THE NEW STATESMAN written by LAURENCE MARKS AND MAURICE GRAN (Shock DVD)

 |   |  1 min read

THE NEW STATESMAN written by LAURENCE MARKS AND MAURICE GRAN (Shock DVD)

Although as dated in its own way as Mind Your Language (the British sitcom which milked racial stereotypes for humour), The New Statesman still has something to recommend it to contemporary audiences.

Filmed in the Thatcher era (a character playing Thatcher appears in the series), it broadly satirised the greed and ruthlessness of that period through the loathsome, sadistic and self-centred character Alan B'Stard (Rik Mayall). It was hardly subtle, but that is what makes it interesting and sometimes very funny, although it lacks any of the droll, satirical detachment of Yes Minister which was its immediate predecessor in political comedy on British television.

Because it came before the time of Tony Blair's centrist Labour movement, the Right and the Left are reduced to cliches (as in Mind Your Language of a decade previous): on the Right are B'Stard, bumbling fools, toffs, in-breds and out of touch landed gentry; on the Left it is all cloth-capped unionists and wishy-washy liberals.

Viewed from this distance that is an almost ancient divide, but one which had been entrenched in Britain's class system. Post-Blair however it has -- in some measure -- been eroded and the division into cliches is less obvious fodder for humour, hence more subtle programmes like The Office . . . and less subtle shows like The Thick Of It (and its film offshoot In the Loop.)

As with In the Loop there is banter to be had between B'Stard and the Amercians in series two -- and of course matters of the European Union, johnny foreigner and the like are all ground up in the wide swathe this show cut.

The current coalition government in Britain might also be a farewell to all that old class divide as seen in The New Statesman -- although David Cameron and Nick Clegg are doppelgangers and childen of privilege.

We can only hope the satirists are sharpening their knives again, rather than attacking with club as did The New Statesman writers Marks and Gran in this five disc, complete series set.

In the clip below watch for Screaming Lord Sutch at the two minute mark. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Film articles index

LE DONK AND SCOR-ZAY-ZEE, a film by SHANE MEADOWS (Madman DVD)

LE DONK AND SCOR-ZAY-ZEE, a film by SHANE MEADOWS (Madman DVD)

Many rock musicians don't need much help to appear stupid. (The court calls Nikki Sixx.) But there has been a long line of films and television shows which parody or poke fun at musicians and their... > Read more

BOB DYLAN, AND DA PENNEBAKER INTERVIEWED (2007). Looking back on Bob

BOB DYLAN, AND DA PENNEBAKER INTERVIEWED (2007). Looking back on Bob

Fortysomething years ago the New York filmmaker DA Pennebaker received an offer he couldn’t refuse -- and which would subsequently define the genre of rock documentaries, rockumentaries if... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Tim Browning of the Shake Up

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Tim Browning of the Shake Up

Tim Browning of the Sydney rock trio is a busy guy. He not only plays drums but handles the press and tour bookings for the band which last year released its debut album . . . if you have no shame... > Read more

James Yorkston: The Year of the Leopard (Domino)

James Yorkston: The Year of the Leopard (Domino)

You probably won't hear a quieter, more surreptitiously beguiling album this year than The Year of the Leopard, an exceedingly understated collection by this Scottish alt.folk singer/songwriter who... > Read more