We’ve all wondered what goes on behind closed doors at 10 Downing Street. And as we prepare to amble through another year of political unrest, confusion and frustration, we have a new drama offering a sneak (albeit fictional) peek at the inner workings of the British government. Daunting? Yes. Fascinating? Absolutely.
First, allow me to introduce you to our Prime Minister Robert Sutherland (Robert Carlyle). He and his Chief of Staff Anna Marshall (Victoria Hamilton) are trying to lead the country through a national emergency that no one saw coming. It’s a very confusing issue with the sun emitting a solar flare that will affect the electricity grid. We’re talking mass power outages, planes unable to land safely, violence on the street and general widespread panic as the country is plunged into darkness.
A team of senior politicians, military, scientists and experts are gathered in COBRA (which rather tediously stands for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A), a dedicated committee built to keep the public safe, restore order and prevent further casualties in the aftermath of the crisis. Among the team is Home Secretary Archie Glover-Morgan (David Haig), whose sole purpose seems to be to antagonise the prime minister, make inappropriate quips and threaten the leadership. His mannerisms echo those of a few haphazard and grossly arrogant politicians in our real-world government, but I’ll leave that for you to discover as you watch the show.
It wouldn’t be a television drama worth its salt if we weren't treated to a healthy selection of elaborate subplots to distract us from the threat to our nation’s livelihood. On top of being the prime minister, Robert Sutherland also has a wife and daughter behind the scenes. He made it to his daughter's university graduation before rushing off to run the country, which was nice, but later that night she and her best friend take some strange drugs to celebrate. Inevitably it doesn't end well.
Meanwhile, Anna Marshall is derailed from her fierce commitment to protecting the PM from Archie's spiteful advances when a mysterious man from her past turns up on her doorstep, just before the country goes into meltdown. It'll take a little while to flesh out who he is to her and why Anna's so reluctant to welcome him in any further than her doormat, but it doesn't take an expert to guess that there'll be some sort of forced romantic entanglement between the two of them somewhere along the way.
For all the horror that comes with watching a show about the type of natural disaster that could happen – the sun really is capable of doing erratic things – COBRA is very much the type of drama from which you'll struggle to disengage. 'Binge-worthy' is an understatement and you'll be pleased to hear that there's a generous dose of witty dialogue and sincere humanity to accompany what otherwise might have been a stale political drama about rich, power-hungry white men. It's chaotic and addictive and fascinating. You'll come for the dramatics and you'll stay for Victoria Hamilton.
COBRA starts on Sky One on Friday 17th January and will be available on Now TV