When you fear the sound of your own voice

Armando Iannucci—writer of The Thick Of It, In The Loop and Veep—talks to Slate about the lives of politicians.

Slate: In the world you create, politicians are OK when they’re being fed lines by PR men or spin doctors, but they’re pretty useless when they’re left to their own devices. Isn’t that a writer’s fantasy?

IannucciAre they useless? I think they show their real character when they’re left to their own devices. It’s frustrating that they can’t say what they really want to say or that they’re misinterpreted. In many ways, I sympathize with them, because we as a public, and we as a media, put extraordinary pressure on them to get it right all the time—not to make any mistakes and not to step out of line. Another part of the problem is that politicians are so busy they haven’t got time to read. They don’t read a newspaper the way that you and I would. They get presented with a pile of clippings that are all about them, so they get used to this notion that everyone is reading just about them. That’s where the level of paranoia comes in. Or they’re working with PR people whose job is to worry about what is said, so they therefore think that everything that is said is somehow something to worry about.