Welcome to Whitehall. Please leave your principles at the door.
"I'm a man of principle: I like to know whether I'm lying to save the skin of a tosser or a moron."
— Malcolm Tucker
"Does he understand the policy? Forgive my concern, but it's a bit like if a dog can grasp the concept of Norway."
— Fergus Williams
SatiricalBritishGovernment Procedural produced by Adam Tandy and directed by Armando Iannucci. Debuted in 2005. It is styled as a fly-on-the-wall view of the inner workings of British politics, with natural-sounding, partly improvised dialogue and the use of shaky hand-held cameras. Intended to be as realistic as possible, the show employs several Whitehall insiders and every aspect is meticulously researched, from the office décor to the levels of swearing.There is a lotof swearing.The show is essentially a 21st Century update of Yes, Minister, reflecting the changes the British political system has been through in the decades between the two shows, in particular the culture of spin ushered in by New Labour'sSlave to PR government. While the earlier show commented on the power of unelected civil servants, the later show portrays the government's spin doctors and the media as the most powerful influences. The show also has a distinct anti-West Wing sensibility, sitting at the opposite end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: don't expect sharply-dressed idealists doing their best to serve their voters, this show is all about venal politicians, incompetent civil servants and bad suits.The show is set in and around the fictitious Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, the least glamorous and most troublesome of all the Cabinet offices. Created as a "Super Department" with a wide-ranging and varied (read: vague and confusing) remit, it handles everything from housing to crime statistics (read: the boring stuff none of the other departments can be arsed with).The plot focuses for the most part on the Prime Minister's Director of Communications (read: enforcer) Malcolm Tucker, played by Peter Capaldi, whose job consists of yelling at people in the vain hope that it might stop them from fucking up too badly. The first two series, each comprising three episodes, star Chris Langham as the hapless Minister for Social Affairs, Hugh Abbott MP. They were followed by two hour-long specials: "Rise of the Nutters" and "Spinners and Losers", which deal with the issue of the Prime Minister's impending resignation. The third series introduced Nicola Murray MP, played by Rebecca Front, as Hugh Abbott's replacement following a Cabinet reshuffle. The fourth series started in September 2012, in which the new DoSAC minister is the world-weary Peter Mannion MP, while the party Malcolm is loyal to is now in opposition.A spin-off movie, In the Loop, was released in 2009. An American version, titled Veep (being set in the office of the Vice President) aired on HBO in spring 2012.This show has Loads and Loads of Characters: you can read more about them and how they fit into the British Political System over at the show's Character Sheet.Very popular in Whitehall, which can only be a bad thing for the UK...
Malcolm himself being forced out of a job by someone even more villainous than himself.
Stewart Pearson gets a moment like this in the third season finale, when Cal"The Fucker"Richards tells him he's been fired as a joke. Sure, Stewart is an unlikeable, power-tripping master of meaningless PC hypocrisy, but he looks so...broken.
Julius Nicholson: "You fools! These are good biscuits and they cost four pounds."
Nicholson has a constant food motif. When he isn't munching biscuits, buying sandwiches or eating takeaways, he's feeding the ducks. He even tries to go through Malcolm's stomach when he wants Malcolm to come back after his sacking. However, he will not eat the pissy biscuit, or THE FUCKIN' CHEEEEEEESE...
Malcolm Tucker: "Sam! No pissy biscuits!"
Ben Swain is another big eater, with his "Magic Drawer" full of chocolate:
Nicola Murray: "You haven't had this much fun since you went to Cadbury World."
Peter Mannion: "I'm in the fucking BBC, aren't I?"
Black and Grey Morality: Hardly any character is without his/her flaws, and are all depicted to be varying degrees of cowardly, grubbing, backstabbing, manipulative, self-centred and ultimately more concerned with simply keeping their jobs than with doing the right thing.
British Newspapers: Malcolm's raison d'etre is to get them to print what he wants, when he wants. Angela Heaney, "the twatbubble from the Standard", is usually pretty compliant (but becomes less so when she moves to the Daily Mail).
Rebecca Front is baffled at how playing a fictional minister has brought her a flood of requests to appear on news shows as a political pundit. Similarly, Peter Capaldi was asked to interview Alastair Campbell in the style of Malcolm Tucker but had to refuse on the grounds that Malcolm is a fictional character and that he'd need backup from eight writers.
Bullying a Dragon: In Episode 4 of Season 4, Malcolm needs Ben Swain to resign in order for him to depose Nicola, and has (with no intention of screwing him over,) offered him the Foreign Office in return. Ben then starts playing both sides against each other, demanding they raise their offers, and relishing the fact that (for once,) he holds all the cards. And, indeed, he does hold the cards, right up until he's committed too far to back out, and Malcolm shows him exactly why he really should have accepted the original offer...
Butt Monkey: Poor Glenn. "I feel like I'm in a therapy group being run by my own rapist."
Peter Mannion as well, particularly by series three. It's quite obvious the man is well-meaning, but he's constantly surrounded by people who want to make him look like a tosser, or people who think he's a tosser.
Phil has gone from being Emma's enemy in the Specials and Series 3, to being universally detested by everyone at DoSAC. Terri seems to be speaking for everyone when she says "That boy is a simpleton. Two hundred years ago, they wouldn't have let him milk a cow." However, he's so arrogant and obnoxious that it's hard to feel sorry for him.
Ben Swain's first appearance has him unexpectedly ending up in an interview with Jeremy Paxman, which was accurately described as "like watching a lion raping a sheep but in a bad way." Later on, Malcolm forces him into another one with the same man and leaves him with nothing to talk about. Then he spends a happy half-hour being told he might be the next Prime Minister, only to be left "standing in the House, alone, with your big, flaccid dick hanging out with a Vote-for-Me sticker on the end." And then there's the events of Season 4, Episode 4, though to be fair that was his own fault.
Nicola was never the most competent minister, but in series four, when she's become Leader of the Opposition, each episode seems to just be one long Humiliation Conga for her.
Ollie too, mostly in the first couple of seasons. He occasionally manages a bit of genuinely funny deadpan snarking but mostly he just desperately prolongs other people's jokes.
Robyn to Glenn: "Don't do jokes Glenn. You're not a funny man, you're not that type."
Peter Mannion is accused of this during the radio debate:
Peter Mannion: "...who should come rolling along the corridor but Malcolm Tucker, the man who was once referred to as 'The GorbalsGoebbels'?" Stewart Pearson: "Oh don't do a joke Peter, don't do a joke..."
Glen Cullen: "If anyone shouts at you, they'll have to answer to me. I'll box his ears!"
Hugh Abbot: "Box his ears? If that was flirting, that was absolutely crap. Box his ears? How long is it since you've had sex?"
