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Returning Officer: David Lloyd Evans, four thousand one hundred and six; James George Hacker, twenty-one thousand seven hundred and ninety three; Arthur William Thorpe, nineteen thousand ...
Jim: You very tense?
Annie: No, no I'm not tense, I'm just a politicians wife, I'm not allowed to have feelings.
Jim: Bill's got Europe.
Annie: Lucky Europe. I didn't know Bill could speak French.
Jim: He can hardly speak English.
[bell rings, Jim answers phone]
Jim: Hello. Hello? Hello?!
Annie: Darling, that is the front door.
Frank: Did you know Martin's got the Foreign Office?
Jim: Has he?
Frank: Jack's got Health and Fred's got Energy.
Annie: Has anyone got brains?
Jim: What do you mean Education.
Annie: No, I know what I mean.
Jim: This is my political adviser.
Bernard: Yes of course, Mr Weasel.
Frank: Mr Wiesel.
Jim: Opposition's about asking awkward questions.
Sir Humphrey: And government is about not answering them.
Jim: Who else is in this department?
Sir Humphrey: Well briefly sir I am the Permanent Undersecretary of State known as the Permanent Secretary, Wooley here is your Principle Private Secretary I too have a Principle Private Secretary, and he is the Principle Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary, directly responsible to me are ten Deputy Secretaries, eighty-seven Undersecretaries and two hundred and nineteen assistant secretaries, directly responsible to the Principle Private Secretaries are Plain Private Secretaries, and the Prime Minister will be appointing two Parliamentary Undersecretaries and you will be appointing your own Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Jim: Can they all type?
Sir Humphrey: None of us can type Minister, Mrs McKay types, she's the secretary.
Bernard: It used to be said there were two kinds of chairs to go with two kinds of Minister, one sort folds up instantly the other sort goes round and round in circles.
Sir Humphrey: [shakes his head]
Sir Humphrey: Her Majesty does like the business of government to continue even when there are no politicians around.
Jim: Bit difficult surely?
Sir Humphrey: Yes ... and no.
The Law of Inverse Relevance, the less you intend doing about something the more you have to keep talking about it.
It's a contradiction in terms, you can be open or you can have government.
If people don't know what you're doing, they don't know what you're doing wrong.
The Prime Minister giveth and the Prime Minister taketh away, blessed be the name Prime Minister.
Jim: After all, we all make mistakes.
Sir Humphrey: Yes Minister.
Bernard: May I remind you Minister, you're seeing a deputation from the TUC in fifteen minutes, from the CBI half an hour after that and from the NEB at twelve noon.
Jim: Oh Lord, what do they all want?
Bernard: Well they're all worried about machinery.
Bernard: Yes well inflation, deflation and reflation.
Jim: What do they think I am, a Minister of the Crown or a bicycle pump?
Jim: What's an official reply?
Bernard: Well it just says the Minister has asked me to thank you for your letter and we say something like, the matter is under consideration, or even if we feel so inclined, under active consideration.
Jim: What's the difference?
Bernard: Well under consideration means we've lost the file, under active consideration means we're trying to find it.
Jim: When a country is going downhill it is time for someone to get into the driving seat, put his foot on the accelerator.
Bernard: I, I think you mean the brake, Minister.
Sir Humphrey: The head of state must greet a head of state even if he's not here as the head of state.
Bernard: It's all a matter of hats, Minister.
Bernard: Yes you see, he is coming here wearing his head of government hat, he is the head of state too, but it's not a state visit because he's not wearing his head of state hat protocol demands that even though he's wearing his head of government hat, he must still be met by the crown.
Jim: Well anyway, why are we having an official visit from this tin pot little African country?
Sir Humphrey: Minister, I beg of you not to refer to it as a tin pot little African country. It's an LDC.
Jim: A what?
Sir Humphrey: Buranda is what was used to be called an under-developed country, however this term was largely regarded as offensive, so they became known as developing countries and then as less developed countries or LDC's. We are now ready to replace the term LDC with HRRC.
Jim: What's that?
Sir Humphrey: Human resource rich countries.
Jim: Which means?
Sir Humphrey: That they're grossly over-populated and begging for money.
Jim: Burandan Airways, they are doing well. How many planes have they got?
Sir Humphrey: None
Jim: your eyes Humphrey, what about that one?
Sir Humphrey: That one was chartered from Freddie Laker last week and repainted specially. Actually there was one 747 that belonged to nine different African airlines in one month, they called it the mumbo jumbo.
Well I think Bernard means is that he'll know how to behave if he went to an English university, even if it was the LSE.
Burandans feel a special affinity with the Celtic peoples in their struggle for freedom. We too had to fight to break free from the chains of British colonialism, the people of Buranda urge the Scots and the Irish under British oppression cast off the imperialist yoke and join the fellowship of free nations.
Jim: We're going to have egg all over our faces.
Sir Humphrey: Not egg Minister, just imperialist yolk.
Sir Humphrey: In practical terms we have the usual six options. One do nothing, two issue a statement deploring the scene, three launch an official protest, four cut off aid, five break off diplomatic relations and six declare war.
Jim: Which should we do.
Sir Humphrey: Well if we do nothing we implicitly agree with the speech, two if we issue a statement we just look foolish, three if we lodge a protest it will be ignored, four we can't cut off aid because we don't give them any, five if we break off diplomatic relations we can't negotiate the oil rig contracts and six if we declare war it might just look as if we're over-reacting.
Jim: Charlie, long time no see.
Charles: You don't have to speak pidgin English to me Jim.
Sir Humphrey: Blackmail.
Charles: Are you describing me or my proposal?
Jim: Your proposal obviously. [Sir Humphrey and Jim laugh] No, no not even your proposal.
Jim: Everyone has his price.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Minister.
Bernard: You read it?
Jim: I read it.
Frank: Have you read this?
Bernard: He's read it.
Frank: Let me read this to you.
Bernard and Jim: We've read it.
Jim: Twenty three thousand. In the Department for Administrative Affairs. Twenty three thousand people just for adMinistering other administrators. We have to do a Times-Motion study, see who we can get rid of.
Sir Humphrey: We did one of those last year.
Sir Humphrey: It transpired that we needed another five hundred people.
The Public doesn't know anything about wasting government money, we're the experts.
Jim: Are you seriously telling me that there is no way we can cut down.
Sir Humphrey: I suppose we could loose one or two of the tea ladies.
Jim: Why don't you look into it, have a bit of a ferret around.
Frank: Do you think I could.
Bernard: I think that's a very good idea Mr Ferret, ah Weasel, ah Wiesel.
Sir Humphrey: I knew about it.
Bernard: Then why are you aghast.
Sir Humphrey: I'm aghast that it got out.
Suppose everyone went around saving money irresponsibly all over the place.
Sir Humphrey: MP's are chosen by the people, they're chosen by their local party, thirty five men in grubby raincoats or thirty five women in silly hats.
Bernard: And the government are selected from the best of them.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, there are only six hundred and thirty MP's. If one party has just over three hundred it forms a government, of that three hundred one hundred are too old and too silly, one hundred are too young and too callow which leaves just about a hundred MP's to fill one hundred governmental posts. There's no choice at all, they've had no selection, no training. We have to job for them.
Jim: How can a seven storey building in Walfenstone be top secret.
Sir Humphrey: Where there's a will there's a way.
Jim: 3-17 Bettensfield Street.
Sir Humphrey: Ah yes, now that has a three level reinforced concrete basement.
Sir Humphrey: It is there in case.
Jim: In case?
Sir Humphrey: Well you know Minister, emergency government headquarters, if and when.
Jim: If and when what?
Sir Humphrey: If and when, you know what.
Sir Humphrey: If and when you know what.
Jim: I don't know what. What?
Sir Humphrey: What?
Jim: What do you mean if and when you know what.
Sir Humphrey: Minister when the chips are down the balloon goes up and the lights go out. There has to be somewhere to carry on government even if everything else stopped.
Sir Humphrey: Well government doesn't stop just because the whole country has been destroyed. Annihilation is bad enough without anarchy to make things even worse.
Jim: You mean you'll have a lot of rebellious cinders.
Frank: Yes, that's right, who'll be there for you to govern.
Sir Humphrey: There'll be bound to be some ordinary people around.
We will economise on the beaches.
Jim: Mr Watson, before we start there is one thing I must make absolutely clear, this must not get out. If the unions were to get to hear of this all hell would be let loose.
Ron Watson: Oh yes.
Jim: Of course there'll be redundancies, you simply ... you simply can't slim down a giant bureaucracy like this without getting rid of people, and ultimately a lot of people.
Ron Watson: Won't you be holding discussions with the unions first.
Jim: We'll go through the charade of discussions, but you know what trade unionists are like thick as two short planks and bloody minded.
Ron Watson: All of them?
Jim: Pretty well. Good Lord you should know. All they're interested in is poaching each others members and getting themselves on the telly, and they can't keep their big mouths shut.
Ron Watson: What about drivers and transport service staff.
Jim: First to go, good Lord we waste a fortune on cars and drivers, and they're all on the fiddle.
Ron Watson: Because as I was trying to explain, I am not Mr Bruffs' deputy. I am the general secretary of the union of civil service transport and associated government work.
Jim: I ... I ...
Ron Watson: And I came here to check there was no truth in the rumour of redundancies for my members.
Jim: Well I, I, I ... I just ... I don't .... all I meant was, Oh God.
Jim: Bernard how could you allow this to happen.
Bernard: CBE Minister.
Bernard: Can't be everywhere.
Jim: Do any of them say anything other than tired and emotional.
Bernard: William Hickey said you were overwrought, Minister.
Jim: Just overwrought, nothing about being drunk.
Bernard: Just overwrought.
Sir Humphrey: Overwrought as a newt actually.
Jim: But what are we actually going to do to slim down the civil service.
Sir Humphrey: Perhaps you care to glance at this entirely fresh proposal.
Jim: Proposal for the reduction of the number of tea ladies.
Bob: Minister are you lying the foundations for a police state?
Jim: You know, I'm glad you asked that question.
Bob: Well Minister could we have the answer?
Jim: Well yes, of course, I was just about to give it to you, if I may. Yes as I said I'm glad you asked me that question because it's a question that a lot of people are asking, and quite so, because a lot of people want to know the answer to it. And let's be quite clear about this without beating about the bush the plain fact of the matter is that it is a very important question indeed and people have a right to know.
