'Yes, Prime Minister' set to return to screens after 24 year absence


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The Independent Culture

The country is panic-buying petrol whilst the PM is in a hot spot over a pasty row. The timing couldn’t be better for the return of Yes, Prime Minister to screens after 24 years.

Hapless premier Jim Hacker and his smooth-talking civil servant nemesis Sir Humphrey Appleby will be reunited in a new series of the Whitehall satire, penned once again by series creators Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn.

Once described as Margaret Thatcher’s favourite television show, the new six-part series will be produced by the BBC but screened on the digital channel Gold, the home of classic comedy.

The update of the original Bafta-winning BBC show, which began as Yes, Minister and ran from 1980 to 1988, finds Hacker heading a Coalition government which is facing disaster.

The country is on the brink of economic crisis and the Scots are demanding an independence referendum. The one grain of hope is a morally dubious deal with the Foreign Minister of Kumranistan.

The revival is based on a recent West End adaptation which has toured the UK to acclaim.

Casting is currently underway for the series. Paul Eddington, who played Hacker, died in 1995 and the role has been played on stage by Graham Seed, formerly Nigel Pargetter in The Archers and David Haig. Roger Allam, who plays Tory MP Peter Mannion in The Thick Of It, could be a contender for Hacker.

Sir Nigel Hawthorne, famed for his conniving and verbose circumlocutions as Sir Humphrey died in 2001, leaving Derek Fowlds, who played the emollient Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, as the only surviving member of the core BBC cast.

Mark Freeland, Head of BBC In-House Comedy said: “The much extended tour of Yes Prime Minister in theatres up & down the country proved that this iconic comedy has lost none of its satirical bite.

“The one liners hit home like the crack of the Whip. BBC In House Comedy is delighted to team up with Gold to bring this classic back to our screens with all-new episodes.”

Like its modern-day satirical successor, The Thick of It, Yes, Prime Minister’s veracity was a result of secret meetings between the writers and government insiders.

Along with Spitting Image and Rik Mayall’s The New Statesman, it provided a satirical response to the politics of the 80s which was both enjoyed and feared within the corridors of power.

The commission is part of Gold's efforts to create new content rather than just screen much-loved repeats. Jane Rogerson, Director of Commissioning at UK TV, co-owners of Gold, said: “The political landscape in Britain today is the perfect setting for Yes, Prime Minister to return.”