User Reviews (13)

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  • Loved this series from the first episode. The plot is superb and the story draws you in beautifully and keeps you wanting more hence the writer deserves the highest accolade. The cast is perfect and do a stellar job. The direction is fabulous too as no thriller can do with sloppy work. Only negative is that it ends too soon, it deserved at least 10 episodes. Thats one view point, other view point says that maybe it was exciting because it was a short series. Hopefully we'll have a longer series 2. Kudos to Channel 4 for this one. So political thrillers are back and back with a bang and this one matches the era we live in.
  • Absolutely loved this honestly refreshing to see channel 4 producing a great series with a phenomenal cast, Yes the plot is a bit far-fetched the point of television is escapism and this is gripping and renews hope that your vote counts. Great message and Gabriel Byrne leads this role fantastically. Anyone who goes away and watches this will only be disappointed by the lack of episodes. The series is very short and leaves you desperately wanting more and I really hope a second series is on the cards. For the cynics of the world such as guardian writers they really haven't seen the point of this series. This series really captures the viewers imagination and reminds of hope and that is brilliant.
  • This is a superb British TV thriller series. It is the second series based upon a novel written by Chris Mullin, formerly a Member of Parliament and a Government minister, who is a member of the Labour Party. The novel was called A VERY British COUP and it came out in 1982 and was originally made into a TV series in 1988. This new series bears little resemblance to the old. The new series stars Gabriel Byrne, an excellent choice, for his face now that it is older looks like something discerned in the shadows of a Rembrandt painting, and just looking at him creates a brooding and mysterious atmosphere. He doesn't speak that much, but thinks a lot, which makes the whole series even more ominous. When he becomes Prime Minister, he looks so gloomy that one wants to console him for his career success. Rupert Graves is so oily, treacherous, deceptive, and cunning, as a political villain who is a scheming Chancellor of the Exchequer determined to move next door to Number Ten, that he makes the flesh creep. The series was produced and directed by Ed Fraiman, who lives in California, graduated from the Polish Film School, and directs British and American TV series, so is clearly a cosmopolitan character. He has done a brilliant job of this one. In between all those different countries, one wonders how he came to know modern Britain so well. The pace and the tone are perfect. A great deal of the credit for this series working so superbly must go to Robert Jones, who wrote the scripts. The story of the series has been updated so as to be entirely relevant to the present day. One of the villainous organisations in the tale is a bank called Royal Caledonia Bank, which is described as being 88% owned by the British taxpayer because of a bailout. For those who don't know, Caledonia is a name for Scotland. This is therefore apparently a transparent disguise for the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is 84% owned by the British taxpayer. The story's attack on the banksters can't get more specific than that while still avoiding a libel action. The Chairman of the bank repeatedly sneers smugly at the Prime Minister and lets him know in no uncertain terms that he is a mere nobody, and it is the banks who are in charge of all the governments. When Byrne protests that the British Government owns the bank, the bankster brazenly says he can move the headquarters offshore at any time. It would be difficult to find a single informed person in Britain today who would find these scenes in any way unrealistic, as it is so obvious by now that the banks are in charge and the politicians really are mere nobodies, that not even an eyebrow is raised anymore when this comes up. The international bank bailouts are merely gigantic transfers of public funds into the private hands of an elite international group of crooks, and it takes a pretty stupid person not to see that by now. When it was revealed that the international banks were conspiring to fix the LIBOR rate, why was no one surprised? After all, it only affected a few trillion dollars worth of transactions a year, and what is a few trillion dollars between bankster friends? It seems that there is no politician willing to stop any of these abuses, because at the least he would lose his position, and at worst he might have 'an accident'. And in any case, many of the politicians are personally benefiting financially from being cooperative, especially when they have safely retired and settled comfortably into the pocket of some bank who needs their 'advice'. What famous grinning person is it who is paid £2 million a year for 'advising' a major bank? Can you guess? Try really hard. So the series addresses these issues, and does so in a bare-knuckled assault on the massive and overwhelming corruption in our public life. As Byrne sadly remarks, when reminded that he is the Prime Minister: 'You get to the top and then you find out it's only the middle.'
  • As my summary suggests, this was a bit of a mixed bag.

    The show is by no means perfect. It plays to some very old stereotypes in these situations... that everyone is very posh, in it for themselves, that women have to be aggressive and man-like. The moustache-twirling is used to very high degrees.

    It of course also takes very broad and simplistic positions on many topics, as it is only a four episode series.

