Thursday, December 27, 2007

Yes, Minister & Yes, Prime Minister

"Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister" are British television sitcoms which aired from 1980 to 1988. I bought "Yes, Minister" for my brother as a birthday present, but had never watched it. I finally sat down one evening with him and we took in one of the episodes.

The show is brilliant. I haven't watched much TV, but it's up there with the best shows I've ever seen. In fact, I think these two shows, which always have to be taken together, might be the best thing I've ever seen on television.

The shows are about the machinations and political goings on behind the scenes of the British government. The three main characters: Paul Eddington, Derek Fowlds and a spectacular Nigel Hawthorne are perfect and have marvelous chemistry. The dialog is not only hysterical, but incredible feats of acting. Great, great stuff.

I bought "Yes, Prime Minster" for my brother's Christmas present and we watched a few episodes. The show usually concerns Jim Hacker (Eddington) as the Minister, and later Prime Minister, trying to make some progress with his policies, and Sir Humphrey Appleby (Hawthorne) as his Permanent Secretary, and later Cabinet Secretary, trying to oppose them. There's a lot of manipulation, circuitous explanations, head butting and horse trading going on. Appleby usually manages to get the best of Hacker, but sometimes he doesn't. Derek Fowlds plays Bernard Woolley, Hacker's Principal Private Secretary, and is usually caught between the two. It's easy to focus on Nigel Hawthorne's amazing Sir Humphrey as it is the showiest role, but Paul Eddington and Derek Fowlds roles are essential and just as admirable.

One of my favorite things to do during the show, in addition to having a great time and a good laugh, is to look at all the men's exquisitely tailored suits and to take note of their beautiful ties, pocket squares, and shirts. Someone there at the BBC has great taste in menswear. My brother was commenting that Sir Humphrey has the most beautiful suits. I disagreed. I explained to him that the reason they look so great on him is most of the time he is sitting up straight and many of the other characters are sitting slumped. Eddington as the Prime Minister probably has the best suits, shirts, ties and pocket squares, as he should.

Now, I haven't seen "West Wing" but I'm told it's very good, but can it be as good as these two shows? Here's a short clip from "Yes, Prime Minister - The Tangled Web" for your enjoyment:

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