ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Yes Minister

Updated on May 28, 2010

Yes Minister

"Yes Minister" was a British sitcom that ran from 1980 to 1982. Despite the fact I am not British, and the series ran long before I was born, I found myself enraptured by it once I stumbled upon it at my local library.

The plot revolves around Jim Hacker (played by Paul Eddington), a Member of Parliament whose party has, at the beginning of the series, just won a majority in Parliament. Because of this, Hacker gains a cabinet position and becomes the Minister for the Department of Administrative Affairs, the department entrusted with monitoring the bureaucracy of the government, and therefore the most bureaucratic department in a system stuffed with red tape. Hacker enters the DAA at the beginning of the series vowing to cut down on all of the waste and extravagance of the Civil Service, but finds a formidable opponent in his second in command, the Permanent Secretary for the DAA, Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne), who does his very best to frustrate Hacker's reform attempts in order to preserve the privileges and perks of his fellow civil servants. Caught between the two is Hacker's personal secretary, Bernard Wooley (Derek Fowlds), who is a member of the Civil Service but is less wedded to the inefficient system as Sir Humphrey.

All three of the principal actors are wondrous. Nigel Hawthorne steals the show from the other two, delivering long-winded speeches of impenetrable jargon in order to frustrate Eddington's Hacker from doing his job. His patronizing little smirks as he explains to either Bernard or Hacker why whatever bureaucratic nonsense he's insisting on is essential (why a hospital with plenty of ancillary staff but no doctors or patients is necessary, to cite one example) are something to be seen.

Eddington, on the other hand, gives his all showing Hacker's frustration and exasperation. He makes totally believable his character, a man who wants to be a great man but who is too easily tempted by avoiding personal embarrassment or attaining prestige. I especially liked how, over the series, he subtly becomes more cynical and less idealistic, more easily corrupted and less likely to challenge the system he's supposed to reform. His tendency to launch into ridiculous Winston Churchill-like speeches at the drop of a hat, often to only have Sir Humphrey to say something to subvert whatever heroic sentiment he manages to conjure up, is also hilarious.

As for Fowlds, his deadpan correcting of other people's mixed metaphors and ability to spout off jargon whose impenetrableness rivals Sir Humphrey's. Bernard often has to play the straight man for the other two, and Fowlds does this beautifully, by his very calmness making the other two seem more ridiculous.

The show is also one of the best satires on government corruption I have ever seen. A typical plot will revolve around Hacker vowing to fix some ridiculous piece of government waste, only for Humphrey to attempt to persuade him that the aforementioned waste is actually necessary or beneficial to the British people, or that it is impossible to reform. Hacker ignores him, and attempts are made to fix the issue, only for it to turn out that by doing so it will actually hurt Hacker/cost him some sort of honor/cause some bigger governmental or societal problem/etc. This formula is prevented from getting stale, however, by occasionally turning it on its head, and allowing Hacker to triumph over Sir Humphrey, leaving him to splutter uselessly as the minister bypasses him to do his job.  Whatever the plot, it is always uproariously funny, full of hilariously absurd situations (the hospital with no patients mentioned above being an example).

All in all, I quite liked 'Yes Minister." I may not have gotten all of the culture references (not knowing what a QUANGO or the National Integrated Database are, for example), but that's not really necessary: ridiculous government incompetence and corruption are universal, and, as this series shows, universally funny.    


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Kiera G profile image

      Kiera G 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Amazing show


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)