Bob: Minister, we haven't yet had the answer.
Jim: I'm sorry, what was the question?
Sir Humphrey: I am merely a civil servant, I simply do as I am instructed by my master.
Jim: What happens when the Minister is a woman, what do you call her?
Sir Humphrey: Yes, that's rather interesting. We sought an answer to that point when I was Principle Private Secretary and Dr Edith Summersgill as she then was, was appointed Minister in 1947, I didn't quite like to refer to her as my mistress.
Jim: What was the answer?
Sir Humphrey: Oh, we're still waiting for it.
Jim: Frank, I think I had better go to Swansea.
Bernard: Is that a decision Minister?
Jim: Yes that's final.
Frank: The PM expects you to go to Newcastle.
Jim: PM? I think I had better go to Newcastle Bernard.
Frank: Is that a decision Jim?
Jim: Yes that's a decision, that's final, and I'm going home.
Sir Humphrey: Is that a decision?
Jim: (into phone) Hello Bernard. Yes it's me. Look I am going to have cancel tomorrow, Swansea and Newcastle. Well you see it's my wife's wedding anniversary tomorrow.
Annie: It's yours too.
Jim: (into phone) Yeah and mine too actually. Yes, it is. What do you mean coincidence, don't be silly Bernard. Anyway I'm going to Paris tomorrow and that's final. Yes I know I said before that it's final but this time it is final. Well you'll just have to cope as best you can and that's all. Yes. Yes, definitely. Yes, is that clear? Right.
Annie: We're going to Paris.
Jim: No, I'm going to Swansea and Newcastle.
Jim: It's so hard to get things done, did you manage to get things done?
Tom: Almost nothing old boy. No, mind you I didn't cotton on to his technique till after I'd been there for a year, and then there was the election.
Jim: Stalling technique?
Tom: Yeah, comes in five stages. First of all he'll tell you that your administration is very new and that there's lots of things to be getting on with.
Jim: Told me that this morning.
Tom: Eh, quite. Then if you still persist whatever your idea is he'll say something like, er yes Minister I quite appreciate the intention certainly something ought to be done but are you sure this is the right way to achieve it.
Jim: I must make a note of this.
Tom: Now if you are still unperturbed he will shift his ground, he will shift from telling you how to do, to when you should do it, you know I mean he'll say now Minister this is not the right time, for all sorts of reasons.
Jim: What and he expects Ministers to settle for that.
Tom: Well lots do and if you don't he'll simply say that the policy has run into difficulties.
Jim: Such as?
Tom: Technical, political, legal. Now legal are the best sort because he can make these totally incomprehensible and with any luck this stalling technique will have lasted for about three years and you'll know that you're at the final stage where he says now Minister we're getting very close to the run up to the next general election are you sure you can get this policy through.
Jim: Look Tom, your were in office for years, you know all the civil service tricks.
Tom: Not all of them old boy, just a few hundred.
Jim: How do you defeat them, how do you make them do something they don't want to do.
Tom: My dear fellow, if I knew that I wouldn't be in opposition.
Jim: Darling, the opposition aren't the opposition.
Annie: No of course not silly of me they're just called the opposition.
Jim: They're only the opposition in exile, the civil service are the opposition in residence.
Sir Humphrey: Hello.
Jim: Humphrey, sorry to ring you so late. I didn't interrupt you in the middle of dinner or anything did I?
Sir Humphrey: No, no, we finished some while ago. What time is it?
Jim: 2.00 am.
Sir Humphrey: Good God, what's the crisis?
Jim: No, no, no crisis. I was just going through my boxes and I knew you'd still be hard at it.
Sir Humphrey: Oh yes, yes, yes. Nose to the grindstone.
Jim: Good, well I just came across this database paper.
Sir Humphrey: Oh, you found it, you've read it, yes.
Jim: I thought I'd better tell you straight away that I'm not happy with it I knew you'd be happy for the opportunity to work on something else, right. Hope you didn't mind my calling you.
Sir Humphrey: No, not at all Minister, always a pleasure to hear from you.
Sir Humphrey: If there had been investigations which there haven't or not necessarily or I am not at liberty to say whether there have, there would have been a project team which had it existed on which I cannot comment which would now have disbanded if it had existed and the members returned to their original departments if indeed there had been any such members.
Jim: Or not as the case may be.
Jim: I'm still not happy with this report, Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey: Then Minister we shall be happy to redraft it for you.
Jim: You've redrafted it three times already.
Bernard: That's not absolutely correct Minister.
Jim: Yes it is Bernard I can count. This is the third draft report.
Bernard: Yes quite so, therefore it has been drafted once and subsequently redrafted twice.
Sir Humphrey: Well Minister, if you asked me for a straight answer then I shall say that, as far as we can see, looking at it by and large, taking one time with another, in terms of the average of departments, then in the final analysis it is probably true to say that, at the end of the day, in general terms, you would find, that, not to put too fine a point on it, there probably wasn't very much in it one way or the other, as far as one can see, at this stage.
Jim: Is that yes or no?
Sir Humphrey: Yes and no.
Jim: Suppose you weren't asked for a straight answer.
Sir Humphrey: Oh, then I should play for time, Minister.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, are you trying to be impertinent?
Bernard: Oh no, I'm sure I would succeed if I tried.
Sir Humphrey, can I ask you a hypothetical question ...
I see, the government is just going to measure its' success in column inches, is it?
Sir Humphrey: May I say just one more thing?
Jim: Only if it's in plain English.
Sir Humphrey: Very well Minister. If you are going to do this damn silly thing, don't do it in this damn silly way.
You know the PMs' motto: In defeat malice, in victory revenge.
Jim: I'm appalled.
Sir Humphrey: You're appalled? I'm appalled.
Jim: I just can't believe it I'm ... I'm appalled. What do you make of it Bernard?
Bernard: I'm appalled.
Jim: So am I, appalled.
Sir Humphrey: (after a pause) It's appalling.
Bernard: What about a publicity campaign Minister, you know ADMINISTRATION SAVES THE NATION, RED TAPE IS FUN, full pages ads in ... in. Just an idea.
Jim: Red tape is fun?
Bernard: Well what about RED TAPE HOLDS THE NATION TOGETHER.
You might get away with calling it (Europass) the Euroclub Express.
Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last five hundred years - to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans and with the French against the Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now when it's worked so well.
I think this Europass issue is the biggest disaster for the government since I was asked to join the government.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard this has to be stopped, at once.
Sir Humphrey: Well if he talks to the underlings he might learn things that we don't know. Our whole position could be undermined.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, Please stop saying why.
Bernard: Why? I mean could you develop that point please.
Bernard, a Minister has three functions. First as an advocate, making the Department's actions seem plausible to Parliament and the public he is in fact our public relations man. Second, he is our man in Westminster, steering our legislation through parliament, and third. He is our bread-winner. He has to fight in Cabinet for the money we need to run our department. But he is not here to review departmental procedures with principle and assistant secretaries.
Woman: How would you feel if you were going to have a lot of office blocks built over your garden by a lot of giant badgers?
Jim: But a lot of office blocks are ... giant badgers?
Jim: Humphrey, do you see it as part of your job to help Ministers make fools of themselves.
Sir Humphrey: Well, I've never met one that needed any help.
Actually it's only the urban middle class who worry about the preservation of the countryside, because they don't have to live in it.
Sir Humphrey: There are those who have argued, and indeed cogently, that on occasion there are some things it is better for a Minister not to know.
Jim: What are you talking about?
Sir Humphrey: Minister, your answers in the House and at the press conference were superb. You were convincing and convinced, the critics were silenced. But, could you have spoken with the same authority if the ecological pressure group had been badgering you?
Sir Humphrey: Minister I have something to say to you which you may not like to hear.
Jim: Why should today be any different.
Sir Humphrey: Minister, the traditional allocation of executive responsibilities has always been so determined as to liberate the Ministerial incumbent from the administrative minutiae by devolving the managerial functions to those whose experience and qualifications have better formed them for the performance of such humble offices, thereby releasing their political overlords for the more onerous duties and profound deliberations which are the inevitable concomitant of their exalted position.
Jim: Now, whatever made you think I wouldn't want to hear that.
Sir Humphrey: Well I though it might upset you.
Jim: How could it, I didn't understand a single word. Humphrey for God's sake, for once in your life put it into plain English.
Sir Humphrey: If you insist. You are not here to run this Department.
Jim: I beg your pardon.
Sir Humphrey: You are not here to run this Department.
Jim: I think I am. The people think I am too.
Sir Humphrey: With respect Minister you are ... they are wrong.
Jim: And who does run this Department?
Sir Humphrey: I do.
Lucy darling , that's not fair. Those civil servants may be always kowtowing to daddy but they never take any notice of him.
Annie: Lucy that's not a very nice thing to say.
Lucy: It's true isn't it?
Annie: Yes, but daddy's in politics. He has to be ingratiating.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, this country is governed by Ministers making decisions from the various alternative proposals that we offer them, is it not?
Bernard: Well, yes of course.
Sir Humphrey: Well, don't you see if they had all the facts, they'd see all sorts of other possibilities, they might even formulate their own plans instead of choosing the two or three that we put up.
Sir Humphrey: There are four words you have to work into a proposal if you want a Minister to accept it.
Sir Frank: Quick, simple, popular, cheap. And equally there are four words to be included in a proposal if you want it thrown out.
Sir Humphrey: Complicated, lengthy, expensive, controversial. And if you want to be really sure that the Minister doesn't accept it you must say the decision is courageous.
Bernard: And that's worse than controversial?
Sir Humphrey: (laughs) Controversial only means this will lose you votes, courageous means this will lose you the election.
Sir Humphrey: You look worried Bernard.
Bernard: Ah yes, I just found this letter in one of the Ministers' boxes.
Sir Humphrey: What about it?
Bernard: I don't know whether I should open it or not.
Sir Humphrey: Well you know the rules, private secretaries shall open all classifications up to and including Top Secret, only letters marked Personal shall remained unopened unless the Minister orders otherwise.
Bernard: What about Daddy?
Sir Humphrey: I don't immediately see why your father comes into this.
