The Final Cut (TV serial)

The Final Cut (TV serial)

Infobox Film
name = The Final Cut

imdb_id = 0111960
director = Mike Vardy
writer = Andrew Davies (adaptation)
Michael Dobbs (novel)
starring = Ian Richardson
Diane Fletcher
producer = Ken Riddington
distributor = BBC
released = 5 November, 1995
runtime = 4 x 50 minutes
language = English
preceded_by = "To Play The King"
music = Jim Parker
budget =

The Final Cut is 1995 BBC television serial, the third and final part of the "House of Cards" trilogy. Directed by Mike Vardy, the serial was based on the Michael Dobbs' 1995 novel of the same name, adapted for television by Andrew Davies. It details the conclusion of Francis Urquhart's premiership.


The serial opens with Prime Minister Francis Urquhart burying his dog, followed by the state funeral of his predecessor Margaret Thatcher. Urquhart publicly praises Thatcher as his mentor but privately begrudges her longevity and her record as the longest-serving Prime Minister [The serial refers to Thatcher as Britain's longest-serving Prime Minister when she was actually the seventh-longest serving. The novel does not contain this mistake as it accurately refers to Thatcher as the longest-serving post-war Prime Minister.] , a record he is however soon to surpass.

To emulate Thatcher's Falklands War, Urquhart champions a solution to the Cyprus dispute between Greek and Cypriot Greeks, as he says "to inscribe my name in history". While boundaries are fixed by five international judges, Urquhart - prompted by his wife Elizabeth - is secretly working to bring offshore oil deposits under the control of a Turkish-British consortium which will in turn provide for his retirement fund.

Urquhart also has a personal connection to Cyprus: as a nineteen-year-old lieutenant, he killed two young men with the EOKA resistance. Urquhart has frequent nightmares and flashbacks of this event and also of the murders of Mattie Storin and others shown in the previous serials.

The brother of the men Urquhart killed has not forgotten their disappearance and sends his daughter Maria to investigate their fate. She finds a report written by the soldier who killed her uncles, but the author is kept secret from her. She approaches Urquhart who appears to be welcoming and eager to help. Unknown to her, he arranges that documents revealing his involvement are excluded from a coincidental declassification of documents. He also confides the truth to his wife Elizabeth.

As in the previous serials, Urquhart chooses a female protege (though this time without the mediation of his wife): he appoints the ambitious backbencher Claire Carlsen his Parliamentary Private Secretary. Claire also happens to be the lover of Tom Makepeace, the foreign secretary.

Urquhart considers him, the actual broker of the Cyprus dispute, as a potential challenger, though he doesn't take that threat very seriously, considering him "not a fighter, ... a sentimental dreamer". Encouraged by Claire, Urquhart snubs Makepeace by undiplomatic suggestions regarding Europe and by offering him the Department of Education in a Cabinet reshuffle. The angered Makepeace resigns from the government, crosses the floor and emerges as the prime minister's main adversary in parliament. He also challenges F.U. for the leadership of the Conservative Party and forces him into a second ballot.

Though Makepeace breaks up with Claire, she nonetheless continues to encourage both men to fight each other. She also advises Maria to take her case to Makepeace, who repeatedly raises the cover-up in parliament. Though initially reluctant, Claire purloins the incriminating document from the secret archive but Urquhart's bodyguard Corder - informed by the archive clerk - seizes the document from her.

Meanwhile, Urquhart has information about the Cypriot oil deposits leaked to create an international incident, which he can use as "our Falklands" to unite Britain under his leadership. In reaction, Greek nationalists kidnap a British diplomat and later also the Greek Cypriot President, prompting a British military intervention. Though initially successful, a roadblock results in the death of civilians, including young schoolgirls, largely because of the prime minister's drastic orders. Urquhart's support plummets and after he is unwilling to accept responsibility or express empathy with the victims, many MPs openly call on him to resign.

Though Urquhart appears defiant, his wife is worried and consults Corder on how to save him. Corder advises "drastic measures" and informs her that he has sent a copy of Mattie Storin's tape, revealing Urquhart's role in her death, to Makepeace.

Makepeace confronts the prime minister and announces that he will publish the tape, but not before Urquhart has achieved his aim of surpassing Margaret Thatcher's record. After this, Urquhart again meets Maria on the parliament roof. Maria has come into the possession of the incriminating document and vows to publish it. After this, Urquhart despairs but Elizabeth consoles him: "We can be safe still!" and hints at a ploy by Corder.

At the unveiling of the Margaret Thatcher memorial, on the day when Urquhart surpasses her record, a sniper in Corder's services appears on a roof top and shoots the prime minister (and Maria's father, who had approached Urquhart with with a pistol). Elizabeth had arranged for his assassination as the only way to preserve his reputation (and the retirement fund). Urquhart dies in her arms, while Corder offers his services to Makepeace, the apparent successor.


*Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart, Prime Minister
*Diane Fletcher as Elizabeth Urquhart
*Isla Blair as Claire Carlsen MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary
*Paul Freeman as Tom Makepeace, foreign secretary.
*Nickolas Grace as Geoffrey Booza Pitt, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and later foreign secretary
*Nick Brimble as Corder, Urquhart's bodyguard
*Yolanda Vazquez as Maria Passolides


* Ian Richardson only agreed to appear in a third series on condition that the character would finally be killed off. Fact|date=June 2007
* The opening scenes containing Margaret Thatcher's funeral proved controversial and generated a great deal of adverse commentary in newspapers as it was felt to be inappropriate to show the funeral of a real person who was still alive. It also led to Michael Dobbs demanding that his name be removed from the credits. [ Internet Movie Database] ]

Deviations from the novel

*In the novel, Urquhart is not assassinated on Corder's orders but allows the brother of the men he killed in Cyprus to shoot him, making himself a martyr in the process.


*Having relinquished the Conservative whip and crossed the floor, Makepeace would be ineligible to stand for the Conservative leadership. It is possible that he could do so by receiving special dispensation from the Conservative 1922 Committee, but this is not mentioned in the series and such dispensation would be very unlikely anyway.Fact|date=June 2008
*Urquhart is seen at night in the empty House of Commons with the Ceremonial mace present. In fact, the mace is only present during sessions of the House.


External links

*imdb title|id=0111960|title=The Final Cut
* [ "The Final Cut"] at Action TV

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