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Series / The Gravy Train

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A 1990 miniseries by Malcom Bradbury, The Gravy Train follows the adventures of Dr Hans Joachim Dorfmann, a newly-appointed official in the European department of agriculture.


The Gravy Train provides examples of:

  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Hans must juggle multiple international crises, all without much knowledge of what's going on around him. Spearpoint is left back at head office trying to clear up the departmental chaos.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The series refers to the European Economic Community rather than the European Union. It also features a still-communist Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. There are references to East and West Germany being separate countries, as well as to Margaret Thatcher being in power. Several main characters smoke in public buildings and transport, large cuboid mobile telephones are used and the computers have large white CRT monitors with green text on a black background.
    • From 2019, the British presence in the European government will also be a sign of the times.


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The Gravy Train Goes East provides examples of:

  • Interservice Rivalry: The Foreign & Commonwealth Office considers its "traditional enemies" to be France, Germany, and the Department of Trade & Industry.
  • Ruritania: Slaka is a very small country recently liberated from communism. Even the country's leaders joke about not finding themselves on a map.
  • The Alleged Car: In episode 3 we see that pretty much all the cars in Slaka are like this, complete with alleged drivers and alleged pedestrians.
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