Bernard: No, no, no it's addressed to Daddy, urgent.
Sir Humphrey: Well, does it say Personal?
Sir Humphrey: Well then you know the rules, it must be opened.
Bernard: (opens letter) Oh, it's from the Ministers daughter.
Sir Humphrey: You astound me Bernard.
Sir Humphrey: Do you mean starkers Bernard?
Bernard: Yes, Sir Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey: I see, well this puts a different complexion on it.
Bernard: Yes, especially in this weather.
Sir Humphrey: (pulls letter from Bernard's hand)
"Minister sets Police on Nude Daughter", I'm not sure that completely kills the story Minister.
Jim: Humphrey, it was true wasn't it? Humphrey, was there one word of truth in that whole story that you told Lucy?
Sir Humphrey: Minister, do you really want me to answer that question?
Jim: (thinks) No, I don't think I do.
Sir Humphrey: Quite so, perhaps there are some things it is better for a Minister not to know.
Bernard, the Official Secrets Act is not to protect secrets it is to protect officials.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, Ministers should never more than they need to know, then they can't tell anyone. Like secret agents, they could be captured and tortured.
Bernard: You mean be terrorists?
Sir Humphrey: By the BBC, Bernard.
Jim: Humphrey, I'm appalled.
Sir Humphrey: So am I, Minister.
Jim: The incompetence of it ... the stupidity.
Sir Humphrey: I agree, I can't think what came over you.
Another leak? This isn't a department, it's a colander.
Jim: Most of our journalists are so incompetent they'd have the gravest difficulty in finding out that today is Wednesday.
Bernard: It's actually Thursday.
Jim: (points to door)
Sir Humphrey: We are going to get some patients into St Edward's, eventually aren't we.
Sir Ian: It's possible. Certainly our present intention, in a year or two, probably, when the financial situation has eased up a bit.
Will you please note that soft paper toilet rolls are provided only for the use of patients, and not staff. It would appear that, in recent months, staff have been using the soft toilet rolls, for one reason or another.
St Stephen's mortuary will be closed over Christmas. During the holiday medical staff are requested to cooperate in keeping pressure off this department.
Jim: The public does care that this money is misspent.
Sir Humphrey: With respect Minister, they care that it should not be seen to be misspent.
We don't measure our success by results but by activity.
Mrs Rodgers: It's one of the best run hospitals in the country. It's up for the Florence Nightingale award.
Jim: And what pray is that.
Mrs Rodgers: It's won by the most hygienic hospital in the area.
I can assure you, and I'd like to take this opportunity to assure the general public that every stone will be left unturned in the search for a settlement.
Master of Baillie: How might one set about persuading a Minister of the importance of Baillie College?
Sir Humphrey: Oh, I don't know. Why don't you get him down here to a High
Master of Baillie: Is he of the intellectual calibre to understand our case.
Sir Humphrey: (pauses) Oh yes. Well surely our case is intelligible to anyone with the intellectual calibre of Winnie the Pooh.
Master of Baillie: Quite, and Hacker is of the intellectual calibre of Winnie the Pooh?
Sir Humphrey: (pauses) Oh yes, on his day.
Bernard: All recipients are notified at least five weeks before promulgation, it gives them time to refuse, you know.
Jim: When did a Civil Servant last refuse an Honour?
Bernard: Well I think there was somebody in the Treasury that refused a knighthood.
Jim: Good God, when?
Bernard: I think it was 1496.
Bernard: He'd already got one.
Jim: May I take it that your silence indicates approval.
Sir Humphrey: You may not!
The whole idea is ... I mean ... it ... it ... it strikes at the very roots of the ... of the ... it's the beginning of the end, the thin end of the wedge, a Bennite solution. Where will it end, the abolition of the monarchy?
Sir Humphrey: If you block honours pending economies you might create a dangerous precedent.
Jim: You mean that if we do the right thing this time, we might have to do the right thing again next time?
Bernard: Well take the Foreign Office, first you get the CMG then the KCMG then the GCMG. The Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Commander of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Grand Cross of Saint Michael and Saint George. Of course in the Service CMG stands for call me God and KCMG for kindly call me God.
Jim: What does GCMG stand for?
Bernard: God calls me God.
... I'll tell you another thing, I can't send him (Sir Humphrey) to prison. Can't send him to prison. Now if I was a job I could whiz old Humpy to the Scrubs no trouble, feet wouldn't touch, clang bang, see you in three years time, one third remission for good conduct - I can't do that. I have to listen to him - Oh God. On and on and on.
Sir Humphrey: Have you finished with the list of departmental recommendations for the Honours Secretary?
Jim: Oh yes Humphrey, no problem there, Bernard will give it to you, Bernard.
Sir Humphrey: Thank you Bernard.
Jim: All right Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey: Yes Doctor, er Minister.
Jim: (reading) ... the egregious Jim Hacker. (to Humphrey) What does egregious mean?
Sir Humphrey: Um, I think it means outstanding, in one way or another.
A distinguished citizen, if I may say so an extremely distinguished British Citizen, someone who has given his lifes' work in service of his fellow countrymen now he finds that these faceless bureaucrats have been listening to his every word. All his phone calls. His rows with his wife. His shouting matches with his daughter. His private arrangements with his accountant.
Ministers of course have a whole range of dazzling qualities including ... um ... well, including an enviable intellectual suppleness and moral manoeuvrability.
The first law of political indiscretion, always have a drink before you leak.
Jim: Everything we've said on the telephone, everything we've said to each other, recorded and transcribed. It's humiliating.
Annie: Yes I see, it is a little humiliating. That someone in MI5 knows that what you talk about at home is what you talk about in public. The Gross National Product, the Public Sector borrowing requirement, the Draft Agenda for the Party Conference.
Jim: I don't mean that, I meant all our private family talk.
Annie: Oh dear, yes. I hadn't thought of that. "Have you got the car keys?" "No, I thought you had them." "No, I gave them to you." My God, that could bring the government down!
Sir Humphrey: To put it absolutely bluntly, confidential investigations have proved the existence of certain documents whose provenance is currently unestablished, but whose effect if realised would be to precipitate a by-election.
Jim: What do you mean?
Sir Humphrey: You're on a death list, Minister.
Jim: Shred it.
Bernard: Shred it?
Jim: No one must ever be able to find it again.
Bernard: In that case, Minister, I think it's best I file it.
Sir Humphrey: The police have suffered an acute personnel establishment shortfall.
Jim: They what?
Sir Humphrey: They're short staffed.
Sir Humphrey: Well it was a conversation to the effect that in view of the somewhat nebulous and inexplicit nature of your remit and the arguably marginal and peripheral nature of your influence on the central deliberations and decisions within the political process, that there could be a case for restructuring their action priorities in such a way as to eliminate your liquidation from their immediate agenda.
Jim: They said that?
Sir Humphrey: That was the gist of it.
Jim: What does it mean, in English.
Sir Humphrey: Well it means that, they don't think you're really important enough for it to be worth assassinating you.
Wally: Anyway I've taken the name Metadioxin out of the proposal, I just call it propanol.
Sir Humphrey: Very wise of you.
Wally: You told me to.
Sir Humphrey: Very wise of me.
Humphrey I just want to make absolutely sure, you're not asking me to make a courageous decision.
Sir Humphrey: Metadioxin is an inert compound of Dioxin.
Joan Littler: What?
Jim: Yes I think I follow that Humphrey but, er, could you, explain it a little more clearly.
Sir Humphrey: In what sense Minister?
Joan Littler: What does inert mean?
Sir Humphrey: Well it means it's not ... ert.
Bernard: Wouldn't ert a fly.
Well a compound is ... it's ... well you know what compound interest is? Yes well jolly good thing to enjoy, compound interest. Well, that's the sort of thing a compound is.
Sir Humphrey: There's always some questions unanswered.
Jim: Such as?
Sir Humphrey: Well the ones that weren't asked.
Sir Humphrey: The people are ignorant and misguided.
Jim: Humphrey, it was the people who elected me.
Sir Humphrey: Minister, with the greatest possible respect ...
Jim: Oh, you're going to insult me again?
It's the peoples' will, I am their leader, I must follow them.
While the committee feel there is no reason for them not to proceed on the existing evidence, it must be emphasised that Metadioxin is a comparatively recent compound, and it would be irresponsible to deny that after further research its manufacture might be proved to be associated with health risks.
Jim: What do you think Bernard.
Bernard: Ah, well ah, I think ... ah that, bearing everything in mind ... and, after due consideration and, ah considering all the implications and, points of view, um, that, well, in other words, in fact I am, um, bound to say that ... you look awfully good on television, Minister.
Minister, I am neither pro nor anti anything. I am merely a humble vessel into which Ministers pour the fruits of their deliberations.
Sir Humphrey: Why do you suppose we went into it (the EC)?
Jim: To strengthen the brotherhood of free western nations.
Sir Humphrey: Oh really, we went in to screw the French by splitting them off from the Germans.
Jim: Why did the French go into it then?
Sir Humphrey: Well to protect their inefficient farmers from commercial competition.
Jim: It certainly doesn't apply to the Germans.
Sir Humphrey: Well no, they went in to cleanse themselves of genocide and apply for readmission to the human race.
Jim: I never heard such appalling cynicism.
Bernard: Wouldn't it be interesting if Ministers were fixed and Permanent Secretaries were shuffled around.
Sir Arnold and Sir Humphrey: (glare at Bernard)
Jim: I'm a curious person.
Sir Humphrey: You certainly are Minister.
Sir Arnold: That will give me, give the PM a very good case for keeping him (Jim) where he is. Then we might be able to move Corbett to Employment.
Sir Humphrey: Oh why is Fred definitely going?
Sir Arnold: Yes, he keeps falling asleep in Cabinet.
Sir Humphrey: I thought they all did.
Sir Arnold: Yes, but not while they're actually talking.
Jim: I suppose we have got rather fond of one another, in a way.
Sir Humphrey: In a way, yes.
Jim: Rather like a terrorist and his hostage.
Bernard: Which one of you is the terrorist?
Jim and Sir Humphrey: He is (points at the other).
Sir Humphrey: Didn't you read the Financial Times this morning?
Sir Desmond: Never do.
Sir Humphrey: Well you're a banker, surely you read the Financial Times.