Captain Obvious: Done quite frequently when making official comments to avoid misinterpretation, such as when Stewart says he hopes there will be no more Mr. Tickels, then follows up by explaining he means that in terms of preventing other people from ending up in Tickel's situation, not in terms of wiping out the Tickel family line.
Casting Gag: Armando Iannucci admitted he cast Tom Hollander as Cal "The Fucker" Richards partly as an in-joke for fans who'd seen him playing Simon Foster in In the Loop.
Centipede's Dilemma: Nicola is unable to remember which foot to start with when walking to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. She ends up totally frozen, as her staff watch on television in horror.
Have I Got News for You exists in the ThickVerse. Rebecca Front, Chris Addison, and Miles Jupp have all appeared on HIGNFY. (None of them cracked unkind jokes about Peter Mannion's wife, however.)
Phil is a keen Game of Thrones fan, asking Adam if he's seen Season Two, and referring to himself as "the King's Hand". Roger Allam (Peter Mannion) plays Illyrio Mopatis in that series. One wonders if Phil has noticed the resemblance.
Cell Phones Are Useless: There's almost no mobile coverage at the country hotel where Stewart's ghastly "Thought Camp" is being held. In a Crowning Moment of Funny, Stewart and Peter are forced to stand at the top of the children's slide in order to get reception. Needless to say, there's someone with a Twitter account, a camera phone, and (one assumes) a grudge to bear, in the vicinity.
Cerebus Syndrome: The first two series involve the bumbling Hugh Abbot's attempts to keep his political career afloat. Starting with the specials the focus shifts to Malcolm Tucker, and series three portrays his bailing-with-a-thimble fight to keep the government in power. The ripped-from-the-headlines nature of the scripts combined with Tucker's character development (which somehow made him more impressive) resulted in series three taking a distinct turn for the dramatic. The third series was also the first time an entire series had been commissioned, which gave the writers a more definite frame in which they could toy with story arcs.
Character Development: A lot of characters are becoming gradually more and more politically savvy, the most noticeable being Ollie in Series 4. Bear in mind that this simply means they're not idiots anymore.
Steve Fleming mostly wars against Malcolm at the end of Series 3, but Nicola's attitude towards him ends badly for her in Series 4. Fleming makes the front page of the Guardian in episode 4 with claims that Nicola is unelectable, which causes Malcolm to realise that the time is right for her political demise. By the end of the episode, she's gone.
Tara Strachan, the economist Adam and Fergus talk to in episode 3 of Series 4. There's a couple of blink-and-you'll-miss-it shots of her with a concerned look on her face as she takes a phonecall and looks into the office in which the group are reacting to the news of Tickel's death. She quickly ends the call when they come out, which doesn't come up again until the enquiry. It turns out she was reporting the inappropriate response (including elation from Phil), which bites the group hard when they're called on it.
He also says he finds the role exhausting: it requires him to act so damn hard his temple veins start throbbing. This is occasionally lampshaded, as is his stressed-out and sleep-deprived appearance in the show. The latter is apparently not entirely down to acting, and this seems to be confirmed by the fact that he looks about ten years younger in Torchwood: Children of Earth. Between Series 1 and Series 3 of The Thick of It he also managed to go completely grey, which may or may not be a coincidence.
"We just had to give Malcolm as much as possible to say, he gets [through] his words so quickly. We have to keep feeding the monster."
Child Hater: Peter, who says "I hate school children. They're volatile and stupid and they haven't got the vote. Might as well be talking to fucking geese."
Christmas Episode: Averted: Although the Specials show some of the characteristics of a Christmas Episode, they take place shortly after Christmas and the Christmas decoration gradually disappears from the office, leaving only one sad little bit of tinsel by the time the second Special begins.
Malcolm Tucker:(into phone) "Fucking hung up, haven't you? You fucking hoity-toity fucking..." American Tourist: "Hey, buddy? Enough with the curse words, all right?" Malcolm Tucker:(beat) "Kiss my sweaty balls, you fat fuck!"
Cock Fight: Fergus and Adam vying for the attentions of a hot economist in S04E03.
Coincidental Broadcast: When the Prime Minister resigns, Malcolm, Jamie, Ben and Ollie are immediately able to watch a news item about it. The Prime Minister resigning would be pretty big news, and would certainly take over the rolling news channels almost immediately. And such offices would usually have at least one TV constantly switched to rolling news (probably either BBC News or BBC Parliament), if only for the look of the thing (and it's as reliable a news feed as any for most things), but simultaneously Played for Laughs by another group dashing around desperately looking for a television, and then arguing about how to plug it in.
Comedic Sociopathy: The writers seriously love to mock the actors' physical characteristics. The scripts lay into everything from Alex MacQueen's lack of hair to Justin Edwards' nervous blink:
Nicola arrives at DoSAC as a wide-eyed, naive MP who only reluctantly agreed to become a Cabinet minister. After being introduced to Malcolm, she attempts to emulate him, swearing more in front of him ("You are so wanking with the wrong crowd!") and trying to imitate his signature method of issuing threats ("Do we go after him with... a bum-dildo of vengeance?"). By the end of the series she becomes power-hungry to the point of considering a leadership bid, and swears so much that even Steve Fleming is shocked ("You're quite the potty-mouth, aren't you?").
Nicola Murray: "You're about as on the ball today as a dead fucking seal!"
Malcolm Tucker: "Hey, that's one of my lines!"
Ollie Reeder, to the point of ultimately taking Malcolm's place by the end of Series 4.
"Blinky" Ben Swain's Newsnight interview: "Like watching a lion rape a sheep, but in a bad way."
Nicola's Guardian meeting from series 3 may be the show's most cringe-inducing moment to date, although the radio interview with Mannion and Richard Bacon comes close.
Malcolm Tucker: "Fuck me! This is like a clown running across a minefield!"
Peter Mannion's "I call app Britain" speech at the school in episode 1 of season 4.
Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "You breathe a word of this to anyone, you mincing fucking CUNT and I will tear your fuckin' skin off, I will wear it to your mother's birthday party and I will rub your nuts up and down her leg whilst whistling Bohemian fuckin' Rhapsody, right? Now get out of my fucking sight..." Malcolm is particularly good at dishing out this kind of threat...
...and so is Jamie. This trope is pretty much Jamie's job description:
Jamie: "You take the piss out of Jolson again and I will remove your iPod from its tiny nano-sheath and push it up your cock. Then I'll plug some speakers up your arse and put it on to shuffle with my fucking fist. And every time I hear something that I don't like- which will be every time that something comes on- I will skip to the next track by crushing your balls."
