Yes Minister ran for 22 episodes from 1980 to 1984. The first episode begins with The Right Honorable James (Jim) Hacker (Paul Eddington) taking up the much coveted job of Cabinet Minister to the Department of Administration, his first Cabinet Position. The somewhat hapless MP is kept on a short leash by scheming permanent secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne). All great comedy is timeless, but can a thirty-five year old political satire be relevant or funny? Simply yes. I watched the program as a child, as I would have been between 5 and 9 at the time I am sure a lot went over my head, however I remember enjoying it, that is why I have just re watched all 22 episodes. So how relevant is it today? Decide for yourself; here are some of the main plot points:
Open and transparent government
Big Brother State, government use of personal information
NHS spending cuts
University funding and overseas students
Should the UK be part of European Union
The power of large Banks
Lack of diversity within the civil service, no woman in top jobs
Reforms to local government
Government cover ups /whitewash
National transport policy
The series ended with Jim becoming Prime Minister, the series was followed by: Yes, Prime Minister, it ran for 16 episodes in 1986 and 87. I am only a couple of episodes in to that but expect more of the same, the first episode is about the need, or not, for Trident and features a scene discussing if Jim would “push the button”, something that is more relevant than ever this week following Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election to as leader of the Labour party and with it, leader of the opposition and a potential future MP:
Sir Humphrey: With Trident we could obliterate the whole of Eastern Europe!
Hacker: I don’t want to obliterate the whole of Eastern Europe!
Sir Humphrey: It’s a deterrent.
Hacker: It’s a bluff. I probably wouldn’t use it.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, but they don’t know that you probably wouldn’t.
Hacker: They probably do.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, they probably know that you probably wouldn’t. But they can’t certainly know.
Hacker: They probably certainly know that I probably wouldn’t.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, but even though they probably certainly know that you probably wouldn’t, they don’t certainly know that, although you probably wouldn’t, there is no probability that you certainly would!