Margaret - a review

I know. This is the sort of post which, if it appeared elsewhere, I would have posted a comment like, "and yes, breaking news, Mafeking has been relieved" It's a day or two later than the rest, but I want to say:

The BBC's drama "Margaret", charting the rise and fall of one of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers, was great entertainment and a fantastic employment opportunity for out of work actors who play "patrician" roles. As to whether or not it was true to the reality of politics, you will have to ask Mrs T, or better still, ask Tom Harris who is not only an MP and former minister, but an articulate blogger. To some extent, we think we know. "The thick of it" struck such a chord of reality, this show clearly has to nod in its direction - but without the laughs.

Which brings me to the crux. It had no laughs. It had no depth. This was no Shakespearean tragedy, this was melodrama. It played on one note: it was predicated on the wicked Spitting Image sketch in which Mrs Thatcher is dining out with the cabinet. She orders and the waitress says, "And what about the vegetables" and Thatcher says, "They'll have what I am having" In other words, the film portrayed the Thatcher Cabinet as sycophantic, venal, pusilanimous and above all, incapable of independent thought. I find it impossible to believe this is true!

The most idiosyncratic and therefore the most interesting performance, was that of Michael Maloney as John Major, who was made out to be more of a Bond Villain than a Prime Minister in waiting. He only needed to be stroking a cat and the whole thing would have been hilarious. James Fox did a superb, eyebrow raising Roger Moore impression as Charles Powell, with a bit of upper class gurning for variety. As for Mrs Thatcher, I met her once, for about five minutes. Charisma is not the word; aura more like, and besides Steve Nallon does Thatcher and that's the one I remember and cherish. Lindsay Duncan simply lacked the charm, warmth and a sort of everywoman glow that Mrs T seemed to have. (It was in the script, but it did not come across in the performance.)

I got very confused at one point because the chronology got shifted often, and with little signposting. There was no reference to the Brighton bomb, which to me would have given the programme the depth it was clearly lacking.


subrosa said...

Excellent review WW. I didn't realise Mr S recorded it for me so I watched it last night. Well I watched just over half of it and you've hit the nail on the head with 'it had no depth'.

Lindsay Duncan didn't come up to my expectations in the least and began to irritate me with her over-acting.

Although I never supported Mrs Thatcher I did admire her and, from what I saw on television in these days, she did have a quality about her that was a distinct threat to men.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Thank you Rosa. It's kind of difficult for me to say, but I get the impression Thatcher elicited a variety of responses in men from sheer terror to sexual arousal and probably, both at the same time.

To me, she was just like a kindly mum. She came over to me and started chatting and I got the impression she was really interested in me - clearly a gift - but the key thing was, she did not need to speak to me. Her flunkies were hopping from one leg to another and she made them wait! I have met others and believe me, they wouldn't so much as look you if you didn't have something they want.

Conan the Librarian™ said...

WW, the thought of Thatcher and sexual arousal in the same sentence sends shudders down my spine (and not in a good way!).

subrosa said...

Conan that's because you're a Scotsman. They all have some allergy to positive women unless they're positively in their place of course.

WW I never met Thatcher but I've heard she was indeed as you say. Of the politicians I've met over the years I think the drunken Nicholas Fairbairn was the most entertaining (and he could work a room like magic). Another was Ken Clarke but he appeared petulant at times.

Strange it's two tories I've chosen but no others stand out in my mind. Now, if I was to list the politicians who I found offensive and ignorant ...

an ex-apprentice said...

I've always liked the Mitterand quote:

"She has the eyes of Caligula, and the lips of Marilyn Monroe."