The Hunt for Tony Blair, a 1950s-style film noir spoof, sees the former prime minister charged with murder and on the run from the police.According to Jay Hunt, chief creative officer at Channel 4, who commissioned the programme, 'it promises to be a very daring and utterly irreverent romp':
Comic Strip defined comedy for a generation and it's a real coup to have the team back tackling one of the most controversial subjects of our time in a way that only they can'.'Daring'? 'Irreverent'? 'Controversial'? The 'Tony Blair war criminal' line has been the tired cliche of 'Comment is Free' columns and North London dinner table conversation for half a decade, as well as the stock-in-trade of the anti-Blair mandarins and Daily Mail writers who refuse to accept the conclusions of a string of public inquiries. In other words, it's the establishment view: nothing 'controversial' about it. And nothing new about it either. The Iraq war was in 2003, for heaven's sake.
In other words, the subject is as dated and washed-up as the Comic Strip veterans themselves, who include Rik Mayall, Robbie Coltrane and Jennifer Saunders. By associating themselves with this project, the scourges of 'Thatch' now appear as outmoded as Les Dawson.
One might ask why they couldn't find a more 'controversial' focus for their comic rage in the contemporary political scene. Aren't there enough oppportunities for political satire in the u-turns and fallings-out of the Cameronians and Cleggites? And with everything that's happening in the Arab world, wouldn't it be more 'daring' and 'irreverent' to satirise Assad or Ahmadinejad, rather than the easy target of a prime minister who left office four years ago? Or is this comic targeting of Blair yet another example of the fashionable faux-left habit of responding to real abuses of power by looking in the other direction?
And what does it say about the once 'cutting-edge' Channel 4 that it's promoting this predictable project by a group of has-beens, which is designed to confirm rather than challenge the prejudices of its audience, as a major television event?