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LAST NIGHT'S TV: Member we all remember.

Byline: ALUN PALMER

ALAN Clark was one of those great English eccentrics we love and loathe in equal measure.

Charming he certainly was, but racist and misogynous, too, and puffed up with a sense of being of a better class than us proles.

Still, the MP's brutal honesty beguiles us - his tales of longing for Margaret Thatcher and of his sexual prowess.

In The Alan Clark Diaries, John Hurt thoroughly enjoyed himself as the former Tory minister.

Pootling down a country lane in his open-top vintage motor, he bore all the traits of Mr Toad. His passions, however, did not run to cars or clothes but to women.

Standing on the podium on election night, his thoughts were not on politics. "I am madly in love with my opponent Francis Holland. Her hair is always lovely and shiny. Perhaps I can get her after the count to kiss her in one of the janitor's rooms."

Hurt faithfully recited Clark's words in voiceover but a stadium full of scriptwriters could not have penned such amusing lines.

Standing at the window of his ministerial office, he mused: "Sometimes I get a wild urge to relieve my bladder out of the window, splattering on the ant-like millions below. Would it get me the sack?" As Thatcher's cabinet had more skeletons in its closet than a ghost train, probably not.

Clark's deepest wish for high office, and his unsuitability for it, was spelt out. At every turn, he carved defeat out of victory.

Despite being warned over his sexual life, he carried on with what he called the coven - a mother and daughter duo. Then, when given a simple brief, turned up drunk at the despatch box to be heckled by Clare Short - not pleasant at any time.

It's a bit pedestrian but Hurt's performance and Clark's own words make this superior stuff.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 18, 2004
Words:309
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