Mel Smith stars in a rare straight role as Tom Craig, a shrewdly opportunistic property developer progressing from nowhere to provincial tycoon in this memorable and still highly relevant drama from Central Television.
Centred on age-old themes of corruption and power politics, the series’ hard-edged realism and trenchant humour made it a huge success on its original screening. With grittily authentic location scenes, from strip clubs to council chambers, the series is also notable for its bold and unconventional casting: comedian and Bullseye host Jim Bowen makes his TV drama debut, and former wrestling champion Johnny Allan plays Craig’s industry rival. James Faulkner and Lindsay Duncan – foreshadowing her later role in the similarly hard-hitting GBH – also appear in this superb six-part series originally screened in 1982.
From small beginnings, Tom Craig reaches a position where he controls most of the plum sites in the fictional Midlands city of Slatterly. To get there, he uses every trick in the book; unscrupulous city councillors, planning department officials and local businessmen are all pawns to be bought and sold. Craig’s adversaries include the ruthless John Roman, head of a rival firm with a personal grudge against him, and Tory council leader Maurice Taylor, who is determined to ensure that Slatterly shall not be susceptible to accusations of bribery and corruption.
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