GIVEN her strong political views, recently broadcast from a pink boat during an Extinction Rebellion protest, it is a wonder why Emma Thompson has never stood for election.

But then the joy of her job as an actor is that she can pretty much try her hand at any line of work for a while, then hop on to something else.

In Years and Years, Russell T Davies’s new drama starting next week, the Tutti Frutti star plays a politician of a very different stripe from Thompson’s own.

Vivienne Rook, sharp of suit and tongue, is a dyed in the wool populist who shoots to fame saying the kind of things politicians are not supposed to say. In the first episode, her response to a question on the Gaza Strip will leave you gasping in disbelief, even in these Trumpian days.

The idea behind Years and Years is as smart as you would expect from Davies, the writer of Queer as Folk and reinventor of Doctor Who.

Centred around one extended family, it starts in the present day with council housing officer Daniel (Russell Tovey) bemoaning the state of the world and how everything has gone to pot since the financial crash of 2008. Politics used to be reassuringly boring, he says. "Now I worry about everything."

From there, the action bounds forwards, so that by the end of the hour we are in 2024. In case you are wondering, there is still no resolution of the Northern Ireland border question. In total, the six-part series will cover 15 years, giving plenty of scope for strong stories to develop.

Davies has always been a political writer, but mostly with a soft “p”. Here he gets to range far and wide on topics from China-US rivalry to the treatment of refugees. If that makes the drama sound like modern studies homework the reality is far from it. As ever with Davies, Years and Years is a warm and funny work about love and family and the whole darn thing.

Except for Vivienne Rook, of course. Or maybe there is hope for her after all.

Years and Years, BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm