1 9 8 2 (UK)
6 x 50 minute episodes
Mel Smith starred in a rare straight role as Tom Craig, a shrewdly opportunistic property developer progressing from nowhere to provincial tycoon in this memorable and still highly relevant drama from Central Television.
Centred on age-old themes of corruption and power politics, the series’ hard-edged realism and trenchant humour made it a huge success on its original screening.
With grittily authentic location scenes, from strip clubs to council chambers, the series was also notable for its bold and unconventional casting: comedian and Bullseye host Jim Bowen made his TV drama debut and former wrestling champion Johnny Allen played Craig’s industry rival.
James Faulkner and Lindsay Duncan – foreshadowing her later role in the similarly hard-hitting GBH – also appeared in this superb six-part series originally screened in 1982.
From small beginnings, Tom Craig reached a position where he controlled most of the best sites in the fictional Midlands city of Slatterly.
To get there, he used every trick in the book; unscrupulous city councillors, planning department officials and local businessmen were all pawns to be bought and sold.
Craig’s adversaries included the ruthless John Roman, head of a rival firm with a personal grudge against him, and Tory council leader Maurice Taylor, who was determined to ensure that Slatterly would not be susceptible to accusations of bribery and corruption.