back to article Yes, Prime Minister to return after 24 years

The great satire of British bureaucracy, Yes, Prime Minister, is to return after 24 years away from our TV screens. The original scriptwriting duo of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn has already turned in their first plot, says UKTV, which has has commissioned the show to be broadcast on UK Gold. The BBC originals, Yes, Minister and …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Que?

    UK Gold - a pay channnel that runs old shows. Odd choice for a new program.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Que?

      Was exactly my first thoughts, along with, who will watch it on channel most people dont even have and those that do don't even know they have it. My next thought was, oh yeah tory's back in power, explains everything. Just waiting for the overdue interest rates rise and the tears of oh I have to pay my debts back and cheaper house prices.

      Personlay I think they should of left Yes Priminister alone as a classic and moved onto the house of Lag's erm I mean Lords.

      1. Scott Broukell
        Megaphone

        Re: Que? - NO NO NO NO NO!

        In a democracy no government is "in power" they are elected into OFFICE!

        Correcting this all too often made fundamental error what the medja continue with is urgently required, now, without a vote! Reminding politicians that they are "in office" would help remind all of us of the true function of democracy.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Que? - NO NO NO NO NO!

          "In a democracy no government is "in power" they are elected into OFFICE!"

          How naive.

        3. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Que? - NO NO NO NO NO!

          well you speak as you see,

          but when i was a lad and thatcher was ripping the arse out of my society, it sure felt like she was in power

    2. Andrew Moore

      Re: Que?

      yep, one of the deadbeat channels. Didn't Red Dwarf go there to die too???

      1. stragen001
        Thumb Up

        @Andrew Moore

        Re: Que?

        yep, one of the deadbeat channels. Didn't Red Dwarf go there to die too???

        @Andrew Moore

        Hey! Dont go dissing Red Dwarf. Its one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, and after Dave(a different channel owned by UKTV) started rebroadcasting it, it gained such popularity with a new audience that werent alive the first time around that Dave commissioned an Easter Special 3 parter called Back to Earth.

        Whilst not as good as the originals, it was still the most viewed show on Dave ever, and has now led to a whole new series of Red Dwarf being filmed(already complete) that will be showed on Dave in Autumn.

        Maybe, just maybe the same will happen with Yes Minister.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Andrew Moore

          No. He was right. Red Dwarf did go there to die. Unfortunately it took about four series longer than it should have, to do so.

          As for the 'comeback special', are you serious? Even the cast looked embarrassed to be seen anywhere near it.

          1. AdamWill

            Re: @Andrew Moore

            all the official full series of Red Dwarf except the new one which hasn't aired yet were made for, and originally aired on, the BBC. All the way up to series 8. Dave / UKTV only ever got re-runs and the post-series 8 specials.

            fan consensus, for what it's worth, is that everything up to season 6 is definitely worthwhile. everyone more or less agrees that season 6 had some of the best gags in the whole show, but lost the strength of formatting of earlier seasons. opinion differs somewhat on whether season 5 is great or mediocre. 3 and 4 are universally adored.

  2. Ian Ferguson
    WTF?

    "The modern mandarin is no longer a patrician High Tory; he's probably a Guardian-reading, carbon-offsetting Coldplay fan - with a risqué Tinie Tempah playlist for dinner parties."

    Only Andrew Orlowski can complain that our government leans too far left.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      oops...

      You do realise that by calling top civil servants "Our Government" you've done a Reverse Freudian Slip. You've actually got something correct, if only by accident.

      Sir. I salute you!

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Yes, omitting the part played by the lobbies and party think-tanks is quite a lacuna: ACTA and the soon to be launched "Big Society Corporation" being cases in point. Mandarins didn't dream up public-private partnerships.

      I'm rather fond of a dedicated civil service.

      1. Jim Morrow
        FAIL

        > Mandarins didn't dream up public-private partnerships.

        Yes they fucking did.

        Ministers are intellectually incapable of thinking deeply about how to finance and operate public services. Only the mandarins have the numbers and knowledge to do that. Or understand how the machinery of government actually works. Ministers don't have the time or inclination to invent things like public-private partnerships and (more importantly) don't have the capacity to do that sort of work while in charge of their departments. It takes years for ideas like public-private partnerships and PFI to be developed: by which time the minister will have moved on. Ministers rarely get involved in the running of their departments, let alone anything concerned with long-term strategic restructuring or reform which takes 10-20 years to achieve.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deja Vu

    On the prescience side - the first series ever included Public Private Partnership, ID cards and cost cutting.

