Directed by Pedr James, 'Screenplay' on BBC2 - 1993.

The Cast
Nathaniel Parker..............Michael Fisher
Richard Wilson.................Prime Minister
Derek Jacobi...................George Salisbury
Kenneth Cranham............Dick Naughton
Catherine Russell.............Maddy Fisher
Nicholas Farrell................Batt Pender
Clive Russell....................Travis
Liz Kettle.........................Isobel Vine
Martin Young....................Newsreader
Alistair Campbell..............TV Reporter

Review of Play

It's just days before the General Election and the Prime Minister is "hearing the voice of God"..!

Much to the apparent consternation of party chairman, George Salisbury, the PM is being influenced towards more liberal policies.

"Two days away from returning us to another 5 years of government and the PM's become the host of a celestial phone-in…!"

It is, of course, nothing less than a plot by the scheming party chairman to get rid of the PM so he can fulfil his own ambition. And so amid mutual back-scratching with certain elements of the media, and the reluctant collusion with 26-yr-old spin doctor, Michael Fisher, the Conservative party is re-elected for another term.

Still hearing the voice of God, the PM confides to Salisbury that he will resign after 100 days to take up less worldly causes, recommending the party chairman as his successor….

As a reward for his help in "selling damaged goods" to the Press and the British public, the new PM appoints Michael Fisher, at first to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and then, as we move forward several years, makes him Britain's youngest Foreign Secretary. As talk is generated within the party and the Press about Fisher being the next PM in waiting, Salisbury begins his plotting once more..

Meanwhile, 'family man' Michael Fisher has embarked on an affair with interior designer, Isobel Vine. But after hearing 'Commons gossip' and the odd leak or two to the tabloids, (the PM again!?) he's called in to see Salisbury. Seeing his own ambitions under threat, Fisher abruptly ends the two-year relationship. Next seen standing on the doorstep of his home with loyal and forgiving wife by his side, Fisher manages to summon up the look of a contrite and repentant man.

The embarrassing scandal seems to have blown over and his career been saved, until an elderly couple, listening out for porn on CB radio, mysteriously come across the taped phone calls between Fisher and his former lover, showing that he lied about them having only a brief fling. The old man offers the tapes to tabloid editor, Dick Naughton, "for the price of a double hip-replacement" for his wife..!

With the words,

"I thought you said there'd never been more than a roll of Sanderson between you..",

..and the threat of releasing his secretly taped conversations between himself and Fisher over hushing up the 'voice of God' incident, Salisbury pressures Fisher into resigning. He has become the convenient scapegoat for a government in trouble, and the means of creating a climate for the introduction of privacy legislation - which will have the added bonus of protecting the PM's own doings..!

With wonderful performances from Richard Wilson, Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Cranham, there's an interesting little cameo role for the man who was to become Tony Blair's own 'king of spin', his now former press secretary, Alistair Campbell…

Review of Nat's Performance

With the brilliant satirical script, very funny dialogue and excellent co-stars, this is a total joy and an absolute gem of a role for Nat. Sitting in my private booth at the National Sound Archive within the British Library, on several occasions I had to stifle a guffaw!

For Nat the play is divided into two halves; we see him first as the young (and very attractive, it has to be said!) spin doctor with a conscience, dressed in dark blue suit, clutching document folder to his chest and pressing earpiece to his ear.

His facial expressions are a delight; ranging from quizzical and confused as he recognizes 'the voice of God' to be none other than the party chairman, to fear at the prospect of having to fool an entire group of political journalists. After he bursts into the chairman's office to deliver a strong dialogue piece, his look of earnestness and anxiety is just delightful! In this he reminded me very much of his wonderfully raw performance as Alcibiades in The War That Never Ends - one of my favourite roles.

Nat's comic timing is perfect throughout and as Fisher's career takes off and develops, we see Nat looking very suave with a new hairstyle and wearing a succession of designer suits. He becomes a much stronger character - more self-assured and very like Lynley now. Showing Fisher's more ruthless side Nat snarls, frowns and smarms his way out of trouble, and gets his visage plastered all over the front pages - there's even a wonderful saucy Gerald Scarfe cartoon of him!

After the credits have rolled, the final line of this television play that I just love and dearly wish was commercially available, belong to Nat. Fisher, now in the political wilderness, is biding his time for a comeback….. by presenting his own show on a classical music radio station!


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