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    02 August, 2006

    The West Wing, RIP

    I watched the last episodes of The West Wing on More4 on Friday night. I will miss the series - and I know a lot of other politicians who will, too. It has become the political world’s own ‘soap opera’. The Prime Minister is said to be a fan. In the UK, even right-wing Conservatives enjoy it, though some on the American Right have dubbed it 'The Left Wing'. Even Janet Daley liked it.

    Of course, it was born in the Clinton era: and has functioned for the last six years as a kind of dramatic 'if only'. A large section of the West Wing fan website Bartlett4america is devoted to ‘The Clinton Connection’ and says ‘The first three seasons of The West Wing are peppered with political problems that may seem oddly familiar.‘

    The West Wing is unusual however in its treatment of politics. It can be argued to be a way of introducing voters into stories that are not fully explained in traditional media coverage, including the process of governance, and the realities of the relationship between the media, politicians and their staff. Unlike the cynical journalistic view that politicians and their aides are simply interested in self-advancement, The West Wing actually treats them as human beings seeking to deal with complicated issues.

    Most political shows do not fall into the same category. Almost universally, they depict politicians and their aides as vain, pompous, craven, lacking intelligence or integrity, focused on career-advancement. They feed into and draw energy from the tabloid style of deposing deference and bringing people down to earth. (For more on my views, see this)

    The final series is out on DVD on 11 September, which seems an odd day to release it.

    Rhondda TV
    The Labour Party

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

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