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For all its faults, US television knows how to be idealistic about politics. In this country we get cynical pap about shopkeepers becoming prime minister

By Amy Jenkins   November 2006

“Democratic value” is a cornerstone of the BBC’s new charter. The charter talks about creating opportunities for people to become more active citizens. The trouble is, when the BBC makes drama with the charter in mind, it tends to be bad. “Messages,” as Sam Goldwyn said, “are for Western Union.”

Perhaps “democratic value” was in the minds of those who commissioned The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, a six-part series currently on BBC1 about a supermarket manager who becomes prime minister almost overnight. The show is written by Sally Wainwright, whose credits include The Wife of Bath, a drama written in the…

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