Malcolm Tucker: "I just wanted to say to you by way of introductory remarks that I'm extremely miffed about today's events, and in my quest to try to make you understand the level of my unhappiness I'm likely to use an awful lot of what we would call violent sexual imagery—and I just wanted to check that neither of you would be terribly offended by that."
Dirty Coward: The characters have a tendency to brag about the latest heroic scheme they're plotting or the stand they're planning to take, before chickening out of it at the last minute:
Hugh Abbott: "I'm going to go in to the PM and tell him straight up: this bill is a load of old bollocks!" Glenn Cullen: "No you're not." Hugh Abbott: "No I'm not, but it'd be great if I did, wouldn't it?"
For all his flaws, the only character who isn't a coward or a hypocrite is Malcolm: he's never afraid of facing his enemies or getting his hands dirty.
Even this is subverted in Series 4, when Malcolm begins plotting a coup behind Nicola's back and assuring her of his loyalty. Although that's explained more as him being interested in the future of the party and it having a viable leader who can win the next election rather than someone who blathers about quiet bat-people.
In "Spinners and Losers", when it looks like Ben Swain has a slight chance of becoming the next Prime Minister, Ollie—who has been positioning himself as Swain's right-hand man—decides it's time to start throwing his weight around with Malcolm. It lasts about a minute before Malcolm shoots him down and bluntly orders him to go and buy some cheese. And in any case, events soon prove that Ollie really should have made sure Swain had more than what turned out to be a very slight chance of becoming PM.
Through Series 4, Helen remains loyal to Nicola despite an increasing torrent of abuse in her direction. After Nicola's firing, Helen uses her loyalty to trick Nicola into an utterly humiliating video interview with the hack in a pork chop costume who has been harassing her most of the series.
A subtle example in episode 3 of Series 4. The receptionist of the hotel in which Stewart is holding his thought camp responds to his obnoxiousness by being obsfucating when it comes to returning his phone shortly afterwards. She also directs him to the children's slide (leading to embarassing photos on Twitter), claiming that it's the best place to get reception - Emma being able to take a call elsewhere suggests it wasn't his only option.
Malcolm revealing that the birthday he'd just spent alone in his office eating a cake iced with the words "Happy Birthday C*nt" was in fact his fiftieth.
The entire series— Malcolm is about to be sent to prison for perjury, Nicola is stuck in a humiliating backbench position, Ollie's become the new Malcolm and sold his soul to Dan Miller, Glenn quits in a blaze of glory, Stewart's been sacked, and the rest of both parties just have to keep slogging through the political shit.
Jamie to Malcolm. In the second special he is a Dragon with an Agenda, which may account for his sacking. The deleted scenes reveal that Malcolm sometimes has him followed. Keep your friends close...
In Season 4, much to his own surprise, Ollie becomes Malcolm's new sidekick.
Driven to Suicide: Tickel, the nurse who was forced out of his home by government policies, kills himself in Episode 3 of Season 4.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: Malcolm has fought so hard for the party. If The Missing DoSAC Files are to be believed, however, no one has an ounce of respect for him after the election. The e-mail exchange regarding the titular missing files is also indicative that people aren't taking Malcolm very seriously any more. The replies are snarky almost down to the last man. It's still hard to picture the characters saying any of those things to his face, however... and Ollie seems appropriately scared piss-less.
Ollie and Glenn smoke outside while pondering their potential resignations at the end of series one. They're never shown to be smokers otherwise.
Ermine Cape Effect: Played with by Julius Nicholson when he is made Lord Nicholson of Arnage. He laments that he won't be allowed to wear his ceremonial robes—including an actual ermine cape—on the Tube or the bus, "but I would, it would be great larks!"
Peter Mannion: "I'm sensing a change of management style here, from touchy-feely to smashy-testes."
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The published script book includes a section entitled "Malcolm's Sent Items". Among the threats of sexual violence sent to DoSAC staff there is one very polite email addressed to "Isobel Tucker" and beginning "Dear Mam..."
Throughout the first two series and the Specials, Terri is a reasonably motivated and competent civil servant. By the third series she becomes noticeably stupider, lazier and more useless, to the the point where even the Opposition refer to her as "the useless one". She also becomes one hell of a lot bitchier. However, it's revealed in the fourth season that she's actually trying to get out with a redundancy package.
Same goes for Phil. In his first appearances during the first special (and the Opposition Extra that runs concurrent with the second special), he's an inexperienced and easily-jangled but fairly savvy worker with a desire to pony up to Peter Mannion and an obsession with the 80s. However, during the third series, he starts behaving very unprofessionally in his attempts to mess with Olly, and in the finale, he's judged useless enough to be delegated to coffee duties. By the fourth series, he's little more than a useless, immature "8-year-old trapped in the body of a 12-year-old," about whom every interaction ends with either a punchline about how much he loves sci-fi and fantasy or something about him sucking up to Peter; admittedly, the worst of his uselessness is partly due to the fact that he's no longer teamed up with Emma.
Glenn Cullen's age is played up more as the series progresses. He goes from being the more overtly harsh advisor to Hugh, to being an out-of-touch old man in later seasons.
Food Fight: Julius Nicholson gets helplessly pelted with food by the Caledonian Mafia. Probably slightly more one-sided than the trope suggests.
Ollie cluelessly wandering into shot during Terri's public apology over the e-mail fracas.
Hugh's interview with Angela Heaney, interrupted by a furious Malcolm, who takes him outside to assault him with a barely-muted, Atomic Cluster F-Bomb bollocking. Meanwhile in the foreground, Angela and Terri calmly discuss tea and biscuits.
Jamie is the king of this trope. In S1E4 he's often seen in the background tag-teaming victims with Malcolm, shoving people around (even women), and at one point becomes literally hopping mad. In the first special he entertains us by fellating his pen behind Julius Nicholson's back.
Emma's brother Affers really is a very slow fucker-offer.
Malcolm Tucker: "What's that film that you love? The one about the fucking hair dresser. The space hair dresser and the cowboy. The guy's... he's got a tinfoil pal and a pedal bin. His father's a robot and he's fuckin' fucked his sister. Lego! They're all made of fucking Lego."
In The Missing DoSAC Files, it's revealed that Malcolm occasionally plays tennis with Cal Richards, the Opposition's emergency PR man, and that he's on good terms with Richards' family. Malcolm considers himself and Richards to be "the only sane ones left".
Deadly enemies Peter and Stewart have a friendly bonding moment, watching Fergus give a press conference, and talking about how much they hate him.
Götterdämmerung: S04E07, Malcolm and Stewart Pearson lose their jobs, signalling the end of 'the age of spin', at least with regards their management styles.
