The West Wing

Steven Moffat calls for a British version of The West Wing

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The former Doctor Who and Sherlock showrunner believes that we need a show which provides a non-cynical look at British politics. 

There have been a couple of great British comedies in the world of politics over the years. In the 1980s, through the peerless Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn gleefully poked holes in the relationship between the civil service and their feckless political masters.

Then, in the Blair and Cameron eras, Armando Iannucci’s brilliant The Thick of It skewered the world of special advisers and spin doctors, creating the splenetic Malcolm Tucker (as played by Peter Capaldi).

However, according to writer Steven Moffat, we are in need of a fresh, more serious take on the political system.

Steven Moffat

Speaking in The Times, in a wider interview titled ‘Doctor Who, Cancel Culture and comedy today,’  the writer explained that he feels that British politics needs that critical mirror to combat the forces of cynicism.

In the interview, which is behind a paywall, but has been picked up by Deadline, he said:

“We’ve got a problem — we think that being cynical is sophisticated, but that’s how adolescents think. Our cynicism about our politics has resulted in cynical politicians. If you tell a child they’re bad, they become bad. If you tell politicians they’re a bunch of egotistical maniacs, then where is the value in trying to be anything else?”

Talking about the potential for a British show like The West Wing, the beloved US drama which provided an aspirational insight into the mechanics of the White House, he said: “I think it might be necessary.”

Douglas is Cancelled

Moffat also went on to discuss cancel culture in respect of his upcoming show Douglas is Cancelled.The show stars Hugh Bonneville and Karen Gillan as television show hosts with the former playing Douglas, who comes under fire for making a joke at a wedding.

Douglas is Cancelled - Hugh Bonneville & Karen Gillian
Courtesy of Hartswood/ITVX

“I think there is a sense of nervousness about cancellation. I don’t know how much we’d continue to fear cancellation if anyone was bombing us. If someone is capable of being cancelled, they’re a good person. You can’t cancel Hitler or the Yorkshire Ripper, only someone who cares about their reputation and has a conscience.”

Douglas is Cancelled comes to ITVX in 2024. Meanwhile Steven Moffat’s play The Unfriend is currently enjoying another lease of life in the West End.