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 at Elsewhere articles index

NO DIRECTION HOME a film about Bob Dylan by MARTIN SCORSESE (2005)

NO DIRECTION HOME a film about Bob Dylan by MARTIN SCORSESE (2005)

Against expectation, 2005 was a rare year for 64-year old Bob Dylan, especially since he hadn’t had an album of new material out in four years. Yet Dylan seemed to be everywhere in... > Read more

ELVIS, a film by JOHN CARPENTER (Shout/Shock DVD)

ELVIS, a film by JOHN CARPENTER (Shout/Shock DVD)

The lives of musicians (The Jazz Singer, The Glenn Miller Story, Till the Clouds Roll in 1946 about Jerome Kern) were an early fascination for film makers -- but most bio-flicks skirted lightly... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Revelator (Masterworks)

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Revelator (Masterworks)

Anyone who caught the husband and wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi in New Zealand recently were perhaps familiar with guitarist Trucks' impressive Allman Brothers/Eric Clapton pedigree,... > Read more

EPs by Yasmin Brown

EPs by Yasmin Brown

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Yasmin Brown. She will scoop up some of those many EP releases, in... > Read more