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Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Tucker’

Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor  image credit BBC America

Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor
image credit BBC America

Peter Capaldi’s debut as the 12th Doctor is less than 24 hours away and I know there are still a few of you out there who are concerned about how a more mature actor will make the role his own. I have no advance knowledge of series 8 of course, but I’m here to say our beloved Time Lord is in good hands.

It has been highly publicized that Peter is a life-long Doctor Who fan so it’s reasonable to assume that this character is obviously very important to him. Capaldi comes to the Doctor Who franchise as an acclaimed actor and director of an Oscar-winning short film.

And while we’ve all probably heard about how Capaldi was cast as a W.H.O. doctor in the Brad Pitt zombie flick, World War Z,  you may not realize how often our newest Time Lord has played a doctor of one kind or another in the past.

For example, he played a medical doctor (albeit a quite unhinged one) in the dramedy Fortysomething. Dr. Ronnie Pilfrey was concerned with the business side of medicine and had something of an obsession with his colleague’s wife, but you’ve got to admire his energy and willingness to commit no matter how ridiculous the premise. Surely these are qualities required of  the newest Doctor.

Most of you are probably well acquainted with Malcolm Tucker, the spin doctor extraordinaire from the political satire series The Thick of It. Malcolm is an artist with words and though they are often quite naughty ones, his verbal dexterity is a skill that transfers well to being a time and space traveler. You never know when you might need to talk yourself out of a jam.

On the other hand, Dr. Pete from the mini-series The Field of Blood is an alcoholic old hack with the soul of a poet. I’m not certain how soulful this Doctor’s meant to be but he usually has a sensitive side for those who are oppressed or abandoned.

*Additionally after watching The Field of Blood in its entirety, I learned that Dr. Pete is so called because he has a doctorate in divinity. Spirituality and the Doctor? The dozen or so hits on the internet that discuss the theology of Doctor Who would indicate there’s at least a passing connection.

Last but not least Capaldi played the Therapist in Big Fat Gypsy Gangster. That skill set should come in handy when confronting angry aliens with Oedipal issues.

Peter also played a psychiatrist in Getting On but he was more an object of desire for Dr. Pippa Moore than a healing character. On second thought, female adoration is something the Doctor has had dealings with on more than one occasion.

So fear not my Whovian friends, all will be well. We have a professional Doctor stepping up to the plate this evening… or at least he’s played one on TV.

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It may be foolish, but after coming in as my most popular post for the fourth consecutive year, I’ve seriously been considering retiring (deleting) “Is ‘bloody’ really a swear word?”  from my blog. It’s been a good little earner as far as viewing stats go, but I think I want to move on to other profanities and more creative ways of using the medium. It is 2014 after all and I do reside in the sweariest state in the US . (I still think that report is total bollocks!  We Midwestern residents are known for our friendliness and even tempers.)

But I digress. I just feel lazy relying on that old “bloody” chestnut” when swearing, especially in the UK, is apparently state of the art and, according to the Daily Mash, “still the best in the world.”

I mean how bad a cuss word can “bloody” be if this kid says it constantly?

 

On the other hand, this gentleman is an artist. He likes to string his rude words together like the lyrics of a song…

 

And lest you think men are the only true expletive experts, Nan is not only quick with an obscene word but generally crass as well:

 

Stephen Fry, a confessed linguaphile, has spoken at length about his opinions on swearing.

 

I have to admit I was once one of those people Fry describes as “mad, silly, prissy people” who thought people who swore a lot didn’t know any better words to use.  To be fair, the people I was familiar with tended to choose one particular naughty word and would proceed to repeat it ad nauseam.

Back then I would have never been able to appreciate a verbal abuse virtuoso like Malcolm Tucker…

 

But now that I have become either enamored of or anesthetized to profanity, I am moving up to bigger and badder things…I think. I have my reputation as an Ohioan to think about as well.  Therefore, if I have to swear, no fecking wanker is going to tell me which words I have to use. You’re going to tell me instead.

From the list below, please vote for which is your favorite British swear word. My choices may seem a bit tame, but they’re words we don’t use in the States and so have an exotic quality I enjoy.  It’s almost like not swearing actually.  If you feel strongly about another, please choose the “other” category and share your word.  I will report my findings in a future post and perhaps your input will help me decide the fate of bloody as a swear word.

 

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Yesterday Queen Elizabeth II made her annual appearance at the State Opening of Parliament. According to parliament.uk, this ceremony “marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and the Queen’s Speech sets out the government’s agenda for the coming session, outlining proposed policies and legislation. It is the only regular occasion when the three constituent parts of Parliament – the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons – meet.” For one single day, the government joins in a show of unity. Sounds lovely, eh?

The 2013 State Opening of Parliament image credit mirror.co.uk

The 2013 State Opening of Parliament image credit mirror.co.uk

As for the other 364 days of the year, I think politicians in the UK must be very similar to their counterparts in America – contentious, fractious and incapable of compromise.  And as serendipity would have it, I just finished watching a sitcom series about this very subject.

