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The Thick Of It
As the political sitcom returns, Rebecca Front, who plays Nicola Murray MP, tells TV Choice what’s new...
What journey has Nicola been on since we last saw her?
Well, since the General Election in which Labour lost power, she’s had to leave The Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship (DoSAC), but now she’s been made leader of the opposition, which nobody, least of all her, can quite understand! I think she’s baffled.
Is that a promotion for her?
A massive promotion.
How does it impact on her home life?
We don’t get a lot of that. But, yeah, her home life is a bit of a wreck. The implication is things are not going well in Nicola’s marriage. But then they never were.
What’s she been up to as leader?
The first thing she’s done is to bring in her swanky new adviser, Helen [played by newcomer Rebecca Gethings], who she’d been trying to poach since she first got into DoSAC. Back then Helen wasn’t interested, but now Nicola’s leader of the opposition, Helen comes out of the woodwork. I think she is more competent than Nicola — although that’s not saying very much. But she sort of emphasises the wrong things all the time. She’s a bit passive-aggressive, constantly undermining Nicola in little, unintentional ways.
What does Malcolm (Peter Capaldi) think?
He hates it — how they’ve made everything more feminine. They’ve brought in scented candles and the like!
You don’t appear in the first episode — and neither do the other regulars like Malcolm and Ollie. Is that a bold move for the show?
I think it’s the only way for the programme to go, given the big change in the political landscape. The coalition is the big news, so I think you have to jump straight in and address that and show the new government. Everyone knows that the former government will now be in opposition, so that bit you can take as read. In terms of the first episode, you’ve got to go straight in there with what’s happened at DoSAC. So I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do.
Have you got a favourite political gaffe?
There are too many! The last few months have been one after another.
Is Nicola good at sticking the boot into the new government?
She’s not brilliantly good at anything, but I’m sure if you asked her, as a character, she would have a vision. She still believes in stuff. I think there’s still a little bit of idealism in there. But equally she’s clinging on by her fingernails and she absolutely knows, I think, in her darkest hours, that she’s been over-promoted. Everyone’s out to get her.
Does Malcolm still treat her in the same way, even though she’s had a huge promotion?
He has to be slightly more deferential, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t swear and shout and get aggressive with her — but he just has to occasionally pull himself back, which is a really interesting dynamic. Peter plays it beautifully.
Could it be a real prospect that the next series will feature Nicola as PM?
I have no idea! I couldn’t possibly comment.