Six dramas to sate your political thirst

As the political news cycle falls into a repetitive loop, we have picked six shows that will give your deadening interest in the process the kiss of life.

Six dramas to sate your political thirst

House of Cards

As coalition talks in Leinster House drag on, even the most hardcore political savants are struggling to maintain an interest in the real-life goings on, both here and in the United States.

With candidates ‘roiding out on Machiavellian machinations or stewing in the type of dramatics best suited to a teenage disco, where's a political junkie to go to get a proper fix?

The only solution is to wrap a televisual tourniquet around our synapses; to shoot up on twisted parallels where life ended up imitating art, even when the art was made well in advance of the real thing. 

And perhaps, as they slink home from another day of rhetorical rabble-rousing, the politicians themselves might indulge in a sneaky peak, finding the inspiration for progress in fiction.

House Of Cards:

Rather than the American remake of House of Cards, the original BBC series is based on the book by Maggie Thatcher's real life Chief of Staff, Michael Dobbs and is a totally different creature.

This magnificent political thriller followed a seething party whip as he manipulated his way to the highest office in the land, after being double-crossed by the fictional Prime Minister who toppled Thatcher.

The show was in the middle of its run when The Lady, who may have thought she wasn't for turning, was fired still and all. And the real life players, in the Conservative coup to remove her from office, admitted to rushing home to watch the show after living through the events that it mirrored.

While Spacey sizzles like its breakfast time back home, Ian Richardson is chilling as Frances Urquhart (as he was originally known). He reveals the black, rotten heart behind his stiff upper lip, yet his Shakespearean soliloquies make co-conspirators of us all.

He almost convinces us that he truly believes that what he is doing is for the good of Queen and country, whereas exactly what drives Spacey is rather more impenetrable. 

Meanwhile his relationship with Mattie Storin (Susannah Harker)- the journalist he charms with his political snake oil - is as heartbreaking as it is horrifying. 

Bob Roberts

This 1992 flick, directed by Tim Robbins, is insanely prescient. It features a self-made millionaire whose run for office is fuelled by a 'Rebel With A Conservative Cause' rhetoric. It extinguishes criticisms of his abilities, his associates, his past and his dubious politics, resulting in physical altercations over race, class and gender wherever he goes.

There’s even a pop about a woman being on her period when she questions him on his wrongdoing. 

Pillorying the poor and the destitute, there are hints of both the Trump and Bernie Sanders campaigns in the movies tag line -"Vote First, Ask Questions Later," while Gore Vidal's boring establishment candidate is almost a time travelling burlesque of Hillary Clinton, whose competence and smarts are sullied by razzle-dazzle and insinuation. 


Perhaps the most relatable political drama for an Irish audience is Borgen, whose three seasons charts the rise, fall and return of Denmark's first (fictional) female Premier.

Throughout the course of the show, Birgitte Nyborg needs to balance the demands of her personal and professional life, the expectations of her sex and her position, and the courage of her convictions with her desire to lead, as they all chafe against one another.

As she struggles to ensure the different coalitions in her life, both political and the matrimonial, continue to thrive, her aides and adversaries drift from working with or against her.

Constantly under attack, it’s a terrific drama, which puts virtuousness at the fore, without draping Nyborg in the blue cowl and halo.

The West Wing

One wonders if the millions of people inflamed by 'The Bern' have ever seen The West Wing? If they did, they may have a clearer expectation of the hoops the Vermont Senator would have to jump through in his march towards political revolution.

Aaron Sorkin’s show presented a vision of American politics where President Bartlett, the liberal ideal, is forced to battle a contemptuous Republican Congress as he tries to improve things for millions of Americans.

Aided by his loyal band of merry (and cynical) men, the seven series of the show predicted the rise of the conservative wing of the Republican party, the thawing in Cuban-American relations and the Obama coronation, among many other things, while also being action-packed, funny and emotionally engaging.

Above anything else, it showed that change comes in increments, through sacrifice, not through platitudes, and that a shrewd politician needs to be able to work with whatever cards he or she is dealt to bring about what’s good for the people.

Blue Eyes

Currently airing on Channel Four’s 'Walter Presents' service, this chilling series looks at the rise of a political organisation similar to UKIP in Sweden.

Against the backdrop of a string of brutal murders, carried out by a group of fascist vigilantes, the Chief of Staff for the Minister for Justice must discover what happened to her predecessor, who has disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

Meanwhile the family of a politician with extreme views struggle to make sense of her world view. All the while, an election rages.

A Very British Coup

A glimpse of what poor old Jeremy Corbyn may have to look forward to if he ever gets to power, is provided in this sensational mini-series starring Ireland's own Ray McAnally, in what could well be his finest hour on the small screen.

Set in 1991 and broadcast in 1998, it portrays a working class, very left-wing member of the Labour party who is elevated to the role of leader and Prime Minister.

He promises to dissolve all newspaper monopolies, pull out of NATO, dispose of the country's nuclear weapons and operate a truly open government. You can imagine exactly how the establishment reacts.

The novel was heavily inspired by the politics of Tony Benn, and persistent rumours that the CIA and MI5 had tried to over throw governments which they weren't big fans of.