Yes, Prime Minister (TV Series 1986–1987) Poster

(1986–1987)

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A Great Political Series
Owen L.5 October 1999
"Yes Prime Minister" probably has to be one of the greatest political comedies available. The sequel to the acclaimed television series "Yes Minister", it again examines the nature of the British political establishment in an extremely hilarious way.

The late and great Paul Eddington does a wonderful job in portraying Prime Minister Jim Hacker, a politician who is still left with some desire for change and reform in him. Nigel Hawthorne also does a remarkable job in playing Sir Humphrey Appleby the rather reactionary stereotype of the traditional British establishment. Bernard Wolley (Derek Fowlds) is caught somewhat between the wishes and desires of these two men and often faces a dilemma as a result. Deborah Norton (who plays Dorothy Wainwright) and Diane Hoddinott who plays Annie Hacker add some more great acting to the show.

The series deals with a whole range of political issues such as foreign affairs, defence, health, education and the political system itself.

A great series and a comedy that is both thought-provoking and intelligent.
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Academic praise
imdb-336216 October 2004
In my years as a student of political science at the university of Leiden, one of the professors used to rave about these series whenever the subject of British politics was on the agenda. And even though that professor wasn't the most humorous of chaps, his quotes and tales from the series always guaranteed a good laugh.

I recently got hold of the entire series, and even though I do view them with a somewhat scholarly mind (old habits, and such), laughing out loud is my usual response. So cleverly written, such an exquisite cast of characters, such a mild way of portraying profound cynicism ("A cynic is what an idealist calls a realist", dixit Sir Humphrey Appleby).

I will probably still look at it in ten, twenty, thirty years time (if I live to see the day) ... knowing that there will always be a Sir Humphrey Appleby, a Bernard Woolley and a Right Honorable James Hacker around somewhere preventing the series from becoming outdated.

I don't know if that's something to look forward to, but if it guarantees the same laughs, I'm all for it!
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The rare sequel equal to the original.
grendelkhan31 May 2003
"Yes Prime Minister" picks up where the previous "Yes Minister" left off, and continues the quality. The two series are bridged by a Christmas special, "Party Games", where the Prime Minister has retired, and Sir Humphrey has manipulated the selection process to place Jim Hacker in Number 10. The new series picks up with Hacker now in his new job.

The series continued the fine work of its predecessor. The writing is first rate and the performers still shine. New dimension was added with the introduction of Deborah Norton as Dorothy Wainwright, Hacker's political advisor. Wainwright is a master strategist, who is able to counter Sir Humphrey's schemes. As such, Jim gets to win a few more this time. Still, never underestimate Sir Humphrey.

There is more of a trade-off here, as the battles are split between Sir Humphrey and Hacker, and a few where they are allies. If there is any criticism of the show, it's that some of the themes had already been done in the original series. However, they are given a new wrinkle as Hacker is now in the top spot. He no longer has to worry about the PM, because he is the PM; but, he still will not make a "courageous" decision, or anything that is unpopular.

Repetition may explain why this series was shorter. The series had explored everything it could, short of full scale war. Still, every episode is a delight.

The entire series is available on vhs, in the US; and, hopefully, will follow the recent release of "Yes Minister" on DVD. Also, the two "diaries" of the shows are well worth seeking out. They beautifully capture the shows, through diary entries, memo's, and government documents. They are far more than a brief plot summary. You can find them through out-of-print book searches on the web.
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Gorgeous
BeEarnest20 January 2004
This series is simply the best political comedy ever. From first hand experiences not with the british but the european administration and from my studies of political science I can pledge the satire to be really, really sharp. The dialogues are superb and I simply love the characters. Sir Humphrey is unbeatable. As a fellow writer already commented a must see for everyone into politics.
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10/10
If you laugh more than I, you die
Dr_Coulardeau25 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The three excellent actors, Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds, in those two long running (several if not many years) mini series, are absolutely flabbergasting.