Stewart Pearson is a male example. He drinks herbal tea, cycles everywhere in full reflective jacket and safety helmet instead of taking official cars, made Peter Mannion install a wind turbine on his roof, refuses to wear suits or business attire and is probably far too left-wing for the right-wing party he works for:
Peter Mannion: "Oh great, what did Mr Political-Correctness-Gone-Boring have to say?"
Nicola Murray has shades of this with her dependence on Rescue Remedy and her dubious plan to outlaw plastic toys.
Groin Attack: When Phil gleefully tells Ollie Emma has dumped him before Emma can break the news herself, Ollie assaults him with a cup of hot coffee to the groin.
Phil Smith: "It's a dark suit and it's only lukewarm, I STILL WIN!"
If Julie Price from S3E4 were in a Ken Loach film, she'd be the hero and main character. Unfortunately for her, she's a character in a Armando Iannucci comedy, and is therefore doomed to be a minor character.
Claire Ballentyne MP, who appears to have wandered in from some sort of UK version of The West Wing, where politicians are clever, caring and responsible.
He's Back: Back from being sacked, Malcolm strides down the stairs, barking orders and mobilising Number 10. Followed by Sam bringing in a fresh suit and beaming with pride at his pre-electionpep-talk to the staffers.
High Turnover Rate: The Minister for Social Affairs (and Citizenship). Terri remarks that she has served under five different ministers, or, as she puts it, "a box-set". She said this in the very first episode. She has now served under eight.
Malcolm Tucker:(to Cliff Lawton) "You have had a good innings! You have been here for eighteen months!"
Ollie has to dance one in the second special, breaking up with his girlfriend and in the process, hilariously admitting he only stayed with her because Malcolm forced him to. He is then forced to make up with her so he can use her to leak a policy (which she sees through right away), before being reduced to the status of "cheese monitor" and mocked for it by Emma and his Arch-Enemy Phil.
Series 4, Episode 5. Nobody is safe from the monumental screwup.
Hypocrite: Hugh is one over Flatgate, Nicola is one over... well, everything really.
Ben Swain: "I have been interviewed on television before..."
Malcolm aggressively orders Robyn to ensure the next day's media coverage will make him look "FUCKIN' BENIGN".
In the party conference episode Malcolm suggests that two people look anorexic, while he's looking thinner than ever.
Malcolm on the phone to a journalist: ''That's an incredibly homophobic headline, you massive poof."
Julius Nicholson on the crime stats enquiry: "I had to come down upon Steve Fleming like a ton of bricks, totally unfairly, just to protect my unimpeachable reputation for fairness!"
One of Malcolm's Evil Plans leads to Steve Fleming being photographed discussing the crime stats enquiry with Julius Nicholson. One newspaper runs the photograph with the headline "Give us the bald facts", causing uber-bitch Terri to remark: "Oooh, it's very rude, that. I was always taught not to make personal remarks".
Terri also calls Emma "a complete bitch" and reckons Phil "might be simple"...
Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: An outtake from the party conference episode shows Malcolm dashing away from a Daily Telegraph live podcast. Naturally, it gets put on their website with the headline "Tucker Spurns Our Man On The Ground". Ollie and Nicola gleefully take the piss whilst watching it.
Invisible President: The Prime Minister in Series 3, Tom Davis, is never seen or heard. His predecessor didn't even have a name. Tom Davis' replacement, who is the leader of the other party, is referred to only as JB.
Malcolm Tucker: "First, you've got no credentials; you're so backbench you've actually fuckin' fallen off... secondly, I'm going to tell the Mirror about all the drinking... and thirdly, I'm going to tell the Mail about the affair... and fourthly, you've got a tiny head..."
Geoff Holhurst: "No I haven't!"
From the movie: After being roundly insulted, threatened, and accused of being an american politician's bitch literally and figuratively, the part Malcolm takes exception to? Being called english.
It Amused Me: Part of Ben Swain's "Holy Trinity of Why," as explained to Nicola:
I'm bored, it's funny and I hate you.
It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Mr Tickel's name is apparently pronounced TicKELL, as those who are inclined to feel sorry for him keep reminding us.
Nicola Murray: "That's what this is all about for you isn't it? Fighting and fucking power! Does it never occur to you that your poisonous, male obsession with conflict is making people despise politics?"
Malcolm Tucker: "Spare me your fuckin' psycho-fanny!"
Instead of listing down the many, many moments Malcolm himself goes round insulting his co-workers, try counting the number of times where he have a conservation without insulting the person he's speaking to, we'll wait and see.
Nutter Nick Hanway is a bit of an unlikeable cock—happy to steal Ollie's (actually Malcolm's) ideas and take credit, and gleeful in the possibility that he might replace Malcolm in the next reshuffle.
Ollie Reeder progressively becomes more and more of a jerk over the course of the series. In Season Four it enters face heel turn territory.
Season Four introduces Fergus and Adam. Glenn considers Adam the most loathsome person he has ever met.
"I'd like to nail him to a tree through the head and watch lice slowly crawl over his body eating off all the flesh in a slow and painful death... but that rather bitter anomaly aside, most of the responses to the Warwick Report press cuttings were pretty positive."
Malcolm is somewhat less concerned about offending people, and prefers to swap a final word for something more offensive:
Very little about Malcolm's personal life is revealed. This is deliberate: a sub-plot about Malcolm's partner leaving him for journalist Simon Hewitt was cut, and on the DVD commentaries the cast and writers agree that no-one really needs (or wants) to know about his life outside work. He probably doesn't have one. This is confirmed by Malcolm himself in the last episode of the series, in a haunting yet amazing speech to Ollie.
Malcolm wears a wedding ring for most of the run of the series; it's gone by the time he gives evidence to the Goolding Inquiry at the end of Series 4, although it's never referred to. More likely than not, it's Peter Capaldi having forgotten to take his wedding ring off while filming—as has happened in numerous other roles he's played as well. Might be a case of Throw It In.
At the end of Series 3 Episode 7 as Malcolm is returning to his home after 'resigning', there is a small child looking out of the downstairs window. In the last episode of series 4 Malcolm's speech to Ollie includes the words "no kids" so the child at the window evidently wasn't his.
Some scenes in Malcolm's office in the same series show that he has what is obviously a small child's artwork taped to the wall. Considering that he refers to himself as having "no children" during his rant to Ollie in the final episode of Series 4, this one's a bit of a puzzler—either he was being metaphorical (since he never sees his kids due to the pressures of his job) or the child in Series 3 is actually a niece/nephew or other relative. (He does mention a young niece he's apparently quite close to in an earlier episode.)
Malcolm's opposite number, Stewart Pearson, also has issues with work-life balance: "I'm an extraordinarily precise man, that's why my wife left me."
