Why is Malcolm Tucker a hero?
Next month begins the new series of Doctor Who. The most significant feature of the upcoming series is that it will be the debut series of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor. The role will certainly bring Capaldi unimaginable amount of recognition and there are bound to be countless Tumblrs dedicated to his iteration of the character. However before that happens, it’s worth taking a look at the role he is currently most well known for: Malcolm Tucker.
If you have never seen The Thick Of It, it is a sitcom following a group of politicians in the fictional Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship (DoSAC) in the previous Labour government (later series would follow the Conservative party’s DoSAC) Malcolm Tucker is the Labour party’s Director of Communications, the Prime Minister’s mouthpiece for making sure all ministers stay in line with his policy. Tucker is a terrible person, using bullying, swearing and sometimes misogynist or homophobic insults to get his point across. Tucker should not be a likeable person however he has attained a cult following. Just do a Youtube search of his name and you will be flooded with countless supercuts of his best insults or tribute videos dedicated to him.
Why is he such a likeable person for many people? Some might call him a left wing hero. Fans may revel in Tucker’s confrontations with representatives of the Conservative government, such as calling one member a ‘mincing fucking cunt’ or Malcolm’s disgust he has with his Conservative opposite, Julius Nicholson, and Julius’ love of buzzwords and his passive aggressive manner in dealing with situations. I think it goes farther than that. I think Malcolm Tucker represents every British citizen who has grown tired of the current political climate. In this age of expense scandals and every politician seemingly having skeletons in their closets, it’s easy for the British public to become politically cynical. Malcolm Tucker lobbing insults at every politician who crosses his path is cathartic in that it’s fun to see a machiavellian or apathetic politician being chewed up by the feral Tucker. Whether that be Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat.
I’ve theorised in the past that Labour’s DoSAC team in The Thick Of It are like a microcosm of the exact individuals that make the British public so cynical of today’s government. There’s the clueless minister, the young opportunist who will betray his own mum if it meant a promotion, the elderly advisor who’s out of touch with today’s society, an apathetic civil service member and a minister who abuses her position for the benefit of her family members. Malcolm Tucker may be a terrible person, but his co-workers are no angels either and the audience take great pleasure in them being called out for it by Tucker.
Maybe it isn’t to do with politics. Perhaps the enjoyment from Malcolm Tucker comes from more a distaste in comedy in general at this point in time. It is of this author’s opinion that British comedy has been lackluster for a long time For every Peep Show, The Office and The Thick Of It, there have been five Green Green Grasses, Mrs Brown’s Boys and My Familys. Perhaps viewers have become tired of these banal sitcoms and Malcolm Tucker is a break from that. A giant ‘fuck you’ (literally) to the established formula of British sitcoms today.
Malcolm Tucker continues to live on since The Thick Of It ended in 2012. Some of his catchphrases have entered the public lexicon. Most notably ‘omnishambles’ which entered the political landscape and was chosen as the word of year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2012 (though ‘Selfie’ was chosen the following year so make of that what you will. Still, the cultural impact Malcolm Tucker cannot be defied and that is likely to increase as fans of Doctor Who unfamiliar with Tucker, go back and discover him (though I hope no six year old fans do that, they may be in for a big shock!).
Malcolm Tucker has become a hero. I don’t think he appeals to a specific group of people that are defined by their politics but all people who have become dissatisfied with the fraudulence and mundanity of modern life. Saying that you can do something about it…even if that something is calling somebody a ‘shriveled up ball-sack that’s been dipped into Angela Lansbury’s mouth for too long’.