay attention to.
To create the unease and sweaty-palmed nervousness of being called before an Inquiry, The Thick of It's creators prevented the cast from mixing with one another, allowed them no rehearsals, and blocked them from meeting the inquisitors before the cameras rolled. If the cast look wide-eyed and shifty, it's genuine. It worked magnificently, delivering a truly unsettling and uncomfortable experience and the feeling that there really were careers and reputations at stake. It goes to show: there's no substitute for authenticity. How do you demonstrate it?
There's a magnificent line towards the end of Capaldi's final scene where he refers to "a political class that has given up on morality and pursues popularity at all costs." I found myself pondering how many businesses we encounter that have also taken this tack; how many business leaders we meet who have lost the connection with their customers and their people. How do we make them aware of their moral and social responsibilities, and the good they might do if they just stopped to think about it for a moment?
Here is Malcolm's speech, in all its glory. Forward to 3m34s for a tour de force (Caution: it is Malcolm Tucker, so there is some rather *ahem*... 'colourful' language.)