    1. Ru

      Indeed... why are new scripts needed?

      Just replace the political events of the past with ones that are happening now and keep the plot and dialogue otherwise intact.

      The problem will be finding a good cast... the leads of Yes, [Prime] Minister will be exceptionally hard to replace.

      1. Vulch
        Thumb Up

        Leads

        Derek Fowlds is still around, though he's possibly a bit old now (born 1937) to play a Sir Bernard who has worked his way to the top of the Civil Service...

        1. The Indomitable Gall

          Re: Leads

          Surely he'll get at least a walk-on as a member of the House of Lords, though...

        2. Simon Coyne

          Re: Leads

          Read the books. Sir Bernard did indeed go out at the top. In fact the whole premise of the written version of the series is the idea of Sir Bernards notes released under the thirty year rule.

          Still at the top of my all time favourite sit-coms. Hope any new attempt does the previous version justice

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Deja Vu

      And Yes Prime Minister (as opposed to merely Yes Minister) started off with Trident, a banking scandal and something to do with manipulating the press...

    3. /dev/me

      Re: Deja Vu

      I watched the series again some time ago. Really amazing how modern the topics where, and how views on these topics have changed.

      ID cards? European non-sense. The Brits will never buy it! We'd have a revolution on our hands.

      A National Database? Outrage in the land, the papers and the news... privacy is at stake.

  4. Silverburn

    Pfft

    Why do new series? Half the episodes are as relevant now as they were 20 years ago.

    Which is utterly depressing and laughable at the same time, if you think about it.

  5. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Without Nigel Hawthorne...

    ..I doubt it'll work.

    1. Severen
      IT Angle

      Re: Without Nigel Hawthorne...

      Two words.... Reggie Perrin.

      That was awful without Leonard Rossiter (much as I love watching Martin Clunes on the tellybox, I just couldn't get into the remake.)

      Also: Where's the IT angle? Unless they plan on giving the new PM a C&G in computer studies....?

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        IT angle...

        ...well as Andrew has marvellously chronicled over the years, government bureaucrats play a massive part in the way IT, technology and science develops and shapes ou- oh screw it, who doesn't like a bit of Yes, Minister?

        It's Friday and we should be sipping a pint in the glorious sunshine.

        C.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: IT angle...

          That's a great idea. I hope Captain Cyborg is in it.

          And Ben Hammersley.

        2. Severen
          Pint

          Re: IT angle...

          Seldom a truer word spoken, brother! :-D

      2. chr0m4t1c

        @severen

        I think the problem with Reggie Perrin was that business no longer operates as depicted in either the original series (or in the remake for that matter). In fact, the remake looked like it was set in the early 80's, which is where it really went wrong.

        The premise is probably still reasonably sound, but the writers really needed to talk to some people who have real jobs and write to a proper backdrop instead of just trying to shoe-horn the original scenarios into modern business.

        Government, by contrast, has changed very little in the past 20+ years; probably not much in the last 50+ years.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Without Nigel Hawthorne...

      I saw the stage version of Yes Prime Minister a few months ago and it worked well, even without the great Mr Hawthorne. Actually it was pretty good - the TV show was genius, this was a fair bit darker, so I'm sure the sequels will work well.

  6. Alan Bourke
    Pint

    Excellent!

    Low Fat Offal Tubes for breakfast all round!

  7. Armando 123

    Still looking forward to it.

    I know it will be different -- with the EU and no cold war and climate now the hot topic, the political landscape is different. But has politics really changed THAT much? When I was growing up in the 70s, politicians and bureaucrats were seen as lying self-serving toadies who were too smug and too clever and deserved a slap on the chops for wasting our tax money on whatever the lobbyists told them to. Whereas today, ...

  8. Lockwood

    Will this be a good idea?

    Yes.

    And no.

    1. I'm Brian and so's my wife
      Thumb Up

      This may also be seen as a courageous decision.

      A brilliant series that still makes me laugh.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I can foresee all sorts of unforeseen difficulties...

    3. Dave Oldham
      Happy

      A balanced answer, indeed.

  9. It'sa Mea... Mario
    Happy

    Nice, though would really love to see Spitting Image return...

    1. Richard Morris
      Thumb Up

      I'll add a vote for Spitting Image, and hope for a return of Drop the Dead Donkey too.

      1. Mike Pellatt
        Thumb Up

        DTDD

        Ooooh yes, that would be delicious.

