The Thick of It is a British comedy television series that satirises the inner workings of modern British government. It was first broadcast in 2005, initially with a small cast focussing on a government minister, his advisers and their spin-doctor. The cast was significantly expanded to coincide with Christmas and Gordon Brown's appointment as prime minister in 2007, which saw a number of new characters forming the opposition party. These characters continued for its third series in 2009, and the fourth and final series about a coalition government was broadcast in Autumn 2012.
Peter Mannion, the Secretary of State for Social Affairs, is told to launch his coalition partner Fergus's new 'Networked Nation' policy at a school. Peter doesn't even know how to right-click a mouse and would rather be celebrating his wedding anniversary, but Stewart Pearson won't hear otherwise. So Fergus is left in charge of drawing up a list of staff redundancies, and Terri Coverley is pretty sure she can make Fergus's hit list if she works hard at under-performing, and finds help from an unexpected direction. Peter's policy launch is a disaster, and the disaster recovery plan is even more of a disaster.
With Glenn gone, Nicola Murray is busy breaking in her new policy advisor, Helen Hatley. When Helen is accidentally photographed holding notes from an ideas meeting, Nicola is understandably angry. Of course, Nicola is already stressed by having an eight foot pork chop following her about, whilst simultaneously being attacked by the rest of her party for endorsing an unpopular policy. Even worse, her rival Dan Miller seems to be getting on very well with Malcolm Tucker.
Stewart Pearson is running 'Thought Camp' at a remote country house hotel, as the perfect way to re-engage the party with the creative cloudscape. No phones, no iPads. Peter Mannion can definitely think of better ways of spending the Easter weekend than 'imagineering' with Stewart, Emma and a bunch of back-benchers and party workers. Meanwhile, Phil is surprised to find the ministerial offices less than deserted. Glenn is there, working on the Fourth Sector backlog. Fergus and his advisor Adam are meeting with a young, attractive economist who wants to start a bank. Then all political hell is let loose when an unexpected and tragic news story breaks.
With Nicola safely on a train to attend the party's Here 2 Hear event in far-flung Bradford, Malcolm is free to launch his latest plot against the leader of the opposition. But Olly will find it difficult to help, given that he's in St Thomas' Hospital with a burst appendix, and Ben Swain will want more than a bar of chocolate for playing along with the scheme. When Nicola finds out what's going on, she has to try to control the situation from a seat in standard class, right under the watchful eye of a 24-hour news channel. Is she sitting on the fast train to Nowheresville, West Yorkshire?
With Nicola Murray and Peter Mannion on the back foot after the unravelling of the key worker housing sell-off policy, both government and opposition scramble for the moral high ground while the dirty floodwater of scandal laps around their toes. Several people are even calling for some sort of inquiry. Everyone wants to spin their own version of the story, by fair means or foul. But with more fingers being pointed, the scandal gets even bigger, threatening to implicate everybody. Meanwhile, in amongst it all, the department is trying to somehow launch the new Carers Pass.
The government, the opposition and the civil service all have a lot of questions to answer about the suicide of a nurse after his flat was sold off. They must now come before an inquiry into the scandal which has engulfed all corners of politics. Lord Goolding is reputedly a fair man, but he is not going to stand for any nonsense and neither is his team of expert inquisitors, so surely now the truth will come out. Unless someone lies, or creates a diversion of some kind, or simply pretends not to remember anything. Which they obviously would never do.
The final reckoning. Every dog has its day, but as the fallout from the inquiry starts to take its toll, the everyday problems of government continue unabated. Despite the fact that no-one is actually talking to each other any more. The Home Office have cut police numbers, created a huge backlog of arrest paperwork, and managed to blame DoSAC for the enormous queues at police stations. At Malcolm's suggestion, Dan Miller gets sent on a fact-finding mission to the local cop-shop to press the flesh, in the belief that it will make the government look unresponsive. Or does he have another motive?