sat 13/07/2024

The Politician's Husband, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

The Politician's Husband, BBC Two

The Politician's Husband, BBC Two

Self-important politicos slain by arrogance, treachery and laughable dialogue

David Tennant and Emily Watson as hot political couple Aiden Hoynes and Freya Gardner (don't mention Ed and Yvette)

The first minutes of Paula Milne's new three-parter are absolutely hilarious. MP Aiden Hoynes (David Tennant) resigns from his post as Business Secretary and launches an attack on the Prime Minister from the backbenches in an attempt to trigger a leadership contest, only to find his comments greeted by embarrassed silence.

In a split second he has turned from a Westminster high-flier into a social leper who can clear out the House of Commons Gents like a foul gaseous emission. He gambled, he lost and he has no one to blame but himself – well, himself and his best friend, Work and Pensions Minister Bruce Babbish (Ed Stoppard, pictured below), who (he explains tearfully later on) put him up to it and who proceeds to stab him in the back on Sky News.

Ah, politicos, you've got to love their pratfalls. Unfortunately it's not supposed to be a comedy, as the screechy fingernails-on-chalkboard violin score constantly reminds you. And there's certainly no chance of Hoynes seeing the funny side. “It physically hurts!” he wails. What's more, having failed, he now faces the ultimate punishment of having to spend more time with his autistic son and his horrible constituents who think only of their own petty problems such as disintegrating roads and antisocial neighbours.

Ed Stoppard in The Politician's HusbandBut then his wife, Freya Gardner (Emily Watson), who is also an MP but who has heretofore been in his shadow, is offered a post in the next Cabinet reshuffle. Hoynes hatches a plot – she will say yes and then be his agent provocateur, paving the way for his return. But unfortunately for him, after years of a happy and contented marriage, she's suddenly starting to see him for the arrogant, preening, self-entitled bell-end he is… just when he's lost his job and made a prat of himself on the telly. Bit of a coincidence, that.

Milne has already established that Freya is a force to be reckoned with by showing how brilliantly she gets the kids ready for school, so we know where this is going (by episode three, she'll be launching her own bid for the top job and her disempowered hubby will be watching the whole thing at home on the sofa, in a hoodie covered with pizza stains).

Emily Watson in The Politician's HusbandMeanwhile, a redemptive story is foreshadowed for Hoynes. You see, it turns out he wasn't always an arrogant, preening, self-entitled bell-end. He's only been like that since his son was diagnosed with Asperger's; it's a defence mechanism. “That was when you chose to bury yourself in the cesspit of Westminster power politics,” says his dad (Jack Shepherd), who seems so totally wise you can't help wishing he was running the country instead of all these other losers (Freya G in da House, pictured above).

It's probably too much to expect anyone in a drama about Westminster to be likeable, but Milne could at least have made this “golden couple of politics” intriguingly villainous. Instead, they're too self-pitying to gain your sympathy and too dull to keep your interest, and the prissy, uptight performances of the two leads certainly don't help. In one of the few moments that actually rings true, we see Hoynes gloomily browsing the political blogs. Anyone keen on goings-on in the Houses of Parliament would be much better off checking out a bunch of those than wasting their time on this windy non-event.

Milne has already established that Freya is a force to be reckoned with by showing how brilliantly she gets the kids ready for school


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters