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Review: House of Cards

Not the American version, since I don’t have a spare 30+ hours on my hands, but the original BBC series that was first made when I was slightly too young to appreciate it.

House of Cards is set in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher’s resignation as Prime Minister in 1990.  It’s about the deceitful ambition of Chief Whip Francis Urquhart in the subsequent battle for power, and the attempts of young journalist Mattie Storin to find the real story behind the power struggle

I’ve always meant to watch it, knowing it was an iconic piece of television for Urquhart’s calculating evilness, his bold straight-to-camera addresses and for coining the phrase,”You might think that, I couldn’t possibly comment,” which Urqhart uses to plant rumours without leaving a trace of himself behind them.

It was as elegantly done as you would expect.  I was surprised by how totally unredeemedly nasty Urquhart was, I think that is quite unusual, even in a villain. I was also sceptical about how easy it was for Urquhart to fool so many people without being discovered, but then, some of the politicians were of the nice-but-dim variety, which was probably fairly true to life in some cases.

I was much more surprised by the sexual relationship that developed between Storin and Urquhart, and its nature.  There was a point where she said, “I want to call you Daddy!” and I went “Urggggh!!!” out loud, and then started laughing.   Although this was after two nights without much sleep, by which time I was laughing at pretty much any stupid thing.  I can never sleep the night before I go back to work, and since I went back Monday and the teachers and pupils came back Tuesday, my brain interpreted both as going back to work dates.

Isabel didn’t go back to school until today, so she spent Tuesday doing her art homework, which was to take photos in the style of Martin Parr, who takes satirical photos eg of food next to photos of food.  Since she actually bothers with things like lighting and decent background, her photos are much better than mine.

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(She also had to make the garishly coloured cake.)

Talking about photos of photos, and photos “in the style of”, did anyone see the news story about Richard Prince, the photographer who’s being sued for “re-photographing” other people’s Instagrams?  And being paid $100,000 for his “works” too?




Filed under: TV


  1. That series was indeed iconic, Denise and rightly feted for the performance of Ian Richardson. He was one of my favourite actors and before he became a television star I had been watching him at Stratford for about ten years. He died far too young. What is nice though is that now his son, Miles, is with the company so we have a Richardson in Stratford again.

  2. Ooh I so need to check with you as we have the boxed set of this – is there anything gory in it that might upset me? I am a complete petal when it comes to watching things on screen and was traumatised by Tenko which my mother loved and which contained someone vomiting in every episode. These days I try not to watch anything unless it’s been screened by a trustworthy source first!!!

    • If you mean the original English version (I can’t believe there’s someone else who hasn’t watched it!), there’s not much violence. Although there is death, most of it is tastefully done and implied. I think there is only one scene with blood that I can remember.

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