Review: 30 Greatest Political Comedies

Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy

In the UK: Wednesday 20th, 10pm, More4

Aha! The much heralded 30 Greatest Political Comedies! No, really, it was. Okay, I’m lying, it wasn’t.

I mean let’s face it, if you were the More4 marketing department, would you bust a gut in the run-up to Christmas, promoting a list show voted for by MPs? No. Me, neither. I’d be off with Tiggy, Mimzin and the other PR girls, drinking cosmopolitans at that super new bar that’s just opened near Victoria.

So it snuck out last night with the stealth of Jack Bauer, a knife clenched between his teeth, throwing a terrorist’s body overboard to cover his tracks. Hosted by two Thunderbirds puppets with uncanny resemblances to Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy, the show listed, surprisingly enough, the 30 political comedies that MPs felt were both the closest to real life and the funniest. Ranging from the election night sketch in Monty Python’s Flying Circus to Yes, Minister and The Thick of It, the shows got hyped by various sitting MPs, journalists and broadcasters, strung out on speed and intravenous drug-using Dutch prostitutes.

See? That’s what happens when you watch shows about politicians. They rub off on you and you start lying every five seconds.

So what did we learn from the show?

  1. Politicians either have very good memories for shows about politics, with all sorts of lost classics from TV history getting a welcome airing, or they have very good researchers.
  2. Media training counts for nothing, unless its main aim is to turn you into bits of wood or the kinds of monsters who would get chased out of villages by people with burning torches.
  3. Most political journalists are as bad as the politicians. You’d certainly never want to invite Jonathan Dimbleby round to a dinner party to entertain you with his jokes.
  4. Politicians have no taste in TV since they voted The Day Today as number 27 or something. Only if you’ve never watched The Day Today or you’ve eaten too much mercury-laced fish will you think that it deserves to be beaten by Mike Yarwood. You fools. All of you.
  5. You can’t take Lembit Öpik seriously any more, now he’s ditched that nice Sian Lloyd for one of those illegal immigrant Cheeky Girls.

Illuminating, then, but not very different from your standard list show, other than the thin veneer of classiness the More4 branding bestowed upon it and the lack of Chav-U-Like, know-nothing, digital TV presenters filling the talking heads slots. Turns out though, if it’s a choice between chav-y, rent-a-quote, eye-pleasing TV presenters and MPs, I’d rather have the first amiable bunch, rather than a load of bitter and twisted power-chasers who are still narked about getting caught out by Chris Morris for Brass Eye.

Hello. I. Am. Charles. Kennedy. I. Am. A. Robot. What. Did. You. Think. Of. That. Michael. Howard. Robot?

Sorry. They’re going to be haunting me all day.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.