Sir Desmond: Can't understand it. Full of economic theory.
Sir Humphrey: Why do you buy it?
Sir Desmond: Well you know, it's part of the uniform.
You see, there's an implicit pact offered to every Minister by his senior officials. If the Minister will help us to implement the opposite policy to the one that he is pledged to, which once he is in office he will see is obviously incorrect, we will help him to pretend that he is in fact doing what he said he was going to do in his Manifesto.
Among the many extraordinary qualities that politicians possess, reasonableness is not necessarily the first that springs to mind, not when one contemplates the average Minister, and our Minister is very average.
Sir Desmond: Surely once a Minister has made a decision that's it, isn't it?
Sir Humphrey: What on earth gave you that idea.
Sir Desmond: Surely a decision's a decision.
Sir Humphrey: Only if it's the decision you want. If not it's just a temporary setback.
MINISTER'S COURAGEOUS STAND ON HIGH BUILDINGS
Jim: I see, it's just profits is it Sir Desmond.
Sir Desmond: Not just profits, it's profits.
BBC Person: BBC TV Mr Hacker.
Jim: Oh hello.
BBC Person: We didn't quite get the shot of your arrival, could we have it again please? (Jim looks confused) Could you arrive again.
Jim: Oh certainly.
Mrs Phillips: How can he arrive again, he's already here?
Mrs Phillips: Welcome Minister.
Jim: Yes it's a great pleasure.
Mrs Phillips: I am so glad you could come. We tried all sorts of other celebrities and nobody else could make it.
BBC Person: What?
Jim: Cut. Cut. Cut. Cut.
Jim: Tell me all about this exactly (pats a piglet).
Mrs Phillips: This is a piglet.
Jim: No, I mean tell all about this city farm.
It is a very great pleasure to be here with you all today. You know, things are changing fast. We live in a world of change. The silicon chip is changing our lives. The quality of life is becoming more and more important: the environment, conservation, the problems of pollution, the future of our children and our children's children, these are today's issues. ...
Sir Frank: Saw your chap on the television last night, cuddling a rabbit.
Sir Humphrey: St Francis of Tower Hamlet.
Sir Frank: What was it supposed to be in aid of?
Sir Humphrey: After the rodent vote I imagine.
Jim: This is the greatest disaster this century Bernard.
Bernard: There were two world wars Minister.
Jim: Oh Bernard come on, fighting on the beaches is one thing, evicting cuddly animals and children to make room for tax inspectors cars is quite another league.
Jim: You know Humphrey, I think government has got to be awfully careful about throttling small businesses.
Bernard: The bank isn't actually a small business.
Jim: It will be if we throttle it, Bernard.
Jim: Well there's two sides to privacy aren't there. After all people might enjoy looking up and seeing what goes on in those offices. Some extraordinary things go on in offices, don't they Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Minister.
Sir Humphrey: So you'll let me have your redraft on establishment levels by Thursday will you Peter?
Peter: You need it that early?
Sir Humphrey: No I don't need it that early, but the Minister has to read it before he faces the select committee.
Sir Humphrey: And what makes it harder, he has to remember it.
Peter: I see.
Sir Humphrey: And what makes it harder still, he has to understand it.
A Minister's absence is a Godsend. You can do the job properly for once, no silly questions, no bright ideas, no fusing about what the papers are saying.
You know Bernard, I sometimes think our Minister doesn't believe that he exists unless he is reading about himself in the paper.
Jim: Another brief on the select committee, I only just mastered one on the plane coming back.
Sir Humphrey: Oh really, what was in it.
Jim: Um. So difficult to concentrate on a plane, they keep trying to serve you drinks and show you movies ... and wake you up.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, of course Minister, it must be frightfully difficult to concentrate if you keep being woken up.
Sir Humphrey: He that would keep a secret must keep it secret that he hath a secret to keep.
Jim: Who said that?
Bernard: It was Sir Humphrey.
Jim: Who said it originally.
Sir Humphrey: You're normally so good at blurring the issue.
Jim: At what?
Sir Humphrey: You have a considerable talent for making things unintelligible, Minister.
Jim: I beg your pardon.
Sir Humphrey: No, no I mean that as a compliment, I assure you. Blurring issues is one of the basic Ministerial skills.
Jim: Oh, what are the others?
Sir Humphrey: Delaying decisions, dodging questions, juggling figures, bending facts and concealing errors.
Jim: Tiny mistake, seventy-five thousand pounds. Give me an example of a big mistake.
Sir Humphrey: Letting people find out about it.
Government policy has nothing to do with common sense.
Sir Humphrey: It is not for me to comment on government policy, you must ask the Minister.
Betty Oldham: The Minister advises us to ask you.
Sir Humphrey: And I am advising you to ask the Minister.
Alan Hughes: When does this end?
Sir Humphrey: Soon as you like.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, yes, yes, yes I do see that there is a real dilemma here, in that while it has been government policy to regard policy as the responsibility of Ministers and administration as the responsibility of officials, the questions of administrative policy can cause confusion between the policy of administration and the administration of policy, especially when responsibility for the administration of the policy of administration conflicts or overlaps with responsibility for the policy of administration of policy.
Betty Oldham: Well that's a load of meaningless drivel, isn't it?
Sir Humphrey: It is not for me to comment on government policy. You must ask the Minister.
Sir Humphrey: Well we must establish what our position is.
Jim: Good, now what are the facts?
Sir Humphrey: I'm discussing our position, the facts are neither here nor there.
Jim: Five standard excuses?
Sir Humphrey: Yes. First there's the excuse we used for instance in the Anthony Blunt case.
Jim: Which was?
Sir Humphrey: That there is a perfectly satisfactory explanation for everything, but security forbids its disclosure. Second there is the excuse we used for comprehensive schools, that it only gone wrong because of heavy cuts in staff and budget which have stretched supervisory resources beyond the limits.
Jim: But that's not true is it?
Sir Humphrey: No, but it's a good excuse. Then there's the excuse we used for Concorde, it was a worthwhile experiment, now abandoned, but not before it had provided much valuable data and considerable employment.
Jim: But that is true isn't it? Oh no, of course it isn't.
Sir Humphrey: The fourth, there's the excuse we used for the Munich agreement. It occurred before certain important facts were known, and couldn't happen again
Jim: What important facts?
Sir Humphrey: Well, that Hitler wanted to conquer Europe.
Jim: I thought everybody knew that.
Sir Humphrey: Not the Foreign Office.
Sir Humphrey: Five, there's the Charge of the Light Brigade excuse. It was an unfortunate lapse by an individual which has now been dealt with under internal disciplinary procedures.
Don't be silly Humphrey, they don't ask you to number 10 for a drink just because they think you're thirsty.
Sir Mark: Do you know what the Civil Service is saying about you?
Sir Mark: That you're a pleasure to work with.
Jim: Oh (happily) oh (less happily).
Sir Mark: I've even heard Sir Humphrey Appleby say of you that you're worth your weight in gold. Now what does that suggest to you.
Jim: That I've failed ... utterly.
Jim: I have backed you up Humphrey in just the same way that you have always backed me up. Isn't that so?
Sir Humphrey: (tries to say something)
Jim: I'm sorry.
Sir Humphrey: (tries to say something)
Jim: Did you say something?
Bernard: I think he said Yes Minister.
Cathy: As a Cabinet Minister, with all this power, what have you personally achieved?
Jim: Achieved? Well, all sorts of things. Membership of the Privy Council, membership of the party policy committee ...
Cathy: No, I mean things you've actually done, that makes life better for other people.
Jim: Make life better? For other people? There must be a number of things. Well after all that's what one's job is all about, eighteen hours a day, seven days a week.
Cathy: Could you give me one or two examples, though?
Jim: Equal opportunities. I'll have a go. After all, there's a principle at stake.
Annie: You mean you're actually going to do something out of pure principle.
Annie: Oh Jim.
Jim: Principles are excellent vote winners.
Bernard: Civil Service code, Minister. It stands for Consignment of Geriatric Shoe Manufacturers. A load of old cobblers.
Jim: I am going to do something about the number of women in the Civil Service.
Sir Humphrey: Surely there aren't all that many.
The three articles of Civil Service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly, it's more expensive to do them cheaply and it's more democratic to do them in secret.
I'm not anti-feminist. I love women. Some of my best friends are women. Um ... my wife indeed.
Sir Humphrey: Now Minister, if you going to promote women just because they're the best person for the job you will create a lot of resentment throughout the whole of the Civil Service.
Jim: Not from the women in it anyway.
Sir Humphrey: Well, that hardly matters, does it?
Jim: Hardly matters, Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey: There are so few of them.
He (Jim) doesn't get bored easily, he even finds himself interesting.
Sir Humphrey: Minister I have come to the conclusion that you were right.
Jim: (shocked) Are you serious Humphrey?
Bernard: You remember that letter you wrote Round Objects on?
Jim: Oh yes.
Bernard: It's come back from Sir Humphrey's office, he's commented on it.
Jim: What does he say?
Bernard: Who is Round and to what does he object?
Jim: Surely you're not saying that the government of Britain is unimportant?
Sarah Harrison: No, it's very important it's just that I haven't met anyone who's doing it.
Sir Humphrey: Yes Minister.
Ludovic Kennedy: Well figures I have here say that your Department's staff has risen by ten per cent.
Jim: Certainly not.
Ludovic Kennedy: Well, what figure do you have?
Jim: I believe the figure is much more like 9.97.
Please let me finish. Because we must be absolutely clear about this. And I want to be quite frank with you. The plain fact of the matter is, that, at the end of the day, it is the right - nay, the duty, of the elected government, in the House of Commons, to ensure that government policy, the policies on which we were elected and for which we have a mandate, the policies, after all, for which the people voted, are the policies which, finally, when the national cake has been divided up - and, may I remind you, we as a nation don't have unlimited wealth, you know, we can't pay ourselves more than we've earned - are the policies ... I'm sorry, what was the question again?
Minister I have warned you before about the dangers of speaking to people in the Department.
I didn't expect you (Jim) to do anything, you've never done anything before.
If the Russians do invade us I suppose they'll stop at the borough boundaries and say: Hold on, we're not at war with the London Borough of Thames Marsh. Right wheel Comrades. Let's annex Chelsea instead.
