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Armando Iannucci thinks it's "sad" that people like The Thick of It's Malcolm Tucker

Peter Capaldi's sweary creation was never meant to be a crowd pleaser.

Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It
BBC
Published: Monday, 5th July 2021 at 4:22 pm

It's difficult to think of satirical comedy series The Thick Of It without picturing Peter Capaldi in full flow as sweary spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker.

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The character became iconic, but he was never meant to be the star attraction of the popular show.

Indeed, speaking exclusively at last week's RadioTimes.com Script to Screen event, writer Armando Iannucci admits it actually saddens him that the rude director of communications became such a beloved figure in British comedy.

When asked about viewers cheering on Tucker in the show, Iannucci admitted, "I find it sad... obviously I wanted people to look forward to him appearing in an episode, in the same way you look forward to Darth Vader turning up in Star Wars, but I didn't want people to say they really liked Malcolm.

"To me he is the epitome of what was wrong [with politics]. If you examine every episode of The Thick Of It the structure is usually that a small thing goes wrong, it's sort of OK, but then Malcolm turns up and worries everyone about it, tries to fix it, makes it worse and then leaves blaming everyone else.

Armando Iannucci
Armando Iannucci Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

"So, for me, he was what was wrong - and the addiction to headlines, the bullying, the taking power away from individuals, trying to contain it all within No. 10 and feeling you can dictate events when actually you can't.

"I do think Malcolm probably had a set of core beliefs and somewhere along the line he decided he would do whatever it took to make that happen, he's prepared to break the rules. With him the end justifies the means."

Iannucci went on to reveal that he saw Malcolm's popularity as a personal failure, and the way in which the series was being misconstrued eventually made him stop writing it. "I stopped doing The Thick of It because politicians were seeing it as some sort of training manual rather than a warning," he explained. "I thought they no longer saw it as something to be embarrassed about, they saw it as something to admire, so I had failed totally and should stop."

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