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Two stars from the Guardian

Here’s Lucy Mangan’s review of Brexit: The Uncivil War:

Brexit: The Uncivil War review – superficial, irresponsible TV

In an era besieged by misinformation, it was the duty of the makers of this Cumberbatch referendum drama not to add to the chaos. They did not succeed

And here’s the “inflatable boy” joke from the Vicar of Dibley.

Update: Four stars from the Times. The review by Carol Midgley is paywalled, but here it is without the boring bits:

Brexit without the boring bits is a blast

… James Graham’s drama was rollickingly good entertainment, in a heart-sinking “oh, but this is still our real-life car crash” kind of way.

It wasn’t really the story of the Leave and Remain campaigns, it was the story of DC — that’s Dominic Cummings, not David Cameron, who didn’t even merit a part, so boring and irrelevant did Graham consider him to be. Cummings, I imagine, will be pretty flattered by his portrayal, brilliantly done by Benedict Cumberbatch, save maybe for the balding forehead he donned to play him and the fact that Craig Oliver (Rory Kinnear) called him “an egotist with a wrecking ball” and a “f***ing arsehole”.

True, the political adviser was presented as unhinged (at one point he literally lay in the road with an ear to the ground), with sneering contempt for politicians. But he was also seen running rings intellectually around MPs and old-guard Brexiteers, basically delivering the Leave victory through vision and data mining to tap invisible voters. Oh and putting that £350 million for the NHS claim on the side of the bus. It wasn’t true but, hey, who cares in “war”, eh? It was he, evidently, who devised the “Take Back Control” slogan, inserting the word “back” after reading a parenting book next to his sleeping pregnant wife (this feels unlikely).

And did you notice that in neither Leave’s nor Remain’s campaign was there a single mention of the EU divorce bill or the Irish border? This was an accurate (and painful to many) reminder that while Leave bent the rules, Remain was complacent, lacklustre and fatally out of touch with a forgotten demographic.

If you want the non-fiction TV version, this talk by the real Dominic Cummings is it. And this post from Cummings’ own blog, later turned into a Spectator article, was probably the inspiration for the whole drama: On the referendum #21: Branching histories of the 2016 referendum and ‘the frogs before the storm’

12 comments to Two stars from the Guardian

  • Alsadius

    I wonder if next time they’ll review the actual TV show instead of reviewing Brexit under a misleading headline?

  • Sam Duncan

    So it’s a bit like May & Juncker’s Deal, then: the Europhiles don’t like it and neither do the Brexiteers.

    (Although, to be fair, Jonathan Isaby there at Brexit Central does at least say it wasn’t quite as bad as he expected. Of course, given that Channel 4’s last approach to the subject was the utterly laughable UKIP: The First 100 Days, the bar is set pretty low. Personally, I can’t be bothered to find out either way. What’s the point?)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Miss Lucy mentions Gertrude Stein’s famous line.

    But she says the line referred to Miss Stein’s childhood home, which had been torn down. But I have understood for something around 6 decades that she was referring to the city of Oakland, Calif. Admittedly in her time and likely to this day, there isn’t very much There in Oakland.

    However, I just thought I’d check my memory. Internet opinion, it turns out, is divided. Some give the one story, some the other.

    There is a third sect who claim either that it wasn’t Miss Stein who said it, or that it was already in current use if she did.

    I think we should take this conundrum to Mr. Bernard Woolley. I’m sure he has the real poop and can sort it out for us.

    (To be fair, I can see how one person might take a line referring to a home in a city as referring rather to the city itself.)


    Mr. Isaby needs a quick refresher on the conjugation of the verb to cling. “Clinged”? Oh lord, I hope not..


    As for the rest, two stars? Maybe one and a half.

  • bobby b

    My daughter tells me that Stein’s line can’t be translated into Russian, because there is no “there is” there.

    (It’s an old translator’s joke, I guess.)

