YES, MINISTER and
YES, PRIME MINISTER
Yes, Minister was first broadcast on BBC on the 25th February 1980, twenty years ago, and the sustained dry wit of the dialogue and the wonderful interplay between the main characters of the Department of Administrative Affairs made the show compulsive viewing. Nigel Hawthorne played Humphrey Appleby, Derek Fowlds, Bernard Woolley, and the late Paul Eddington, Jim Hacker. The show portrayed a caricature of political life where the elected MPs struggle to leave a name in the history books whilst the grinding beauraucratic machine that is the Civil Service strives to maintain the status quo. The portrayal was so good that Eddington once commented that "People abroad tended to play safe and treat me as a minster just in case".
Yes, Minister ran for three series, each constiting of 7 episodes, a series each year in 80, 81, and 82. A short sketch appeared as part of a Christmas special anthology that was presented by Frank Muir just after Christmas in 82 and was about 10 minutes long, and there was then a Christmas Special in 84 that saw Hacker go from the Department of Administrative Affairs to Number 10!
It was a further two years before the exploits in number 10 were then seen on the screens, with the first series of Yes, Prime Minister broadcast on 9th January 1986. A second, and final, series then hit the screens a year later.
Now, for the first time ever, the whole of the first series of Yes, Minister is available on DVD. This programme was the first to win the BAFTA Best Comedy Series Award three years running, and quite rightly so. Written by Anthony Jay and Jonathon Lynn, the scripts are as acerbic and funny today as when they were first written, and the team of Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne, and Derek Fowlds have come to represent all the staff of a Ministry. If there was a DVD equivalent of Desert Island Discs this would be in my choice as I can never watch this series too many times! It struck me as odd when I first watched the DVD as I hadn't been able to get hold of the first video, I didn't know that the support cast was slightly different to the radio series, and that the first episode has a completely different title sequence, not the distinctive Gerald Scarfe cartoons of the later shows. Priced at a very modest £12.99, this is certainly something to keep your eyes open for.
To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of this wonderful show, BBC Worldside has re-issued the radio versions of both series, on double cassette, available singly or as two boxed sets. Each double cassette is priced at £8.99, with the boxed Yes Minister £27.99.
Series One. Transmitted on BBC 2 on a Monday evening from 9.00pm, consisting of 7 half hour shows. All have been released on BBC video.
|Open Government||25.2.80||BBCV 5364|
|The Official Visit||3.3.80||BBCV 5364|
|The Economy Drive||10.3.80||BBCV 5364|
|Big Brother||17.3.80||BBCV 5364|
|The Writing On The Wall||24.3.80||BBCV 5365|
|The Right To Know||31.3.80||BBCV 5365|
|Jobs For The Boys||7.4.80||BBCV 5365|
Series Two. Again transmitted on BBC 2 on a Monday evening from 9.00pm, consisting of 7 half hour shows. All have been released on BBC video.
|The Compassionate Society||23.2.81||BBCV 5863|
|Doing the Honours||2.3.81||BBCV 5863|
|The Death List||9.3.81||BBCV 5863|
|The Greasy Pole||16.3.81||BBCV 5864|
|The Devil You Know||23.3.81||BBCV 5864|
|The Quality of Life||30.3.81||BBCV 5864|
|A Question of Loyalty||6.4.81||BBCV 5864|
Series Three. This series was also transmitted on BBC 2 but moved to a Thursday evening, although still at 9.00pm, and consisted of the regular of 7 half hour shows. None of this series have been released on BBC video although if my memory serves me well, they were repeated as a tribute to Paul Eddington just after his death.
|The Skeleton In The Cupboard||25.11.82|
|The Moral Dimension||2.12.82|
|The Bed Of Nails||9.12.82|
|The Whisky Preist||16.12.82|
|The Middle Class Rip-Off||23.12.82|
Christmas Special. This was transmitted on Monday evening at 8.30. This was repeated a few years back and I believe it runs to 45 minutes.
This episode saw Jim being elevated to the PMs job, with Sir Humphrey moving to be the Head of the Home Civil Service, and Bernard climbing the ladder as well. This retained the excellent trio for higher things. The series continued with Hacker as PM, but before this, Yes Minsiter transferred to radio and in late 1983, Radio 4 broadcast the first of two series. The second follwed a year later.
|Open Government||18.10.83||Vol 1 ISBN 0563412690|
|Big Brother||25.10.83||Vol 1 ISBN 0563412690|
|The Ecomomy Drive||1.11.83||Vol 1 ISBN 0563412690|
|The Writing on the Wall||8.11.83||Vol 1 ISBN 0563412690|
|Jobs for the Boys||15.11.83||Vol 2 ISBN 0563412747|
|The Right To Know||22.11.83||Vol 2 ISBN 0563412747|
|Doing the Honours||29.11.83||Vol 2 ISBN 0563412747|
|The Devil You Know||6.12.83||Vol 2 ISBN 0563412747|
|The Compassionate Society||9.10.84||Vol 3 ISBN 0563365773|
|The Greasy Pole||16.10.84||Vol 3 ISBN 0563365773|
|The Skeleton in the Cupboard||23.10.84||Vol 3 ISBN 0563365773|
|A Question of Loyalty||30.10.84||Vol 3 ISBN 0563365773|
|The Quality of Life||6.11.84||Vol 4 ISBN 0563365811|
|The Whisky Priest||13.11.84||Vol 4 ISBN 0563365811|
|The Death List||20.11.84||Vol 4 ISBN 0563365811|
|The Moral Dimension||27.11.84||Vol 4 ISBN 0563365811|
It was two years before the exploits of Jim Hacker, PM, could be seen by the public when the show was broadcast on the BBC, but the series had not lost any of its edge. The then PM, Margaret Thatcher, was a fan of the show and even appeared in a specially recorded skit with Hacker and Sir Humphrey at soem sort of conference!
Series One. Transmitted on a Thursday evening from 9.00pm, consisting of 8 half hour shows. All have been released on BBC video.
|The Grand Design||9.1.86||BBCV 4410|
|The Ministerial Broadcast||16.1.86||BBCV 4410|
|The Smoke Screen||23.1.86||BBCV 4410|
|The Key||30.1.86||BBCV 4411|
|A Real Partnership||6.2.86||BBCV 4411|
|A Victory for Democracy||13.1.86||BBCV 4411|
|The Bishop's Gambit||20.1.86||BBCV 4472|
|One Of Us||27.2.86||BBCV 4472|
Series Two. A further 8 episodes transmitted on a Thursday evening from 9.00pm. All have been released on BBC video.
|Man Overboard||3.12.87||BBCV 4472|
|Official Secrets||10.12.87||BBCV 4473|
|A Diplomatic Incident||17.12.87||BBCV 4473|
|A Conflict of Interest||31.12.87||BBCV 4473|
|Power to the People||7.1.88||BBCV 4647|
|The Patron of the Arts||14.1.88||BBCV 4647|
|The National Education Service||21.1.88||BBCV 4647|
|The Tangled Web||28.1.88||BBCV 4647|