A Minister with two ideas, I can't remember when we last had one of those.
Sir Arnold: I've got an idea.
Sir Humphrey: Well perhaps you ought to become a Minister. (laughs)
Sir Arnold: (stares at Sir Humphrey)
Sir Humphrey: Just a joke Arnold.
Sir Humphrey: We can always try to persuade them to withdraw programs voluntarily once they realise that transmission is not in the public interest.
Jim: It's not in my interest. And I represent the public. So it's not in the public interest.
Sir Humphrey (thinks about it for a while) That's a novel argument. We haven't tried that on them before.
Jim: I am fully aware of what?
Sir Humphrey: What?
Jim: What am I fully aware of?
Sir Humphrey: Um, um I can't think of anything.
Sir Humphrey: If local authorities don't send us the statistics that we ask for, then government figures will be a nonsense.
Sir Humphrey: They'll be incomplete.
Jim: But government figures are a nonsense anyway.
Bernard: I think Sir Humphrey wants to ensure they're a complete nonsense.
Bernard: Well it is understood that if Ministers want to know anything, it would be brought to their notice. If they go out looking for information they might, oh well, they might ...
Jim: Find it?
Jim: What are environmental health officers?
Dr Cartwright: Rat Catchers.
Virtually all the children [in South Derbyshire] can read and write, even though they've had a progressive education.
Jim: I have learned some very interesting facts.
Sir Humphrey: Well I sincerely hope that it does not happen again.
Sir Humphrey: Now, supposing you are told things that are not true.
Jim: Well if they're not true, then you can put me right.
Sir Humphrey: But they may be true.
There are no ends in administration Minister.
Sir Humphrey: Administration is eternal.
Bernard: For ever and ever.
Sir Humphrey and Bernard: Amen.
Jim: Anyway I don't intend to discipline South Derbyshire, I shall look a complete idiot.
Sir Humphrey: I am sorry Minister but it's your job.
Jim: [looks up at Sir Humphrey]
Sir Humphrey: To discipline South Derbyshire.
Jim: Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Humphrey is not God, okay?
Bernard: Will you tell him or shall I?
Bernard: Well, confidentially Minister, everything you tell me is in complete confidence, so equally, and I am sure you appreciate this, and by appreciate I don't actually mean appreciate, I mean understand that everything Sir Humphrey tells me is in complete confidence, as indeed everything I tell you is in complete confidence, and for that matter everything I tell Sir Humphrey is in complete confidence.
Bernard: So in complete confidence, I am confident that you understand that for me to keep Sir Humphrey's confidence and your confidence, means that conversations between him and me must be completely confidential, as confidential in fact as conversations between you and me are completely confidential, I'll just get Alex Andrews Minister.
Mr Andrews: Even the Mail can't blame you for a cock up in the early fifties.
Jim: That makes a change.
Security implications, MI5, MI6, foreign powers, national interests, consult, our allies, top brass, CIA, NATO, CETO, Moscow.
Jim: Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Bernard: I don't think so Minister. I'm not thinking anything really.
Jim: I think I begin to smell a rat.
Bernard: Oh, shall I get an environmental health officer?
Jim: Get Humphrey to come back here at once will you.
Bernard: Yes Minister. [picks up phone] Hello Graham, it's Bernard, the Minister wonders if Sir Humphrey can spare some time for a meeting some time during the next couple of days.
Jim: At once.
Bernard: In fact some time during the course of today is really what I meant to ...
Jim: At once.
Bernard: Or, to be precise some time during the next sixty seconds, really. [puts down phone] He's coming round now.
Jim: Why, did he faint?
Sir Humphrey: Minister, aren't we making a little too much of this, possibly blighting a brilliant career because of a tiny slip made thirty years ago? After all it's not such a lot of money wasted.
Jim: Forty million pounds?
Sir Humphrey: Well not compared with Blue Streak, TSR2, Trident, Concord, high rise council flats, British Rail, British Leyland, British Steel, Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, the Atomic Power Station Program, comprehensive schools, the University of Essex.
Sir Humphrey: Minister I think there is something that perhaps you ought to know.
Jim: Yes Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey: The identity of the official whose alleged responsibility for this hypothetical oversight has been the subject of recent discussion, is, not shrouded in quite such impenetrable obscurity as certain previous disclosures may have led you to assume, but not to put too fine a point on it, the individual in question is, it may surprise you to learn, one whose present interlocutor, is in the habit of defining by means of the perpendicular pronoun.
Jim: Beg your pardon.
Sir Humphrey: It was I.
Well obviously I'm not a trained lawyer, or I wouldn't have been in charge of the legal unit.
Jim: How am I going to explain the missing documents to the Mail?
Sir Humphrey: Well this is what we normally do in, circumstances like these. [hands over a file]
Jim: [reading] This file contains the complete set of papers, except for a number of secret documents, a few others which are part of still active files, a few others lost in the flood of 1967. [to Humphrey] Was 1967 a particularly bad winter?
Sir Humphrey: No a marvellous winter, we lost no end of embarrassing files.
Jim: [reading] Some records which went astray in the move to London, and others when the War Office was incorporated in the Ministry of Defence, and the normal withdrawal of papers whose publication could give grounds for an action for liable or breach of confidence, or cause embarrassment to friendly governments. [to Humphrey] Well that's pretty comprehensive. How many does that normally leave for them to look at? [Humphrey says nothing] How many does that actually leave? About a hundred? Fifty? Ten? Five? Four? Three? Two? One? Zero?
Sir Humphrey: Yes Minister.
A brilliant triumph for you Minister, which is why it is a futile non-event for the press.
Five hours without a single drinkie?
Why don't we set up a security communications room, next door to the reception? You know emergency telephones, telex lines to Downing Street all that sort of thing. Then we can fill it with cases of booze brought in from the embassy.
Sir Humphrey: A special communications room would need a major crisis.
Jim: Five hours on orange juice _is_ a major crisis.
Annie: What was it originally?
Kumrani: A rosewater jar.
Jim: I see, for rosewater presumably?
Bernard: Excuse me Minister, there's an urgent call for you in the communications room, a Mr Haige.
Jim: General Haige?
Bernard: No, Mr Haige, you know with the dimples.
Annie: I'm the only woman here.
Bernard: Yes, special dispensation. They've made you an honorary man for the evening.
Jim: Bernard, wanted in the communications room, a Mr John Walker.
Bernard: Johnnie Walker?
Jim: Yes from the Scotch Office ... Scottish Office.
Annie: Isn't there a message for me darling?
Jim: Yes of course there is, Bernard will get it for you if you give him your glass.
Well it may come as a surprise to the Foreign Office but you're supposed to be on our side.
Jim: Ah Bernard, any messages in the communications room?
Bernard: Well there is one for Sir Humphrey, Minister. Yes the Soviet Embassy is on the line Sir Humphrey, a Mr Smurdof.
Sir Humphrey: Sorry [leaves]
Jim: Are you sure there isn't one for me?
Bernard: Oh well there was a message from the British Embassy compound, a school, a delegation of Teachers.
Jim: Must go and greet the Teachers. Before the Bells goes ... bell goes.
You are receiving a great many, very urgent messages.
Kumrani: Your English customs are very strange.
Kumrani: You are so strict about a little gift, and yet your electronics company pays our finance Minister a million dollars for his cooperation in securing this contract, is this not strange?
Bernard: [jaw drops]
Bernard: Minister can I have a private word with Sir Humphrey?
Jim: [drunk] You may speak freely.
Bernard: Oh, there was a message for you in the communications room, the Vat man, your 69 returns.
Jim: [looks confused]
Bernard: Vat 69.
Jim: Ah yes. [stumbles off]
Sir Humphrey: I am rapidly coming to the conclusion Bernard that the Minister has had almost as many urgent messages as he can take.
Bernard: This contract was obtained by bribery.
Sir Humphrey: Of course.
Jim: Ah, Lawrence of Arabia, wanted in the communications room?
Sir Humphrey: Oh good, who is it?
Jim: Napoleon. [laughs]
Jim: It is said that this is part of a hideous web of corruption, woven by western industrial countries and third world governments that forms a blot on our modern civilisation.
Bernard: Webs don't form blots Minister. Well, spiders don't have any ink you see. Only cuttlefish.
Jim: Spiders don't have cuttlefish. What are you talking about?
Bernard: I know, you see ...
Sir Humphrey: Thank you Bernard.
Jim: I want to know the truth Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey: I don't think you do Minister.
Sir Humphrey: I strongly advise you not to ask a direct question.
Sir Humphrey: It might provoke a direct answer.
Jim: It never has yet.
Jim: And now you're telling me it was got by bribery.
Sir Humphrey: No Minister.
Jim: Oh, it was not got by bribery?
Sir Humphrey: That is not what I said.
Jim: What did you say.
Sir Humphrey: I said, I am not telling you it was got by bribery.
Jim: Are you saying that winking at corruption is government policy?
Sir Humphrey: No, no Minister it would never be government policy, that is unthinkable, only government practice.
A cynic is what an idealist calls a realist.
I accepted his valuation in good faith, after all Islam is a jolly good faith.
Sir Humphrey: The treasury isn't too happy about valuations written on the backs of menus.
Bernard: It is a very good menu.
Yes Minister I agree with you. I see now that there is a moral dimension to everything.
Will you tell the press about the communications room or shall I?
Jim: You me to tell me that ... if I say ... then you would ... tell ... and drop me in the ... in the ...
Sir Humphrey: In the moral dimension?
We have deceived the Kumranis, I am racked with guilt.
Sir Humphrey: Sooner or later we'll have to own up and admit, that it was all your idea.
Jim: It wasn't.
Sir Humphrey and Bernard: It was!
Sir Humphrey: Superb Minister.
Bernard: Thank you, Minister.
Jim: Well, it was nothing. One must stick by ones friends. Hey Humphrey.
Hey Bernard. Loyalty.
Sir Humphrey and Bernard: [look doubtful] Yes Minister.
Sir Arnold: It calls for a particular combination of talents, lots of activity but no actual achievement
Sir Mark: I see, then Hacker is the man.
Sir Mark: We'll offer to call him Transport Supremo, shall we.
Sir Arnold: Yes, much more attractive than Transport Muggins.
Jim: After all we do need a transport policy.
