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.

Yes Minister - Series One DVD

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.

TitleTX DateDetails
Open Government25.2.80BBCV 5364
The Official Visit3.3.80BBCV 5364
The Economy Drive10.3.80BBCV 5364
Big Brother17.3.80BBCV 5364
The Writing On The Wall24.3.80BBCV 5365
The Right To Know31.3.80BBCV 5365
Jobs For The Boys7.4.80BBCV 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.

TitleTX DateDetails
The Compassionate Society23.2.81BBCV 5863
Doing the Honours2.3.81BBCV 5863
The Death List9.3.81BBCV 5863
The Greasy Pole16.3.81BBCV 5864
The Devil You Know23.3.81BBCV 5864
The Quality of Life30.3.81BBCV 5864
A Question of Loyalty6.4.81BBCV 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.

TitleTX DateDetails
Equal Opportunities11.11.82
The Challenge18.11.82
The Skeleton In The Cupboard25.11.82
The Moral Dimension2.12.82
The Bed Of Nails9.12.82
The Whisky Preist16.12.82
The Middle Class Rip-Off23.12.82

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.

TitleTX DateDetails
Party Games17.12.84

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.

Series One.

TitleTX DateDetails
Open Government18.10.83Vol 1 ISBN 0563412690
Big Brother25.10.83Vol 1 ISBN 0563412690
The Ecomomy Drive1.11.83Vol 1 ISBN 0563412690
The Writing on the Wall8.11.83Vol 1 ISBN 0563412690
Jobs for the Boys15.11.83Vol 2 ISBN 0563412747
The Right To Know22.11.83Vol 2 ISBN 0563412747
Doing the Honours29.11.83Vol 2 ISBN 0563412747
The Devil You Know6.12.83Vol 2 ISBN 0563412747

Series Two.

TitleTX DateDetails
The Compassionate Society9.10.84Vol 3 ISBN 0563365773
The Greasy Pole16.10.84Vol 3 ISBN 0563365773
The Skeleton in the Cupboard23.10.84Vol 3 ISBN 0563365773
A Question of Loyalty30.10.84Vol 3 ISBN 0563365773
The Quality of Life6.11.84Vol 4 ISBN 0563365811
The Whisky Priest13.11.84Vol 4 ISBN 0563365811
The Death List20.11.84Vol 4 ISBN 0563365811
The Moral Dimension27.11.84Vol 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.

TitleTX DateDetails
The Grand Design9.1.86BBCV 4410
The Ministerial Broadcast16.1.86BBCV 4410
The Smoke Screen23.1.86BBCV 4410
The Key30.1.86BBCV 4411
A Real Partnership6.2.86BBCV 4411
A Victory for Democracy13.1.86BBCV 4411
The Bishop's Gambit20.1.86BBCV 4472
One Of Us27.2.86BBCV 4472

Series Two. A further 8 episodes transmitted on a Thursday evening from 9.00pm. All have been released on BBC video.

TitleTX DateDetails
Man Overboard3.12.87BBCV 4472
Official Secrets10.12.87BBCV 4473
A Diplomatic Incident17.12.87BBCV 4473
A Conflict of Interest31.12.87BBCV 4473
Power to the People7.1.88BBCV 4647
The Patron of the Arts14.1.88BBCV 4647
The National Education Service21.1.88BBCV 4647
The Tangled Web28.1.88BBCV 4647