Keith Davis (David Mitchell) is the newly appointed British Ambassador of Tazbekistan, one of the ex-Soviet ‘Stans’: newly oil rich, corrupt and ruled over by President Kairat (akaThe Prez). Davis is ambitious and fancies himself in Washington or Beijing. He intends to make his mark in this posting. Though well aware that one major diplomatic event can make – or break – a career.
Standing beside him is Neil Tilly, Deputy Head of Mission (Robert Webb). A Central Asian expert, fluent in the language and romantic about the region. Neil’s job is to put the Ambassador’s plans into action. While Davis is out representing Britain, Neil is in the Embassy pulling the levers and managing the staff.
The Embassy team are a small but appealing gang – a mixture of Brits and locals who regularly flirt or fight with each other. They are all trying to advance British Prosperity and Values, despite an ever-decreasing budget. But it’s not easy to convince the local Dictator to give UK plc a major helicopter contract – while also criticising him for his appalling human rights record.
“Diplomacy is a case of indicating left – then turning right.” Charles de Gaulle
The additional presence of wives, husbands and children means that diplomacy is also a family business. The Residence is in the same compound as the Embassy – the ‘flat above the shop.’ And it’s a tough posting. Tazbekistan is not a country wives, husbands or children tend to rush to. Unless they like cheap carpets, ex-Soviet plumbing and Human Rights abuses. And the Residence itself is that uniquely Tazbek combination: unfinished and yet already decaying. This place is more survival course than holiday jaunt and our diplomat heroes are far more likely to be drinking lethal vodka in the President’s hunting yurt than having G&Ts on the lawn.
And none of them have seen a Ferrero Rocher for years…
Channel: BBC 2
Episodes: 3 x 60′
Writers: James Wood and Rupert Walters
Producer: Chris Carey
A That Mitchell and Webb Company/Big Talk Production