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Series / The New Statesman

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The New Statesman was an award winning British comedy program in which Rik Mayall played the evil Alan B'Stard, an utterly venal and corrupt Conservative MP who stopped at nothing to further his career, and/or make piles of money. Other characters included his wife Sarah, who was a very good (or rather evil) match for her husband, and Alan's brainless, spineless and much-abused flunky Piers Fletcher-Dervish.

The show ran for 4 seasons from 1987 to 1992, with a final special made in 1994, and was revived as a theatre production in 2006.

Came sixty-first in Britains Best Sitcom. Not to be confused with the New Statesman, a left-leaning political magazine based in the UK (though many of its readers probably appreciated this series).

The show provides examples of:

  • Artistic License – Politics:
    • Alan's overwhelming election victory at the beginning of the series is shown as due to him arranging for his two rival candidates to crash their cars into each other, leaving them fighting for their lives in hospital. In fact, Labour and Alliance voters would not have switched their votes to Alan just because their favoured candidate might be dead before long. They would rather have a chance to vote for their preferred party again at a by-election than be stuck with a Tory MP for five years.note 
    • In at least one episode B'Stard refers to a Labour MP as "Mr. Crippen" (twice) while speaking in the House of Commons. British MPs (and Peers) never refer to each other by name in the chamber (they say "the (Right) Honourable Member for [constituency]" — or often just something such as "my honourable friend" in the all-too common event of them not being able to immediately remember which of the country's 650 seats another MP represents) and would immediately be told off by the Speaker if they did. Alan also speaks while sitting and speaks directly to other MPs, sometimes at the same time.
  • Asshole Victim: The Tory rising star that Alan eliminates as a threat at the beginning of Series 3 is basically just Alan, but a lot dumber.
    • Alan when left to rot in Siberia also counts.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Many episodes end with Alan attaining some form of victory even when he does not achieve his primary goals. The series as a whole ends with Alan becoming Lord Protector and head of state of Great Britain.
  • Brick Joke: All the way through series one Piers talks about his seemingly strait-laced and rather prudish fiancée. When we meet her in series two, she turns out to be... not quite as imagined.
  • Butt-Monkey: Piers
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Alan has been known to switch parties based solely on which political platform will allow him to rip more people off.
  • Chained to a Bed: An American television star invites Alan home and has him tie her up, but then realises she left her Quaaludes in her car and sends Alan down to get them. He gets arrested. When he finally makes it back over a day later, he can't be bothered to untie her before he leaves to catch his flight. She finds this hot.
    Now there's a man who really understands bondage!
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Alan's transgender accountant Norma(n), Roland Gidley-Park (jarringly, as he's Sarah's father), pub landlord and former hangman Sidney Bliss and Labour MP Bob Crippen all disappeared after the first series. Alan's political agent Beatrice Protheroe, who was having an affair with Sarah, disappered halfway through the first series. Elderly Tory MP Sir Steven Baxter disappeared partway through the second. Sidney did make a one-off return (played by a different actor) for the special between series 2 and 3.
  • Crosscast Role: Norma(n) is played by a woman throughout the first series, even during the first couple of episodes when he's still meant to be fully male.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In Who Shot Alan B'stard?, Alan implied he once beheaded his pet dog (he was actually trying to hang the animal) for peeing on his Nelson Mandela poster.
  • Eagleland: In the stage show Condoleezza Rice is very much an example of type two, she announces a plan to bomb Iran and when Alan asks if she can identify it on a map she haughtily announces "I'm an American!" folds arms "Of course not!"
  • Easy Sex Change: Alan's accountant Norman becomes more feminine in every episode of series one.
  • Establishing Character Moment: B'Stard's very first action in the show has him winning the Haltemprice by-election and retaining his seat by cutting the brakes on the cars of his Labour and SDP opponents, landing them both in hospital in critical conditions.
  • Evil Matriarch: Alan's mother is just as morally bankrupt and greedy as he is, perhaps the only person in the whole run of the show who meets him completely on his own level. For added ickyness, at the end of her episode there's way more than a hint that there's affinity in their equality even as they try to kill and screw-over one another.