The subject is simple. Jim Hacker, a Member of Parliament, becomes minister and later he will become prime minister. Banal. But what is less banal is the encounter of this newly appointment minister and later prime minister with the permanent secretary of his ministry first, Sir Humphrey, and cabinet secretary later when Jim Hacker moves to 10 Downing Street.

Sir Humphrey, a knighted civil servant, is the most beautiful exemplar of the civil service functionaries: red tape, corporatism, elitism, systematic maneuvers and manipulations of ministers, prime ministers and other political officials to make them do what they, the civil servants, want them, the ministers and prime ministers, to do on any subject.

And the subjects evoked in these numerous episodes of this political saga are quite evocative of corruption and aristocratism if not feudalism, and at the same time marvelously funny. It is true Bernard, the private secretary of Jim Hacker, a civil servant too but with a corrosive sense of black humor, is always there for a side remark that is superbly funny, like when the French President is trying to smuggle a dog into Great Britain in his diplomatic luggage, suitcase, briefcase or whatever. And Bernard to suggest a "doggy bag".

At the same time this wit, this humor, this brilliant never ending linguistic, situational and existential irony, sarcasm or fun deals with fundamental problems.

First of all the dictatorship of the civil service. The top civil servants are paid more than the ministers and prime ministers they serve and as such, as much as out of a feudal tradition, they are knighted and pretend to really manage the country in any way possible. This red tape defending privileges and rejecting the people into some kind of distant mist is a real problem in any democracy where politicians change but civil servants do not.

Then education, real estate speculation, military expenditures and waste, foreign shady business if not plain behind the scene affairs, terrorism, the health service, the press and its passive or active manipulation or being manipulated in all directions possible, the blackmail of the ministers by the civil service or of the civil servants by the ministers, religion, universities, culture and so many other real concrete problems turned into a farce by the civil service and turned into a grotesque episode of political bravery by the politicians.

This political satire and these caustic misrepresenting burlesque parodies of real life are a masterpiece in the field and is duly signed BBC. That kind of burlesque is no longer possible anywhere in the world with that finesse, that bright expertise and it is able to shame any other attempt from anywhere in the world because it is absolutely flippant and foolish but on subjects that are hefty and heavy and the moral of the story is not just fun but it is also ethics, ethical behavior and how it is possible to mend that frozen system into some thawing action.

There is one limit and apparently only one: the queen and the crown and the royal family, royalty (but of course not royalties) and the monarchy are not supposed even to be evoked in any funny way. The rare mentions of the crown are always to remind us this crown is the standard by which ethics should be measured, the model for all politicians, the norm of all action.

Of course the Queen is in no way present, even as a picture in these episodes, and her only appearances is a few times as a stamp on a letter, and no close-up view of it, of course not.

Enjoy that marvelous buffoonery that is as light as air and as deep as the sea.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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10/10
He's Back now as Prime Minister!
Sylviastel17 June 2008
James Hacker MP didn't expect that he would be the next prime minister. Unlike in America, the party is elected in Britain while we, Americans, vote for candidates regardless of their party. Despite the differences, Paul Eddington CBE's performance as minister turned prime minister almost overnight is helped by his senior adviser, Sir Humphrey, played by another knight, Sir Nigel Hawthorne, and veteran actor Derek Fowlds also returns to the scene as well. Now instead of pleasing some people, he has to please the nation rather than his constituency. Now, he has a hard job to do even more difficult than before. Now, he must approve the honors list and work with Her Majesty as well on a regular basis. Hacker is not the hacking type. He is rather than the every man who we like and don't want to dislike and turn into a villain of sorts or a vicious dictator. Now, we see the prime minister's point of view and all the pleasing that must go on as well as handle strikes.
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extremely funny BBC political comedy series
naxash3 July 1999
Jim Hacker is England's Prime Minister. He does have some good ideas, but Sir Humphrey -- played by Nigel Hawthorne -- always makes sure that none of Jim's ideas are realized. Jim Hacker is a Tory, alright, but he is in fact more of a liberal man -- that keeps Sir Humphrey busy, who would do anything to keep the UK from adopting progressive politics. Of course, Jim himself does have some serious flaws himself, not so much on the political, but rather on the personal side -- this makes Sir Humphrey's "job" a lot easier.