Sir Humphrey: If by we you mean Britain that is perfectly true, but if by we you mean you and me and this department we need a transport policy like an aperture in the cranial cavity.
Jim: But if I pull it off then it would be a feather in my cap.
Bernard: If you pull it off Minister it won't be in your cap any more.
Jim: But I'm going to be Transport Supremo.
Sir Humphrey: I believe the Civil Service vernacular is Transport Muggins.
It's all right the cleaners will mop up the blood tomorrow morning.
Jim: So, the whole system is designed to stop the cabinet from carrying out its' policies.
Bernard: Well somebody's got to.
Do you mean we plural, or do Supremos now use the royal pronoun?
Newspapers aren't like the government you know Humphrey, if we make statements we have to prove they're true.
The ship of state, Bernard, is the only ship that leaks from the top.
Jim: Will you please recommend to the Prime Minister that we set up an immediate Leak Inquiry.
Sir Arnold, Sir Humphrey and Sir Mark: Yes, Minister.
Jim: I have no secrets from Annie. I tell her everything.
Annie: Several times usually.
Jim: Is this highly confidential.
Major Saunders: Well it is rather, yes.
Jim: Shall I turn on the radio.
Major Saunders: Why, is there something good on?
I think I ought to warn you that if I need to be told what you tell me, I shan't hesitate to do my duty and keep myself fully informed.
Major Saunders: I thought if I told someone near the top of government ...
Jim: At the top actually.
Major Saunders: Marvellous, going to do something about it, aren't you?
Jim: Oh absolutely indeed I am.
Major Saunders: And right away?
Jim: Right away.
Major Saunders: What, are you going to do?
Jim: I am going to think about what you've told me. Right away.
Major Saunders: And then.
Jim: And then I am going to consider various courses of action. Without delay.
Major Saunders: Your going to take action without delay?
Jim: I am going to consider taking action, without delay.
Jim: Would you be surprised, for instance, if a British aircraft carrier turned up in the Central African Republic?
Sir Humphrey: Well I for one, Minister, would be very surprised, as it is a thousand miles inland you see.
Jim: Innocent lives are being set at risk by British arms in the hands of terrorists.
Sir Humphrey: Only Italian lives, not British lives.
Well, I suppose we could put some sort of government health warning on the rifle butts, this gun can seriously damage your health.
Government isn't about morality.
Well done Bernard you'll be a moral vacuum yet.
Jim: [pulls a bottle of whisky from a red box] You said nothing good comes out of Whitehall. You want one?
Annie: Yes Minister.
Sir Humphrey: Have you thought what the effect would be if this were allowed to happen?
Bernard: He'd be very popular.
Sir Humphrey: Exactly.
Bernard, subsidy is for art, for culture. It is not to be given to what the people want.
Sir Humphrey: When you see vast buildings, huge staff and massive budgets. What do you conclude?
Sir Humphrey: There is a question of principle.
Sir Humphrey: You know, what you used to tell me politics was about.
Jim: I believe in education too. I am a graduate of the London School of Economics, may I remind you.
Sir Humphrey: Well I am glad to learn that even the LSE is not totally opposed to education.
Sir Humphrey: Should we subsidise sex perhaps?
Bernard: Could we?
Minister I am quite frankly appalled, this is savagery, barbarism, that a Minister of the crown should say these things, it's ... it's the ... it's the end of civilisation as we known it.
Jim: Rural England?
Bernard: Yes, there's quite a lot of out there. [points out window]
Jim: Could a Minister interfere?
Bernard: Ministers are our lords and masters.
We shall just have to knock something else down. School, church, hospital?
Jim: As cabinet Minister responsible for the arts, can I come to?
Sir Humphrey: Yes Minister.
He didn't go to Oxford or Cambridge. He didn't even go to the LSE.
Chief Scientific Adviser: You are Prime Minister today. The phone could ring now from NATO headquarters.
Bernard: Hello, yes. NATO headquarters, Prime Minister. Oh, can you address their national conference in April.
Jim: I'm not so sure now.
So what is the last resort, Piccadilly? Botford Gap Service Station? The Reform Club?
Bernard: Prime Minister, isn't conscription a rather courageous policy?
Jim: Courageous, oh my God, is it?
It [conscription] will give our young people a comprehensive education, to make up for their Comprehensive Education.
Stuff the affairs of the nation, I want a cook.
I shall be standing there on the White House lawns, side by side with the President of the United States of America, national anthems, two world leaders together, we will tell the world about our happy relationship, our unity, resolve, a few words perhaps about my courage, wisdom.
Jim: Humphrey, I've been thinking ...
Sir Humphrey: Good.
Jim: So we haven't got somebody here to cater for me.
Sir Humphrey: It's the way things have been done for two and half centuries.
Jim: And that's the clinching argument?
Sir Humphrey: It has been for two and half centuries.
Bernard: With respect Sir Humphrey, it couldn't have been the clinching argument for two and half centuries, because half a century ago it had only been the clinching argument for two centuries, and a century ago it had only been the clinching argument for one and half centuries. [looks at Jim] Sorry.
We should always tell the press freely and frankly anything they could easily find out any other way.
Sir Humphrey: Polaris is a ramshackle old system, the Soviets might easily develop a multi-layered ballistic missile defence system which could intercept Polaris.
Jim: By when?
Sir Humphrey: Well, in strategic terms, any day now.
Jim: By what year, precisely?
Sir Humphrey: 2020, but that's sooner than you think.
Jim: And are you saying that this nuclear defence system would stop all 192 Polaris missiles.
Sir Humphrey: Well no, not all, virtually all, 97%.
Jim: So that would leave, about five bombs that would get through.
Sir Humphrey: Precisely, a mere five.
Jim: Enough to obliterate Moscow, Leningrad, Minsk ...
Sir Humphrey: Yes, but that's about all!
Jim: It's a bluff, I probably wouldn't use it.
Sir Humphrey: Yes but they don't know that you probably wouldn't.
Jim: They probably do.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, they probably know you probably wouldn't but they can't be certain.
Jim: They probably, certainly know that I probably wouldn't.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, but even though they're probably certain you know you probably wouldn't they don't certainly know that although you probably wouldn't, there is no probability that you certainly would.
It [Trident] is the nuclear missile Harrods would sell.
General: At last, I have actually come across a Prime Minister with a bit of sense.
Sir Humphrey: Yes where, which is the lucky country?
Jim: Leave Trident off the Cabinet agenda for the time being. That is my firm decision.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
Well to begin with, I read him my brief, then he read me his brief, then we decided that it would be quicker if we just swapped briefs and read them to ourselves. So we spent most of the time rubbishing the French.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, what is the purpose of out defence policy?
Bernard: To defend Britain.
Sir Humphrey: No Bernard, it is to make the people think that Britain is defended.
Bernard: The Russians?
Sir Humphrey: Not the Russians, the British, the Russians know it's not.
Sir Humphrey: He has his own car, a nice house in London, a place in the country, endless publicity and a pension for life, what more does he want?
Bernard: To govern Britain.
Sir Humphrey: Well stop him, Bernard.
Jim: A party political spells instant boredom, I think it should be a Ministerial broadcast, you know, a Prime Minister addressing his people, but I'll do it into the camera, like a party political.
Bernard: I thought you said they were boring.
Jim: I didn't say I'd be boring Bernard. Do you think I'd be boring?
Bernard: [pauses] Boring? You?
[picks up phone] Ah, Sir Humphrey, the Prime Minister is making arrangements for his TV broadcast, he wants to talk about his Grand Design and wonders if you... [looks into phone] Hello? [to Jim] I think he's on his way.
Sir Humphrey: I am sorry Prime Minister you can't announce it yet.
Jim: Well if I can't, who can?
Sir Humphrey: [can't think of anything to say]
Godfrey: Will you be wearing those glasses?
Jim: Well, what do you think.
Godfrey: Well, it is up to obviously. With them on you look authoritative and commanding, with them off you look honest and open. Which do you want.
Jim: Well I want to look authoritative and honest.
Godfrey: Well, it's one or the other really.
Jim: What about starting with them off and then putting them on when I talk.
Godfrey: That just looks indecisive.
Jim: I see.
Bernard: What about a monocle?
Jim: [gives Bernard a withering glance]
Jim: This doesn't say anything.
Bernard: Oh thank you, Prime Minister.
Godfrey: You are beginning to, um, lean forward again, a bit.
Jim: That's what I do when I want to look sincere.
Godfrey: But the trouble it makes you look like someone who wants to look sincere.
Don't let the teleprompter turn you into a zombie, okay.
Make-up Lady: Could you smile Prime Minister.
Godfrey: Yes ...
[Bernard, Malcolm, Godfrey and lady look from TV screen to Jim]
Godfrey: Prime Minister, how would you feel about a little dental work?
Things don't happen because Prime Ministers are very keen on them. Neville Chamberlain was very keen on peace.
Sir Humphrey: Have you ever been surveyed?
Bernard: Yes, well not me actually, my house ... oh I see what you mean.
I don't think we need to bring the truth in at this stage.
Bernard: Prime Minister, the TV people want the decision about the background scenery furniture for the broadcast.
Jim: Well I suppose it had better be the very modern suit and the hi-tech furniture ...
Jim, Sir Humphrey and Bernard: And the high energy yellow wallpaper.
Bernard: And abstract paintings?
Jim: I suppose so, and Stravinski?
Sir Humphrey and Bernard: Yes Prime Minister.
Politicians are like children, you can't give them what they want, it only encourages them.
One never trusts anyone that one has deceived.
I do love a good afternoons cricket.
Gerald: I don't think he's got much clout in Whitehall, though has he?
Sir Humphrey: None at all, he's just a Minister.
Sir Humphrey: Taxation isn't about what you need.
Jim: Well, what is it about?
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister the Treasury doesn't work out what they need to spend and then think how to raise the money.
Jim: What does it do?
Sir Humphrey: They pitch for as much as they think they can get away with and then think what to spend it on.
Jim: Smoking should be stopped, no question. And we will stop it, in due course, at the appropriate juncture, in the fullness of time.
Peter Thorne: You mean forget it.
I'll even read your report ... again.
Sir Humphrey: No man in his right mind could possibly contemplate such a proposal.
Jim: I'm contemplating it.
