Set principally in the private office of a British cabinet minister in the fictional Department of Administrative Affairs in Whitehall, Yes Minister follows the ministerial career of Jim Hacker, played by Paul Eddington. His various struggles to formulate and enact policy or effect departmental changes are opposed by the British Civil Service, in particular his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, played by Nigel Hawthorne. His Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, played by Derek Fowlds, is usually caught between the two. The sequel, Yes, Prime Minister, continued with the same cast and followed Hacker after his unexpected elevation to prime ministerial office upon the retirement of the previous officeholder.
While Appleby is outwardly deferential towards the new minister, he is prepared to defend the status quo at all costs. Hacker and his party's policies of reducing bureaucracy are diametrically opposed to the Civil Service's interests, in which staff numbers and budgets are viewed as merits of success (as opposed to sizes of profits or losses in private industry). Woolley is sympathetic towards Hacker but as Appleby reminds him, Woolley's civil service superiors, including Appleby, will have much to say about the course of his future career (i.e., assessments, promotions, pay increases), while ministers do not usually stay long in one department and have no say in civil service staffing recommendations.
Many of the episodes revolve around proposals backed by Hacker but frustrated by Appleby, who uses a range of clever stratagems to defeat ministerial proposals while seeming to support them. Other episodes revolve around proposals promoted by Appleby but rejected by Hacker, which Appleby attempts by all means necessary to persuade Hacker to accept. They do occasionally join forces in order to achieve a common goal, such as preventing the closure of their department or dealing with a diplomatic incident.
The Right Honourable Jim Hacker MP (Paul Eddington), eventually elevated to the House of Lords as Lord Hacker of Islington, was the editor of a newspaper called Reform before going into politics. He spent a good deal of time in Parliament on the Opposition benches before his party won a general election, including serving as the Shadow Secretary for Agriculture. In Yes Minister, he is the Minister for Administrative Affairs (a fictitious ministry of the British government) and a cabinet minister, and in Yes, Prime Minister he becomes the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Hacker received his degree from the London School of Economics (graduating with a Third), for which he is often derided by the Oxford-educated Sir Humphrey (who attended "Baillie College", a thinly-veiled reference to the real Balliol College, graduating with a First in Classics). His early character is that of a gung-ho, but naïve, politician, bringing sweeping changes to his department. Before long, Hacker begins to notice that Civil Service tactics are preventing his planned changes being put into practice. As he learns, he becomes more sly and cynical, using some of the Civil Service ruses himself. While Sir Humphrey initially held all the aces, Hacker now and again plays a trump card of his own.
Jay, however, has elsewhere emphasized that he and Lynn were interested first and foremost in the comical possibilities present in government and bureaucracy and that they were not seeking to promote any agenda: "Our only firm belief on the subject was that the underlying conflicts between ministers and ministries were better brought out into the open than kept secret".
In West Germany, all three series of Yes Minister were aired in 1987 (German title Yes Minister), and the first series of Yes, Prime Minister in 1988 (German title Yes Premierminister) on national public broadcaster ARD; repeats occurred during the 1990s on some of the public regional channels. They were broadcast in bilingual mode, permitting owners of a stereo set to select between German overdub and English original sound. Each episode was shortened by about 5 minutes to allow time for the continuity announcer, as was common practice at the time. The second series of Yes Prime Minister was never aired in Germany, thus no German overdub and no German episode titles exist for it. The German DVD release (December 2013) reflects these alterations; it contains the full length episodes, but during the edited portions it throws the German sound back to the English one, and it omits the second series of Yes Prime Minister. The books The Complete Yes Minister and The Complete Yes, Prime Minister were also translated into German as Yes Minister (.mw-parser-output cite.citationfont-style:inherit;word-wrap:break-word.mw-parser-output .citation qquotes:"\"""\"""'""'".mw-parser-output .citation:targetbackground-color:rgba(0,127,255,0.133).mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free abackground:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Lock-green.svg")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration abackground:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription abackground:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon abackground:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg")right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat.mw-parser-output .cs1-codecolor:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-errordisplay:none;color:#d33.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-errorcolor:#d33.mw-parser-output .cs1-maintdisplay:none;color:#3a3;margin-left:0.3em.mw-parser-output .cs1-formatfont-size:95%.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-leftpadding-left:0.2em.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-rightpadding-right:0.2em.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflinkfont-weight:inheritISBN 3-442-08636-1) and Yes Premierminister (ISBN 3-442-08892-5) respectively.
The satirical sitcom Yes Minster was first seen on 25th February 1980. The title sequence and music of the pilot was replaced in later episodes with Gerald Scarfe cartoons which contrasted with the stately theme tune and made it clear that the programme was not deferential to those in government. The comedy was based on the premise that real power was held by civil servants rather than ministers. The main characters were Jim Hacker MP - played by Paul Eddington - and Sir Humphrey Appleby, his Permanent Secretary, played by Nigel Hawthorne. Hacker's Private Secretary, Bernard Woolley, was played by Derek Fowlds.
The series ran on BBC Two between 1980 and 1988 (the show was renamed Yes Prime Minister at a later stage) and has in its core the characters of Jim Hacker (the minister), Sir Humphrey Appleby (permanent secretary), and Bernard Woolley (Hacker's principal private secretary). Hacker plays the role of minister of administrative affairs, making him responsible for the British civil service and any type of reforms deemed necessary for the inner-workings of the government. He is what Americans would probably describe as a "dork": he's unable to understand the intrigue of the civil service, optimistic about his actual power, and easily swayed towards one position or the other within a few minutes.
The questions Yes Minister asks are not impertinent: Are long-term appointments of top-class civil servants really a good idea? In one episode, Sir Humphrey lays out that throughout his career as an assistant to government ministers, he argued both in favor of and against the death penalty and both in favor of and against the legality of homosexuality. Humphrey explains that he couldn't possibly be convinced by what he does, otherwise he'd be diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.
Yes, Minister (1980-1988) is a British Sitcom about Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington), an inexperienced cabinet minister (party never specified), and his permanent secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne), who really runs the department. The original three seasons were followed by Yes, Prime Minister, in which Jim Hacker became PM. There was also a 1987 DOS PC video game in which the player acted as Hacker and tried to make it through a week without tanking in the polls.
However, that is only part of the problem. It is not just that there is a growing number of New Zealand public servants and that their department heads cannot easily be hired and fired by ministers. It is also that government departments operate at an increasing distance from the political government.
The other element of the distance is not physical but organisational. Following a reform of the Public Service Act in 2020, the position of the Public Service Commissioner has been elevated. The Commissioner has become the central figure standing between cabinet ministers and the collective of ministry chief executives. This was meant to help coordinate different departments with each other. Its effect has been to elevate the unelected Commissioner to a position more influential than even some of the most senior cabinet ministers.
As a result of these institutional settings, the linkages between the government of the day and the permanent government of the public services have been severed. While ministers remain politically responsible for what happens in their ministries, they are hardly the ones calling the shots anymore.
And how could they? New Zealand ministers cannot easily pick the people running their ministries. They do not even see them all that often. And they have only indirect control over the Public Service Commissioner. 041b061a72