Roadkill (3 stars)


Hugh Laurie in Roadkill.

Hugh Laurie delivers in a political drama with enough intrigue to keep you hooked

Casting actors to play sympathetic right-wing politicians that a liberal-left audience can stomach is likely to be front and centre of a showrunner's mind. The West Wing nailed it in having Alan Alda as Republican-with-a-heart Arnie Vinick, while Armando Iannucci avoided the issue altogether by never declaring the party of choice for Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Selina Meyer in Veep. For David Hare's four-part Roadkill, the man behind so many top TV buffoons (from Bertie Wooster to Blackadder's various Georges) is handed the task to make rising Tory politician Peter Laurence seem more than just a cardboard gammon cut-out. And, as you'd expect, Hugh Laurie is perfectly able to deliver on that promise.

Laurence's world is rife with problems: one of his daughters loves cocaine, the other is a committed environmentalist while his wife Helen (Saskia Reeves) is understandably pretty fed up with his philandering (Laurence spends an inordinate amount of time at the flat of Madeleine, as played by Sidse Babett Knudsen who knows a thing or two about fictional corridors of power having been the leader of Denmark in Borgen).

Despite coming off the back of a victorious libel case and earning a promotion (of sorts) within the Cabinet, rumours persist about his private life and business shenanigans. A determined journo is on Laurence's case, his driver hates his guts, and he serves for a Prime Minister (a very Thatcher-esque Helen McCrory) who looks like she wouldn't be dashing for a fire extinguisher were he to be ablaze.

A very irritating theme tune and recurring piano motif that is snaky and jazzy when it surely should be a bit more daunting and doom-laden, don't help matters. But there's enough intrigue on show in Roadkill to keep you hooked, and also, weirdly, make you root for Peter Laurence.

BBC One, Sundays, 9pm; all episodes available on BBC iPlayer.

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