Sir Humphrey: Yes of course Prime Minister, please don't misunderstand me, it is quite right of course that you should contemplate all proposals that come from your government, but no sane man would ever support it.
Jim: I'm supporting it.
Sir Humphrey: And quite right too.
Sir Humphrey: Statistics, you can prove anything with statistics.
Jim: Even the truth.
Sir Humphrey: Yeah ... no.
Yes, but we've been into that. It has been shown that if those extra one hundred thousand people had lived to a ripe old age that they would have cost us even more in pensions and social security, than they did in medical treatment. So financially speaking it is unquestionably better that they continue to die at the present rate.
Jim: These figures are just guesses.
Sir Humphrey: No they're government stat ... they're facts.
Jim: Tell the Minister that I will see him at the house at 2.30 for ten minutes.
Bernard: With pleasure, Prime Minister.
Jim: No, not with pleasure Bernard, but I'll see him anyway.
Of course the government should do what is right, but not if effects marginal constituencies.
I believe Doctor Thorne is proposing something like 'Dying of Lung Cancer can Seriously Damage your Health'.
Jim: Leslie, if we do nothing in the next ten years in this country alone we're going to have one million premature deaths.
Leslie: Yes, but evenly spread. Not just in marginal constituencies.
Jim: He's got to learn to co-operate.
Bernard: What do you mean co-operate.
Jim: I mean, obey my commands.
Yes Prime Minister, your word is my co-operation.
Jim: What's the trouble?
Sir Humphrey: Your anti-smoking legislation.
Jim: What about it?
Sir Humphrey: Well not withstanding the fact that your proposal could conceivably encompass certain concomitant benefits on the marginal peripheral relevance there is a countervailing consideration of infinitely superior magnitude involving your personal complicity and prerogative maleficence with a consequence that the taint and stigma of your former associations and diversions could irredeemably, in fact irretrievably invalidate your position and culminate in public revelations and recriminations of a profoundly embarrassing and ultimately indefensible character.
Jim: Perhaps I can have a prese of that.
Sir Humphrey: There's nicotine on your hands.
I have had drinks at the Soviet Embassy, that doesn't make me a Russian spy.
Is something a blow against freedom simply because it can seriously damage your wealth.
Sir Humphrey: I foresee all sorts of unforseen problems.
Jim: Such as?
Sir Humphrey: If I could see them they wouldn't be unforseen.
Jim: But you just said you could foresee them.
Jim: I want you to work with the industry, not against it, alright?
Jim: What did he say?
Sir Humphrey: I think he said, yes Prime Minister.
And I was opposite the gents loo, I have to be opposite the loo.
Jim: There's a lobby there (points to the table)
Jim: There, between the ashtray, the coffee cup and the saucer, there.
Bernard: Between the ash tray, the coffee cup and the saucer?
Jim: The saucer is the gents loo. Wake up Bernard.
Now, you've snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
We are here to see that the Prime Minister is not confused.
Mrs Wainwrights' office is a valuable shed.
Jim: Humphrey, I've be thinking I feel I really ought to try and lighten your load.
Sir Humphrey: Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, there's no need.
Jim: In fact I don't think I ought to keep you here any longer you must have so much work to do in your own office.
Sir Humphrey: You mean ...
Jim: I mean, you may now leave. If you're wanted again in number 10, you will be sent for.
Jim: If you were to become the head of the whole Civil Service, would you then think there would be any ...
Frank: (pointing to Sir Humphrey at door)
Jim: Why did you allow Sir Humphrey to come in here when I explicitly told you not to?
Bernard: Well I couldn't stop him
Jim: Why not?
Bernard: He's bigger than me.
Jim: Lock the communicating door.
Bernard: He has a key.
Jim: Take his key away from him.
Bernard: Take his key away from him?
Jim: Take his key away from him.
Bernard: You take his key away from him.
Sir Humphrey: I am coming through to number 10, I would like a word with the Prime Minister, please.
Bernard: No, Sir Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey: What did you say?!
Bernard: I said no Sir Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey: No?
Sir Humphrey: Ah, that's better for a moment I thought you'd said no.
Bernard: I did say no, the Prime Minister is busy.
Bernard: My God.
Sir Humphrey: No Bernard, it's just your boss.
I am not the Prime Ministers mother-in-law, Bernard.
Sir Humphrey: Would you excuse us dear lady?
Dorothy: Yes, carry on.
Sir Humphrey: Nothing to worry about?
Frank: Well, nothing for me to worry about.
Open this door. (hits the door) Open this door! You'll pay for this. (kicks the door) Open the bloody door!
Jim: Humphrey, to what do we owe this pleasure?
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister I must strongly protest in the strongest possible terms, my profound opposition to a newly instituted practise which imposes severe and intolerable restrictions upon the ingress and egress of senior members of the hierarchy and which will in all probability, should the current deplorable innovation be perpetuated, precipitate a constriction of the channels of communication and culminate in a condition of organisational atrophy and administrative paralysis which will render effectively impossible the coherent and coordinated discharge of the function of government within her Majesties United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Jim: You mean you've lost your key?
Sir Humphrey: May one inquire who is to be the head of the whole Civil Service.
Jim: Why you Humphrey, or possibly Frank. Or perhaps both. As of now I haven't decided yet, but whatever happens it will be my decision. Isn't it Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
Annie: So who is in charge if you're not.
Jim: Nobody, really.
It is not for a humble mortal such as I to speculate on the complex and elevated deliberations of the mighty.
Jim: But that's an outrageous view.
Sir Humphrey: Yes indeed, it's known as Treasury Policy.
My dear Frank, I defended you gallantly, leaving the Prime Minister in no doubt as to the real cause of the rush.
Jim: Do you think I'm a complete idiot?
Sir Humphrey: (says nothing)
Sir Humphrey: It is so difficult for me you see, as I am wearing two hats.
Jim: Yes, isn't that rather awkward for you.
Sir Humphrey: Not if one is in two minds.
Bernard: Or has two faces.
Quite frankly, I see the rewards of this job as the knowledge that we have been of service to the nation not to ourselves.
A second at Oxford counts as an upper second, at least.
Sir Arnold: That's easy, you must reduce the size of the Civil Service.
Sir Humphrey: What?!
Sir Frank: I'm sure Sir Humphrey would agree.
Sir Humphrey: Well it is my opinion that Sir Frank is in charge if Civil Service pay rises.
Sir Humphrey: Dear lady.
Dorothy: Not as dear as a Cabinet Secretary, Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey: After all, this is a partnership.
Jim: Yes, a real partnership.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
Jim: Apparently the White House thinks that the Foreign Office is full of pinkos and traitors.
Bernard: Not it's not, well not full.
Sir Humphrey: East Yemen, isn't that a democracy?
Sir Richard: Its' full name is the Peoples' Democratic Republic of East Yemen.
Sir Humphrey: Ah I see, so it's a communist dictatorship.
Foreign Minister: I don't think we could do that.
Jim: Why not?
Foreign Minister: The Foreign Office wouldn't wear it.
Jim: Are they here to follow our instruction or are we here to follow theirs?
Foreign Minister: Don't be silly.
Once you start interfering in the affairs of other countries you're on a very slippery slope.
Jim: We should always fight for the weak against the strong.
Sir Humphrey: Well then why don't we send troops Afghanistan to fight the Russians.
Jim: The Russians are too strong.
Jim: Are you telling me the Foreign Office is keeping something from me.
Jim: Well, what?
Bernard: Well I don't know, they're keeping it from me too.
Jim: How do you know?
Bernard: I don't know.
Jim: You just said that the Foreign Office is keeping something from me. How do you know if you don't know?
Bernard: I don't know specifically what, Prime Minister, but I do know that the Foreign Office keep everything for everybody. It's normal practise.
Jim: Who does know?
Bernard: May I just clarify the question? You are asking who would know what it is that I don't know and you don't know, but the Foreign Office know that they know, that they are keeping from you so that you don't know but they do know, and all we know is that there is something we don't know but we want to know but we don't know what because we don't know. Is that it?
Jim: May I clarify the question? Who knows Foreign Office secrets apart from the Foreign Office?
Bernard: Oh that's easy, only the Kremlin.
Show them (politicians) a map of the world and most of them have a job finding the Isle of Wight.
Sir Richard: If pressed we look at it again.
Bernard: And come up with a different view?
Sir Richard: Of course not, we come up with the same view.
Sir Richard: Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis. In Stage One we say that nothing is going to happen.
Sir Humphrey: Stage Two, we say something may be going to happen but we should do nothing about it.
Sir Richard: Stage Three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
Sir Humphrey: Stage Four, we say maybe there is something we could have done, but it's too late now.
Jim: They seemed to think that eight hundred full armed paratroopers was an awful lot to send on a goodwill visit.
Israeli Ambassador: No, it's just an awful lot of goodwill.
Sir Humphrey: I gather that there's an airborne battalion in the air. Jim: Sounds like the right place for it.
Jim: I see that East Yemen is moving its' troops back to base.
Luke: Yes, Prime Minister.
Jim: Decided not to invade West Yemen, after all?
Jim: We need someone like you (Luke) in Tel Aviv to explain to them why we're always voting against them in the UN, don't we Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
Sir Humphrey: Well I'm sure that the Foreign Secretary will advise you what to do.
Jim: The Foreign Secretary advises me to do nothing.
Sir Humphrey: I'm sure that's good advice.
Jim: It doesn't do the government any good to look heartless and feeble simultaneously. What do you think Bernard?
Bernard: Perhaps you can arrange it so that you look heartless and feeble alternately.
It's safer to be heartless than mindless.
Bursar: Is there anyone in the church who doesn't believe in God?
Sir Humphrey: Yes, most of the bishops.
Bishops tend to have long lives, apparently the Lord isn't all that keen for them to join him.
Master: It's such an awful country, they cut peoples' hands off. And women get stoned when they commit adultery.
Sir Humphrey: Unlike Britain where women commit adultery when they get stoned.
The Church of England is primarily a social organisation, not a religious one.
Theology is a device for enabling agnostics to stay within the church.
And now in other news, the pound had another bad day ...
Peter: Soames has been waiting for a bishopric for years.
Sir Humphrey: Long time no See
Jim: I suppose it was my doing really, wasn't it?
