ACTION TV ONLINE EPISODE GUIDE
"Nothing lasts forever. Even
the longest, the most glittering reign must come to an end some
day" - Francis Urquhart
would not be overstating the case to proclaim this four-part
series as a masterpiece which ranks amongst the august company
Cathy Come Home, Pennies From Heaven, Churchill And The Generals
Suez 1956. Andrew Davies (who
had previously emerged as a writer of quality, sardonic, witty
and immensely entertaining drama with
A Very Peculiar Practice) adapted
in four parts, scripting a
of the struggle for and acquisition of power, the workings of
the political machine and the innocent parties crushed underfoot
in the dirty games played out in the forum of the
House of Commons. Ian Richardson was
cast as the devious Chief
Whip, Francis Urquhart,
who would transform throughout the series from a mere backroom
figure to emerge as the
Prime Minister of Great Britain. In
a technique normally reserved for Shakespearean
in the audience with Machiavellian
in which he verbalized his thoughts, desires, ambitions and
schemes. Matched beautifully by Richardson's
a sinister yet indomitable force which seduced audiences into
empathizing with and urging on the Urquhart
ascend to the summit of power.
as his wife,
a constant source of support and yet as equally manipulative
as her husband, whilst
Colin Jeavons starred
the weasel-like aide to Urquhart in his capacity as
Chief Whip. Remarkably,
the adaption of House
Of Cards differs
considerably to that which
Michael Dobbs penned
in his novel. The culmination of the programme, with Francis
his part in the death of Roger
O'Neill (Miles Anderson) and
the destruction of Collingridge
followed by his throwing the journalist from the roof of the
of Commons to
her death, differed radically from
(in which Urquhart
to his death) and yet succeeded in consolidating the representation
an unbeaten and unbowed political force of nature (perhaps aptly
summed up in a classic Urquhart
during the third and final stage of the trilogy, The
In a scheduler's dream, the series had been transmitted during
election, and perhaps formed an art-imitating-life situation,
as events unfolded at Downing
cries of "You might very well think that, I couldn't possibly
comment", an Urqhuart parlance which has since become
House of Commons phraseology.
Written by Michael Dobbs, adapted for television by Andrew Davies. Series director was Paul Seed, producer Ken Riddington. Script Editor for the series was Ellen Fraser
Synopsis : Who Will Be The Next Prime Minister? When a new leader for the Conservative Party is chosen, and it falls to Chief Whip Francis Urquhart to muster support for Charles Collingridge, the successor to Margaret Thatcher. But when the new Prime Minister casts Urquhart aside in favour of stable government, the gloves come off as he seeks revenge in pursuit of the highest office in the land.
Publicity : With impeccable timing the new BBC Sunday night drama is a political thriller about an attempt to undermine a conservative Prime Minister. The scenario imagines that Mrs Thatcher has finally been toppled and replaced by a man of straw who calls a general election and sees the Tory majority fall from one hundred to less than thirty. The knives are out, orchestrated behind the scenes by the devious Chief Whip (Ian Richardson) who uses Michael Caine's trick from Alfie and talks straight to the camera. With the whip's wife egging him into higher things there are hints of the Macbeth story, although the script by Andrew Davies (of Mother Love and A Very Peculiar Practice) is often closer to a farce than a tragedy. Based on a book by a former Thatcher aide, Michael Dobbs, House Of Cards, has the makings of highly satisfying entertainment. (The Times, November 18, 1990).
Notes : Episodes were transmitted between 9pm and 10pm. Music for the series was composed by Jim Parker.
Synopsis : It is Party Conference time and a scandal is about to break. Urquhart musters the support of media tycoon Benjamin Landless in a bid to bring down the Prime Minister.
Notes : The series was filmed at Manchester Town Hall, the interiors of which doubled for the House of Commons.
Synopsis : Thanks to Francis Urquhart's subversion, the Prime Minister's position looks precarious, but political journalist Mattie Storn suspects a frame-up.
Notes : Political Adviser for the series was The Right Honourable Ernest Armstrong P.C.
Synopsis : Having manipulated the present incumbent out of Downing Street, the way seems clear for the devious Chief Whip Francis Urquhart to take over as Prime Minister. Unless of course young Mattie Storin stumbles on the truth.
Notes : The stunt in this episode was performed by Tina Maskell, the stunt arranger was Gareth Milne.
Text © Matthew Lee, 2004.