“All the important decisions that affect us [Scotland] are taken in London! Have you any idea what that feels like?”
“Of course I have, all the important decisions that affect us are taken in Brussels!”
Yes Prime Minister is a Political Satire from Great Britain, focusing on the role of the Prime Minister, his close advisers and the way in which they combat the problems they have to face in running the country.
The original run of Yes Prime Minister ran from 1986 to 1988 and consisted of two series focusing on the situations that PM Jim Hacker (excellently portrayed by Paul Eddington) and Civil Servant Sir Humphrey Appleby (played superbly by Nigel Hawthorne) found themselves in. It followed on from the popular ‘Yes Minister’ and was just as successful, not to mention extremely accurate. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister at the time, announced it was her favourite show.
The 2013 revival takes the show into the modern day, with modern day problems. The Jim Hacker of today faces economic crisis, possible salvation from Kumranistan, European concerns, coalition factions and threats of Scottish rebellion.
David Haig takes on the role of Jim Hacker, newly elected PM in a coalition Government. Henry Goodman takes on the role of Sir Humphrey Appleby. Chris Larkin plays Bernard Wooley, the Prime Ministers Private Secretary. Clare Sutton, Special Political Advisor to the PM, (a role which has been increased from its position in the original) is portrayed by Zoe Telford. It also features Robbie Coltrane!*
The relationship between Hacker and Appleby in the original was fantastically created, so it was clearly going to be extremely difficult for Haig and Goodman to replicate this; however I think they successfully pulled it off. The acting of Eddington and Hawthorne made the characters so unique and loved in the original, I think that Haig and Goodman struggled (rightfully) to fill those positions, however it was boosted considerably by the relationship between the two which managed to ensure the situations still remained clever and funny. One thing that I did find disappointing however is that I don’t think Chris Larkin’s portrayal of Bernard holds a candle to the brilliance of Derek Fowlds. He doesn’t seem to hold the position in the same way which Fowlds had managed to.
The story which the revival is centred on is also very well chosen for the modern day and is littered with particularly humorous situations. The show starts with the PM’s need to fix the economic crisis, ensure his Coalition doesn’t split, keep Scotland in the Union, see through the bureaucracy of the Civil Service and placate a sex-pest Kumranistan foreign secretary. Jim Hacker takes to office about as naturally as he did in the original, and it makes for fantastic viewing.
To conclude, if you are a fan of comedy, political satire, or of just laughing, then this show is for you. However, don’t exclude the original for fear that it’s too old, or not relevant. As good as the 2013 revival is, the original was truly hilarious. Overall? 8/10. A must for anyone who loves to see the British Government at its best….. And worst.
“Do you not feel that yes and no are too narrow in their application?”
*Although only for one episode