The Blunkett romance that became a crisis is turned into a TV drama

A Very Social Secretary, the highlight of the launch night for Channel 4's new digital channel More4, unveiled yesterday, turns the tale of Mr Blunkett's romance with the married publisher of The Spectator into a metaphor for New Labour's infatuation with the trappings of power.

The action begins shortly after the former home secretary met Mrs Quinn at a dinner hosted by Boris Johnson, the Spectator editor, and follows their affair, which led to Mr Blunkett's resignation after he was accused of fast-tracking a visa application for her nanny.

In one scene, Mr Blunkett is seen chatting on the telephone to the Duchess of Devonshire, or "Debbo" to him. In another prophetic scene, resonant of the ejection of 82-year-old Walter Wolfgang from last week's Labour party conference, a loyal constituency worker is manhandled from his office.

Mr Blunkett has written to Andy Duncan, the chief executive of Channel 4, saying he will watch the programme, which is being shown on Monday, with great interest. His lawyers, who have warned the makers to respect his privacy, have said they will be monitoring the drama closely.

In the fictional feature-length film, Mr Blunkett, who is now Minister for Work and Pensions, played by Bernard Hill, is seen flirting with Mrs Quinn over goat's cheese crostini at the launch of his book. Later in their relationship, the American socialite, played by Victoria Hamilton, is enraged when his guide dog chews the corner of her £11,000 Birkin handbag. When Mr Blunkett offers to replace it, she snaps: "It's not that easy. There's a waiting list."

The writer, Alistair Beaton, author of the award-winning political comedy Feelgood, also satirises the lavish lifestyle of Tony and Cherie Blair, played by Robert Lindsay and Doon Mackichan. Cherie appears with a clipboard, drawing up a guest-list for a weekend house party at Chequers, including "Melvyn and Kate, Elton and David and Richard and Judy". In a bedroom scene, Carole Caplin irritates Mr Blair by calling him "Toblerone" and offering him a Reiki massage.

In another scene, when Mr Blunkett's affair with Mrs Quinn makes the news, he visits the Prime Minister who is on holiday in an Italian palazzo, where Alastair Campbell, recently resigned as Downing Street's director of communications, is hiding in the swimming pool.

Mr Beaton said: "It is a satire on Blunkett as a metaphor for New Labour and the corruption of New Labour and New Labour's love of wealth and privilege. I think the fact that Blunkett fell for someone from that social grouping is not a chance thing.

"In terms of Blair in his free villas and free holidays, it's a package for me. I wanted to nail a few unpleasant truths about power. We're in a situation where reality is galloping to overtake satire."

Stephen Pollard, Mr Blunkett's biographer, who is no longer on speaking terms with his subject, said: "He is portrayed as such a sad joke-figure, at sea in the world and not getting what's going on. It shows his credibility is shot. He's not the figure he was. I don't think it will damage him any more. He has become a figure of fun now."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Extras
indybest 9 best steam generator irons
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Account Manager / Sales Account Manager / Recruitment Account Manager

£25k Basic (DOE) – (£30k year 1 OTE) : Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright A...

Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

Trend Writer / Copywriter

£25 - 30k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Trend Writer / Copywriter: Retail, Design and...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering