It begins innocently enough: a politician calls a strike, and the headmaster of a local school inadvertently sabotages it. Soon the men are caught in a power struggle of epic proportions. Robert Lindsay (Horatio Hornblower) is brilliant as the corrupt, egomaniacal Labour party leader Michael Murray. Michael Palin (Monty Python) is superb as the principled, mild-mannered Jim Nelson. They are unlikely but inexorable foes, and as their conflict escalates, so do the risks. Nelson suffers from debilitating anxiety attacks. Murray hides a tormented past, and the arrival of a beautiful woman (Lindsay Duncan, Rome) further complicates matters.
With a BAFTA-winning soundtrack by Elvis Costello and Richard Harvey, this richly woven, acclaimed British satire skewers its Thatcher-era setting. Veering from drama to farce, it’s a darkly humorous tale of good versus evil, the progress of madness, and the ultimate cost of revenge.
Episode 1 commentary by Robert Lindsay, Michael Palin, and Peter Ansorge