Nicola Murray's unseen husband seems to get annoyed about her absence from the home. Her children—especially her daughter Ella—are frequently pawns in the power struggle between her and Malcolm, but we never actually meet any of them.
Similarly Peter Mannion's unseen wife is annoyed about his work schedule.
In Phil's mortifying Heroic BSOD in S04E05, he admits he has nothing else in his life but work.
John Duggan claims the reason his marriage broke up was because his ex-wife was not in politics. "She was a Muggle." It's doubtful Nicola and Helen believe him.
Mass "Oh, Crap!": At the end of Series 4 Episode 5, everyone on both sides is horrified at the announcement of a full enquiry into the whole culture of leaking.
Played straight with Malcolm. Throughout series three there are several points where he is almost, but not quite, driven to tears. In episode eight an Eye Take reveals his red-rimmed eyes, and we can assume he saved his crying for an off-camera moment.
Motive Rant: Season 4, Episode 7 has Ollie growing a pair and pointing out that Malcolm's methods and attitude are outdated. Malcolm responds by really laying bare what his job has done to him, and how "Malcolm" hardly even exists any more, there is only the job which has sucked him dry.
Mundane Made Awesome: The events of the party conference episode in series three play out like a Spy Drama, even though it's just Malcolm and Nicola squabbling over who gets to introduce a conference guest.
My God, What Have I Done?: Malcolm after punching Glenn. Rather than try to joke or bully his way clear, Malcolm seeks Glenn out and profusely apologizes, culminating in a small but effective Pet the Dog moment.
Jamie is accused of being "a pint-pot Judas" by Malcolm. Jamie retorts with the wholly unconvincing claim that he is actually five-foot-ten.
Necessarily Evil: Malcolm occasionally reminds people that he's working to ensure the Party stays in power, and that the alternative to following his orders would be the Opposition getting in. He tends to do this when he's particularly exasperated, and even then his efforts are usually unappreciated.
Malcolm delivers a Rousing Speech to his assembled minions as the general election is called. Over at Opposition HQ Cal Richards also delivers a speech, but his is a tad less rousing, and a lot less articulate:
Malcolm Tucker: "Some people, they just fuckin' love to hate. Some people fuckin' walk around the fuckin' Garden of Eden fuckin' moaning about the lack of fuckin' mobile recption! These are the kind of fucks who watched Mandela walk to freedom and said 'Is Diagnosis: Murder not on the other side'?"
Steve Fleming: "Right now, you're all emerging from the cellar...pleased that the beatings have stopped...scared of what the future might hold..."
Newscaster Cameo: Rise of the Nutters uses spliced Stock Footage of Jeremy Paxman and Newsnight for Ben Swain's interview, and in series three Richard Bacon guest-stars as himself hosting a debate between department ministers on Radio 5 Live.
The MPs and their aides suck up to more powerful government figures, media types and anyone else they consider useful, while walking all over the junior staff and civil servants who do all their actual work. By contrast Malcolm and Jamie have nothing but contempt for MPs, civil servants, journalists and rival spin doctors, but are polite to cleaners and secretaries.
Unlike Stewart, who, in S04E03, actually goes to the effort of insulting a receptionist who'd only interrupted Stewart's frivolous "Yes-And-Ho" game to deliver an urgent message.
More contrast emerges in the very next episode, in which Malcolm is seen chatting amiably with one of the nurses at the hospital—before bursting in on Ollie and returning to his usual domineering routine.
In Season 4, Episode 6, Malcolm says that he wouldn't do anything to "real people", those who aren't in politics. He was lying, of course: he did leak Tickell's medical records and telephone number to the press and, like everybody else, used his death for his own ends. Although to Malcolm's mind Tickell lost his "real person" immunity by campaigning against the government.
The Nicknamer: Malcolm has insulting nicknames for everyone, but makes a particular point of not using Ollie's real name. "Stem Cell", "Joe 90", "Twatweasel"... but rarely "Ollie".
Nicola got stuck with being called "Glummy Mummy" by Malcolm in Series 3.
Phil with his outdated 80's hairstyle and shitty personality is the brunt of a lot of nicknames, with varied negative comparisons to James May, Hugh Grant, Rupert Brooke and Captain Mark Phillips from almost everybody.
His colleague Cal "The Fucker" Richards may have been based on Tory Director of Communications Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor known for his aggressive style and allegations of bullying behaviour.
Julius Nicholson (now Lord Nicholson) bears similarities to PeterMandelson (now Lord Mandelson) and also to John Birt, the "Blue Skies Thinker" to Tony Blair whose meaningless utterances were ridiculed as "Birtspeak".
Steve Fleming's personality and mannerisms are thought to have been based on Mandelson's to an even greater degree.
Malcolm Tucker is based on a number of New Labour spin doctors. Alastair Campbell is the one most often cited, but he is also partly based on Peter Mandelson and possibly on Damian "Mad Dog" McBride. The last of these has led to some amusing Life Imitates Art moments: in one episode it emerges that the Opposition's nickname for Malcolm is Hamish MacDeath: the Conservatives gave McBride the nickname "McPoison". McBride was also forced to resign after his plans to set up a blog slandering David Cameron were leaked, some time after the show featured Malcolm Tucker getting into trouble for posting slanderous comments on Peter Mannion's blog.
No Party Given: We have the government and the opposition. Neither is ever identified by name or policy as being Labour or Conservative. The fourth series also introduces the other party in the coalition, who are pretty obviously based on the Liberal Democrats but never identified as such.
Hints start emerging during the specials, as Ollie's Opposition girlfriend is referred to as a right-winger and Peter praises the '80s for being a time when his party was in power.
If not before then, in Season 4's Coalition government is clearly Conservative/Lib Dem, not just because that's what's happening IRL but because of the sorts of blunders the parties make- Nicola is naive and idealistic, wants to ban toys and spends far too much time worrying about sounding prejudiced in any way, which was just what the Labour government seemed to do. Peter Mannion, though altogether trying his best, is vaguely racist, sexist and hates youth, or at least doesn't know how to address these problems of protocol.
Mannion: "I'm modern! I say 'black' instead of 'colored', I think women are a good thing, I have no problem with gays, most of them are very well turned out, especially the men. Why is it this last year I'm being made to feel as if I'm always two steps behind, like I can't program a video or convert everything back to old money? Because that's not me!"
Phil: "You've still got a video?"
Stewart Pearson also notes how he has worked for ten years to "detoxify" the party by removing racists, homophobes and sexists, a very real concern for a Conservative Party that has been desperately trying to shed its image as a party for casual bigots and only barely succeeding by somewhat ineffectually keeping a lid on its own back bench. Stewart then goes on to say that the whole project was doomed to fail from the start since the whole thing is rotten from the ground up, which (if nothing else) gives a little more insight into how the writers feel about it.
