Storyville: Mandelson - The Real PM
Winston Churchill once described Labour’s postwar deputy PM Herbert Morrison as a mix of ‘genius and venom’. A lot worse has been said about Morrison’s grandson Peter Mandelson, the Prince of Darkness (aka the Dark Lord) and key architect of New Labour who came back from the political wilderness twice to orchestrate his party’s recent, ill-fated General Election campaign. Perhaps realising that his time at the forefront of UK politics was about to come to a brutal end, he rather generously allowed documentary filmmaker Hannah Rothschild unparalleled access in the eight months leading up to May’s vote for Storyville: Mandelson – The Real PM? (BBC4, Tue 23 Nov, 9pm)
And the character that emerges is a brazen personality and shrewd operator who is caught after the first leaders’ debate poking much public fun at his yacht-sharing buddy George Osborne while criticising Gordon Brown behind his back for not being able to get his tie straight. The only moment when Mandelson is vaguely threatened with being upstaged arrives when Alastair Campbell sweeps into the picture to half-jokingly castigate Rothschild for her choice of subject. As the former business secretary says farewell to his loyal staff, we jump a month ahead with Mandelson looking wiped out, having just finished penning his inevitable memoir. A self-confessed workaholic, he appears bereft: where do master manipulators go when they have no one left to manipulate?