Brexit: The Uncivil War (2019)
January 18, 2019 3:17 PM - Subscribe

Strategist Dominic Cummings (Benedict Cumberbatch) leads a campaign to convince British voters to leave the European Union. Directed by Toby Haynes (Sherlock, Doctor Who).

First broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 on 9th Jan 2019. Showing on HBO on 19th Jan.
posted by memebake (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just saw this, its amazingly well written and put together, shows a lot of different aspects of what went on in the UK during the 2016 vote, and a dramatised 'behind the scenes' peek at the strategists behind the two campaigns. It has a lot to say about modern politics and the impact of social media.
posted by memebake at 3:22 PM on January 18, 2019

'You whitewashed the corruption': James Graham and Carole Cadwalladr on Brexit: The Uncivil War.

I enjoyed the performances, and it did nail these guys to the wall on some points - it explained well the problem with Vote Leave's use of targeted Facebook ads - but it glossed over some other big issues with the campaign, like where Arron Banks got his money from, the massive donation to the DUP that funded ads on mainland Britain, the question of Russian interference, the extent of the collusion and coordination between leave campaigns... if you know the details well, you can pick up hints of one or two of these, but it would leave casual viewers unaware of the extent of the dodginess.
posted by rory at 3:06 AM on January 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

it would leave casual viewers unaware of the extent of the dodginess
I don't really agree with that. By the end of the programme its made clear that Mercer was linked to both campaigns (and to Trump), and that both leave campaigns are being investigated/prosecuted.

Yeah the guardian didn't rate it very highly, which nearly stopped me from watching it, but nearly everyone else did rate it highly. The research that Carole Cadwalladr has done post-Brexit is really important, and the programme did cover most of her narrative on things. Especially when you count the 'aftermath' text that comes at the end of the programme. I suspect that a script that Cadwalladr was happy with would probably have alienated most of the non-Guardian reading viewers (which is approx 80% of the country).

As it was, I thought they struck a really good balance. Dominic Cummings hates MPs, and so all viewers can relate to him in those parts. But by the end you can see that he realises he's made things worse. For the first two-thirds his campaign is portrayed as the plucky underdogs, in the last third you're invited to see things from Craig Oliver's point of view (Rory Kinnear). In fact Rory Kinnear has two of the best scenes - the conference call, which is an amazing one-take, and the focus-group-gone-wrong near the end, which is an absolutely _fantastic_ piece of writing, portraying the debate in miniature, and in detail, and without (imho) any gross mis-characterisations of the 'other sides' argument.

You could easily do a hardline-Remainer script where all the Leavers are portayed as pantomime villains. But that would be rubbish telly, and we wouldn't learn anything from it. I'm really impressed by what they did with this programme, which was take me on a journey with the Leavers and show me a bit of their worldview, while still acknowledging the huge mess they've left us with.
posted by memebake at 5:53 AM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

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