The Hunt for Tony Blair, Channel 4, Friday
Signed by Katie Price, Sky Living, Monday

Bush is a hoodlum, Maggie a Norma Desmond diva – and Blair and Mandelson a pitch-perfect joy

'How many more of these damned books are we going to get?" scowled Robbie Coltrane's hard-boiled detective, throwing down a pile of New Labour memoirs, in The Hunt for Tony Blair.

To which you might have added: "How many more of these damned screenplays are we going to get?" After all, the manipulations and mishaps of the Blair years have been mined for countless documentaries, docudramas, satires and Michael Sheen showcases in recent years. Is there any comment left unmade?

Maybe not, though that seemed academic in the face of the Comic Strip's tour de farce. The sketch troupe who stoked the fires of alternative comedy in the 1980s, they're probably best remembered for The Strike, their recasting of the miners' dispute as an Al Pacino blockbuster.

This one-off reunion, organised by writer/director Peter Richardson, benefited from a similarly, er, hyper-real approach to current(ish) affairs. Thought you knew our Tony? Then what about our Tony as an anti-hero in a film-noir pastiche?

So, it began with Stephen Mangan's PM grinning in the face of an arrest warrant on the doorstep of No 10. And before you could walk 39 steps, he was on the run: cue strangers on trains (well, drunken socialists), third men (well, Peter Mandelson) and Tony's grandiloquent voiceover ("Hey, in the end, only God and history can judge me") swelling in tandem with the "unavoidable" body count.

Bombastic stuff, then, which often teetered on the brink of satiric meltdown. No matter the transposition of Nineties/Noughties politics to a 1950s setting, or a plot that hurtled between Weapons of Mass Destruction, Cool Britannia and Carole Caplin with headless-chicken abandon. What about the scabrous character makeovers? George W Bush as a gravel-voiced hoodlum and Maggie Thatcher (Jennifer Saunders) a foundation-caked Norma Desmond-ish diva forcing her spiritual successor into bed?

Its masterstroke, conversely, was to make its central duo so eminently recognisable. As Mandelson, Nigel Planer gave a lesson in the art of interpretation, not impersonation, exactly capturing Mandy's saturnine inscrutability. Equally, Mangan was a joy: less precise, but channelling a strain of pompous self-regard that brought those old Tony Blair/David Brent comparisons flooding back.

Indeed, the script was never funnier than when nailing the narcissism of the long-distance politician. Some of which you really couldn't make up: when Blair wistfully segued into a lone-ranger soliloquy ("I knew I was alone ... there would be them; and there would be me") or pondered John Smith's death ("I will be leader, not Gordon. And I think somehow this will happen"), it was gleeful to note that these lines were lifted wholesale from his memoirs.

Mind you, it might be considered harsh for Richardson to have made the ex-PM responsible for the deaths of both Smith and Robin Cook; a Blair witch-hunt like no other. But then, daft, angry and lovingly rendered, this was a political comedy like no other. The Comic Strip may be 30 years old, but, gloriously, it's grown no less anarchic with age.

From one narcissist to another, the return of the artist formerly known as Jordan with Signed by Katie Price. After the masterful post-literary dabbling of Katie: The Magazine, she's now out to conquer the talent-show – while stretching the concept to new limits in her search for an acolyte similarly devoted to undressing, mono-tonal mantras, and "being a brand".

But might her own "brand" have reached an impasse? Last week's shopping centre auditions bore the whiff of desperate researchers plucking contestants from the pick'n'mix queue, while those hypnotically impassive features do not lend themselves to this most emotive of genres. Though the final indignity came with Price being rattled by one auditionee: a "sexy" philosophy lecturer looking to escape her academic "cage". Was this the horrific endpoint of Price's own philosophy? Or its ironic ridicule? Oh, the confusion! That tentative eyebrow flutter spoke volumes.

Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
artSistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
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.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence