TV Review: The Politician’s Wife

“Why do you think it is always Conservative politicians who end up in these kind of sexual scandals?”

The list of actresses that I just LOVE is ridiculously long and seemingly grows by the day, but Juliet Stevenson has long been on there and a discussion with a colleague just before I popped off to see Happy Days reminded me that one of my earliest memories of her work was in 1995’s The Politician’s Wife, which due to the lovely folk of 4OD, one can watch at one’s leisure. And so I did. And whilst there may be a hint of the rose-tinted glow about it, I have to say I really enjoyed delving back into the story.

Set in a Conservative administration largely inspired by the heady days of John Major’s Back to Basics campaign, Minister for Families Duncan Matlock finds himself mired in tabloid scandal as his affair with ostensible researcher Jennifer Caird is exposed to all and sundry. Devoted wife Flora is left in shock, at first by her husband’s dalliances but then by the revelation that several party grandees knew long before she did and so she plots a calculated revenge with help from some unexpected quarters.

Stevenson is just terrific as the initially cowed Flora who is thrust into the limelight once the affair is made public and sketches the inner turmoil of someone genuinely decent who is rocked to the core as revelation follows revelation. Trevor Eve as her gruesomely gallivanting husband is also brilliant, sleazily charismatic enough and cocksure in the extreme, scarcely believing that anything can touch him even as his career slowly crumbles around him. And there’s also a good turn from Minnie Driver as the other woman, gleeful even as her murky past is exposed. 

Graham Theakston’s direction helps to ensure that this show has held up remarkably well since it was made, aided by the nagging sense that we haven’t really moved on that much in terms of the hypocrisy of politicians, a gleeful media ready to pounce on any impropriety, and an unwaveringly traditional sense of marriage being reinforced throughout society. Available to watch for free on t’internet, I reckon it is well worth the watch. 

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