General: Which one?
PM: The one to Russia?
Aide: The red hot line sir?
General: In Downing Street.
PM: So, in an emergency, I can get straight through to the Soviet President?
General: Theoretically, yes.
General: That's what we tell journalists. In fact, we did get through to the Kremlin once, but only to a switchboard operator.
PM: Did the operator put you through?
General: We never found out. Didn't seem to speak much English...
PM: How often is it tested?
Sir Humphrey: Well, they try not to test it too often. It tends to create unnecessary panic at the other end and panic's always a good thing to avoid where nuclear weapons are concerned, don't you think?
Excerpt from the BBC's Yes, Prime Minister, 1992