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In the Loop Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 17 April 2009 12:00
Director: Armando Ianucci
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Chris Addison, James Gandolfini
Certificate: 15

Is swearing an art form? In this case, yes. In the hands of Armando Ianucci and Peter Capaldi, Malcolm Tucker’s obscenities soar to the heights of lyrical beauty, rivalling Keats or Wordsworth at their best. “Shut it, Love Actually, or I’ll hole-punch your face.” Only Blackadder had such a Shakespearean flair for insults.

This spin-off from TV’s excellent The Thick of It sees the PM’s potty-mouthed press officer go global, all thanks to hapless minister Simon Foster (Hollander). After describing war as "unforeseeable", the Americans pounce on what Simon said, sounding their trumpets in a bid for some Middle East action. As the hawks and doves circle overhead, Malcolm Tucker tries to stop Simon and his aide Toby (Addison) from screwing things up further.

Across the Atlantic, Tucker is a big fish in an ocean of sharks; here swim the likes of peace-pushing General Miller (Gandolfini) and devious Secretary of Defense Linton Barwick (Rasche), each determined to turn events to their own ends. Sure, the Brits are coming, but we don’t stand a chance. As things unravel into threadbare chaos, meetings are crashed, dossiers are cooked up and wildlife programmes ordered on room service – “I don’t want porn turning up on the expenses,” worries Simon.

Featuring far more than a laugh per minute, Ianucci’s sweary send-up of global politics has a devastating taste for the jugular; unleashed from the closed doors of Westminster, his creation really hits the big stage hard. With no knowledge of the series necessary (just an appreciation for the fine art of cursing), In the Loop manages what More4 spent half their budget on this year: making politics accessible for the masses.

Subtly directed, with an inspired script behind them, the impeccable cast relish the chance to chase up and down the corridors of power. But with “foetus boy”s filling up the Capitol, and spin doctors controlling clueless idiots, is this what the international stage is actually like? Can our country really be clubbed into conflict by another? Yes we can.

Cutting through the crap with a razor’s edge, In the Loop offers a cross-section of the world’s confusion: realistically absurd, this spot-on satire is as authentic as ever. Worryingly and hilariously so. In Armando, we have a Jonathan Swift for the 21st Century.


A quick-fire assault on your funny bone, In the Loop is a stroke of British genius. Profane, profound and permanently relevant.


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