Today I continue the list of my top ten British sitcoms with a real oldie.
Number seven – Yes Minister
Yes Minister is set almost entirely within the office of Jim Hacker, a minster of the British government. Jim Hacker is minster for the Department for Administrative Affairs, a fictional department that exists, it seems, solely to deal with the work created by others. Jim Hacker is a career politician in every sense. Whilst his actions may at first appear to be motivated by his duty to serve the public, like any politician, it is votes that Jim craves the most. Helping (or more accurately, hindering) Jim Hacker at every step is Sir Humphrey Appleby. Whilst Sir Humphrey’s role is to implement the policies of Jim Hacker, it is so often the other way round. Just as Jim Hacker strives to introduce popular (vote winning) reforms, Sir Humphrey Appleby wishes things to remain the same as they have always been. The third main character in the series is Bernard Woolley, Jim Hacker’s Principal Private Secretary. Bernard is caught in the middle of the ongoing conflict between Jim and Sir Humphrey.
Being one of the older entries on this list, it is remarkable how well Yes Minister has aged. Indeed, nearly all of the themes of the show are still relevent in today’s politics. Another thing that I like about the series is the fact that the vast majority of it is set in one office. This, like no other comedy on this list, brings the focus to the three main characters and in particular, the constant political struggle between Jim and Sir Humphrey. This is a clip from my favourite episode The Compassionate Society, where Jim is outraged to discover a newly built hospital has no patients.
You can buy the complete series of Yes Minster (plus its sequel, Yes, Prime Minister) from Amazon.co.uk.