        A whole new series (or 10) of DTDD could be dedicated to phone hacking, bribing plods, etc. The material would be endless.

        "I'm not here".....

    2. PsychoHippy
      Thumb Up

      They could use the same puppet for Cameron and Milliband!

      1. Severen
        Paris Hilton

        Thus averting a national Latex shortage and allowing politicians to carry on with their weekend activities unmole........ Sorry molested.

        Paris because.... well, you know. ;-)

  10. Crisp

    Woo Hoo!

    Here's hoping that it's almost as good as the original. And I'm also hoping that it doesn't get cut after one season of performing really really well, like so many of my other favourite TV shows have.

  11. Chad H.

    Hmmm

    The quoted critic clearly never saw the stage show. Jay and Lynn's writing is as relevant and as funny as evert.

    The worry I have is in the casting. When I saw it in Glasgow the three male leads were terrible - especially the one who played humphrey.

    1. David Robinson 1

      Re: Hmmm

      Martin Freeman in the Bernard role.

      For the wordplay of Sir Humph, I was thinking Stephen Fry or Rowan Atkinson. But with Rowan, there would be modern day Blackadder comparisons.

      Jim Hacker? Hmmm, need to think that one over.

      1. Chad H.

        Re: Hmmm

        I could see Rowan working, he could do the Humphrey soliliquays and give the impression he believes he's talking complete sense

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "Jim Hacker? Hmmm, need to think that one over."

        Nicolas Parsons.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          I am going to call it now.

          Either the new Humphrey or the new PM will be a woman.

          My money is on there being a Humprette

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmm

            "My money is on there being a Humprette"

            HumpFreda surely

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmm

            Sandy Toksvig for Humprette?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hmmm

              you know, I could actually see that, good point.

        2. Simon Coyne

          Re: Hmmm

          I like the idea of Mr Parsons, but I think he would be better as the PM to the "new" Jim Hacker's Minister for DAAs. Now Atkinson in the Hacker role (think down-trodden Bean) I can see dealing with a conniving Sir Humphrey-esque Stephen Fry with able assistance from Stephen Marchant as "Bernard" I could see working well

  12. jai

    "Naturally some aspects will need to be refreshed"

    I guess that is where the fear that this won't do well comes from.

    Instead of re-envisaging the characters to fit today's political world, it'll just be the same but using modern terms and events.

    But equally, is the current way of politics that interesting or funny?

    The enjoyment of the original shows is the clever language and arguments, the intellectual mind-games that went on between Sir Humphrey and Jim Hacker. My worry is that, as politics these days seems less high-brow, so too will the new version of the show be dumbed down. And with that, it will loose its appeal.

  13. Red Bren
    Stop

    No, Script Writers!

    The original shows were a brilliant insight into the workings of the UK's permanent, unelected government. They didn't have to rely on a constant stream of expletives to get the point across and the satire is still relevant today.

    Like all good comedy, it ended before it lost its way. Please, let's not turn it into a Red Dwarf-esque farce.

  14. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Joke

    My, that is certainly a "courageous" decision.

    1. I'm Brian and so's my wife

      I should have read more of the comments before posting - there were bound to be others who were at least as enthusiastic about the show as I am!

  15. IT Hack
    Pint

    IT Cost Saving Synergies: Leveraging Stakeholders Stupidity - Phase 18

    If this happens I want to see one based on the total mess that every gov ICT project seems to turn into. Open the door on the old boy network and the craven attitude of execs and shareholders who don't give a damn about deliverables but rather looking good.

    Pint coz otherwise I'll turn into a Luddite.

  16. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up

    Superb

    The Thick of It just wasn't that funny. Amusing, yes, but not laugh-out-loud funny like YPM was. Same scriptwriters gives hope that it will reach the same heights as the older series. Cautiously optimistic.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Superb

      Don't agree with you on that. I think The Thick of It was considerably funnier and I felt it to be close to the mark. For me, it was the updated version of "Yes, Minister" highlighting how interchangeable all the politicians have become. But, each to their own.

  17. Frederic Bloggs
    Thumb Down

    Hope it's better than the stage version

    That's currently doing the rounds of the provincial theatres. Because it is dire.

    My family saw it recently at Chichester and I don't think I have sat through a "comedy" with such an absurd plot (which included child prostitution) with so few laughs. It is no wonder that packed audience that we started with, dwindled noticeably after the interval.

