Peter Capaldi reveals true inspiration for Malcolm Tucker’s character

It turns out that The Thick of It spin doctor was not based on Alastair Campbell...


Peter Capaldi, the actor who plays The Thick of It’s foul-mouthed spin doctor, Malcolm Tucker, has revealed that he didn’t base the character on Tony Blair’s former head of communications, Alastair Campbell.


Despite sharing Campbell’s Scottish accent, Capaldi admitted in an interview published in Radio Times that his influences for Tucker’s character came from overseas.

Capaldi said: “The only people that I had witnessed personally behaving in the way that Malcolm does were American agents or producers.”

“You could see people at ICM in Los Angeles – malevolent forces in Armani suits – barking the foulest and most terrifying of obscenities down the phone at people.

“The producers, too. Harvey Weinstein and the team at Miramax were long celebrated for Malcolm-like behaviour, so in fact they were the people I thought about. That was the model I took, rather than Alastair Campbell, as I didn’t know him.

“Alastair might be a bit disappointed to know this,” he added.

Campbell has previously denied any similarity to Malcolm Tucker, though he has admitted to being fairly free with his use of obscenities in the workplace.

Capaldi also expressed affection for Malcolm Tucker during the interview, saying: “I like Malcolm very much. He’s got a heart of gold and he’s only trying to do his job; it’s not his fault that he’s confronted by an army of idiots.

“It’s quite exciting to play him, because he tends to always be on the offensive and he gets given wonderful lines, lots and lots of them.

“His verve, his vigour is a great tonic. Also I think he’s quite complicated, he’s not just a swearing man. He lives in a real world full of tough people making tough decisions. At his best he cuts through that world with a certain spring in his step and humour; get in his way, though, and he’ll cut you open with his face.”

Malcolm Tucker will return to our screen later this year in the fourth series of The Thick of It.


Read the rest of the interview in this week’s issue of Radio Times, on sale now priced £1.40.