House of Cards

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House of Cards is a political thriller novel written by Michael Dobbs, a former Chief of Staff at Conservative Party headquarters, which was set after the end of Margaret Thatcher's tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In 1990, it was televised in a critically and popularly acclaimed television drama serial by the BBC in four parts, from 18 November to 9 December 1990. The story was adapted by Andrew Davies. Dobbs's novel was also dramatised for radio for BBC World Service in 1996, by Neville Teller. The House of Cards trilogy was ranked 84th in the British Film Institute list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes.[1]

Contents

Overview

The antihero of House of Cards is a fictional Conservative Chief Whip, Francis Urquhart (the entire concept came from the initials, 'F.U.')[2] played by Ian Richardson. The plot follows his amoral and manipulative scheme to become leader of the governing party and Prime Minister.

It appears Michael Dobbs did not envisage writing the second and third books. The screenplay of the BBC's dramatisation of House of Cards had to differ from the book in order to allow future series. Dobbs wrote two following books To Play the King and The Final Cut which were televised in 1993 and 1995 respectively.[3]

House of Cards draws heavily from Shakespeare's Macbeth and Richard III,[4] both of which examine issues of power, ambition and corruption. Richardson said he based his performance of the scheming Francis Urquhart on the way Shakespeare portrayed Richard III.[4] Frequently during the drama, Urquhart talks through the camera to the audience, breaking the fourth wall.

In the dramatisation, the camera frequently focuses on rats for the symbolic effect of filth and conspiracy.

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