‘The Day the PM Joined The Thick of It’: The Mockumentary and New Labour

  • Richard Wallace
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Comedy book series (PSCOM)


This chapter begins the book’s examination of the political mockumentary. The focus of the chapter is Tony Blair’s New Labour government, and the television mockumentaries The Thick of It and Alison Jackson’s Blaired Vision are analysed to demonstrate the evolution of the mockumentary form in a media environment dominated by 24-hour rolling news. Both programmes, it is argued, have an intense engagement with New Labour’s propensity for spin-doctoring and a mockumentary framework is used to take us ‘behind closed doors’ of the processes of government. The chapter also examines the impact of The Thick of It on our understanding of contemporary politics, noting in particular the way it is frequently used as a means through which media commentators make sense of unusual political events.


  1. Barefoot, Andy (2010), ‘Make Your Own Malcolm Tucker Poster’,, accessed 8 June 2017.
  2. Blair, Tony (2010), A Journey, London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  3. Bruzzi, Stella (2006), New Documentary (Second Edition), Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Carpenter, Humphrey (2000), That Was Satire That Was—Beyond the Fringe, The Establishment Club, Private Eye and That Was the Week That Was, London: Victor Gollencz.Google Scholar
  5. Cockerell, Michael (1988), Live From Number 10—The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television, London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  6. Corner, John (2002), ‘Performing the Real: Documentary Diversions’, Television and New Media, 3(3), pp. 255–269.Google Scholar
  7. ———, Kay Richardson, and Katy Parry (2012), ‘Comedy, the Civic Subject, and Generic Mediation’, Television & New Media, 14(1), pp. 31–45.Google Scholar
  8. Davis, Johnny (2007), ‘Cash For Questions—Edge’, Q Magazine, 254, pp. 20–24.Google Scholar
  9. Dyer, Richard (1986), Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society, Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  10. England, Charlotte (2016), ‘British Artist Continues to Publish Spoof Photos of Donald Trump Despite Risk of Being Sued’, The Independent,, accessed 9 June 2017.
  11. Freeman, Hadley (2010), ‘Gordon Brown—The Comeback Plan’, The Guardian, (29 April 2010),, accessed 22 November 2017.
  12. Garrett, David, Shirley Harrington, and Hilary Owen (2016), ‘Letters: Real Concerns about Fake News and Staged Photos’, The Guardian,, accessed 9 June 2017.
  13. Hansard, HC Debate 10 June 1997, Vol. 295, Col. 1049,–33.htm, accessed 10 October 2017.
  14. Harrison, Jackie (2010), ‘User-generated Content and Gatekeeping at the BBC Hub’, Journalism Studies, 11(2), pp. 243–256.Google Scholar
  15. Hill, Annette (2008), ‘Documentary Modes of Engagement’, in Thomas Austin and Wilma de Jong (eds.), Rethinking Documentary: New Perspectives, New Practices, Maidenhead; New York: McGraw Hill/Open University Press, pp. 217–231.Google Scholar
  16. Iannucci, Armando (2010), ‘Armando Iannucci: The Duffy Affair Turned the Media Into Shrieking Gibbons’, The Independent,, accessed 30 November 2017.
  17. Jackson, Alison (2003), Private: Photographs by Alison Jackson, London: Penguin Group.Google Scholar
  18. ——— (2016), Private, London: Alison Jackson Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar
  19. Jones, Nicholas (1996), Soundbites and Spin Doctors: How Politicians Manipulate the Media—And Vice Versa, London: Indigo.Google Scholar
  20. ——— (1999), Sultans of Spin, London: Orion.Google Scholar
  21. ——— (2002), The Control Freaks: How New Labour Gets Its Own Way, London: Politico’s Publishing.Google Scholar
  22. Levin, G. Roy (1971), Documentary Explorations: 15 Interviews with Film-makers, New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  23. Pankratz, Anette (2016), ‘Spin, Sweating and Slapstick: The Thick of It’, in Jürgen Kamm and Birgit Neumann (eds.), British TV Comedy: Cultural Concepts, Contexts and Controversies, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 281–294.Google Scholar
  24. Pillai, Nicholas (2017), Jazz as Visual Language: Film, Television and the Dissonant Image, London; New York: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  25. Piper, Helen (2004), ‘Reality TV, Wife Swap and the Drama of Banality’, Screen, 45(4), pp. 273–286.Google Scholar
  26. Price, Lance (2010), Where Power Lies—Prime Ministers v the Media, London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.Google Scholar
  27. Rawnsley, Andrew (2001), Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour, London: Penguin Group.Google Scholar
  28. ——— (2010), The End of the Party, London: Viking.Google Scholar
  29. Stewart, Graham (2013), Bang! A History of Britain in the 1980s, London: Atlantic Books.Google Scholar
  30. Sweeney, Kathy (2010), ‘Bigotgate: The Day the PM Joined The Thick of It’, The Guardian: TV & Radio Blog,, accessed 22 November 2017.
  31. Swift, Jonathan ([1729] 2015), A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland, From Being a Burden to their Parents or Country; And for Making them Beneficial to the Publick, London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  32. Tucker, Malcolm (2010a), ‘Bigotgate? Definitely as Bad as it Seems’, The Guardian: Malcolm Tucker’s Election Briefing,, accessed 10 October 2017.
  33. ——— (2010b), ‘Jesus Christ. This is like watching Bambi get fucked by a giant bastard moose. FUCK #ge10’, Twitter, 28 April 2010,, accessed 8 June 2017.
  34. Turner, Alwyn W. (2010), Rejoice! Rejoice! Britain in the 1980s, London: Aurum Press Ltd.Google Scholar
  35. Tweedie, Neil (2010), ‘Gordon Brown Eats Humble Pie with Gillian Duffy in Rochdale’, The Telegraph,, accessed 10 October 2017.
  36. Viner, Katherine (1997), ‘The Ministry of Truth’, The Guardian,, accessed 10 October 2017.
  37. Walters, James (2016), The Thick of It, London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  38. Wardle, Claire, and Andrew Williams (2010), ‘Beyond User-Generated Content: A Production Study Examining the Ways in Which UGC is Used at the BBC’, Media, Culture & Society, 32(5), pp. 781–799.Google Scholar
  39. Williams, Raymond (1989), ‘Drama in a Dramatised Society’, in Alan O’Connor (ed.), Raymond Williams on Television: Selected Writings, London: Routledge, pp. 3–13.Google Scholar
  40. Wootton, Adrian (1995), ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of Rock Documentaries’, in Jonathan Romney and Adrian Wootton (eds.), Celluloid Jukebox: Popular Music and the Movies since the 50s, London: British Film Institute, pp. 94–105.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickCoventryUK

Personalised recommendations