House of Cards

House of Cards is a British television series available on It is like an evil version of Yes, Minister – documenting the functioning of British politics, but with a much darker and more brutal tone. For example, the Prime Minister uses the SAS to carry out assassinations which are blamed on the IRA; security personnel murder unarmed civilians with impunity; and extensive cover-ups are successfully undertaken.

It’s the sort of show political junkies might appreciate, though I think it is probably less true to life overall than its more light-hearted equivalent.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

9 thoughts on “House of Cards

  1. ‘House of Cards’, evil? I suppose F.U. would say ‘ You might think that, I could not possibly comment.’

    The writer of the books was a political aid to Thatcher. There was genuine insight behind the quality of the books.

  2. Having the SAS blow up your political enemies with car bombs – in a way that will be blamed on the IRA – is pretty evil, no?

    It certainly is compared with the hijinx on Yes, Minister. As I recall, one episode of that show revolves around Sir Humphrey having his key to 10 Downing Street taken away.

  3. “the Prime Minister uses the SAS to carry out assassinations which are blamed on the IRA”

    I don’t know if this happened, but the British Army definitely did enlist the help of terrorist organizations such as the UDA and UVF to kill suspected IRA members. The existence of this practice is no longer disputed – both the unionist paramilitaries and intelligence officers involved have given interviews describing the practice.

    That’s murder and accessory to murder. And, since it’s politically motivated, it might be a hate crime as well. Doesn’t really get much more evil than that.

  4. “and extensive cover-ups are successfully undertaken.”

    The fact there was an extensive cover up of the actions of the British Military on Bloody Sunday is now public knowledge after the publication of the Saville report.

  5. Apologies for the lack of clarity.

    I am not saying that what F.U. did was not evil. I am saying I doubt he would have seen it that way. In fact, I recall him saying to the viewer that he was doing what was necessary to get the necessary outcome.

    I am not in a position to comment on the facts of the British involvement in N.I.

  6. I will look for it in the libraries. It is listed as No 84 on the list of British television shows. Yes Minister is also on the list as No. 9. Fawlty Towers is No. 1 It is remarkable the staying power of BBC programming. All three of these series are 20 years old. Another remarkable feature of the BBC is how even when the BBC have a winning show, they do not overdo it, but rather end it on a high with you wanting to see more.

    In our household we have been enjoying following the HBO series Six Feet Under.

  7. In the first series, Francis Urquhart seems to be a psychopath. That changes a bit in the second series, where he is shown feeling something that looks like guilt or regret. That being said, he is arguably just unhappy about the losses he personally has had to endure to maintain his political position. He may not feel any genuine guilt, or any empathy for his victims.

  8. Of course not. But I do tend to like shows where there is a strong and focused antagonist. Makes for a better story.

    And I do not think that he feels guilt. May be unhappiness, but not guilt.

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