  • …putting that £350 million for the NHS claim on the side of the bus. It wasn’t true but, hey, who cares in “war”, eh? It was he, evidently, who devised the “Take Back Control” slogan, inserting the word “back” after reading a parenting book next to his sleeping pregnant wife (this feels unlikely).

    Ever since the remoaners first began screaming that the bus slogan was a ‘lie’, I’ve always thought that they themselves were not consciously aware that they were lying about that, just determinedly unable to get the leavers’ point. Obviously if you think – or rather, believe so deeply that you never consider thinking about it – that every penny of our money that the EU spends in or (nominally) on the UK is all spent on things so essential we’d have to do them anyway (and is administered as well and honestly as we ourselves could), then it follows that our only gain from Brexit can be the £200 million or so net sum left over after that is deducted. But if your point is to “take back control” then it is the whole gross sum the UK government regains control of, to spend on whatever it thinks best, with whatever competence and honesty it can manage (both superior to the EU, though not great in absolute terms).

    I find it amusing that Carol Midgley can put the ‘lie’ claim and its refutation in adjacent sentences without noticing – unsurprising but amusing.

  • Mr Ed

    Not having a TV, I don’t have a lot to say, except perhaps that the idea of this programme struck me as one made, to use James Delingpole’s term: “By the Wankerati, About the Wankerati and For the Wankerati‘. I hope that I misjudge it.

  • Paul Marks

    All British television stations are on the left – this is because “Ofcom” does to allow conservative television stations (television are legally obliged to be “objective” and “unbiased” – i.e. to slant everything to serve the cause of “Progressive” collectivism).

    Even pro independence people in the United Kingdom who are LABOUR Party people (such as Kate Hoey or Frank Field) have no television stations in the United Kingdom. All television programmes, on all stations, are hostile to British independence and hate ordinary people (whom the establishment left despise as “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobic” and so on). So it is hardly a matter of one television programme – it is all television programmes (even “Dr Who” now controlled by “Third Wave”, i.e. Marxist, Feminism and-so-on) on all television stations.

    The newspapers continue to die – and such newspapers as the Daily Mail (really the Daily Fail) do not really support British independence anyway – they support Theresa May (who DETESTS the very idea of British independence – and detests the very idea of liberty in any area of policy).

    Internet sites?

    Mastercard and the other “payment processors” are tightening the screws (with the full cooperation of the Silicon Valley Cartel – with their dream of “planning society” to create a “Progressive” world) – dissent on the internet will be crushed.

    In the 2020s it may well be the case that people who express the “wrong” opinions find themselves unable to get a job, or even buy food. This will be justified on the basis that the expressing the “wrong” opinions “incites violence”. Mrs May loves censorship – as does the European Union, and the television stations and internet companies (as long as the censorship is of “bad people” with “wrong” opinions), and the modern EDUCATION SYSTEM (the schools and universities) – which is the true source of the poison of slavery which is destroying the West.

  • Flubber

    Re: Paul Marks

    Yup. The progressives are going full steam ahead for their socialist nirvana. The gulags are not that far away.

  • Snorri Godhi

    This, from Cummings’ blog post:

    I’ve learned over the years that ‘rational discussion’ accomplishes almost nothing in politics, particularly with people better educated than average. Most educated people are not set up to listen or change their minds about politics, however sensible they are in other fields.

    At least SQotD, more like Quote of the Month at least.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Snorri Godhi,

    I have posted a passage from later in Cummings’s blog post that makes a very similar point as QotD.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Thank you, Natalie.
    Did you post it while i was reading Cummings’ post?

    I still like “my” quote best, i must say.
    Why? for one thing, your chosen quote speculates about motivations: i find almost all such speculations unnecessary at best, pernicious at worst.
    Actually, the speculations about “the worse educated” seem plausible. (but what do i know? i have a PhD!) It’s the speculations about “the better educated” that need backing up with hard statistical data.

    The most important thing about “my” quote:

    ‘rational discussion’ accomplishes almost nothing in politics, particularly with people better educated than average.

    This concept is not expressed in “your” quote.