Channel 4’s Coalition was, of course, entertaining in its own right, presenting the head scratching and tragically funny last days of the 2010 formation of our coalition government. Although entertaining, the programme failed to be precise about the process, just so it could be made more enjoyable. It also produced exaggerated the characters of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, which confused the seriousness of the show. It is a drama which, at times, slides into a satirical comedy.
The programme maintained an edge-of-your-seat intensity for each trial and tribulation the three men faced during those five fateful days, in which Brown desperately attempted to reassure Clegg that their parties were, naturally, the two most suited to a coalition. There was Cameron and Osborne’s slimy plan to “offer what was first not agreed on”, and then Clegg’s dilemma of choosing who to go for; when he goes against many of his own party by siding with the conservatives, many a lib dem are left grunting and groaning.
Although Channel 4 turned the politics of the 2010 coalition into a greatly refreshing and believable show, the MPs were overly exaggerated. Peter Mandelson, played by Mark Gatiss, was passively menacing and completely unnerving, and it’s surprising Brown wasn’t regularly grabbing at his collar and sweating through his shirt with nerves whenever Mandelson opened his mouth to let out a logical and pragmatic piece of advice. Brown was made into a bumbling buffoon, pouring coffee and hot sauces down his front whilst he continued to deny that he’d already lost to Cameron. In all honesty, it wasn’t the fairest characterisation of Brown, nor of Osborne, who was always by Cameron’s shoulder whispering poisonous but deviously clever suggestions in his ear.
Overall, the programme just lacked precision. Watching Coalition, you see MPs that are unprepared for a hung parliament, even though a coalition was a widely expected possibility. The programme only dramatised five days of the whole process, preventing other important moments in the days running up to the result from being shown. In all, there needed to be more about the politics and less about the feelings of the three leaders, because let’s be honest, no one really sees politicians as people. Rather, they are manipulative, power hungry blood suckers who will do who knows what with our taxes. Their “feelings” were somewhat overplayed and complex, when there should have been greater focus on political intrigue. This would have added a dimension of cynicism which, in the current political climate, is necessary for a show on modern British politics when there is much apathy and a general distrust of politicians.