I went to the premiere of In The Loop on Wednesday night. It's brilliant. I love The Thick Of It on TV - and it comes from the same creative team - so I had high hopes for it. But also some concerns.
Peter Capaldi plays Malcolm Tucker - the same spin-doctor role he plays in The Thick Of It but many of the other actors are involved and are playing different roles. For example, I'm used to seeing Chris Addison as Ollie but here he plays Toby. Admittedly the characters are very similar to each other... but the action has shifted to a new department so their jobs are nominally different and their relationships to other characters are too. I thought the knowledge that Thick Of It Capaldi knows Thick Of It Addison might make it weird that In The Loop Capaldi doesn't initially know In The Loop Addison. Imagine watching an Eastenders spin off in which Babs Windsor played Peggy Mitchell and Ross Kemp appeared - but not as her son Grant Mitchell. That'd be weird. Very weird. And, one imagines, not very good. Well this is nothing at all like that. Whether or not you've ever seen The Thick Of It doesn't matter a jot. It isn't a film-length episode of the TV show... it's its own entity. You quickly allow the new story to envelop you and take it all at face value. The cast are flawless but the two I've mentioned already - Capaldi and Addison - are, alongside Tom Hollander's flappy, out-of-his-depth career politician Minister, exceptional.
Perhaps most weirdly the film appears to contain two premonitions. There are two lines in the fictional story that echo tabloid news stories from the last couple of weeks. They can't possibly have known they were going to happen. It almost makes me think that Jacqui Smith's husband is actually working for the film's PR company. Almost.