Boys from the Blackstuff was a broadside aimed at Thatcherism, while State of Play skewered Blair’s Britain, but what are the lessons from Britain’s best political dramas? From its earnest conversations about immigration to the complicated plot involving cover-up and conspiracy at the highest level, it’s clear that Collateral, David Hare’s latest drama which began on BBC Two last night, has pretensions above your average crime thriller. Set in a world fuelled by the gig economy, Collateral’s central plot follows detective Kip Glaspie’s (Carey Mulligan) as she investigates the murder of a Syrian pizza delivery man. It’s a case which swiftly turns out to have a far wider impact than might initially appear. There are hints of government corruption, a military cover-up, possible media foul play – it can only mean one thing: this is a state-of-the-nation drama, and, according to Hare, the state of our nation is looking very sickly indeed. He’s not alone in feeling this way. From Boys from the Blackstuff to last year’s Broken, British television has a distinguished history of producing dramas that tell us about contemporary Britain. Here’s our look at what they said about the nation at the time.
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