  • The Executioner: A minor recurring character is Sidney Bliss, a former hangman who was made redundant when Britain outlawed the death penalty and thus presently works as a publican in Alan B'Stard's constituency. Whilst polite and constantly professional, its made clear that he enjoys hanging people to an unhealthy degree, Bliss supports Alan solely out of his promise to bring back hanging. He finally gets his wish after Alan fakes an assassination attempt on himself to trick parliament into reinstating he death penalty, and in a twist of fate his first victim turns out to be Alan himself.
  • For the Evulz:. Sarah leaves Alan to rot in a gulag in Siberia for three years when she could have easily asked for his release, 'because she can'.
  • Freudian Excuse: With heavy emphasis on "Freudian". When we meet Alan's mother, she's a cruel, greedy, selfish and manipulative harpy who raised him in her image. She's also hinted to have been sexually involved with him for some time, and although Alan seems to consent to her kissing him, it makes him hate her even more. Makes you wonder how long she's been sexually involved with him.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • How many charities can have the initials CASH?
    • And the "Santiago High Income Trust" from series two.
      "Yes, an unfortunate oversight, but we've printed all the stationery now..."
    • As well as the B'Stard Universal Marketing in "Live From Westminister" (or B.U.M).
  • Gag Penis: It is repeatedly implied that Piers is very well endowed, though he's too stupid to realise it.
  • Historical Domain Character: The episode "A Bigger Splash", was based on the premise that the media tycoon and fraudster Robert Maxwell had faked his own death and was hiding in Bosnia note . Alan tries to steal the millions of pounds that Maxwell embezzled from the Mirror Group pension fund, only to find that there's actually no money to be had — Maxwell, ever the con man, has been conning him.
  • Insistent Terminology: "B'Stard", not "bastard".
  • Karma Houdini: Alan always gets away with everything, usually managing to further his career and/or make a fortune in the process. Even moments where it looks like he's finally about to get his comeuppance he manages to spin around and come up smelling of roses.
  • Karmic Death: Inverted - B'Stard is saved from death by his own greed and dishonesty when, after he gets the death penalty brought back and then arranges for one of his companies to get the contract to build the new gallows, he becomes the first person sentenced to hang (for a crime he didn't actually commit) - but the gallows breaks because he had it built on the cheap, his survival is deemed an act of God and he is reprieved.
  • Kavorka Man: Alan is very good-looking and well turned-out (and rich), but he treats women so badly and his personality is so repellent, it's amazing any female would be in the same room as him, let alone the same bed. Nonetheless, his stream of affairs is constant. Although it's played with, since the women in question usually end up regretting it — partly due to his repellent personality and partly because he's a poorly-endowed terrible lover.
  • Kick the Dog: Alan does this all the time. More often than not, however, it bites back.
  • Large Ham: Alan during some of his speeches.
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: A Running Gag with Alan B'Stard is that he tends to be very quick in bed in regards to sex and is poorly endowed. As such, the women who have sex with him usually regret it, if not by that, then by his very repellant personality and very homophobic, racist, and sexist views. Not that he ever realizes this, as he thinks that he is a good lover.
  • Manchild: Piers doesn't understand much of what goes on around him and keeps his teddy at his desk.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Alan and Sarah despise each other, with the two cheating constantly, however remain married since it benefits both of them (Sarah loves the wealth and power that comes from being married to Alan, while Alan needs Sarah, as her father controls the local branch of the Conservatives and holds Alan's seat in his gift).
  • Oh, Crap!: When Alan is finally returned home from Siberia he immediately makes a veiled threat on television to the people who betrayed him (Sarah and Piers), the latter is shown to be clearly terrified and attempts to solicit police protection which Alan immediately circumvents by bribing the officer on duty.
  • One-Steve Limit: One episode features a crony of Alan's also named Piers. The two men have absolutely nothing else in common.
    Alan: Piers Lonsadle, financial journalist of the year; Piers Fletcher-Dervish, nonentity paying for lunch.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Despite being a massive conservative, outside of a few jibes, Alan was surprisingly supportive of Norman's sex change and sincerely complimented her makeup or femininity on a few occasions as she began transitioning. This hidden niceness promptly vanished once she vanished in series 2, unfortunately.
    • Alan does also behave sympathetically towards Professor Eugene Quail, a cross-dressing civil servant, who helps him pull off a scam based around North Sea oil. Despite having the ability to blackmail him into compliance, Alan instead shares the profits of the scam with him and then compliments his taste in lingerie.
