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Film / The Deal (2003)

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2003 TV film (since released commercially by HBO in 2007) about the "deal" supposedly struck between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown over the Labour leadership before Labour's landslide election victory under Blair. As far as is suggested in the film, Brown thought he had Blair's guarantee that if the two of them came into competition over the Labour leadership, Blair would back down - and when this did not happen, another deal was made where Blair would at least stand aside to allow Brown to lead the Labour government after his own first term. Blair, as it turns out, doesn't see either agreement quite the same way as Brown.

Following the success of The Queen, by the same writer/producer team (Stephen Frears and Peter Morgan) and also featuring Michael Sheen as Blair, now marketed as a prequel to The Queen, or as the first installment in the "Blair Trilogy", to feature The Deal, The Queen and the 2010 release The Special Relationship. By virtue of its relationship to The Queen, it is also related to the 2016-23 Netflix series The Crown, also a Peter Morgan creation (as part of Morgan's broader "Queen Elizabeth II" series that also includes The Audience).

Expect large-ish amounts of mostly remarkably unpretty Ho Yay, generally unflattering angles on nearly everyone involved, and Blair showing at the very least a ruthless pragmatic look-out for his own future power above other considerations.

Has nothing to do with the 2008 film about the movie business.

This film contains examples of:

  • Cain and Abel: Well, more like Jacob and Esau, but you get the picture.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gordon Brown, John Smith, Charlie Whelan. And occasionally, Tony Blair. E.g. after a phone interview with a journalist, having insisted that no, Labour are not at all dejected after their latest electoral defeat:
    (Putting down the phone) And why? Because we're all on extremely powerful anti-depressants.
  • Determinator: Subverted by the number of ways this does not work out for Brown.
  • Dysfunction Junction: New Labour - also implied for Westminster in general.
  • Enigmatic Minion, with some Wild Card thrown in: Mandelson, through from the Gordon Brown point of view he's at best in Lovable Traitor territory.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: What Brown thinks of Blair and Mandelson.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Mandelson to Brown, ending on:
    Politics is not always about higher matters. Sometimes it is about the ugly business of making friends. [Pointedly] Keeping friends. Being liked.
  • Nice Guy: John Smith. He dies.
  • No True Scotsman: Literally. Brown rejects Blair's claims to be Scottish. And that's while he still kind of likes him.
    Blair: I was born in Scotland.
    Brown: Well, being born in a stable doesn't make you a horse.
    Blair: I was educated in Scotland.
    Brown: In Fettes. A posh Edinburgh public school filled with English.
    Blair: I support Scotland when they play football.
    Brown: That's tragic.
    Blair: Why?
    Brown: Because you're English! Not just in your accent, but the way you stand. The way you talk. Everything about you. I don't know why you bother denying it, it's quite possibly your biggest strength.
  • Only Sane Man: How just about every single character sees himself.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Brown, though this may be a mercy given The Un-Smile he later unleashed.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Blair, with swerves into Stepford Smiler and Smug Smiler, occasionally verging on Cheshire Cat Grin and generally getting a bit much.
  • Present-Day Past: Having only a small TV budget means most of the cars seen in the background are early 00's models even in scenes set as far back as 1983.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis! / No Indoor Voice: Brown on a bad day. "IS IT TRUE?" "WAS IT MANDELSON?" "WE! HAD! AN AGREEMENT!"
  • Rival Turned Evil: How Brown and Blair end up viewing each other.
  • Shout-Out: To Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: "Much of what follows is true".
  • Sliding Scaleof Idealism Versus Cynicism: Invoked and played with using Brown and Blair. Brown is outwardly cynical, being abrasive and aloof, but is very idealistic (if not realistic) about the goals of the Labour Party, having been a party loyalist since he was a preteen. Blair is more outwardly pleasant and easier to get along with, but he is also much more willing to bend established Labour orthodoxy if he thinks it means future political and electoral success. Brown comes to view Blair as cynical and opportunistic over this.
  • Sissy Villain: Whelan's view of Mandelson: "That man smells of vanilla".
  • Stock Footage: of the real Margaret Thatcher, Labour leaders John Smith and Neil Kinnock, and various future New Labour ministers. And Alastair Not Remotely Like Malcolm Tucker Campbell. Fun can be had by figuring out who isn't going to turn up as a character due to the use of actual footage of the real person.
  • Tsundere: Gordon Brown as a male version, with the emphasis increasingly on the "tsun".
  • Villain with Good Publicity: How Brown ends up seeing Blair.
  • Weasel Words: Played straightish and then subverted:
    Mandelson: Lately there have been... presentational difficulties.
    Brown: Oh yeah? And what is that, PR for being Scottish?
    Mandelson: It means you alienate people, Gordon.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: They don't.