Yes Minister First Broadcast
The 25th of February 1980 AD
One wonders whether the DVDs of Yes Minister and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister are required viewing for would-be MPs and those on the civil service fast-track. Every episode explores with trenchant wit the battle between the supposed political master and the senior civil servant who in theory does his bidding.
Jonathan Lynn, co-writer of the programmes with Sir Antony Jay, had been at Cambridge with men he knew would go on to high office, and determined then to prick their pomposity with humour rather than join their ranks. It was not only beautifully written, but perfectly played: Paul Eddington as the minister, Nigel Hawthorne as Sir Humphrey and Derek Foulds as PPS Bernard Woolley never less than sparkling, the role of Foulds pivotal as the other two battle urbanely, deviously and slyly around him.
When Gordon Brown promised to cut the numbers of government bureaucrats in drastic fashion we all knew he would fail because for the Sir Humphreys in Whitehall that would mean the end of civilisation itself. We had been educated in some of the ways and means by Yes Minister.
Yes Minister is strangely apolitical, Jim Hacker MP never identified with either the Labour or Tory party. Equally strangely given it satirised her kind, the show was loved by Margaret Thatcher , or so we are told. The first series hit our screens as the Eighties began, its cynical tone in keeping with the spirit of the new decade where greed became good and the Sixties finally expired ten years late.
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