‘The Politician’s Husband’: Episode 1 review

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Writer Paula Milne returns to the political arena with a sequel, of sorts (but not really), to her 1995 Channel 4 series, The Politician’s Wife (starring Juliet Stevenson and Trevor Eve).

Starring Broadchurch’s David Tennant and Emily Watson (Appropriate Adult) as a married couple, and both MPs, The Politician’s Husband examines the fall of Aiden Hoynes (Tennant) and the rise of his partner Freya Gardner (Watson).

Hoynes resigns from his role on the cabinet with a view to sparking a leadership campaign of his own but is left alone as his best friend and fellow supporter, MP Bruce Babbish, played by Ed Stoppard (Upstairs Downstairs), stabs in the back and acts against him. Aiden is left to contemplate his career as his wife is then offered a role in the cabinet and two plot a revenge against his detractors.

The Politician’s Husband is, as you can perhaps tell, a Shakespearian tale of Machiavellian power struggles and deceit – something we’ve all become a tad accustomed to on television and in real life. This familiarity, sadly, is borne out in a script which bangs you over the head with exposition and needless explanations every few minutes.

Some, if not all, of the conversations taking place, between people who know one another well and their respective jobs, will have you gasping in its need to LET YOU KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING. It’s just not a clever or complex enough a story to warrant this treatment.

From a political drama standpoint, which Milne claims this is not, it feels so old and tired – shows like Party Animals and The Thick of It have demonstrated how savvy audiences are to Parliamentary behind-the-scenes goings on.

Tennant and Watson do their best with the script but even their skills fail to shine through. The latter fares slightly better with a more duplicitous role but the former (and future) Doctor Who star spends a lot of his time glaring intently with a remarkably ill-chosen choice of hair dye.

The Politician’s Husband feels like it was made twenty years ago, despite its sledgehammer mentions of Twitter, Guido Fawkes and the expense scandal, with little spark or imagination from the production or cast to lift it from tedium. This series is not marriage material.

Aired at 9pm on Thursday 25 April 2013 on BBC Two.

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