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Review: Very British Dystopias

IanBertram

Active member
Location
UK
I missed both the programme and the article. I'll get to the programme eventually, but the article missed one TV series that was very much a dystopia - "When the kissing had to stop" based on the rather sensationalist book by Constantine Fitzgibbon, which effectively posited CND handing the country over to the Russians.


I haven't read the book in decades, but I remember the TV series very well. One element of it - the black clad armed police force marching through the streets was also parodied in a Two Ronnies sketch starring Diana Dors called 'The worm that turned'.

 

M_Kresal

I am nerd, hear me bore.
Published by SLP
Location
North Alabama
I missed both the programme and the article. I'll get to the programme eventually, but the article missed one TV series that was very much a dystopia - "When the kissing had to stop" based on the rather sensationalist book by Constantine Fitzgibbon, which effectively posited CND handing the country over to the Russians.


I haven't read the book in decades, but I remember the TV series very well. One element of it - the black clad armed police force marching through the streets was also parodied in a Two Ronnies sketch starring Diana Dors called 'The worm that turned'.

I will say that the article didn't mention When The Kissing Had To Stop for the simple reason that the programme I was reviewing didn't mention it at all. I suspect, on the back of a little Googling, that might have been down to its screen adaptation being half-missing from the archives. Everything else featured at least had some major clips to draw from, which that production might not have had.

That said, I am looking into tracking down the novel itself (apparently the US Kindle edition has been withdrawn from sale so looking for a physical copy second hand) with an eye toward potentially doing a future blog about it.
 
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IanBertram

Active member
Location
UK
The TV adaptation had a Bertrand Russell look alike as PM who was poisoned by the Russians on a visit to Moscow...
 

JN1

Member
I think that in A Very British Coup Mullin may have meant his readers to sympathise with Harry Perkins against the machinations of the Secret State. Although, the inclusion of a poem in some editions by Peregrine Worsthorne from his article When Treason Can Be Right, does make me wonder.
However, over the years I've certainly begun to sympathise more with the coup plotters. After all, Perkins' policies involve withdrawing from NATO and moving closer to the USSR. There is every chance that the election that Perkins' won would be the last ever fair and free one.

Does make me think about the fact that it is generally held that coups are a 'Bad Thing (TM)', when it may not always be the case.
 

Time Enough

"Enthusiastic Cis Male Partner"
Pronouns
He/Him
and moving closer to the USSR.
I don’t remember that bit.

Perkins was essentially a member of the Labour Hard Left so he probably more believed in the whole Socialism In One Country aspect of that grouping, neither Pro-NATO or Warsaw Pact. Non-aligned and all that.

It has made me consider of doing a jokey rewrite as an alternate history where it’s 1988 Kinnock instead of Perkins and the establishment still shits itself.
 

JN1

Member
I don’t remember that bit.
I may be getting the novel and TV adaptation mixed up. But, I do remember that as an alternative to the IMF bailout, which comes with lots of conditions, Perkins' Foreign Secretary negotiates a loan from the 'International State Bank of Moscow', without any preconditions.

Now, I would argue that there is no such thing as 'no preconditions' when it comes to accepting money from the USSR. Once you take Soviet money it is the first step on the road to the situation depicted in All Our Tomorrows, or the Never Surrender trilogy.
 

Alexander Rooksmoor

Active member
JN1 remember the timing of the series, i.e. 1988, as opposed to the book, 1982. It was supposed to be set in the near future, 1991/92 and even at the time it was released in 1988, the USSR had changed immensely and there was a sense it would be changing still more as it in fact did, very quickly. There was a sense in the series that the UK was shaking off Cold War assumptions and was willing to engage with the new Eastern Europe which was emerging, while the USA clung to the past. This is different to the book which came out in 1982, at the time of the so-called 'Second' Cold War.

Yes, it was important that there was an alternative to the IMF as the loan from them to the UK's Labour government in 1976, the largest they had ever given at the time, came with a lot of constraints on government policy. It effectively saw the end of Keynesianism in the UK drove the move to early monetarist policies even under a Labour government, something Thatcher would pick up and take even further, leading to mass unemployment. Thus, writing in 1982, Mullin had to find a different source of funding which did not impinge so strictly on left-wing policies. To echo your line, I would argue that there is no such thing as 'no preconditions' when it comes to accepting money from the IMF.

The 1988 series can be watched for free on All4: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/a-very-british-coup

I had not realised that the 2012 programme Secret State was also based on the novel. It is also available on All4 for reference/comparison: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/secret-state
 
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