The Politician's Wife, This well-plotted political drama asks probing questions about the effect of power.

Rating: 15

Distributor: Acorn Media (Region 2)

Time: 186 minutes

Those who enjoyed seeing Paula Milne’s recent political drama The Politician’s Husband, with David Tennant and Emily Watson, should also like this compelling prequel.

Although originally broadcast back in 1995, this drama captures the mood of the present moment, as the plot involves a Tory minister trying to squeeze a controversial bill through parliament with the intention of cutting welfare costs.

Flora Matlock (Juliet Stevenson) is one of the last to know that her husband, Minister for the Family Duncan (Trevor Eve), has been caught having an affair with a former prostitute. Once she finds out the whole truth, she plays a daring and canny game in the hope of dispensing justice.

Trevor Eve has been a go-to man for this kind of role and he romps through it with calculated abandon, quick tweaks of the face conveying layers of duplicity in a man whose oratory can take him out of any tight corner. Stevenson gives a far more nuanced performance as the steely, aggrieved wife who astutely plots a complex trap or two.

The drama deserves its BAFTA and Emmy awards (including for best serial), thanks to the leading actors, but also largely to Graham Theakston’s sympathetic direction, which includes some well-placed camera angles. However, he has been reported as unhappy with the cropping to widescreen proportions.

The fascinating undercurrent is the question of what political power does to those it draws in. Flora’s father seems more dedicated to the party than to his daughter. What are these machinations are doing to Flora’s values? Is she becoming corrupted by her drive for revenge? Despite her moral high ground, is she becoming more manipulative than her husband? 



Derek Walker

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