    1. Steve 114

      Re: Hope it's better than the stage version

      Strangely, 'New Statesman' (with Alan B'Stard) transferred better to the stage - more pantomime, less Radio-play sophistication required. We'll never know if YM Mk.II works on-screen, if it's on a dark channel.

  18. Irongut

    Tinie Tempah

    Or Wee Huff as we call him in Glasgow.

    Hope they can do justice to YPM and that I can manage to watch it *cough* torrent *cough*. Time to get out my old box set episodes I think.

  19. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A long way past satire

    The pivotal point about Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister was that someone was actually in charge - controlling what happened (or stopping things from happening). The gag was that it was never the (prime)-Minister.

    What's changed in the intervening years is that nobody now believes anyone in Westminster is in control. All that our politicians and civil service do is run to catch up with events that happen around them and try to explain them away as "We meant that to happen", "It's not what it looks like", "Yes, it's terrible but it's not our fault" or "That is the fault of the other lot".

    To make satire work, the programme has to lampoon the government and make it appear absurd. The sad fact is that in reality we're so far past the government actually being absurd that any satirical opportunities have vanished.

    Rather than laugh at the ridiculous situations that arise, now most people would just nod sadly and say "Yup, that about sums it up."

    1. Mike Pellatt
      FAIL

      Re: A long way past satire

      Dunno about you, but as well as laughing out loud I also nodded sagely (not sadly) and said "Yup, that about sums it up." when they were first broadcast.....

  20. kyza

    "The modern mandarin is no longer a patrician High Tory; he's probably a Guardian-reading, carbon-offsetting Coldplay fan - with a risqué Tinie Tempah playlist for dinner parties."

    Really? Sir Nicholas McPherson is a Guardian reading Grime fan?

    OK.

  21. rpjs

    Casting will be key

    I saw the stage play a couple of years back, the writing was excellent, but some of the acting just didn't do it justice. It showed that the success of the original programme was that they combined great scripts with great actors. So finding a new set of great actors will be key to the new series' success. I am not holding my breath.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Changed times...

    .... and it won't be even vaguely amusing.

    Back when the original series aired politicians actually took responsibility for at least SOME of their actions. Ministers resigned when they fucked up.

    Now they have to be dragged kicking and screaming away from the gravy trough. Self serving venal scum - all of them.

    Hard to find anything amusing in the total dross the UK has for rulers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Changed times...

      Mr Naismith wrote

      "Hard to find anything amusing in the total dross the UK has for rulers."

      Quite so. If anyone a few years back had suggested that we'd have a cabinet made up almost (but not quite) exclusively of milllionaires, not to mention half the other dodgy dealings currently being buried under a non-existent fuel crisis, who would have believed it?

      Orlowski wrote (about mandarins):

      "Oxbridge PPE or SPS graduate"

      And so are most of the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet. PPE folks, again almost without exception.

      And folk wonder why we've got Tory, Tory Lite, and Gutless Pointless (soon to be voteless) Tory Lite as the three "mainstream" parties.

      "There Is No Alternative".

      <panto>Oh Yes There Is</panto>

  23. FredScummer
    Thumb Up

    If they are doing Yes Minister then they should do Spitting Images too!

  24. captain veg Silver badge

    PPE

    It was the politicians that studied PPE (at the LSE). The mandarins were all Oxbridge Greats graduates. That might just be the only element that needs changing in an updated version.

    -A.

    1. Richard Gadsden
      Stop

      Re: PPE

      The LSE doesn't have politics courses. It teaches Government.

  25. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Yes (Prime) Minister was never a sitcom...

    It was a Docu-Drama with a Gubmint-imposed laugh track to make us think it was fictional!

  26. gilf
    Thumb Up

    I already see the critics gathering like a herd of vultures...

  27. illiad

    All you freetards!!! :(

    Just because you cheapskates can't / don't want to pay for stuff??? get out and get a job!!!

    and where are all the star trek fans, moaning about it going on sky atlantic???

    ...

    'UK Gold' is the 'gold standard' of UK TV... only fools and horses, vicar of dibley, absolutely fabulous, bread, Sykes, Royle family, comic strip, young ones..

    get on yer internet, they are also on you tube... but noy in full quality...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All you freetards!!! :(

      Is that you Orlowski?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: All you freetards!!! :(

        No - Andrew does not comment under pseudonyms or anonymously.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: All you freetards!!! :(

          @drewc

          Er that was a joke, but since you've disallowed joke icons for ACs, I guess we have to explicitly state that now.

