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

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.

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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.

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production details
UK | ITV Network – Granada | 10×50 minutes | 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

James Faulkner as Simon Kerslake
Tom Wilkinson as Raymond Gould
Clive Swift as Alec Pimkin
Andrew Keir as Sir Duncan Fraser
Joanna David as Elizabeth Kerslake
Jane Booker as Fiona Seymour
Jeremy Child as Charles Seymour
David Robb as Andrew Fraser

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.