The writers of sweary BBC political comedy The Thick of It may have had some help from friends in high places during the scripting of the show’s fourth series, as real-life political aides have reportedly been beating a path to their door to offer up inside information.
When The Thick of It returns to BBC2 later this month, the satirical show will see a new coalition government in power formed of an upper-crust, blue tie-wearing party personified by actor Roger Allam in the guise of Peter Mannion MP, and a rival political group facetiously referred to as the “Inbetweeners.”
And it seems that the show’s staff may well have had gossip come their way from inside the real-life political “Inbetweeners” camp.
Sean Gray, one of the show’s writers, revealed to the Independent that the Thick of It team were approached by one of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s aides keen to leak embarrassing information to them during the series’ pre-production.
He said: “Armando got an email after a political awards. The person said ‘I’m working in Nick Clegg’s office until June. I’ll let you know what happened after that.’”
While Gray didn’t confirm whether or not the offer of this inside information was followed up, co-writer Roger Drew let slip that a member of David Cameron’s press office had also approached the writers and offered to help them send up the government.
Though producer Adam Tandy played down the significance of any outside assistance the writers may have had, saying: "We don’t think anyone had a meeting but we keep our ear to the ground. We don’t have any deep sources - apart from Nick Clegg.”
Whatever the truth, the situation mirrors that of 80s political sitcom Yes Minister’s writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, who used to meet regularly with political officials of the day who fed them ideas for storylines and situations.
The central characters of the last series of The Thick of It, the hapless Nicola Murray MP (Rebecca Front) and Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) will still be featured in the new series, this time as the Opposition, with Nicola becoming leader of her party.