Coalition is a Channel 4 drama based on the week following the 2010 UK general election, as Labour came to the end of a chequered 13-year term in government, with the Tories snapping at their heels.
It begins during the time of the first leaders’ debate, but we don’t get to see them actually doing that. It’s more about the back-room scenes, along with, as is confirmed at the start, segments which are effectively made up for dramatic purposes.
First of all, the actors chosen for the three leads are brilliant likenesses for David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg – Mark Dexter, Ian Grieve and Bertie Carvel, respectively, plus Mark Gatiss as a delightfully smarmy Peter Mandelson. The effect is less so for most of the others, particularly Donald Sumpter as former Liberal Democrats leader Paddy Ashdown and Nicholas Burns as current Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, both of whom I had to look up online to find out who they were playing as they may as well have been someone different altogether.
The film begins by focusing on the backbiting between the Tories and Lib Dems, now we know they formed the current government. It’s amusing watching the Tories and Labour looking to see which way Nick jumps, with their big demand being that the Lib Dems want voting reform (aka AV for Alternative Vote), which we all know turned out to be a big nothing, as the electorate couldn’t give a damn when a referendum was offered to choose that over ‘first past the post’.
As the drama plays out, we see the Lib Dems trying to keep the Labour party in play as a viable option, just so they can squeeze as much from the Tories as possible, and since Brown’s a hopeless lame duck, if he can’t topple himself quick enough, they need to find a way to help him…
Meanwhile, Labour work out that Gordon could stay on for half of a new parliament, while the Lib Dems will only go as far as a matter of months before he voluntarily steps down in favour of someone else. Cameron panics as he thinks Labour and Lib Dems are making a deal, and when Brown bows out during the third party’s talks with the Tories – which he does so because he “doesn’t want to go out in the dark” and needs to get on the evening news while he still can – Cameron believes he has the poisoned challice as leader of a minoritty government which won’t last the summer.
Of course, we now know what a disaster the Tories and Lib Dems were together, but just think how much mess Labour will also make when the time comes for them to govern again. All the political parties are, quite frankly, an utter shambles, all in it for themselves: Labour spend everything and bankrupt the country, while the Tories give what’s left to their mates. The Lib Dems are a doorstop, while UKIP are a bunch of racists and the Green Party are a bunch of tree-huggers who lead the charge over the pretence that mankind has anything to do with ‘global warming’, which the powers that be changed to ‘climate change’ when they realised the planet had stopped warming and they wanted an easy get-out.
As it came to an end, and Nick Clegg is Deputy Prime Minister, he prophecises in conclusion: “What if people look back on this… on me… and simply don’t agree? What if I’ve made a mistake?“, with his aide replying, “Who knows… the kingmaker may even survive the king.”
Coalition is an engaging comedy/drama which is worth 75 minutes (plus adverts) of anyone’s time with Messrs Dexter, Grieve, Carvel and Gatiss on top form, and if you enjoyed this then I highly recommend the Danish drama Borgen, as Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) leads the Moderates party into power at the start of three series where no party has won an overall majority and so a coalition must be formed – not just only from two parties, but several, making for one of the most incredible dramas of recent times.
Now, as for who will win on May 7th, I think that if Mark Dexter, Ian Grieve and Bertie Carvel were given the chance to run the country together, they’d no doubt do a damn better job than the current clowns…
Coalition is repeated tonight on 4Seven at 11pm and you can watch it on 4OD here.
Director: Alex Holmes
Producers: Sarah Curtis and Dixie Linder
Screenplay: James Graham
Music: Samuel Sim
David Cameron: Mark Dexter
Gordon Brown: Ian Grieve
Nick Clegg: Bertie Carvel
Peter Mandelson: Mark Gatiss
Paddy Ashdown: Donald Sumpter
Danny Alexander: Chris Larkin
George Osborne: Sebastian Armesto
Harriet Harman: Deborah Findlay
Buchanan: Michael Cochrane
Miriam Clegg: Marta Barrio
Patrick McLoughlin: Nick Holder
David Laws: Richard Teverson
Stewart Wood: Duncan Wisbey
Gus O’Donnell: David Annen
Labour aide: Leah Perkins
Liberal Democrat Aide: James Francis Andrews
Lib Dem Aide: Ben Abell
Lib Dem MP 2: Michael Sheldon
Samantha Cameron: Sally Scott
Andy Coulson: Andrew Bone
Sue Nye: Terry Diab
Ed Balls: Nicholas Burns
Ed Llewelyn: Steve Conway
William Hague: Alex Avery
Jeremy Heywood: Adam James
Sarah Brown: Caroline Fitzgerald
Police Officer: Lee Nicholas Harris
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.