    But at its core is an interesting mystery/political thriller, and a good mix of dynamics between government, big business and the banks. Gabriel Byrne is great and distracts from some of the narrative issues well, and delivers West Wing–like speeches at times, and supporting actors such as Ruth Negga provide good turns even if their roles are limited.

    One review commented that it was made for stupid 14 year olds, which is the classic way of putting down others by saying if you like it you are clearly a stupid child. However, that reviewer takes things far too seriously. Commenting that in a national tragedy a deputy prime minister wouldn't waste his time going to speak to local residents just shows that he was looking for issues within the first five minutes of the show.

    If you crave reality, or accuracy to minute detail, then this show isn't for you. It's fiction at the end of the day. Realistic it isn't, but it does give food for thought and is an entertaining mini series.
  • This series starts a bit grim. First half hour is a dark, bit boring, but most - is confusing for one having no clue about the novel. But boy, was I happy to stick around.

    Show combines edgy topics about politics, personal freedom and choices with a high technology setup and master craft of British drama. Apart from first half of hour, it is captivating. Multiple facets, many people acting by their best judgement, and above all, a hero. Byrne is doing a great job, yet the character could have been better composed. It is difficult to get emotionally attached to it, but is sure easy to get attached to its actions.

    Strongly recommended. Yet be warned, this comes from a guy who considered Downton Abbey the best show ever. Until now.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Good cast and exciting plot. I think that in order to raise the excitement and make Tom Dawkins more vulnerable they gave him no friends or allies at all. It seems he had no one in the intelligence or military services that he could trust and was constantly fed bad or no information. He was very isolated and this was not really believable, as was his inability to protect the GCHQ girl who was helping him. I thought he was Prime Minister ! Having made those criticisms I was entertained and I thought Byrne was excellent as was the supporting cast. Nice to see Stephen Dillane on the box again. The good guy lost so any chance of a follow up series ?
  • I found this series searching the web for political drama. Watching it is a very positive experience.

    Filmed in 2011 or so the setting is UK in the present time. Lots of unfortunate events happen at one time. The 4 part series is about the political reaction to those events. Happenings and reactions are realistic enough to be relevant although cutting it fine on the dramatic side. Most relevant modern popular political topics are in the series, like terrorism, government surveillance, political infighting and moneys effect on politics.

    Minuses are few, the biggest one being the series being way too short and compact :) Other minuses are ambiguities here and there and some minor connections between people and issues that seem a bit strange.

    Acting is overall good. To me especially Gabriel Byrne playing the leading role does well.

    In short this is must see if you like political drama.
  • samuelkdylan2 December 2012
    A good drama but A little confused and Hurried.

    I was hoping for the story to actually go somewhere but i was disappointed.

    Its good but too short and deserves a full series and story development.

    But definite Kudos for Gabriel Byrnes dramatic performance. He really carried it along.

    I enjoyed it but wanted more, it leaves you wanting the story to properly finish, and for "Byrnes" character to fulfill his heroic destiny.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Back in 1987 Channel 4 led the UK in cutting edge dramas.

    Last week we got episode one of "Secret State", allegedly 'loosely' based Alan Plater's superb adaptation of Chris Mullin's book "A Very British Coup". What a difference.

    The premise was good, a Bhopal style disaster in Teeside, the casting included some of Britain's finest talent, and the production values were very good.

    All this was completely wasted by a script that was puerile, full of clichéd soundbites, and by lousy directing and a cast of stock characters that would have made it into Michael Green's "The Art of Coarse Acting". We had a gonad crunching ambitious female politician, a smarmy yuppie-type ambitious politician, a drunken journo/ex-spook who knows where the metaphorical and possibly literal bodies are buried, and a young feisty journo who pops up with information nobody else has ever heard of.

    Has Mr Jones never watched "Yes Minister" or "The Thick of It"?

    His opening scenario was ludicrous. In real life the deputy PM would not be sitting in a local school hall being harangued by angry residents. That thankless task would have gone to some junior underling at the Energy Department.

    Nor does a pathologist have the power to withhold bodies from being released for burial, that authority lies with the Coroner. If a pathologist had serious concerns about unexplained toxins in body tissue s/he would have consulted their colleagues in the Home Office. Nor would said pathologist be telephoning the Deputy PM as if that individual was the only person with authority in the entire governmental system.

    Given the apparent assassination of the PM by a possible terrorist plot how did Ms Kane (alias Gina McKee) manage to get past security to speak to the Deputy PM at aforementioned PM's memorial service? Come to that, where WAS the security?