No Job For A Lady follows new Labour MP Jean Price as she learns the ins and outs of Parliament during the tail end of the Thatcher years.  Portrayed by Penelope Keith, Jean is an idealistic woman of mature years trying to make a difference without comprising any of her principles. With her fellow Labour party office mate, a cynical realist named Ken Miller to show her the ropes and her party’s whip, Norman, to rein in her enthusiasm, Jean quickly learns that bureaucracy and long-winded twaddle rule the House of Commons.

That point is made even clearer when she encounters her adversaries, the Tory MPs, and more specifically, Sir Godfrey Eagan.  Godfrey is an extreme cliché of the privileged classes (I hope, anyway) – self-absorbed; condescending; a true believer in the harsh Conservative doctrine of the Thatcher period; and obsessed with money, therefore, oblivious to the plight of people without it.  From this description you’d think Godfrey the most despicable man in politics, but just wait. That dubious honor will be awarded shortly.  Godfrey is charming in an amusingly insincere way and Jean has found it a better strategy to pair* with him in order to keep an eye on what he’s up to.
Throughout the three series of No Job For A Lady, Jean learns to play the political games necessary to achieve her ends; however, she retains her strongly held socialist principles and her commitment to her constituents in need. And while we are definitely meant to root for Jean, she is by no means perfect. In fact, she can be quite stubborn and self-righteous at times.

For example she interferes in a child custody dispute by stealing confidential information from her work colleague and friend, Ken.  She is also responsible, in part, for the failure of a local small business due to her organized boycott of a news agent selling magazines that degrade women.  The shop owner agrees to her conditions, but his business fails when Tory party customers stage a counter boycott against the liberal and feminist periodicals sold there.

In the end, the series demonstrates that democracy is an imperfect system, a slippery slope for even the most well-meaning of public servants. Some of the topics and references may be dated, but many continue to be relevant. For instance, there are still far more male MPs in Parliament than female ones.  And I’m willing to bet the Labour Party and the Tories have yet to come to a philosophical agreement about what works best – the type of government that believes “there is no such thing as society” (Margaret Thatcher) or the one that acts as a safety net.

*Pairing is an arrangement where an MP of one party agrees with an MP of an opposing party not to vote in a particular division. This gives both MPs the opportunity not to attend – definition courtesy of parliament.uk.

As for the most despicable fictional character in politics, well, in my estimation that distinction goes to The Thick of It‘s Malcolm Tucker. Here he describes the devastation his ambition has wrought :

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I’m not an investigative journalist so forgive me if I don’t get this exactly right. (Maybe Newsnight should hire me, eh?) Anyhow, it all started with this unusual person – DJ, children’s television presenter and philanthropist, Jimmy Savile.

Why he was allowed around children I can’t imagine.

He worked at the BBC, beginning in the early 60’s hosting among other things the music chart show, Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It, a program that granted wishes, mostly to children.  He was well-known for raising millions of pounds for charity, and particularly for hospitals. He was knighted and by all appearances was well-loved despite his eccentricities.  In the final years of his life, questions arose about possible inappropriate behavior with young girls, but he always denied or deflected the questions.  Since his death in 2011, hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse have been levelled against Savile and the investigations are ongoing.

So what does this have to do with the Beeb and their headlong acceleration into crisis mode?  As I understand it, they’re in hot water for digressions, old and new.

1.  Apparently during the sexually permissive 60’s and 70’s, there were plenty of people at the BBC who knew that Savile (and some others) had a thing for underaged girls but looked the other way.  Can anyone say Penn State?

2.  Within the past year, a BBC Newsnight investigation into the allegations against Savile was tabled for “journalistic reasons”.  Instead, tributes to Savile were aired on the BBC over the Christmas holiday period.

3.  After dropping a story that actually had legs, the Newsnight journalists went on to broadcast a story just this month wherein a sexual abuse victim from north Wales mistakenly identified a highly influential Thatcher-era politician as his molester.

4.  Several BBC officials have already taken leaves of absence or resigned.  There’s even a scandalette about the severance payout of 450,000 pounds offered to BBC Director General, George Entwistle, after spending just 54 days on the job.

This is, of course, an extremely simplistic account of the events.  If this post whets your appetite for more details, a complete crisis timeline can be found by clicking here.  Mind you, I found this link on the BBC News website so beware.

It saddens me to see an institution with such a venerable reputation around the world tripping all over itself.  Did the news division compromise its journalistic ideals by dropping a valid story in order to cover up the past sins of the parent corporation?  And what about the sloppy reporting on the north Wales abuse bombshell?  Full-on stupid mistake or their desperation to demonstrate that the BBC is tough on reporting child abuse scandals?  How can this trust issue be repaired?  I’m sure this guy is just waiting for a phone call…

Malcolm Tucker, spin master extraordinaire

For all our sakes, I hope the Beeb can get its house in order all on its own.

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