The first series of the elegant sitcom-cum-farce-cum-sophisticated political satire Yes Minister
, setting off Paul Eddington's Jim Hacker, Minister for Administrative Affairs, against Nigel Hawthorne's discreetly obstructive civil servant Sir Humphrey. Series One features the pilot episode, "Open Government", curious in that it contains different and distinctly inferior opening and closing credits to the rest of the series. You also sense that Mrs Hacker was originally intended to have a larger role, with comedy focussing on the clash between political and domestic commitments, until the writers wisely decided to focus on the stand-off between Jim and Sir Humphrey, with Derek Fowlds' mousy private secretary Bernard making occasional interjections.
While the series doesn't quite come fully to light--Sir Humphrey is at times a little too sinister for sitcom consumption--all the classic features quickly show up. Hacker's occasional Churchillian bombast, followed by panicky blank double-takes when flummoxed, Sir Humphrey's unflappable verbosity as he brings the dead weight of civil service bureaucracy to bear against Hacker's naively optimistic schemes for open government, Quangos and slashing red tape in episodes like "The Economy Drive". Ironic, that when this was first screened in the 80s, it was during the rampages of early Thatcherism in which Government had never been less like the ineffectual politicking satirised here.
On the DVD: Full screen, no special features except scene selection and straightforward text profiles of the principal actors here. --David Stubbs
All seven episodes of the classic BBC sitcom. In 'Open Government', the Rt Hon Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington), newly appointed Minister for Administrative Affairs, finds his idealism challenged from the start. 'The Official Visit' has Jim receiving an African President who turns out to be a friend from his university days. 'The Economy Drive' sees Jim attempt to initiate an economy drive within the Civil Service. 'Big Brother' finds Sir Humphrey (Nigel Hawthorne) concerned about a new National Integrated Database. 'The Writing on the Wall' has Jim consider the introduction of identity cards. 'The Right to Know' sees Sir Humphrey bothered by the controversy surrounding an endangered badger colony. Finally, in 'Jobs for the Boys', Jim seeks help from a banker when a pet project seems near to collapse.