    And why was the head of Intelligence doing her own surveillance work? Does she not have an entire government department dedicated solely for that purpose?

    The whole thing seemed to be aimed at not very bright 14 year olds. Do the TV networks really think the viewing public is that dumb?

    For shame Channel 4. You've exchanged your credibility for dumbed down broadcasting. You have the temerity to advertise dross like this as 'Drama' while your schedules are chock full of freak shows, crass talent shows, and the dregs of society being filmed in their 'natural habitat' in what passes for "reality" television.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A fictional chemical plant, not dissimilar to Buncefield Oil Depot, is destroyed in a huge ball of fire which takes out the local village. The following day a fictional Prime Minister, not dissimilar to David Cameron, disappears when his private jet explodes over a fictional ocean, not dissimilar to the Atlantic.

    Irish deputy prime minister Tom Dawkins (played by Gabriel Byrne) is thrust into the top job. He is a quiet, reluctant hero, controlled puppet-like by Charles Dance – a smooth, handsome Chief Whip who looks far too charming to be rude to a policeman outside Number 10.

    Meanwhile, an investigative journalist (played by ballsy Hebburn mum Gina McKee) appears to have already found out who has done what to who and why.

    Government spin, the underlying threat of terrorism, industrial cover-ups – all of these elements were crammed into the first two minutes of Channel 4′s new four part conspiracy thriller Secret State. While stretching credibility to its absolute limit, the overall effect was nonetheless quite intriguing.

    The plot was further stirred by Sylvestra Le Touzel and Rupert Graves as two slimy cabinet ministers trying to fill the power void left by the PM's untimely death. There seemed to be so much going on in this fictional version of Number 10 that Nick Robinson (the political correspondent who looks like Little Bear out of Bo' Selecta) would be kept busy around the clock.

    Something that has always annoyed me about film drama is that when an important piece of news comes on the telly, the central characters always just listen to the very top of the story and then immediately switch the TV off. This simply doesn't happen in real life.

    If you heard in the Sky News headlines that the Prime Minister's plane had plunged into the Atlantic, you wouldn't switch off the TV before hearing the rest of the story. This actually happened twice in Secret State, and was compounded when the PM, after being told another piece of earth-shattering news on the telephone, hung up straight away without waiting to hear the rest of the story.

    I'll give Secret State another go next week. But I can't promise that I won't switch it off before the...
  • An interesting political thriller made in 2012 , which is very relevant today. The characters are a bit stereotyped but that just makes the message more clear. The players are the MPs, the Banks, The Intelligence Community, The Media who are all the bad guys and a handful of isolated good people who are understandably under duress.

    That makes this political thriller very realistic and true to life. Guardian readers and intellectuals may hate it because they can see the cliff edge at the end of the path that they blindly wander but they can ridicule it with their inferior brain power.

    The money makers and power brokers and puppet-masters are way too stupid to realize that their persistent lies can only result in extinction of our kind.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Yet another political wannabe drama that fall way short of expectations.

    And that annoying much too loud soundtrack ... please, it doesn't make the story any better by banging on drums as if there was no tomorrow.

    Appalling security. Now then, the Prime Minister is assassinated, the Deputy PM inherits the job but is totally oblivious to the obvious security risks considering the recent murder of his boss. He pops down to the pub, goes jogging (always to the same place we are told), goes walking about. There were three bodyguards to start with, later cut down to one.

    The PM's Army / Navy / Air Forces advisers seem to consist of one general. Everyone including the PM are all effing and blinding at each other, government buildings are like an indoor market where anyone can come in.

    Stereotype characters galore, General with his agenda, two cabinet ministers plotting against the PM, evil banker, evil multinational, GCHQ and MI6 both with their own agendas, the ex-spook (on the booze, of course) going freelance, laptops and computer screens connected to bugs, etc. What were all these otherwise good actors doing in this mess?

    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was 33 years ago ... Still waiting for another gripping series.
  • sanyi0089 December 2015
    If you are a huge fan of conspiracy theories, don't know nothing about politics (but like to think it's all about evil powers in the background) you will love this, as there are good dialogues, better actors, and altogether the series don't lack quality till it comes to the story. But if you have seen so much as a season from West Wing (not to mention more complex series like The Wire, House of Cards, etc.) the story will seem something like a high school student's take on politics, painfully naive, incredibly predictable and every character is shallow beyond the point where they could be saved by the actors. Don't waste your time.