The fact that Northerner Ollie resents his (ex-)girlfriend Emma's apparent class privilege—even flat-out calling her a "rich bitch" when they break up—and that they deride each other for being stereotypical members of their respective parties makes it pretty clear that he's with Labour, she's Conservative.
Also as described above, the characters mostly have counterparts which correspond with the parties they represent in the show.
Nobody Poops: Averted: a great deal of the political process seems to go on in toilets.
Taking a dump is Hugh's special treat.
Jamie does this a lot: "It's, eh, smoking and a fast metabolism."
Emma in the Opposition Special: "They're going to elect a man who can count his friends on the fingers of my father's right hand."
Malcolm on Nicola: "She's a nice lady. Especially when she's drunk." Considering this came from the same episode where he joked about her photocopying her arse, one wonders exactly what has been going on in office parties...
The scandal involving Baroness Sureka is obliquely referred to by Glenn offering his sympathies for her during the enquiry, and indicated by her absence during one of the inquisitions.
Not So Different: Malcolm and Stewart's face-off ends with them coming to this conclusion.
Obsolete Mentor: "I may be needed. I've been needed in the past." Poor Glenn, no-one's wanted his opinion or advice on anything since Series 2. It's now so long ago that Hugh being deeply interested in his opinion practically counts as Early-Installment Weirdness.
Official Couple: Olly and Emma. Of course, this being The Thick of It, their relationship is ruthlessly exploited by the other characters as soon as it's acknowledged, to the point where by the end they're quite openly admitting that they would have broken up long before "if it had been up to them".
And again in 4.06 when the Goolding Inquiry reveals that Malcolm had a file with Mr. Tickell's phone number, NHS details and the unlisted number of his ex-wife, which was then leaked to the media in the photo that headlined the 'Quiet Batpeople' fiasco. It's the first time ever in the series that Malcolm is completely at a loss for words.
Ollie is described as looking "about nine" in a newspaper photo by his girlfriend Emma Messinger, and Malcolm constantly makes jokes about his youthful appearance. Chris Addison, the actor who plays Ollie, was actually in his late thirties when filming the series.
Malcolm: "Are you on solids? I thought you were still on the tit."
This carried over to one of Chris Addison's apearances on Have I Got News for You, when Tom Baker referred to him as "the boy": "I'm thirty-six! I'm thirty-six, Tom Baker!"
Same goes for Phil; Will Smith (no, not thatWill Smith), who plays him, was born the same year as Chris Addison.
Although he was given a surname - MacDonald - for In the Loop.
Julius calls him "James" in Rise of the Nutters, so apparently Jamie is his nickname.
Another example is Malcolm's PA, Sam. Her surname is given as "Cassidy" in The Missing DoSAC Files, but it's debatable how far this is canon. (The same book gives Terri a different middle name than the one stated in the show, for example.)
Only Sane Man: Peter Mannion is the Opposition's. The Government doesn't seem to have one; Glen would be the likeliest candidate, but it's far from clear-cut in his case.
Opposites Attract: Although in this case, it's more "Opposites Go Out To Dig Dirt On Each Other's Parties And Nick Policy Ideas."
Overused Running Gag: Defied. The reason "Tucker's Law" was cut is because the writers feared the temptation to turn it into one of these.
Oxbridge: Ollie is a graduate of either Oxford or Cambridge. We never find out which one as Jamie only ever refers to his university as "Poxbridge".
Painting the Medium: The Goolding Inquiry is entirely shot at a faster frame rate than the rest of the series, similar to a televised news report.
Passing Notes in Class: "PLEASE COULD YOU TAKE THIS NOTE, RAM IT UP HIS HAIRY INBOX, AND PIN IT TO HIS FUCKING PROSTATE."
Malcolm proudly claims during the enquiry that he never attacks "civilians" i.e ordinary people who are outside the political sphere. Even Jaime seems to abide by Malcolm's code, as he is instantly polite and apologetic to a cleaner that he bumps into, seconds after chewing out DoSAC.
Any scene with Malcolm and his assistant, Sam. In particular, Malcolm running to her defense when she's crying.
In the book they sign emails to each other as M x and S x.
Malcolm also has a pet the dog scene with Glenn at the end of Spinners and Losers. Malcolm is rather nice to Glenn after he's had his mini-breakdown—he tries to make him feel important and included, and backs him up against Ollie.
The Peter Principle: Endemic, but Nicola's elevation to Party Leader may be the standout case. Poor Nicola.
The Plan: The way Malcolm ruthlessly takes his job back is definitely one.
Played straight with Julius Nicholson. An infuriatingly polite, formal and chipper man who once demanded that Malcolm tell him "what the F-word is going on", he has to be pushed very far before he'll swear. This usually requires actual physical violence (as demonstrated on a couple of occasions), though Malcolm's Evil Plans can also set him off:
The Problem with Pen Island: Nicola falls victim to a variation when out campaigning for by-election candidate Liam Bentley: when standing in the middle of his poster on TV, the stray letters appeared to spell "I AM BENT".
Real Men Wear Pink: At work Malcolm seems assured enough of his own sexuality to be entirely comfortable flirting with men, while the scenes in Malcolm's house show him to have pride in his cooking skills and an eye for interior design. He also got rather alarmed at the thought of journalists damaging his hedge. However he gains the most pink points for coming out with the wonderfully fey "DON'T TOUCH THAT SCARF, THAT'S PAUL SMITH!". During a fight. He is also played by a Real LifeReal Man Who Wears Pink.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Malcolm lays a truly vicious one on Nicola after getting her fired in Series 4, where he lets her know just how much contempt he has for her personally and how much he hated having to prop her up. Unusually for Malcolm, he didn't actually shout, which made the pure venom all the more pronounced.
S4 E7 has various prominent characters resign/get fired from their jobs, giving them the opportunity to really lay into everyone they hate:
Glenn's speech before the Goolding Inquiry is one against Ollie:
Glenn Cullen: "A leak of this magnitude would require an essential component that Oliver Reeder lacks: a spine."
Refuge in Audacity: During an inquiry into politicians illegally leaking information to the media, Malcolm is called as a witness and uses the opportunity to blatantly leak information to the investigators and the press to score political points.
Ripped from the Headlines: More like Scripted From The Headlines; the show is intended to reflect the current UK political climate.
