Veep, The Thick Of It, In The Loop, I’m Alan Partridge, On The Hour, The Day Today, when you recall the list of shows which Armando Iannucci has worked on it reads like a roll-call for cutting comedy satire.
Studying at Oxford, Iannucci was working towards a PhD on English poet John Milton before he left his studies to forge a career in comedy.
Soon finding himself at the BBC, Iannucci was working for Radio 4 when he met Chris Morris and helped to create On The Hour in 1991. The show, which was also written by Stewart Lee, Richard Herring, David Quantick, Steven Wells and Andrew Glover, soon made its way to TV with The Day Today.
Morris and Iannucci worked closely on the The Day Today and the working relationship has flourished for over two decades since their early writings on Radio 4. Like a comedy family line at work The Day Today gave birth to Steve Coogan’s legendary Alan Partridge character which went on to become a British comedy institution in its own right.
However if you were to pick one thing out of Iannucci’s rich catalogue of work, it has to be his political series The Thick Of It - which has cemented his reputation as one of the most influential people in British comedy. The show immortalised the reputation of Alistair Campbell in a way no biography or news scoop could.
Played by the brilliant Peter Capaldi, it was difficult to look at real politics in the same way, and without a slight ironic smirk at the dealings which were going on behind the scenes.
If it wasn’t for Campbell’s breakdown on Channel 4 News, Adam Boulton’s infamous tirade and more recently Boris Johnson’s outburst in a lift you could be forgiven for thinking that Iannucci’s work was a brilliant fictional take on politics, however now it feels more like an astute insight into the real-life Machiavellian world of British political life.
Part of what has made his shows appealing is that Iannucci encourages improvisation during shoots in order to achieve the illusion that the plot is unfolding spontaneously.
Speaking about The Thick Of It in 2005 Iannucci said: "I wanted to do something set in the world of politics that was rough and messy, slightly improvised and realistic". The subsequent film In The Loop helped launch Iannucci across the pond and, rekindling his writing partnership with Chris Morris, he has produced Veep, which aired on HBO in April.
Other notable contributions in recent years was Iannucci’s role as executive producer on Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle and writing and producing an hour-long documentary on Charles Dickens. As a man who has spent his career mocking the hyper-ego’s of the rich and famous Iannucci is apologetic when trying to promote his own creations, especially on Twitter.
In June 2012 Iannucci was given an OBE for his services to broadcasting and despite his humble demeanour, Iannucci has won a plethora of awards and will no doubt collect a fair few more before he decides that he’s shaped the public perception on political life enough.
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