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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Wales@Westminster newslog

It's Wales@Westminster weblog, BBC Wales' Parliamentary correspondent David Cornock's diary on political life.

Friday 21, October

Political theatre

posted by David | 1400 BST |

The role of special adviser is a curious one in the political world. Some are compulsive spin doctors, working as their masters' voice, others are content to be policy wonks who wouldn't say boo to a goose, let alone a hack.

Some disappear without trace, but the job, offering political advice to a minister, can lead to greater things. Tory leadership favourite David Cameron worked as a "SPAD" to Norman Lamont - you can see him lurking in the dark in the footage outside the Treasury on "Black Wednesday".

Few former advisers can claim to have co-written the autobiography of an actor best known for his role in Dr Who. But Michael McManus, who once toiled in the Welsh Office when it was run by David Hunt, has helped pen Still Getting Away With It, The Life & Times of Nicholas Courtney.

Courtney played Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Steward ("The Brig") - the only actor to have acted with the first eight Doctors. He has enjoyed a successful career on stage and screen for more than half a century.

The book was published yesterday and includes a foreword from Tom Baker, who signed copies for seven hours in London.

Other stars from the series gathered at the Club for Arts and Actors in London's Covent Garden for the launch party. It was slightly surreal to see the likes of Frazer Hines rubbing shoulders with Lord Hunt of Wirral.

McManus, a former Tory candidate, argues that actors have more in common with politicians than many people realise, not least in the need to learn lines and appear word perfect at all times.

Tony Blair is often derided as an "actor-politician" (or praised for his presentational skills). McManus recalls his first meeting the subject of the book. Their discussion of the prime minister prompted Courtney to announce: "I do wish these people would leave the acting to the professionals!"

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