Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister

On this most interesting of days, I feel the need to return to a favourite political series: Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn’s Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.

Yes, Minister begins with newly elected Jim Hacker (unnamed party; played by Paul Eddington) receiving The Call from his party-leader, offering him a ministerial job: the Minister of Administrative Affairs. He’s delighted. Then he meets his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby (the wonderful Nigel Hawthorne). Yes, Prime Minister follows Hacker’s career unexpectedly into Number Ten, with Appleby’s own career also taking him there as his Cabinet Secretary.

I highly recommend both the books (comprising Hacker’s diary with memos and the memories of Bernard Woolley, his erstwhile Private Secretary)  and the TV series. They are brilliantly funny, even thirty years later.

I’m told that, in the ’80s when the series was broadcast, politicians complained about how Hacker was portrayed (bungling and inept, most of the time), but gosh the Civil Service was just as sneaky and wily as Humphrey Appleby, and civil servants said that Appleby wasn’t right, but Hacker? Spot on! Jay and Lynn had insiders in both camps…

There are too many favourite, greatly enjoyed, scenes and lines to share them all. All I can do, really, is urge you watch or to read them (and for those of you who prefer to read before watching, I shall add that the novels came second, and both are wonderful. Jay and Lynn wrote both).

The one thing, really, which Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister did for me as a teenager was to teach me not to believe politicians. To do my own research and make my own mind up.

Also, gosh, what a surprise. A politician lied to get what he wanted.




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