Nigel Hawthorne spreads the same kind of Tory charm that he does in _Her Majesty Mrs Brown_, where he interprets D'Israeli. _Yes PM_ is for those who like a bit of politics and LOTS of humour: the eternal fight between progress (Jim, his wife, Dorothy) and reaction (Sir Humphrey and Bernard, Hacker's secretary, who's always driving the others mad with his speeches on Latin and Greek grammar...)
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8/10
Not as original or consistently funny as Yes Minister but still very good all the same
grantss27 May 2017
Following on from Yes Minister, Jim Hacker is now Prime Minister and Sir Humphrey Appleby is Cabinet Secretary. Bernard is also along for the ride, as Hacker's personal secretary. As in their previous roles, their jobs often devolve into a battle of agendas, ideals, wills and wits between Hacker and Sir Humphrey.

Very similar formula to Yes Minister - the political ideals and poll-focus of the Prime Minister versus the practicality and preference to maintain the status quo of the civil service, with quite of few of Sir Humphrey's personal agendas thrown in for good measure.

The main difference from Yes Minister is that everything is now at a higher level, and includes international diplomacy, defense projects and spending, education, local government - broader, national issues.

Therein lies the problem with Yes, Prime Minister. Because of Yes Minister's lower level, its plots, issues and solutions were much more plausible. So plausible the series should be used in teaching Political Studies. Yes, Prime Minister, by comparison, feels contrived, and downright silly, at times.

Fortunately this is a comedy, not a drama, so plausibility isn't a top concern. Still, it helps.

When it comes to the humour, while still quite funny, this series seems less original than its predecessor, and happy to retread old jokes and use formulaic gags. Worst of all, Bernard, who was the face of innocence and the straight man to the machinations of Hacker and Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister, has been reduced to making lame puns and other one-liners.

The writing is just not as tight or finely-crafted as in Yes Minister.

This all said, it does make some great points about government and always does so in a very humorous fashion. Some issues raised are well ahead of their time and the laughs come thick and fast.

Not as great as Yes Minister but still very good.
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A fitting sequel to Yes Minister
sanat7 September 2001
A fitting sequel to Yes Minister. Yes Prime Minister is very, very slightly inferior to it, as the authors had realised that what they were creating would be regarded as the last word on British Democracy. The last episode therefore ends on a note of despair, and there is the occasional wistful tone which betrays Jay's and Lynn's awareness of what they were doing.

The book and television versions of Yes Minister are fairly close to each other. However, in the book, Yes Prime Minister was substantially expanded. I should think that the books Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister are on par with each other, so that means that the televised version of Yes Prime Minister is a bit below par.

As I revise this comment in 2005, Yes Prime Minister seems very much to belong to a by gone era. Under Blair, the prime ministership of Britain has been conducted in a radically different style, which is more similar to that of Indira Gandhi than to that any British prime minister. Perhaps Anthony Jay can be persuaded to create a series based on Blair's time in power?

All in all, 8/10.
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8/10
A worthy sequel of the Classic Satire
bvnisarga2 March 2019
Jim Hacker, now the PM still can't get things done his way to his absolute dismay. Sir Humphrey, now the Cabinet-Secretary expertly foils all of Jim's attempts. Bernard Wolley, the personal secretary is still stuck between the two, trying his best to be the voice of reason. The three protagonists are in the same deadlock but the problems get bigger as the territory gets bigger with Jim's position as the PM. Perhaps, This is the reason why Jim's plight is not as hilarious as it was when he was the Minister for Administrative Affairs. Despite that 'Yes, Prime Minister' is a worthy sequel of its predecessor. The humour is dry, the dialogues are witty, The three protagonists are charming as ever and the show, an insight into the functioning of a democratic government.
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10/10
Timeless political satire
trish-fowlie22 February 2019
I've been listening to the radio adaptation on Audible recently and watching some episodes via Amazon video. The humour is still sharp, immaculately timed, and the acting brilliant. Even though "a week is a long time in politics" , the issues presented are not too different from those we face today.
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