The Portillo documentary on BBC 4 last night was a gripping 90 minutes of political TV. As regulars know, I'm no great fan of Mr P, but this programme was superb. I think he may have found his niche. Like several of his other TV documentaries he imposed himself on the narrative, and again, it worked. He sought to explain the Thatcherite legacy on the Conservative Party and did it very well. His main theory was that the Party had still to recover from the way Margaret Thatcher was overthrown and that David Cameron is the first leader to look as if he can administer the necessary medicine. His star witnesses all seemed to agree with at least the first part of thatr sentence.
The star of the whole programme was Michael Howard. His cameo appearances showed a self knowledge and analysis of his own limitations which was gripping to watch. He knew the party had to change but knew that his own personality would not let him introduce some of the measures needed to do it.
There were one or two factual howlers - David Mellor was never in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet, for instance - but overall the programme demonstrated how this genre of documentary can work. I'm not sure what appeal it will have had outside the political classes, but they deserve to be catered for too.
As a footnote, it was also interesting that Portillo admitted that his candid interview with William Hague was the first time the two men had spoken since 2001.
You can watch the programme HERE (until 3 March)