Malcolm and The Fucker both deliver Patton-style pep talk speeches to their underlings at the climax of season three. Malcolm's is met with rousing applause and celebration, while The Fucker's ends in silence and gloom. Compare them yourself:
Malcolm Tucker: "I know what people say to you right. They say: "We hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. Everybody hates you." So fucking what? Some people, they just fucking love to hate. Some people, they'd fucking walk around the fucking Garden of Eden, fucking moaning about the lack of fucking mobile reception! These are the kind of fucks who watched Mandela, fucking Nelson Mandela, walk to freedom... and said "is Diagnosis: Murder not on the other side?" So we fucking forget about them. JB, Cal Richards, and their hordes of fucking robots - they're coming over the hill. And all you have to do now is bend down, pick up any fucking weapon—AND TWAT THE FUCKERY OUT OF THEM! LET'S GET OUT THERE, AND LET'S FUCKING KILL THEM! LET'S SET FIRE TO TEARS! LET'S GO!"
Cal "The Fucker" Richards: "This government's run this country into the ground—this used to be a green, and pleasant land, now... it's the colour of the fucking BBC weather map. It looks like anaemic dogshit. This government is maimed, but it can't be shamed—IT. WILL. BE. FUCKED! Okay, let's get going...what do I call for an outside line? Is it nine, because that's what it is everywhere else?"
Malcolm Tucker: "I just keep getting these terrible images flashing in my head, you know, of you being stabbed repeatedly in the face, or of you in a coma, on a life support machine, dreaming of being a gay policeman in the 1970s..."
Phil and Ollie in the Specials and Series 3, though as of Series 4, Adam seems to be Phil's new worst enemy. (Presumably it's handier for Phil, having his enemy in the office.) Also, when Adam was a journalist, he once decreed to Ollie that he was "going to spend the rest of my life dedicated to persecuting you in the most poisonous vendetta ever known in the British media!" It's like a Love Triangle for people who hate each other. Which would be a Hate Triangle, presumably.
Oddly enough, Malcolm doesn't appear to have one, as basically everyone is his enemy. However, he reserves a particular hatred for Steve Fleming, and Fleming for him.
Slave to PR: The department, and pretty much the entire Government and Opposition.
Sleazy Politician: A pretty huge aversion when you think about it. Hugh Abbot is an aversion in the manner of Yes, Minister as a Hacker-like self-serving coward. Nicola is also not at all sleazy. Incompetent and self-serving, but not sleazy. Peter Mannion isn't even particularly incompetent, although he makes up for that by being a bit backwards; nevertheless, the exact opposite of sleazy. Stewart and Malcolm are the sleaziest of the lot, with Stewart refusing to honour the idea that families are off-limits and Malcolm's constant near-villainous antics, but they are appointed Communications Directors and Press Secretaries, not, technically, politicians.
Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Played with in the contrast between the unglamorous offices of DoSAC and the modern glass-and-chrome design of Opposition HQ. With all of the characters being slaves to PR, there is also much debate about how shiny the MPs are allowed to look in public, under the guidance of the parties' spin doctors:
Malcolm Tucker: "People don't like their politicians to be comfortable. They don't like you having expenses, they don't like you being paid, they'd rather you lived in a fucking cave."
Stewart Pearson "...and a Ted Baker suit. We were going to go for Vivienne Westwood or Paul Smith but it was just too expensive"
A particularly egregious example is John Duggan who says:
John Duggan: "I am the busiest man in politics. One of the three main reasons my marriage broke up."
Ben Swain, who has written a book about "getting ahead in politics" titled "It's The Everything, Stupid". One wonders what on earth he would know on the subject.
Terri views herself as detached, professional and the only sane woman in the department, and also feels qualified to offer everyone around her relationship advice at the drop of a hat. She is viewed by everyone else as thoroughly annoying and useless but too much trouble to fire.
Terri Coverly: "I'm just going to take my media hat off..."
Nicola Murray: "I honestly never thought you had one."
There is also something of a gulf between Ollie's opinion of himself and his abilities and everyone else's opinion of him and his abilities.
Cliff Lawton doesn't get a lot of screen time, but it's no doubt an Establishing Character Moment when in the middle of being sacked by Malcolm, he tries to insist Malcolm call him "Minister".
Malcolm: "Get used to Cliff."
Smoking Is Glamorous: Terri tries and fails to invoke this trope. Unfortunately for her the target of her really inept flirting, the hapless Peter Mannion, completely fails to notice.
Smug Snake: Julius Nicholson. "I'm the new Che Guevara. I just need a new moustache and some laser correction eye treatment."
Nick Hanway is a bit too convinced that Malcolm won't steal his job...
Steve Fleming, Malcolm's rival with about a millionth of the charm. He would dearly love to overthrow Malcolm but can't help bragging about his various schemes, and his indiscretion is often his downfall.
Subverted briefly with Ben Swain at the end of Spinners And Losers; he says "one of my best friends is an Asian" but also knows, as does Ollie, that saying that makes him sound like a racist. Made worse by the fact that the offended person wasn't Asian.
When Peter Mannion is told to go after "fat cats" he complains that some of his best friends are money-grabbing wankers.
Glenn seems spend half his time in Series 4 offering to make tea for people. It doesn't get him any love or respect. Indeed, people use it as an excuse to sidle out of the room when he's not looking. Poor Glenn.
Making tea seems to be Robyn's entire purpose in life, even though her job title is Senior Press Officer. We find out in S4E6 she is extremely miffed about this.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Malcolm from the Specials onwards. Justified to a large extent in that he was one of the two original main characters, and since the other one suddenly exited the series off-screen with nothing but a Handwave (see Role Ending Misdemeanor on the main page) focus was naturally shifted to him, even if the show was technically re-tooled as more of an ensemble piece following Hugh's departure.
"I'm not talking above you. Neither am I talking down to you." Perhaps Malcolm's only foray into Gentleman Snarker territory.
Another foray: "I know that these are hard times for print journalists, yeah? I mean, I read that on the internet..."
Surrounded by Idiots: Malcolm is the only character who seems competent at his job. His hapless colleagues never seem to learn that they ignore his advice at their peril, and often leave him to mop up the ensuing hurricanes of piss.
Taken A Level In Badass: Season 4 has several characters suddenly become much more competent. Emma has risen from being Phil's equal to a level where she can openly bark at Stewart and Peter, and, much to his own surprise, Ollie becomes Malcolm's new dragon, and actually snarks back and argues with him.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Virtually every character seems to think they're the lone isle of sanity in a sea of idiots, blowhards and knobheads. This is especially evident with the coalition in Series 4, where it's common knowledge that the two parties hate each other despite their attempts to present a united front:
Adam: "Do you think we could just pretend to behave like compassionate professions in control? Just for once?"
