Roadkill review: Hugh Laurie is a Farage-Gove-Johnson mashup in this predictable political thriller

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Dubious politicians, crusade hacks, ghosts, officials, big themes, famous cast, author’s platform: it can only be a new David Hare. Two years after the BBC’s four-part State of the Nation drama Collateral, he’s back with a new four-part state of the nation drama from the BBC, Roadkill. We have the idea. Presumably the next one will be called Bystanders.

After Carey Mulligan’s main tour Collateral, this time it’s Hugh Laurie in the lead as fictional Conservative minister Peter Laurence. I say fictional, but Laurence is obviously kind of a self-made, devious, and popular Farage-Gove-Johnson mashup with an LBC-style radio show and a complicated love life. His boss, Prime Minister Dawn Ellison (Helen McCrory), is unsure of what to do with this maverick, who ignores the message but remains loved for his outspokenness.

The first episode begins with Laurence triumphantly leaving court, after chasing a newspaper and winning. The key witness on the other side, a reporter by the name of Charmian Pepper (Sarah Greene), changed her testimony midway through. But Laurence’s life is about to get complicated. The humiliated Pepper is determined to bring him down. A woman in prison claims to be her beloved child. Another girl, Lily (Millie Brady), leads a wild life in college. Why are events conspiring against him? For someone who is apparently so popular, he has a lot of enemies.

Not known for hiding his leftist leanings under a bushel, Hare has said in interviews this time around he wants to take conservatism seriously. Regarding the script, the arguments offered by Laurence & co still seem cynical rather than really felt, but the casting of the leads helps. You can’t help but be warm to Laurie and McCrory, however venal their characters are, because they project such intelligence. Laurence’s Laurence is articulate and charming, and you can see why people forgive her for the bizarre lie, even though it lacks the swagger of Richard Roper, the villainous arms dealer Laurie starred in. The night manager.

McCrory’s Ellison is smart, sharp, and knows exactly how to deal with her disruptive male subordinates. If they were politicians in real life, these two would make a terrific ticket. An honorable mention also for Olivia Vinall as Ellison’s slippery private secretary, Julia. If you just finished watching We, you’ll recognize at least two of the actors, Iain de Caestecker and Saskia Reeves, who return here as Laurence’s Spad, Duncan Nook, and Peter’s loyal wife, Helen. I can’t fault their performances, but it’s unfortunate programming, which makes BBC One feel like some sort of repertoire company.

RoadkillThe pedigree of is evident. It is skillfully put together and the plot draws you in. He aspires to make a statement about double standard and hypocrisy in public life, exposing those conservatives who will do one thing in private, whether it’s lining their pockets or forgiving stray children, apply another rule to the rest. from the country. For all its post-Brexit aspirations, it feels like a drama from an earlier era, with a traditional left heart. As bizarre as the fictional storylines on display are, the real world is crazier, and we’ve seen this kind of plot too often before.

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