There is no denying, no matter what side of the metaphorical battlefield that you have placed yourself on, that the United Kingdom is in political upheaval at the moment, with Brexit still looming, party turmoil causing divisions, and the question of who will be not just the next leader of the Conservative Party but also the next Prime Minister. In a bid to take our minds off what the future may hold we decided to take a look at some of the worst Prime Ministers, depicted in film and television, and perhaps take some comfort that we are not watching them get elected instead.
1. Sir Mortimer Chris
(Peter Cook, Whoops Apocalypse – 1986)
The utterly insane and bellicose Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party is leading the UK at a time when a communist power invades a small British Colony. Sir Mortimer believes that unemployment is caused by invisible pixies and the best way to reduce it is to push employed people off of cliffs. He also thinks that Union Flag umbrellas will protect voters from nuclear fallout when he targets his enemies with nuclear bombs. Despite the rest of his party wanting to be rid of him, the general public completely adores him. He survives an assassination attempt by his fellow Conservatives and in response takes up a new policy of crucifying disloyal members in Wembley Stadium.
2. Francis Urquhart
(Ian Richardson, House of Cards – 1990)
Although Francis Urquhart starts off the famed series as the Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, his Machiavellian schemes and amoral decisions see him rise to the top spot in the party and in the United Kingdom. He gets there by leaking information about his rivals to the press, specifically to the reporter he’s sleeping with (with his wife’s permission), causing them to resign. He fabricates scandals and threatens to leak compromising photographs, he causes the Health Secretary to run over a disabled man, and he murders the party’s drug-addicted public relations officer by putting rat poison in his cocaine. Just before he heads to Buckingham Palace to be sworn in as Prime Minister, he murders the reporter who had threatened to expose him, by pushing her off of the roof of the Houses of Parliament and claiming it was suicide. All of this is before he reaches the top job – and things only get worse. Breaking the fourth wall frequently, Urquhart made popular the ‘non-confirmation confirmative statement’, “You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment” as a way to be seen to not agree with a leading statement.
3. John Hatcher
(Alexander Siddig, Doomsday – 2008)
Unlike some of the others in this list, Hatcher is not outright evil, but he is totally weakwilled and easy to manipulate, which becomes a problem when his Deputy is an evil bastard. Hatcher is in office thirty years after the Reaper Virus has infected Scotland and killed most of the population. A wall was erected to stop the virus spreading, but it unexpectedly resurfaces in London prompting Hatcher to secretly isolate the centre of the city, and orders for a special team to head to Scotland to hopefully find a cure. Everything Hatcher does is controlled by Michael Canaris (David O’Hara), his Deputy who wants to use the virus as a means of population control and keep any cure a secret. Before a cure can be found though, an infected man breaks into his building. He’s stopped but not before his infected blood gets onto Hatcher. Confined to his rooms, and knowing full well that even if a cure is found Canaris is unlikely to give it to him, Hatcher commits suicide by shooting himself.
4. Harold Saxon
(John Simm, Doctor Who – 2007)
Doctor Who has had its fair share of terrible Prime Ministers throughout its run but the worst has to be Harold Saxon. Hinted at throughout the third season, it is not until the twelfth episode that we discover just who this man is: none other than the Doctor’s nemesis The Master. He created a phone network which subliminally controlled the population to vote for him, then, once elected, he kills off his entire cabinet and kidnaps the Doctor’s companion’s family. He then creates a Paradox Machine aboard UNIT’s flying aircraft carrier, ushers in an Alien invasion and orders the aliens to enslave the human race for him. Worse still he artificially ages The Doctor (David Tennant), seemingly rendering him useless. The Master controls the world for over a year before he is finally thwarted by the Doctor and friends, and then fatally shot by his wife Lucy Saxon (Alexandra Moen).
5. Alan B’Stard
(Rik Mayall, The New Statesman – 1987)
Although, due to a cock up of his own making, the former Conservative backbencher never actually became Prime Minister, when he did not bother to stand for a seat in the election but instead went one better and declared himself Lord Protector instead. His route to this point though was one full of devious and sociopathic schemes, and he would not stop at anything, even murder, to achieve his ambitions. Some of these schemes included provoking Trade Unions so he could make a profit; arming the police; reintroducing Capital Punishment; passing a bill to cut all Basic State Pensions, forcing hundreds of retirement homes to close; advocating the abolishment of the NHS, and the alleviation of poverty by eradicating poor people.
In the last episode of the show, Alan causes the Conservative Party to vote to leave the European Economic Community and, in the political turmoil that follows, forms the eurosceptic New Patriotic Party. After causing the British Public to believe that France has invaded the Channel Islands, his party’s popularity skyrockets giving them a two to one majority in Parliament. Unable to be Prime Minister he creates his new role, has the leader of the Labour Party arrested and announces that if the Queen wishes to meet him, she has to come to him.
Honourable Mention: David
(Hugh Grant, Love, Actually – 2003)
Good fictional Prime Ministers appear to be very rare indeed, but we had to make mention of one of them. Although it is unknown what party he represents, Hugh Grant’s David has charisma and natural leadership, and seems to be very popular with the people. He is also fairly down to earth, demonstrated by how he regularly makes a tit out of himself in front of his staff, such as by dancing around Downing Street late at night. In the public eye, however, he excels, most notably when dealing with the US President (Billy Bob Thornton). Having been advised to toe the line by his cabinet, and let down by the American himself, David speaks up at a press conference and knocks the US down a peg or two. Whether he actually succeeds in the office is not known, but he clearly did well enough to be re-elected again in time for the Comic Relief follow up, set some thirteen years after the film.
And that’s our list, although by no means all of the fictional Prime Ministers out there. Let us know who your favourites are in the comments.