First Among Equals (ITV 1986, Tom Wilkinson, James Faulkner)

First Among Equals

Quite an epic scope for this 10 part drama series, First Among Equals follows a quartet of MP’s from their first days as sworn in MPs in 1964 right up to then present day (mid 1980’s).

All four have their hearts and minds set on becoming leader of the country but only one of the quartet will rise to become Prime Minister, along the way they will be touched by Scandal, dirty deals, bankruptcy and personal heartache.

The four were Andrew Fraser newly minted in the Labour party but with a Conservative background (his father was an MP too), lawyer Raymond Gould (also Labour), Charles Seymour (a typically wealthy Conservative with much to prove to himself) and Seymour’s chief rival and fellow Tory Simon Kerslake.

The early episodes dealing with the 1960’s really capture the flavour of the period well. Not quite Our Friends in the North but First Among Equals is easily the best of Archer’s novels and probably the one closest to his own heart and one that you can easily imagine whose plotlines came easily to him.

In fact many of them echo moments from his own career quite closely. There is probably a little too much emphasis on the conservative side of the political fence but that’s no surprise and the series does manage to include most of the key political moments of the previous two decades from the devaluing of the pound and the common market to the troubles in Northern Ireland.

production details
UK / ITV Network – Granada / 10×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 30 September – 2 December 1986

Writer: Derek Marlowe / Novel: Jeffrey Archer / Political Advisors: Tom McNally, Joan Lestor / Choreographer: Geraldine Stephenson / Music: Richard Harvey / Production Design: Alan Price, Chris Wilkinson / Executive Producer: Richard Everitt / Producer: Mervyn Watson / Directors: John Gorrie, Brian Mills

TOM WILKINSON as Raymond Gould
JAMES FAULKNER as Simon Kerslake
DAVID ROBB as Andrew Fraser
JEREMY CHILD as Charles Seymour
ANITA CAREY as Joyce Gould
JANE BOOKER as Fiona Seymour
JOANNA DAVID as Elizabeth Kerslake
ANDREW KEIR as Sir Duncan Fraser
CLIVE SWIFT as Alec Pimkin

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