The Complete Yes Minister & Yes Prime Minister 7-DVD BOX SET
OPTIONAL SUBTITLES Complete Collection 7 discs. Comedy. Colour. Running time: 18 hours
Cast: Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne, Derek Fowlds, John Bird,Neil Fitzwiliam, Deborah Norton, Antony Carrick, John Nettleton, Peter Cellier and Diana Hoddinott.
Special Features: Artist profiles.
A complete collection of episodes from British comedy Yes Minister and its spin-off series Yes, Prime Minister. It is set in the office of a British cabinet minister in Whitehall where James Hacker MP, (Paul Eddington), is minister for administrative affairs. He attempts to make sense of the world of officialdom and administration, however he also has his own agenda as he tries to keep his head above political water. This is sometimes aided but often also thwarted by Sir Humphrey Appleby, an unflappable civil servant, (Nigel Hawthorne), who has served under many governments and is Hacker’s nemesis. Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, (Derek Fowlds), is often caught between the two.
The sequel, Yes, Prime Minister, continued with the same cast and follows Hacker after he comes to power on the back of protesting against European plans to eradicate the British sausage. While he deals with cabinet reshuffles, attempting to stop small wars and other pressing matters, Sir Humphrey, now Cabinet Secretary, is even more determined to prevent Hacker doing anything new. Hacker’s party policies of reducing bureaucracy are opposed to Civil Service interests, in which staff numbers and budgets are seen as merits of success. Many of the episodes revolve around proposals backed by Hacker but frustrated by Appleby, who uses a range of clever stratagems to defeat ministerial proposals while seeming to support them. Other episodes feature proposals promoted by Appleby but rejected by Hacker, which Appleby attempts by all means necessary to persuade Hacker to accept. Occasionally they join forces in order to achieve a common goal, such as preventing the closure of their department or dealing with a diplomatic incident.
The three main characters are a brilliant comic combination, the humour largely based on the antagonism between Cabinet ministers (who believe they are in charge) and members of the British Civil Service (who believe they really run the country). Secretary Bernard has to balance his civil service career against loyalty to Hacker; Sir Bernard is supremely capable of manipulating situations with hilariously complicated speeches which may be some of the most complex examples of humour ever broadcast, lapped up by the studio audience. Politically driven Hacker can be indecisive, regularly launching into ludicrous Churchillian speeches.
The series has been described as influencing the way the British public viewed politicians and the verbal tricks they use for the cameras. It received several BAFTAs and in 2004 was voted sixth in the Britain’s Best Sitcom poll. Margaret Thatcher, who became Prime Minister just before the series was first broadcast was quoted as saying, “Its closely observed portrayal of what goes on in the corridors of power has given me hours of pure joy.”