Armando Iannucci talks Brexit, The Death of Stalin - and Alan Partridge

By The Newsroom
Friday, 23 February, 2018, 10:39

Armando Iannucci has revealed his fatigue with the Brexit news cycle and compared Stalinist Russia with Donald Trump's America, in a wide-ranging interview with our sister title the i newspaper.

"I find myself just skimming the newspapers now because I really can’t take any more of this," the creator of The Thick of It and Veep said.

"It’s a government that doesn’t even have an overall majority, acting as if it’s not just in charge of Britain, but the rest of Europe as well, and saying, ‘I don’t understand why no-one’s agreeing to our demands’."

Iannucci, whose latest film The Death of Stalin was recently banned in Russia, also explained why he is not happy that the film, which stars Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale and Jason Isaacs, has attracted controversy in the nation in which it is set:

“People say to me, ‘put that on your poster: banned in Russia’. No, I don’t feel good about it. I feel sad because it runs counter to what we experience in a democracy.”

Armando Iannucci on the set of The Death of Stalin

While the ban in Russia might suggest that some things haven't changed since the repressive era of Stalin, Iannucci suggested that it’s hardly different to the kind of discourse sweeping western politics.

"The film was made before Trump, but he calls anyone who disagrees with him an ‘enemy of the people’, which was a Stalin phrase. And you get it in the UK, with judges being put on the front pages as ‘enemies of the people’ or ‘traitors to freedom’.

"It’s a worrying trend that we now classify our opponents as criminals, rather than our opponents - that we’re afraid to just argue with them, and we’d prefer to lock them up."

The Glasgow-born satirist also talked about his next project, an adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic David Copperfield: “It’s not updated into the 21st century," he said. "It’s set in 1840 London. But I want it to feel as fresh and contemporary as possible, because that’s actually what you feel when you read the book.”

Iannucci's David Copperfield will star Slumdog Millionaire and Lion actor Dev Patel, who the writer-director believes is perfect for the role:

"I thought he’d make a great David Copperfield, because David Copperfield is wide-eyed and a bit naïve and then he realises his mistakes and becomes stronger. And Dev’s got that, he’s very winning, and young, and can be naïve, and then in Lion he was strong and determined."

Alan Partridge returns to BBC One later this year

With one of his own comic creations, Alan Partridge, making a return to the BBC later this year in a new sitcom, Iannucci, who isn't involved in the project this time, said that he's happy to see the Norfolk presenter live on.

“I think he survives because we do him every three years. We’re not in Season 17 of Alan. What’s nice is that when we leave him alone for a couple of years, when we do something it’s a new format, or it’s a new Alan. The new writers, the Gibbons brothers, have taken him on and injected a whole new life into him."

You can read the interview in full at iNews.co.uk