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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 K.C.M.G., a senior civil servant and head of the department, with Derek Fowlds[?] in a 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.

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 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 run-on sentences, his cynical views on government, Hacker's overall bumbling and Bernard's linguistic pedantry.

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.

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 a portrait of Sir Monty Finnistan; the Prime Ministerial special advisor on efficiency, Sir Mark Spencer, was a reference to Derek Rayner who joined the first Thatcher Government from the supermarket group Marks and Spencer; and the journalists John Pilgrim and Alex Andrews were evident references to John Pilger and Andrew Alexander. By constrast, 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.

Table of contents

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

  • The Grand Design - (Jan 9 1986)
  • The Ministerial Broadcast - (Jan 16 1986)
  • The Smoke Screen - (Jan 23 1986)
  • The Key - (Jan 30 1986)
  • A Real Partnership - (Feb 6 1986)
  • A Victory for Democracy - (Feb 13 1986)
  • The Bishop's Gambit - (Feb 20 1986)
  • One of Us - (Feb 27 1986)

Series 2

  • Man Overboard - (Dec 3 1987)
  • Official Secrets - (Dec 10 1987)
  • A Diplomatic Incident - (Dec 17 1987)
  • A Conflict of Interest - (Dec 31 1987)
  • Power to the People - (Jan 7 1988)
  • The Patron to the Arts - (Jan 14 1988)
  • The National Education Service - (Jan 21 1988)
  • The Tangled Web - (Jan 28 1988)

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