  • The Plan: Many of Alan's plans are outrageously complicated such as the one that involved arranging the Falklands war to push up the price of corned beef. However, he is quite good at speed-chessing his way past unwelcome developments. The most outrageous is his plot to take over the country in the last episode.
  • Playing Both Sides: According to the stage show, the war on terror was arranged by Alan manipulating both sides to his own ends.
  • Politician Guest-Star: In the series premiere, one of the candidates in the Haltemprice election is David "Screaming Lord" Sutch of the Monster Raving Loony Party, appearing as himself.
  • President Evil: The series ended with Alan becoming "Lord Protector" of England note .
  • Retool: Twice. There was a major one between series one and two (several characters vanish without explanation, Sarah goes from being in love with Alan's (female) press agent to being a complete nymphomaniac (unusually, her bisexuality remained), more focus on Alan's money-making schemes and less on his political schemes). There was also a comparatively minor retool at the beginning of season four when the shift to the European Parliament allowed for complete change in sets, storylines and the majority of the cast outside Alan, Sarah and Piers. The fourth season also slightly changed the opening, where the final picture of Alan was him looking somewhat older and more cunning than in his original picture, which is fitting given how much more successful he is in season 4, even taking over Britain in the last episode.
  • Secret Test of Character: In the final episode of Series 1, Alan is trying to set up a lucrative business deal with an American hamburger mogul and his wife. Near the end of the negotiations, the couple suddenly suggests a wife-swapping session to seal the deal, which is more than a little problematic since Norma is posing as Alan's wife and hasn't completely finished her gender reassignment surgery (more specifically, she still has a penis). As a result, Alan has to repeatedly insist that he is a devout Christian and wife-swapping goes against his religion. It eventually turns out that the American couple actually are devout Christians, and were just trying to make sure Alan was a moral enough person for them to do business with.
  • Sexual Karma: Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist Alan is an absolutely terrible person, and his kinky sexual tastes reflect this. He's also very poorly-endowed and absolutely terrible in bed.
  • Shout-Out: The first episode of the second series ends with Alan uttering a delighted "Yes, Minister."
  • Sleazy Politician: Everyone, with the possible exceptions of Sir Stephen Baxter and Bob Crippen. Piers gradually turns into this over the course of the series, though isn't very good at it, e.g. demanding a bribe of £1.50 for important information.
  • Speed Sex: Running Gag in regards to Alan. He never lasts more than a few seconds from entry to climax. He seems to have convinced himself that this makes him a good lover.
  • Strawman Political: Alan is notable for doing the tours of all three major parties; in the original series, he was a straw Tory; in the stage production, he was a straw Blairite; and in a sketch for a No 2 AV Party Political Broadcast, he was an obvious parody of Nick Clegg.
  • Suddenly Bilingual: In one episode, Alan B'Stard is on trial, and one of his fake witnesses is pretending to be a chief of a native South American tribe. It turns out that the prosecuting lawyer can speak the language of that tribe, having been a fag for the tribe's high chief while they were both at Eton College.
  • Surrounded by Idiots Alan's attitude towards everyone.
  • Take That!!: To the Conservative Party in general during the 1980s, but especially 'Thatcherite' Conservatives. It also takes digs at Labour and the Liberals occasionally.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Alan was no angel in series one, but his cruelty was upped several levels between series one and two, he became rather homophobic and racist, and it might seem impossible but he somehow became even MORE sexist.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Alan and Sarah, forever and ever.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Alan, in one of the most extreme examples. He is a lying, cheating, greedy, manipulative, elitist and ultra-right wing megalomaniac who abuses those around him, regularly cheats on his wife and will even go as far as murder to achieve his aims. Despite all this, the audience still roots for him.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Piers. Lord Penistone even more so.
  • Villain Protagonist: Alan.
  • Villainous Incest: Between Alan and his mother. Just check out how they say their goodbye at the end of "Keeping Mum".
  • Wedding Episode: "May The Best Man Win" centres around the wedding between Piers and his fiancee, Clarissa. Alan doesn't want this to happen however, especially when Clarissa tells him that Piers will stop being his lackey after she marries him. After several attempts to kill her, he eventually ruins the reception by lacing the food with salmonella and botulism.