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4.3 out of 5 stars69
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 29 November 2012
The brilliant four part Channel 4 mini-series Secret State is well worth a look. A remake of a 1988 TV mini series A Very British Coup Secret State manages to do what conspiracy thrillers should do i.e. thrill and keep you gripped.

To be honest I have done a little research about the reactions of others on the internet of all places to see what other people think of the show. I decided to check the legitimate reviewers opinions out of curiosity and aparently they are none too thrilled at this conspiracy thriller citing a lack of 'realism' and aparently the premise is 'ludicrous' and the 'show is out of touch with what is important currently'. Really? Really? With all due respect to these comments what ever happened to a little escapism, you know a show with a nice twisty plot with a conspiracy between a few supervillians. But the critics complain that it is not as good as Homeland; well of course it is not but it is one great enjoyable piece of television none the less.

Gabriel Byrne might play one of the most ludicrous unrealistic characters of all time; a noble politician who manages to become PM but man did I root for him.

Like all good conspiracy thrillers you are gripped and genuinely interested in how it will all end.

Oh and just one more thing that makes this show great; have you checked the cast. Just plain awesome.

You might have noticed that this so called review doesn't mention one single plot detail, well I noticed that after one episode that they had a next time on feature. Watched it and lets say they gave away too much. Really to enjoy twisty little thrillers like this it is best to know as little as possible about the plot so you can concentrate on figureing the plot out and get it wrong along the way.

Yes, the show might be a little unrealistic but why should this matter when the plot keeps you gripped and the cast is this good. Plus I really would like to see more programmes like this on TV considering the last programme I seen that was this good was The State Within (come to think of it the plots are really really similar). If you liked The State Within then you should like this and vice versa. Brilliantly gripping television.
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on 29 November 2012
This is the best thing I've seen on television for ages. Kept me gripped and desperate for the next episode...my only criticism was that the ending was a trifle sudden and left me wanting more. For anybody who missed it or who would like to watch again, well worth buying.
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on 27 January 2013
I watched this drama on tv and found it gripping, keeping you guessing until the end. I purchased the DVD as a gift for a relative who lives in the US and misses UK shows.
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on 26 January 2013
Gabriel Byrne completely lived up to my expectations and was brilliant. I thought the series was very well adapted from the book especially because it updated the circumstances to include situations which have come to light since the book was written. Yet another excellent BBC series.
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on 10 December 2014
This is an excellent drama series. It was a complete surprise. The scripts are clever and the actors superb in every department - not one weak link for me. I am not a fan of the lead actor (Gabriel Byrne) but he does an excellent job in this movie. If you like subterfuge and British Noire type movies, then this is for you. There are four episodes bought together as a series of hour and something long movies.
The setting and locations are good and the whole experience is believable.
Somehow, I kept thinking throughout watching this that it reflected so many things in life that lie below the surface as reality but society lies about them.
If only politicians were like the principle character, so many of our problems would be resolved.
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on 14 December 2012
In Ed Fraiman's latest adaptation of former MP Chris Mullin's political novel, A Very British Coup, conspiracy certainly isn't what it used to be. Back in the 1980s, under its original title, the brilliant Ray McAnally played Harry Perkins in Alan Plater's excellent version, parading a cautionary tale about radical values and what happens to them once you're in power and the men from the ministry get a hold of you. Plater's version had an international context involving the concerns of the day, not least American nuclear missiles on British soil, and this newly rebooted 21st Century story carries that a step further by putting the villainous cast of the 'war on terror' age - multinationals, rogue Middle-Eastern regimes, military chiefs of staff - firmly in the spotlight. But back in the day, the original drama sat side-by-side with other mini-series like Edge of Darkness, Harry's Game and House of Cards while films like Defence of the Realm - which Byrne starred in during the 1980s - The Whistle Blower and then later Hidden Agenda, not only gripped but opened up possibilities about the British state apparatus that wider society, let alone TV/film culture, hadn't dared contemplate before.

This new take on the dark corridors of Westminster is fine, mind you. Gabriel Byrne plays loyal party apparatchik Tom Dawson with a steely-eyed determination, Douglas Hodge is terrific as a drunk and gone-off-the-rails computer hacker and fixer, while Charles Dance could win BAFTAs simply for the way he unbuttons his suit jacket and gives that look of his. But it's an odd 24hr news cycle world that hasn't spotted the PM turning up rather too frequently at the local Drum and Monkey boozer to have a pint with former colleague Fossett, as Dawson seems to do endlessly here, while there doesn't appear to be a single person in London who hasn't got his mobile phone number! Gina McKee's determined reporter Ellis Kane seems to have a front door key to No.10 she's there so often, and Rupert Graves - who's a terrific actor - is handed a role here that gives off all the gravitas of a man who thinks he should be head of the local comprehensive's Sixth Form, but appears to have stumbled into the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer! It adds up to a lot of fun; Manchester Town Hall shows up as the inside of Westminster brilliantly, Ruth Negga is genuinely great as out-of-her-depth GCHQist Agnes Evans, and Mullins himself even appears as a vicar to top it all off.

But the world has moved on from the 1980s and so have we probably as a watching public. Secret State pushes all the familiar buttons of 21st Century secrecy and cover-up, and does it very nicely. But it's so familiar to us now, the power of this kind of TV has lost a little of its bite in a political culture where Fahrenheit 9/11, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and Inside Job are documentaries, but ones offering up all the drama of real events in an elite, establishment world that long ago lost much of its grip on reality.
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on 25 January 2013
I bought this dvd for my husband who gets through dvd's like their going out of fashion. He loved this dvd and said the story was really gripping.
Worth buying.
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on 3 April 2014
Many believe politics and politicans are rotten to the core. This mini-series confirms the theory and brings into the circle, Bankers, Businessmen and the media. This could well go down as one of the best political thrillers of all time BUT the viewer needs to pay rapt attention as the plot twists and turns throughout and the ending is superb. Well done to all involved
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on 19 February 2013
The impact of the dialogue would be so much better if the more of the power of the English language had been used instead of the overly frequent use of expletives. I am not recommending long Shakespearean speeches or snobbish sounding accents but on the other hand it is a bit distracting to hear expletives - the "F word" in particular - being used so liberally.

The end of the show does not make plain what actually happened. We can guess but we are left somewhat in the dark.

I give the show 5 stars because it is very good minus 0.5 star because of the expletives and minus another 0.5 star since it is not plain what happened at the very end and thus arrive at the final 4-star rating.

Apart from these two reservations I must say that the show was very interesting and kept my attention right to the end.
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on 28 September 2013
We are all aware of what goes on behind the scenes in the world of politics, but the message gets home even more with a mini series like Secret State. The story is plausible, the acting is great. One hopes it will end in a different way but, after thinking about it, it was the best way!
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