Yes, Minister

Rating 8.3
Streamer BritBox
Seasons 3
Episodes 22
Duration 30 mins

We haven’t recommended much from Britbox (a BBC/ITV co-venture) so far on Must TV, but something worth dipping in for is the 1980s classic Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister.

We’ve noticed that as the UK government tries to respond to Covid-19 a number of clips from this series have been circulating, particularly this one regarding the four-stage response to a crisis. These episodes haven’t aged in accuracy or humour.

Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2012 that Yes Minister “is a needle-sharp chronicle of the foibles of inept Minister of Administrative Affairs… in his battle with the British civil service… Its observations about British politics and policy are acute and incredibly timeless.” In 2016 on the death of one of the writers Antony Jay, Sebastian Payne in the FT (paywall) recommended the series: “Out of all the great British political satires, none are as engaging or timeless as Yes Minister. Its genius lies in the artful avoidance of partisan politics — we never know which party is in power.”

The casting of the series was inspired: Nigel Hawthorne as the ultimate civil servant, Paul Eddington as an incompetent (prime) minister and Derek Fowlds as a hapless staffer. A top ten list of the best moments were listed by Michael Hogan in The Telegraph in 2016.

We’re not sure Britbox is yet worth the £5.99 a month as, by our estimation, there are only a couple of hundred different series on it. If a handful of people in your house take advantage of the free 30 day period you could probably binge the whole collection in a couple of months. At the very least watch some Yes Minister, just so you have a better idea of what’s really going on in Whitehall in 2020.

Yes Minister first shown 1980. You can watch a clip of the show by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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