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New Statesman, The (1987-92)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of New Statesman, The (1987-92)
Yorkshire Television for ITV, 13/9/1987-26/12/1992
28x30 min eps in 4 series, plus 2 specials, colour
DirectorsGraeme Harper
 Geoffrey Sax
ProducersAndrew Benson, Tony Charles, Bernard McKenna, David Reynolds
ScriptsLaurence Marks, Maurice Gran

Cast: Rik Mayall (Alan B'Stard); R.R.Cooper (Norman Bormann); Marsha Fitzalan (Sarah B'Stard); Vivien Heilbron (Beatrice); Michael Troughton (Piers Fletcher-Dervish)

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The adventures of the spectacularly corrupt Conservative MP Alan B'Stard as he attempts to further his political career and line his pockets by any means he can get away with.

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Written by the prolific Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, The New Statesman (ITV, 1987-94) was a satirical sitcom about a young Conservative MP, Alan B'Stard (Rik Mayall), self-appointed 'rising star of the New Right'. Devious and conniving, he will stop at nothing to benefit his political career or his wealth.

Other characters included Alan's wife Sarah (Marsha Fitzalan), to whom he was constantly unfaithful, though she paid him back in kind, usually with his publicist Beatrice Protheroe (Vivien Heilbron). Alan's dim sidekick, fellow MP Piers Fletcher-Dervish (Michael Troughton) and transsexual accountant, Norman/Norma Bormann (R.R.Cooper), played supporting roles in Alan's schemes, and usually came off the worse for it.

The show spanned the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, sometimes uncannily pre-empting real-life events. In the episode 'Sex Is Wrong' (tx. 27/9/1987), Alan's moral regeneration campaign foreshadowed Major's 1993 'Back To Basics' strategy. Alan's sexual antics anticipated scandals involving MPs Tim Yeo and David Mellor, while his dodgy financial dealings were echoed by sleaze scandals involving MPs Tim Smith and Neil Hamilton. The show differed from previous political sitcoms such as Yes, Minister/Yes, Prime Minister (BBC, 1980-1988) in that it directly satirised the current government and contemporary political figures.

Winning a BAFTA award for Best Comedy Series in 1991, over four series and 26 episodes it featured guest stars such as Chris Barrie, Lily Savage, Nicholas Parsons, John Sessions, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Steve Nallon, who played Margaret Thatcher, also supplied her voice for the puppet sketch show Spitting Image (ITV, 1984-96).

Three special episodes were also made: a 15-minute Comic Relief item (BBC, 1989) , 'The New Statesman at Number 10'; a 70-minute 1990 special 'Who Shot Alan B'Stard?' (which parodied a famous storyline in 1980s American soap Dallas); and a 1994 Christmas special, 'A. B'Stard Exposed'.

Hannah Hamad

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Video Clips
1. The campaign (3:08)
3. Alan's maiden speech (2:27)
3. The Almighty (4:55)
Complete episode: 'Happiness is a Warm Gun' (25:54)
Gran, Maurice (1949-) and Marks, Laurence (1948-)
Imrie, Celia (1952-)
Marks, Laurence (1948-) and Gran, Maurice (1949-)
Mayall, Rik (1958-)
Alternative Comedy
TV Satire