          Still full marks for standing up for the boss. Regardless of whether your claim is true or not.

          Pity you have to be so condescending about posting as AC - no one in their right mind uses their real identity on the internet.

          1. Steve Knox
            WTF?

            Re: All you freetards!!! :(

            "Pity you have to be so condescending about posting as AC - no one in their right mind uses their real identity on the internet."

            If you're not using your real identity anyway, why do you feel the need to check "Post Anonymously" as well?

            Or are you not in your right mind?

  28. IHateWearingATie

    One of my favourite programmes...

    ... but I think that it'll be hard to reprise, as the storylines deliberately stayed simple as an intellectual battle between Minister and Sir Humphrey, and the lessons that Sir H gave Bernard we simple but very well written.

    Politics is far more complex in everyone's mind now - not sure that they will be able to capture the same mood. During my short time in central gov, I used a couple of the tricks Sir H mentions ...

  29. Why Not?
    Gimp

    Hmm its like a first date

    You know it could lead to great things, it has happened before but will the chemistry be there?

    Great Actors are vital, not sure Martin Freeman is Bernard material (big name but too sharp) and Sir Humphrey has to be someone special Rowan Atkinson or Stephen fry aren't quite right.

    The Tories are back in so the lefties are writing decent political satire again. (In the thick of it was just sad).

    Look forward to Spitting Image and the New Statesman back.

    Not sure what they are going to use as plots, I think they nailed all the permutations in the first few series (which I still watch on DVD).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Alan B'star lives...

      at number 10?

      Seriously - would be good to see the return of Alan B'stard as well :)

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Hmm its like a first date

      Freeman is good at playing a fool - the part requires cunning. That would rule out Rowan Atkinson, a natural goof.

      Fry would be too posh. And he has only ever played Stephen Fry.

      "lefties are writing decent political satire again. "

      Where? Laurie Penny isn't supposed to be satire.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes Prime Minister was funny in its day...

    precisely because its viewers couldn't believe their leaders could be be that incompetent and corrupt.

    Unfortunately, time has proved the opposite.

    The day that born again liars ^h^h^h^h^h^h politicians start acting as if the welfare of the people they are supposed to represent is their primary concern are still as far away as ever.

    Today, an informed & objective observer would conclude there was a covert war on the public by petty minded bureaucrats/control freaks.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It applies not just in the UK

    I've been an Australian federal public servant in Canberra for five years. You *think* Yes Minister is a satire until you actually go and work in government.

    1. MichaelBirks
      Big Brother

      Re: It applies not just in the UK

      You might very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.

  32. Allan George Dyer
    Coat

    This is old news - I've already seen the first episode...

    You know, the one where there's a threat of a tanker drivers' strike, and a Minister tells the public to fill up and store petrol, thus creating the shortage he was trying to avoid? Though I thought the bit about a woman burning herself while transferring petrol in her kitchen was bad taste.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ooh! Oooh! —In view of the impending fuel shortage, can we get Margaret Thatcher's still-twitching corpse to guest write a scene again?

    Squirming with embarrassment, watching that, helped keep me warm through the harsh winter of '84.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was satire

    now a documentary

  35. despairing citizen
    Big Brother

    Re: whitehall work load

    "far more policy has been outsourced to Europe, of course, leaving Whitehall with less to do "

    Apart from spending a lot of time gold plating EU regs, that start out as 6 sides of A4 on EUR-Lex, and become 600 pages by the time it gets out of whitehall.

  36. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    I've never seen a sitcom restarted successfully after a long layoff. Thank the lack of gods that I don't get GOLD. If I did I might be tempted to watch it.

  37. illiad

    @Grease Monkey: praise??

    Hey, if you are more than 40 years old you will know the quality sitcoms I am talking about.. sadly most of the really good actors are now dead, or given up on the hopeless mismanaged bureaucracy the industry has become..

    most of the '70s audience is now gone or too old - and todays bosses are far too worried about offending some minor group... and then some of the really good vintage comedies are just too expensive in licensing and commission cost, they are just not shown..

    to say nothing about the teenage sense of humor these days, this is why most comics do not do TV, but make a lot more money doing live shows and even doing ads!!

  38. Graham Wilson
    Mushroom

    Program should be called "How The Home Office Works" or better still...

    ..."How the Ministry of Truth is Introducing ID Cards, Tapping Your Phones and Linking and Storing All Your Email and Social Network Contacts".

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