British politics are now 'too bland' for good comedy, says Armando Iannucci

Iannucci is to concentrate on Veep, his hit HBO series following a hapless vice president played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The Westminster establishment can breathe easy. Armando Iannucci, creator of The Thick of It, has said that he can no longer skewer a British political scene which is now too bland to inspire great satire.

Iannucci is to concentrate on Veep, his hit HBO series following a hapless vice president played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which successfully transferred The Thick Of It’s depiction of Whitehall’s panic-ridden corridors of power, to Washington D.C.

Veep, which returns for a third series on Sky Atlantic next week, secured nine Emmy nominations including best comedy writer for Iannucci, who has called time on the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker’s reign of terror in Westminster.

“I have lost my sense of humour about British politics,” Iannucci said. “I sympathise with the fact that so many people don’t know which way to turn.  There is a younger generation who find the whole ‘party’ thing completely alien. They feel rejected by politics. The number of people voting is going down.

“All the parties here have converged towards the middle so it’s a very confused and bland mixture you’re getting which leads to a vacuum on either side.”

Labour is not offering a distinct alternative, the writer argued. “I just wish Ed Milliband would just say something other than we are going to take more benefits off people because they are really dragging the country down.”

Iannucci was also disappointed that he is unable to play a role in September’s Scottish independence referendum. “I was born and bred in Glasgow but I don’t have a vote because I’m not resident in Scotland which is deeply frustrating. As a consequence I’ve decided I’m not going to say what I think about it.”

Veep has already been renewed for a fourth series and Iannucci finds that the extremities of American politics provides more fertile comic territory for a long-running show. “Selina Meyer (Veep’s incompetent vice president) is running for President in this series so she is actually going to be asked what her views are on subjects like abortion, gun control and capital punishment,” he said.

“In Britain everyone converges to the middle but in the US it’s got so partisan in a country where the constitution relies upon compromise. The candidates define themselves by what they are against – ‘vote for me and I’ll make sure this guy doesn’t pass that law.’”

Veep’s writing and production team are British but HBO “very much reminds me of working for the BBC 10 or 15 years ago in they are very much writer and creator-oriented,” Iannucci said.

The writer allows himself a brief return to Thick of It territory when Meyer visits London for an episode in the new series. She meets a Nick Clegg-style deputy Prime Minister, Peter Mitchell, played by Darren Boyd, who finds himself out of the loop.

Iannucci said: “Selina comes over for the First World War centenary. She does a joint press conference with the deputy PM but she’s actually doing a deal behind the scenes at Westminster Abbey with German Chancellor to give the Germans a new National Security HQ.”

Extensive discussions with Washington insiders helped Iannucci recalibrate an important element of The Think of It – swearing. “We did swearing research and certain departments swear more than others,” Iannucci said.

“The Pentagon is full of soldiers and they swear like they’re in a Quentin Tarantino movie. The State Department is full of diplomats so they are very sedate. Democrats generally swear more than Republicans.”

Veep’s third season begins with the publication of Meyer’s vacuous pre-campaign book Some New Beginnings: Our Next American Journey. Coincidentally Hillary Clinton is promoting her memoirs, Hard Choices.

“Selina isn’t meant to be Hillary,” Iannucci said. “But Presidential candidates publish books, which they don’t write, as a way of criss-crossing the county to meet the ‘normals’. Would Selina be a good President? She’d be better than Jimmy Carter, she would be sort of fine, like George Bush Senior.”

Politicians sometimes accuse Iannucci of fuelling a public cynicism about politics. “I’d say to them ‘well do something about to attract people to politics.’ I hope that at the least I’m giving people an insight into how politics works, it’s up to them how they respond.”

He added: “I don’t know how to take it whenever I discover in Westminster people saying Malcolm Tucker is their hero. I think I’ve done something wrong then.”

Iannucci spoke at a special Veep screening hosted by Matthew Barzun, the US Ambassador to the UK, at his private London residence. Barzun said: “I’m a huge fan of Veep and The Thick Of It. I must have watched every episode of that series about ten times.”

Veep series three begins on Sky Atlantic on Wednesday 16 July

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power