The story so far...
Welcome to the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, formerly the domain of Hugh Abbot – a minister so hapless, so singularly lacking in anything even remotely resembling hap, that he ended up being booted after the previous PM resigned. It's now a very different Westminster, with new PM Tom Davis in power (or sitting in a dark corner quaffing antidepressants, depending on who you ask) and Malcolm Tucker's own position as director of communications/terrifier-in-chief under threat. Oh yes, and there's a new minister at DoSAC. She's BOUND to do a better job than the last one, right?
Everyone's a bit nervous as the series opens. Actually that's not true. Terri's pretty fine, actually, as she's a civil servant and isn't in danger of losing her job under the new minister – a fact she doesn't mind reminding the others about every six seconds or so. Olly and Glenn, Hugh's leftover advisers, are feeling about as comfortable as a philandering MP at a clap clinic. Thankfully, new minister Nicola Murray isn't in any rush to get rid of the duo – not because she particularly values their ideas and insights, but because she literally has no idea what her job is, what the department does, who these people are, and why any of this is even happening.
Which is to be expected, given she wasn't actually the first choice for the role. Or the second, third or fourth. Basically, on the list of potential contenders, it seems she came somewhere just below Mick Hucknall and the taller Chuckle Brother. Never mind, though, because she's determined to make a damn good go of things. Until she's swiftly hit with a simmering scandal involving her husband's business connections, and the question of whether or not she can send her kid to a public school. Because if she DOES, she is in effect saying that all the government's much-improved state schools are in fact "knife-addled rape sheds", in Malcolm's inimitable words.
All of that's nothing compared to another epic cock-up involving the government's immigration statistics, which go mysteriously awol and put whatever remains of Nicola's composure through the shredder. On that subject, it becomes very clear that while Hugh Abbot suffered from that aforementioned hap-deficit, Nicola Murray's main drawback is that she is always, at all times, mid-meltdown. Just getting into a lift makes her shriek and judder like she's been zapped with a cattleprod, and the very sight of Malcolm Tucker has her hyperventilating like a Victorian woman who's just seen a man with his knob out.
Not that you can exactly blame her for demonising Malcolm – the man is genetically 50% demon, after all. He comes pre-demonised. And if anything he becomes MORE perturbing as the series continues. Look, the man once had some sense of restraint – he might THREATEN to pull off your head and extract your spine with his teeth, but you kind of knew he wouldn't do it. All bets are off in this series, though. Physical violence is very much an option. Even those in the Opposition get the full Tucker treatment (especially floppy-haired puppet-boy Phil, who Malcolm promises to eviscerate so badly that he'll have to be "reassembled by f*cking air crash investigators").
Speaking of the Opposition, they'll be poking around this series as well. Nicola's nemesis in the shadow cabinet, Peter Mannion, has to deal with the machinations of party spin doctor Stewart "fractal retaliation" Pearson, as well as a particularly painful interview on Radio 5 Live in which his opinions on body piercings and the money-grabbing wankers in the City (which is a problem since, to quote the man, "some of my best friends are money-grabbing wankers").
Oh, and lest we forget, towards the end of the series we'll also see the arrival of Mr Steve Fleming – Malcolm's old colleague and rival in the dark arts of spin, and a man so gigantically revolting you'll want to fumigate your own eyes every time he turns up on screen. There's no love lost between these two (by which we mean Malcolm would gladly feed him limb-by-limb to an industrial meat processor), and in the battle of supremacy only one can win. Could this be the end of Tucker's reign?