10-Minute Retirement: Malcolm gets a call from Julius Nicholson at the 0:8:20 mark of S3E08. And then, at 0:9:31, "Would you be prepared to come back?", making this trope almost literal from the audience's perspective.
The two specials tied in with Tony Blair's resignation.
The swearing is apparently authentic: there are several Whitehall insiders among the crew, including writer Jesse Armstrong and adviser Martin Sixsmith. Armando Iannucci is often approached by Whitehall staffers who tell him the reality is even worse than they imagine.
A Whitehaller approached Rebecca Front after S4E02 and told her "Shad Cab? Exactly like that."
Tuckerization: On the series one DVD commentary the character names are discussed, and it emerges that several of them came from writer Jesse Armstrong's five-a-side football team. These Tuckerizations include... Malcolm Tucker.
Jamie. How someone this close to being feral was even allowed into Number 10 is never explained.
As a member of Her Majesty's Civil Service, Terri is practically unsackable. This is Truth in Television: civil servants aren't impossible to sack, but nearly so; troublesome, ineffective or surplus civil servants tend to be Kicked Upstairs or persuaded to take voluntary redundancy. This is taken to extremes in the first episode of the fourth series, where she deliberately tries to get herself fires and still manages to keep her job.
Robyn is pretty useless but her job security will be assured for as long as Glenn is in charge of sacking people.
Undying Loyalty: Sam to Malcolm. She stays on as his PA for at least the eight-year run of the show, during which every other professional relationship and alliance portrayed within the series is destroyed completely at least once. This includes her crossing over into opposition with him after his party loses the election and, well, just generally putting up with Malcolm for all that time...
And seemingly Malcolm back to Sam, as well, based on how he reacted to her crying after his sacking.
The Unfettered: Malcolm. He needs to be as his job essentially involves keeping the party in power by any means necessary.
Emma and Phil also, with their childish verbal slanging matches they have against each other in almost every episode. The sexual tension is lampshaded by several different characters. Glenn even refers to them as "Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips".
Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Everyone. The two primary ministers, Hugh Abbott in Series 1 and Nicola Murray in Series 3, actually tend to be more sympathetic due to them being basically good people broken over time by the political machine.
Unwitting Pawn: Nick Hanway, Steve Fleming... most of Malcolm's enemies in fact.
Vetinari Job Security: Malcolm has worked very hard to put himself in this position, though his grip on things is slipping in series three. However, when he's fired, we get glimpses of a government without Malcolm: Steve Fleming is creeping around being a creepy creep and scaring everyone, a handful of cabinet ministers revolt and Dan Miller's cabal apparently see it as an opportunity to launch a leadership bid. Needless to say, Malcolm is quickly called back.
Malcolm: "I am the heart. I am the ventricles!"
The Villain Makes the Plot: Over the three series Malcolm's enemies have become progressively more powerful, and his conflicts with them have become more interesting as a result. In the first series Malcolm only had to contend with incompetent politicians and civil servants. By the third he had gained a genuinely powerful Arch-Enemy.
"I'M NOT FUCKING WORRIED, MATE! Fuck him-fuck-him-fuck-him-FUCK HIM!"
"I AM GOING TO JOIN DAN MILLER'S TEAM, AND WE ARE GOING TO TAKE YOU DOWN! WE ARE GOING TO TAKE YOU DOWN TO FUNKY TOWN! FUNKY TOWN CENTRE, HERE YOU COME! CHOO-FUCKING-CHOO!"
Episode 3 of Series 4 sees Stewart howl in fury, smash a phone and collapse onto the floor when he finds out about the final disaster in what has been a really bad day.
Episode 4.06 sees Malcolm undergoing one right in the middle of the Inquiry, starting with a rant on how everyone leaks not just in the government but all over the country, then bitterly declaring that everything about the culture of spin and leaking has been 'laid on his doorstep' because of who he is and 'you can't arrest a country'...and saying he's 'finished anyway' before quietly getting up and leaving.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Ollie and Glenn developed shades of this as of Series 3. Seems to have been genuine in at least one direction; Glenn's excoriation of Ollie's character to the Inquiry after he's stabbed Glenn in the back reveals a sense of utter betrayal.
Wangst: In-universe: in "Spinners and Losers", it's a source of some frustration to Jamie that all of Cliff Lawton's attempts at writing a comeback speech to stand as a challenger for party leader seem to degenerate into whining about how Malcolm Tucker gave him the shaft.
Jamie: "Nobody gives a shit if you got shafted by Malcolm." Cliff: "I will never ever forgive him for what he did to me." Jamie:(Disgusted) "Jesus, this isn't Eastenders, this is politics! We're all in the same plague pit, Cliff, there's no clean hands!"
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Stewart's never ending stream of PR fluff and political correctness came from an earnest effort to try and remove the sexist, racist and homophobic elements of his party.
Much is made of Hugh never really seeing his family. This is Truth in Television, as many politicians spend most of their time at Whitehall and don't spend a lot of time with their families:
"Lots of love via Glenn, and nighty-night."
Series 3 sees Malcolm take his first holiday in ten years. He spends it in his house with a bunch of journalists:
Glenn Cullen: "Malcolm doesn't take holidays, he has to keep moving or he dies—he's like a shark or Bob Dylan."
Malcolm Tucker: "Lying on your back getting fed nutrients through a tube? That's my idea of a fuckin' holiday."
Work Com: Virtually the entire show occurs within the confines of Whitehall. We never see Hugh's wife and kids, or see Malcolm and Jamie at the pub, for example. We do get to see Ollie with his girlfriend at her flat, but only because she works for the Opposition.
Yank the Dog's Chain: Butt Monkey Peter Mannion does an emphatically decent thing by refusing to use Nicola's daughter's school troubles to his side's advantage. As he maintains to Stewart that they'll conduct themselves honourably, Malcolm is over at Number 10 convincing Nicola that there's no such thing as honour, which culminates in Nicola calling Mannion to tell him that nothing in his personal life is off-limits. Cue gloating from Stewart. Poor Peter.
Glenn's intention to stand for election, scoped and dropped by Nicola's latest PR disaster.
You Know I'm Black, Right?: When Ollie suggests "making special needs kids clean up graffiti" as a policy idea, Hugh tries to make him feel some remorse, wrongly assuming that a complete prick like Ollie may be capable of feeling any:
Hugh Abbott: "You just took a shit with your clothes on Ollie—Glenn's boy, Peter, he went to a special needs school."
YouTube Poop: Nicola finds herself starring in one in episode 3.1.
Nicola Murray: "Oh great, someone's just sent me a YouTube clip, which is me in front of the "I AM BENT" sign randomly intercut with bits from Family Guy. It's not even funny! Why do people fucking do that on YouTube?"