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.