The Thick Of It: 10 Best Episodes Ranked, According to IMDb
The Thick of It was in a class of its own during its run. This is what IMDb says were its best episodes.
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The Thick Of It is one of the funniest and most intelligent comedies ever made, enough to stand out even among the impressive filmography of Armando Ianucci, whose creations include The Day Today, Alan Partridge and The Death of Stalin.
The show expertly parodied the farce that was turn-of-the-century British politics (before we knew how farcical politics could truly become) with delicious dialogue, cut-throat humor and a cast of iconic morally bankrupt characters. Not least of which is Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker, who has since become a bigger pop-culture icon than half the ones he referenced in the show. The best episodes are a masterclass in comic writing and performance. Here are 10 of the show’s greatest hits:
10 The Factory Visit (8.3/10)
The first series was solid, but in series 2 the show started to take shape and tighten up the storytelling, leading to some of the most iconic scenes in the show. The cast had found their feet and the characters and were giving performances that weren’t just comic gold, but dramatic gold, something the writers were more than happy to keep feeding.
Series 2 Episode 1 is one of the highlights of the Hugh Abbot era. Hugh visits a factory to try and acquaint himself with ordinary people and gets memorably berated by an irate Welsh woman in the crowd on the way in. Hugh then gets trapped in the factory visit after a hilarious botched attempt to talk his way out. Meanwhile, Ollie follows Malcolm around like a puppy as they negotiate how the BBC uses the footage of Hugh.
9 The Sweary Woman Of Whitehall (8.4/10)
Series 2 Episode 3, the final episode of the Hugh Abbot era, was also probably the best Hugh Abbot episode, and the darkest. The story revolves around Hugh Abbot’s biased official stance on special schools and Claire Ballantyne’s inquiry to get to the bottom of it. But the whole episode takes a turn when Abbot accidentally sends a sweary email to Glenn Cullen, a young girl, instead of Glen Cullen, his key political advisor, from civil servant Terri Coverley’s computer. Malcolm then gets wind of the story and heartlessly talks the long-suffering Terri into taking the heat and giving a heartfelt televised apology. It’s definitely among the show’s most emotional episodes.
8 The Bottle Episode (8.4/10)
Every great show needs a bottle episode: Breaking Bad’s “4 Days Out” and “Fly”, Game of Thrones’ “Watchers On The Wall”, Community’s “Cooperative Calligraphy” in which Abed Nadir brings up this very trope… The Thick Of It is no exception, casually nailing the concept in Series 3 Episode 6.
After Nicola Murray calls the Prime Minister “The right man for the job” in a televised interview, the press starts to speculate that she wants to be the first woman prime minister. Malcolm then sweeps onto the scene to diffuse the situation, and after a press-pack appears outside he declares “8 (journalists) constitutes a lockdown!” The usual suspects are confined to the office, along with Ben Swayne MP, and the gang precedes to bungle every attempt to the diffuse the situation, escalating it to boiling point.
7 The Eastborough One (8.4/10)
Series 3 Episode 3 was a very special episode, at it was the only time Malcolm’s bark wasn’t enough and he had to resort to biting. Emotions run high at a humble hotel in Eastborough as Nicola and her advisors try to liven up her big speech whilst fighting Malcolm for self-proclaimed “regional photo-opportunity of the day” – recent widower Julie Price – and dealing with impossible press officer John Duggan.
After Malcolm steals Julie for the PM’s speech, Glen aggressively demands her return, pushing Malcolm to punch him in the face and break his nose. Things take another turn when the internet gets wind of the incident, and Terri Coverley is called in to help with the situation, but insists on appearing ‘incognito’.
6 Andy Pandy, Have A Hand Shandy (8.5/10)
Series 3 Episode 7 is one of the most memorable episodes of the Nicola Murray era. It was the first episode to introduce David Haig’s Steve Fleming, an old rival Malcolm once pushed out of the party, who’s coming supposedly represents the end of the party’s turn in government. Nicola is stuck between a rock and a hard place as Malcolm – who’s desperately trying to stay relevant and on good terms with the media – goes back and forth on whether they should hire Andy Murray to be the choice of Nicola’s Healthy Choices Campaign, while Steve Fleming deals with the fall out of the unconfirmed crime stats he inadvertently made Glen and Ollie publish. Both Malcolm and Steve use the situation and press speculation to try and manipulate the other into the firing line.
5 The Immigrations Figures Wipe (8.5/10)
Series 3 Episode 2 is another classic from the Nicola Murray era. After a soul-destroying first week as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Citizenship, with the press already questioning whether she’s up to the job, Nicola arrives at the office and finds out someone – who’s name rhymes with Glen Cullen – accidentally wiped the hard drive containing immigration records for over 170,000 people. Nicola and the gang then dance around telling Malcolm for as long as possible while each of them tries to save their own skin and find a scapegoat.
4 “The Rise of The Nutters” (8.6/10)
The 2 election-specials were exceptional, each boasting increased runtime and an actual title. They were set after Christmas 2006 to parallel the political chaos happening at the time and came in between series 2 and 3. The first, “The Rise of the Nutters” focuses on Malcolm, who’s bitten off more than he can chew while attempting to undermine his own party, specifically the PM’s legacy project. He digs a deeper and deeper hole for himself and starts to unravel, and the chaos he weaves results in the PM scrapping the project and resigning on the spot, months before the date he’d announced, throwing the party into chaos.
3 The Goolding Inquiry (8.7/10)
“Mr. Tucker threatened to have the defendant eviscerated, stuffed, fitted with wheels and donated to an orphanage”
– The guy who played Robb Stark’s uncle.
The Thick Of It went a step further than the classic bottle formula with the penultimate episode and climax of the series. Series 4 Episode 6 was entirely confined to a side-splitting courtroom inquiry – the fallout of government leaking getting out of control on both sides – where every one of the show’s main characters is put on trial and forced to bear their soul. After backing himself into a corner, Malcolm snaps and goes off on a bitter rant about the twisted nature of British Politics, expelling the poison that’s been eating away at him from the inside for decades.
2 Spinners and Losers (8.7/10)
“Spinners And Losers” was the 2nd election special, and features many of the show’s most iconic scenes. It takes place directly after the events of “Rise Of The Nutters”, as the party grinds to a halt and everyone is forced to pick a side and scratch the right backs to retain or better their position.
Malcolm Tucker bounces back from his questionable actions in the previous episode and is back in his element as he strides 3 steps ahead of everyone and constructs a “Malciavellian” web of lies and phony potential successors he actions throughout the adrenaline and Red Bull fueled all-nighter. The Digi-Ben exchange between Peter Capaldi and Justin Edwards is probably The Thick Of It’s finest scene.
1 The Richard Bacon One (8.8/10)
Bringing the outspoken main characters from both parties together always made for some memorable TV. In Series 3 Episode 5, Rebecca Front’s Nicola Murray and Roger Allam’s Peter Mannion go head to head on Richard Bacon’s BBC radio show. Both MPs struggle to remain relatable and charming as a listener’s text opens the Pandora’s box of political donors with links to sweatshops.
Malcolm and his opposite number, Vincent Franklin’s Stewart Pearson, show up to diffuse the situation and end up having an aggressive head-to-head themselves. Meanwhile, Ollie is in the process of being broken up with by Mannion’s advisor Emma Messinger while they both try and fail to focus on their jobs. The episode doesn’t have a unique format or anything, it’s just The Thick Of It operating at full capacity. Bravo.