Personal

The Underdog Who Lost


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There’s a moment early on in the 90-minute BBC drama Reg based on real life incidents, when Sally Keys wife of the eponymous Reg tells her husband that she needs to pee. It is 2004 and the couple are standing next to their 20-year old son’s coffin which is one of half-a-dozen others of those who were killed in combat in Iraq. Reg asks her why she didn’t go to the loo when they were waiting to be called to say their goodbyes. And she answers that she didn’t want to be gone when they were called as that wouldn’t have been right. It is a telling moment of dark humour of a couple who never really come to terms with the loss of their son.

While Sally descends to drinking and dies some years later, her husband Reg goes on to stand in the elections against the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in his constituency Sedgefield. Reg has little political ambition, will or experience but it is the death of his son, killed in a war that had no public sanction or founded on evidence that fuels his drive. The denouement in the drama is the  loser’s speech (the original speech is above) that Reg gives as a grieving father shortly after the results are announced which a poker faced Tony Blair, along with other contestants, has to listen to. A far cry from the back-slapping sanding ovation that greeted him just a few months earlier when he addressed the joint session of the Congress in Washington. It is a more honest, sincere, personal and grief-filled outcry following Blair’s ill-advised decision to go to war.

Reg a beautifully written, gut-wrenchingly realised drama from BBC. If you are in the UK, you can watch it here until early July.

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