Blunkett threatens injunction against television drama lampooning his affair

Then the play Who's the Daddy? had the former home secretary leaping about the stage in a Spiderman outfit.

Now, yet another dramatisation of Mr Blunkett's doomed affair with the American Kimberly Quinn is to hit our screens courtesy of Channel 4.

Mr Blunkett is not happy. He has threatened to slap an injunction on the comic drama, A Very Social Secretary. Apparently, he went so far as to brand the person at the channel who scheduled the show as "weird".

With an all-star cast - Robert Lindsay plays Tony Blair, Doon Mackichan is Cherie Blair, the Lord of the Rings star Bernard Hill is Blunkett and Victoria Hamilton is his lover - the show is already creating a buzz. This is fuelled by the pedigree of its author, Alistair Beaton, whose satirical play about New Labour politics, Feelgood, was a West End success in 2001.

A clearly rattled Mr Blunkett apparently argued that the drama, to go out on Channel 4's new digital channel More 4, could affect the welfare of his two-year-old son with Mrs Quinn, William.

The one-and-a-half hour romp will recount the events that led to Mr Blunkett's resignation after he was alleged to have fast-tracked a visa application for Mrs Quinn's nanny.

The controversy over the television drama follows a play by Toby Young about sex scandals at The Spectator, involving its publisher, Mrs Quinn, and its editor, Boris Johnson, entitled Who's the Daddy? Mr Blunkett did not block the play, but his lawyers made it clear that they would be monitoring it very carefully.

Channel 4's chief executive, Andy Duncan, would not confirm whether the broadcaster had been threatened with an injunction, but said that Mr Blunkett had written to him and that they had spoken on the telephone about the matter.

Mr Blunkett has not seen the drama, but Channel 4 chiefs said there was nothing in the film that would impinge on the welfare of Mrs Quinn's child, who is only a minor element in the dramatisation. Peter Dale, the head of More 4, said: "It's just a very funny take on it." In one scene, Mr Blair says to his wife: "David is having an affair." When she replies: "Beckham?", the fictional Prime Minister answers: "No. Blunkett." In another, the Blunkett character is seen asking Mr Blair why it is that no one thinks he should be allowed to have any fun, in particular sex.

Mr Dale said: "It's a bit of a romp really. It typifies what More 4 is about: this huge, big political drama that rattled the Government and the Labour Party, but it's also very, very funny. I think in time David Blunkett will come to see the funny side of it."

The drama has been made for More 4 by Mentorn, the television company behind Channel 4's gritty political dramas The Hamburg Cell, about the 11 September bombers, and The Government Inspector, about Dr David Kelly.

Mr Duncan defended the decision to launch another digital channel, to join a portfolio that already includes the youth entertainment channel E4 and the movie channel Film Four, saying it was a vital part of the broadcaster's strategy in the run-up to analogue switch-off.

More 4, which will be available free to air on Freeview from 10 October, is being positioned as a public service channel for the older, more discerning viewer.

Other highlights of the new channel include a nightly news bulletin fronted by Sarah Smith, following Channel 4 News at 8pm, and a humorous late-night talk show, The Last Word, whose presenters will include Boris Johnson's father, Stanley.

A spokeswoman for Mr Blunkett said: "He takes matters relating to the privacy of his son very seriously."

Comments