INSIDE THE AMERICAN EMBASSY is not the most catchiest of titles for a political documentary, nevertheless as that well-known advert goes, 'it does exactly what it says on the tin'.
Furthermore, episode one was boringly entitled 'Trump's Man in Britain'. The titles might not be very imaginative but the content was extremely fascinating and insightful. This was a serious sixty minute fly-on-the-wall documentary, where Channel Four apparently gained unprecedented access to the workings of the U.S Embassy in London.
The documentary started off with the inauguration of the sixty-sixth U.S Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Robert 'Woody' Johnson. Superbly narrated throughout by John Michie, we were told that seventy-one year old billionaire businessman Johnson, is a close personal friend of President Trump's who helped part-fund Trump's election campaign.
In terms of UK politicians, the ultra positive Johnson reminded me somewhat of the ex UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. We got a glimpse of his speeches and press briefings, and lets just say Johnson didn't really seem to have an eye for detail.
There was a line from him where I nearly fell off my chair when he stated about Trump - 'You can look at Donald Trump and look what he's done and maybe take some inspiration and actually do some of the things he's done'. Nevertheless, you didn't have to be a Trump fan to enjoy this documentary because it wasn't about whether you liked or hated him. It was about getting a privileged look at such an organisation at work.
Very soon into this first episode, President Trump's notorious use of Twitter became an issue for the Embassy to have to handle. This was down to him retweeting largely discredited videos by a British extremist far right group, which the British government condemned. It was interesting to see how Johnson's press team handled this tricky situation. Deputy Head of Public Affairs Matt Goshko, stated that this was the first time that a U.S President had publicly spoken out against a British Prime Minister.
Goshko needs to be mentioned again here, because there did seem to be a certain amount of tension between Johnson and himself. As a viewer, this became humorous the more we saw these two men interact with one another. Particularly enjoyable, as well as fascinating was the 'murder board' sequence, where Goshko deliberately fired potentially difficult questions at Johnson.
The other two main strands of the documentary were Brexit and the opening of the new U.S Embassy in Vauxhall. Once again, Johnson told us how disappointed he was about all the British pessimism now regarding Brexit.
Regarding the opening of the new U.S Embassy, it was genuinely interesting and indeed historic television to see the closing down(albeit recorded) of the previous building in Grosvenor Square. This is the building we were told where D-Day was planned as well as where the Cold War was fought.
From a production perspective, it needs to be congratulated for showing bits of speeches that were said at the time by Johnson, President Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May. They gave the documentary a sense of authenticity, tension and spectacle.
All-in-all, a really well put together first instalment. If you are into your political history and current affairs then this is definitely a programme for you!
- Watched on Channel 4. 25/06/2018