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Yes, Minister
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Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister are British sitcoms about the struggle between James "Jim" Hacker (played by Paul Eddington), the government minister of the (fictional) department of Administrative Affairs (and later as Prime Minister) and his civil servants and ministerial colleagues. Nigel Hawthorne plays Sir Humphrey Appleby, KCB, MVO, MA (Oxon), a senior civil servant and head of the department, with Derek Fowlds in a crucial supporting role as Hacker's private secretary Bernard Wooley. All 38 episodes were written by Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn and all but one are 30 minutes in length. Yes Minister came sixth in a 2004 BBC poll to find 'Britain's Best Sitcom'. In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister were jointly placed 9th.

Much of the humour of the show derives from the conflict between United Kingdom Cabinet ministers who believe they are in charge, and the members of the British Civil Service who are really running the country. A typical episode will deal with Jim Hacker wanting to move on a pressing political issue only to find Sir Humphrey blocking and stalling his efforts in order to maintain the status quo. Most episodes end with Sir Humphrey on top, though the Minister occasionally has the upper hand. Other characteristics include Sir Humphrey's complicated sentences, his cynical views on government and general toffiness, Hacker's overall bumbling and Bernard's linguistic pedantry. Starting with the seventh episode, every episode ends with one of the characters (usually Humphrey) saying, either "Yes, Minister" or "Yes, Prime Minister," depending on the series.

Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister have been cited by political scientists for their accurate and sophisticated portrayal of these relationships. The shows were very popular in governmental circles and it was the favourite programme of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, leading to her staging a 4 minute sketch with the two principal actors of the show. Another 10 minute sketch was performed as part of a Christmas Special in 1982. Interestingly, she read the show as an indictment of the Civil service while others believe it is an indictment of the British parliamentary system. Most people agree that it is a combination of both.

In Trollopian style, certain of the minor characters in the series were apparently drawn from identifiable real world originals. The acerbic nationalised industry chairman, Sir Wally MacFarlane, was an affectionate caricature of Sir Monty Finniston (of British Steel); the Prime Ministerial special advisor on efficiency, Sir Mark Spencer, was a reference to Derek Rayner who joined the first Thatcher Government from the chain store group Marks and Spencer; and the journalists John Pilgrim and Alex Andrews were evident references to John Pilger and Andrew Alexander. By contrast, Hacker's Prime Ministerial special advisor, Dorothy Wainwright, predated the arrival of Sarah Hogg (who bore her some resemblance) as John Major's advisor some years later.

In a tribute program to the series, screened by the BBC in early 2004, it was revealed that Jay and Lynn had drawn on information provided by two insiders from the governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, namely Marcia Williams and Bernard Donohue. The episode, entitled The Moral Dimension, in which Hacker and his staff engaged in the scheme of secretly consuming bootleg alcohol on a trade mission to an Islamic state, was also revealed to have been based on a real incident that took place in Pakistan.

Table of contents
1 Episode List
2 Remakes
3 External link

Episode List

38 episodes were made in total, running from 1980 to 1988. The dates listed are when a particular episode first aired on the BBC.

Yes, Minister

Series 1

Series 2

Series 3


A 1 hour Christmas Special, dealing with Hacker's transition to PM

Yes, Prime Minister

Series 1

Series 2


External link