One of the greatest examples of television drama, Alan Bleasdale's masterpiece has lost none of its power in the 15 years since first broadcast and----while Michael Palin and Lindsay Duncan have moved on to projects that highlighted their talents better---Robert Lindsay has never come close to even equalling, let alone eclipsing, this work. His portrayal of Michael Murray---sometime Derek Hatton, sometime Dr Strangelove, sometime victim---is perfect, making an unlikeable, corrupt bully completely sympathetic to the viewer.
If this was being made today, it would be six episodes of 50 minutes. In 1991, it was seven parts of uneven lengths, allowing even the peripheral characters the opportunity to shine. Politically, it may be a Guardian reader's wishful thinking----a liberal fable, like much of The West Wing. Dramatically, it's almost Dickensian with its characters and Shakespearean with its plot.
Michael Palin shines as the epitome of decency; Lindsay Duncan is her usual luminous perfection; and Robert Lindsay is just fantastic in the role of a lifetime. Sterling work by a marvellous cast, with particular praise for David Ross's Mr Weller and Philp Whitchurch as Franky Murray.
This is the kind of thing we do best---playing to our strengths, with our own cultural references and no concerns about how it will be sold to the US. If you like British drama, buy this. I didn't use the word "masterpiece" lightly.