BBC TwoNewsnight Review
Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

Newsnight Review: 13 February 2009

This week Martha Kearney and the panel give their take on a new television film portraying Margaret Thatcher's final days in office, debate if satire will suffer under Barack Obama's presidency and more.


Lindsay Duncan stars as Margaret Thatcher in this new one-off drama based on actual events.

The panel give their verdict on Margaret

Examining the events leading to her downfall in 1990, the film is a fictional interpretation of the facts, with Thatcher biographer John Campbell working as a consultant.

Iain McDiarmid plays Thatcher's husband Dennis, and John Sessions plays Geoffrey Howe, whose resignation marks the start of unease in the cabinet about Thatcher's rule.

Written by Richard Cottan and directed by James Kent, the film focuses on how Margaret reacts to the party's shift in loyalty over the years.

Margaret is on BBC TWO on Thursday 26 February 2009 at 9pm.

BOOK | Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Why has a 700 page book about Abraham Lincoln become the most talked about book in Washington?

The panel discuss Team of Rivals

Because Barack Obama has described Doris Kearns' biography, Team of Rivals as one of just three books he just had to have in the Oval Office.

And he summoned her to Washington for talks.

The book concentrates on Lincoln's relationship with the three men who challenged him for the leadership of the Republican party (William Seward, Salmon Chase and Edward Bates), all of whom he subsequently brought into government.

The parallels with Obama's appointment of Hillary Clinton are clear.

Will our panellist Michael Gove see Kearns' work as a handbook for modern day political leaders?

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns is published in paperback by Penguin on Thursday 12 February 2009.

THEATRE | England People Very Nice

Richard Bean's new play tells the story of four successive waves of immigration into Bethnal Green in London's East End.

The panel discuss England People Very Nice

An often contentious subject, director Nicholas Hytner presents it as a performance by asylum seekers in an immigration centre who are waiting to learn whether they will be allowed to stay in Britain.

This play within a play begins with a depiction of French Huguenots fleeing to Britain in the 17th century to escape religious persecution, followed by waves of Irish, Jewish and then Bengali immigrants, through the ages to the present day.

Bean's exploration of national character shows how each group adopts an English identity, and then feels justified in persecuting the next wave of immigrants.

The play pokes fun at racial stereotypes of all kinds, with some very strong language, and considers what it means to be English now, culminating with an examination of the impact of militant Islam.

England People Very Nice is at the National Theatre in London until Thursday 30 April 2009.

COMEDY | A discussion on satire after Obama's inauguration

When Tony Blair first came into power, left-leaning British satirists were initially stumped. How could they send-up the architect of New Labour?

The panel discuss political satire

After eight years of mining a deep and wide seam in the shape of George W Bush, liberal American satirists are perhaps equally stuck.

Now that Barack Obama has arrived amidst widespread optimism about the prospects of change, what is there to mock?

We look at the recent output of television shows The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and satirical website The Onion, and ask the panellists how, if at all, the satirists have coped with material since Barack Obama's inauguration.

The Daily Show is on More4 at 8.30pm on weekdays, The Colbert Report is on weekdays at midnight on FX and The Onion can be found at


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