Sir Humphrey: It must have been, it says so in the paper.
Jim: Helpful, impartial advice, the best traditions of the Civil Service.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
There are fears that if nothing happens soon, he (Benji) will either starve to death or be blown up.
The point is he was one of us.
Geoffrey: But they missed some rather obvious questions and checks, so obvious that well, one wonders
Jim: Yes. What does one wonder?
Geoffrey: One wonder about the chaps that cleared him. Whether they were ... you know.
Jim: Whether they were stupid you mean?
Geoffrey: We don't want any more irresponsible and ill informed press statements.
Jim: Even if they're accurate?
Geoffrey: Especially if it's accurate.
Geoffrey: Personally I find it hard enough to believe that one of us was one of them, but if two of us were one of them ... two of them, all of us could be ... um could be ... um ...
Jim: All of them.
Jim: This is awful, we're another three points down in the opinion polls.
Sir Humphrey: Not the government, only your personal rating.
You can't check up on everything. You don't know what you might find.
You can't think ... you wouldn't think ... I don't speak a word of Russian.
Sir Arnold: Depends a bit on whether you were spying or not.
Sir Humphrey: I couldn't have been, I wasn't at Cambridge.
I've never believed in anything in all my life.
Sir Arnold: Giving information to Moscow is serious. Giving information to anyone is serious.
Sir Humphrey: The Cabinet.
Sir Arnold: You are expendable.
Sir Humphrey: I'm not!
Norman: What can I do for you?
Sir Humphrey: It's rather a sensitive one.
Norman: Cruise missiles?
Sir Humphrey: No.
Norman: Star Wars?
Sir Humphrey: No.
Norman: What then?
Sir Humphrey: Um ... it's this dog on Salisbury Plain.
Another session with that prize goof Appleby. Fooled him completely, he never ask any of the difficult questions, didn't seem to have read the MI5 report. So much wool in his head, it's childs play to pull it over his eyes.
Jim: This is absurd Humphrey, we must do something.
Bernard: Put the dog back?
Jim: There's always emergencies, Korea, The Falklands ...
Jim: And there's no hurry, refer defence cuts to committee.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
Field Marshal Howard: Is there any chance of getting rid of him completely?
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister? We only just got him house-trained.
Service Chief: Only someone in an advance state of paranoia would suspect the Employment Secretary of a plot.
Sir Humphrey: Really, then we're in with a chance.
Bernard: Isn't his plan a good one
Sir Humphrey: For whom?
Bernard: For England.
Bernard: But you only need to know things on a need to know basis.
Sir Humphrey: I need to know everything. How else can I judge if I need to know it?
The higher the office, the higher the level of paranoia.
Sir Arnold: Are you suggesting I give confidential information to the press?
Sir Humphrey: Of course not, this is confidential disinformation.
Do you know what loyalty means in a Cabinet Minister? It means his fear of losing his job is only slightly greater than his hope of pinching mine.
Sir Humphrey: Why do they want you job so much?
Jim: Because I'm the only one member of the government who can't be sent to Northern Ireland next week.
Jim: It's envy you know. Dudley is consumed with envy.
Bernard: It's one of the seven Dudley sins.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, You're not being indecisive are you?
Jim: No, no. No, I just can't make up my mind.
Sir Humphrey: Well technically of course, I shouldn't be showing you this.
Jim: Why not, I'm Prime Minister, aren't I?
Sir Humphrey: Indeed you are.
Jim: And all this is absolutely honest and accurate?
Sir Humphrey: It comes from the Ministry of Defence.
Jim: Even though, it could be honest and accurate.
It is characteristic of all committee discussions and decisions that every member has a vivid recollection of them, and that every member's recollection of them differs violently from every other member's recollection; consequently we accept the convention that the official decisions are those and only those which have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials; from which it emerges with elegant inevitability, that any decision which has been officially reached would have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials, and any decision which is not recorded in the minutes has not been officially reached, even if one or more members believe they can recollect it; so in this particular case, if the decision would have been officially reached, it would have been recorded in the minutes by the officials and it isn't, so it wasn't.
Jim: That is my decision and you will accept it.
Dudley: I won't accept it!
Bernard: Prime Minister, I have news. Do you want the bad news first?
Jim: You mean there's bad news and good news?
Bernard: No there's bad news and worse news.
Bernard: Anything might be true.
Sir Humphrey: Exactly, well done Bernard.
Jim: Hold on I've got an idea.
Sir Humphrey: (surprised) Prime Minister.
Jim: Now that the Employment Secretary has gone, we could reinstate the plan.
Sir Humphrey: But ...
Jim: Don't you see? Don't you see I could press on with it now, and it won't look like weakness, it will look like strength.
Sir Humphrey: But the whole point ... was ...
Jim: Was what? It wasn't to stop the plan surely?
Jim: Put it (the plan) top of the agenda next Cabinet Meeting, OK?
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
Hacker was more interested in votes than principles. Running for cover at the first whiff of unpopularity. Raised the average age of Cabinet but lowered the average IQ.
Jim: Even the title of chapter eight.
Sir Humphrey: The Two Faces of Jim Hacker.
Bernard: That's not a secret surely?
Jim: Now this happens and they charge in like a herd of vultures.
Bernard: Not herd, Prime Minister.
Jim: Charge in, like a herd of vultures.
Bernard: No, I mean vultures don't herd, they flock. And they don't charge they ... um ...
Jim: Yes, what do they do Bernard.
Bernard: They ... er ... (does imitation of vulture)
Jim: Sit down Bernard.
Bill: How about the smears against you personally.
Jim: Smear him. Say that he's trying to rewrite history to make his own premiership look a little less disastrous than it actually was, imply that he's going ga-ga.
Jim: Thank God I've brought back a bit of honesty into a British political life.
Sir Humphrey: Thank Goodness, Prime Minister.
Jim: Now about nailing that leak
Bernard: Oh, I'm sorry to be pedantic. But if you nail a leak you make another.
Jim: (gives Bernard a withering look)
Jim: Bernard, the minutes bear out my version of the meeting, don't they? Bernard: Well, I ... well I er ... yes but ...
We are humble functionaries.
Bernard: Oh by the way, I was speaking off the record.
Press: Sorry Bernard, it's a bit late to say that now.
Bernard: Thinking back on my I said, and what they said, and what I said you said, and what they may say I said you said, or what they may have though I said I thought you thought, well they may say I said I thought you said you thought ...
Jim: Go on Bernard.
Bernard: Well I think I said you said you thought you were above the law.
Jim: You must have flipped your lid Bernard.
Bernard: Please don't shout at me Prime Minister, I ... I promise I'll never answer any more questions ever again.
Gratitude is merely a lively expectation of favours to come.
Bill: Instead of trying to butter up the press, we distract them let's give them a story.
Jim: Such as?
Bill: Start a war, that sort of thing.
Jim: Start a war?
Bernard: Only a small war.
Sir Humphrey: If I might intervene, even a small war would be overkill.
Bernard: Well what about a royal event.
Jim: Such as?
Bernard: Well an engagement, a divorce, a pregnancy.
Jim: You can arrange that?
Jim: This is a whitewash.
Sir Humphrey: No no no no, not really, it shares out the blame equally.
Bernard: More of a greywash.
Sir Humphrey: There's some very worrying information on the foreign office files about espionage in the Soviet embassy and trade delegation.
Sir Humphrey: Evidence against a lot of diplomats.
Jim: How many?
Sir Humphrey and Jim: Seventy-six.
Jim: Expel them, and I want the press told today
Jim and Sir Humphrey: at the same time ...
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
Jim: I have decided that the only solution is for me to have a summit meeting with the French President and sort it out myself.
Sir Humphrey: I had no idea you were considering such a stimulating approach.
Jim: Don't we ever get our way with the French?
Sir Humphrey: Well, sometimes.
Jim: When was the last time?
Sir Humphrey: Battle of Waterloo 1859.
Jim: He's (ex-PM) not getting one more ounce of recognition while I'm here.
Bernard: (on phone) Yes, look is this important ... oh ... no ... oh ... he was dead on arrival ... I see.
Jim: Bad news Bernard?
Bernard: Yes and no. Your predecessor, the previous Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has just died of a heart attack.
Jim: (stifles a laugh) Tragic.
Bernard and Sir Humphrey: Tragic.
Jim: He was a great man.
Bernard and Sir Humphrey: Great man.
Jim: He will be sorely missed.
Bernard and Sir Humphrey: Sorely missed.
Jim: So will his memoirs.
Jim: I'm sure a tremendous number of people will want to attend his funeral.
Sir Humphrey: To pay tribute to a great man.
Jim: Yeah, and to make sure he's dead.
A wonderful thing, death. So uncontroversial.
Jim: There'll be plenty of room for television cameras won't there?
Sir Humphrey: Oh, yes.
Jim: Outside number 10, along the route to the abbey, outside the abbey, inside the abbey, one pointing directly at my pew.
Sir Humphrey: Ah, now wouldn't that mean putting the cameraman in the pulpit?
Jim: Will that be alright?
Sir Humphrey: It won't leave a lot of room for the Archbishop.
Jim: So, where will he preach from?
Sir Humphrey: I think he'll need to be in the pulpit.
Jim: Where will my camera be?
Sir Humphrey: There's always the High Altar. But I think the Archbishop may need that as well.
Jim: Who does he think he is?
Sir Humphrey: Well he probably thinks it's a religious ceremony, nobody has told him it's a party political.
Jim: Humphrey, they've created a diplomatic incident so they can get their own way over the Channel Tunnel.
Sir Humphrey (in mock surprise): Of course.
Jim: Don't you trust the British police?
French Ambassador: My government makes no comment on the British police.
French Ambassador: Surely the law exists only to exclude infected animals.
French Ambassador: Do you the suggest the President of France will present the Queen of England a diseased puppy.
French Ambassador: But the Presidents' wife, our first lady has set her heart on it she is determined.
Jim: We will make every effort, but it may not be possible.
French Ambassador: Prime Minister, I cannot tell you the gravity of the affront my government would feel if her Majesty were to refuse a gift in exchange for the one our President accepted from her. I feel it will be interpreted as both a national and a personal affront to the President and his wife.
Jim: Excellency, you'll have to tell the President not to bring that bitch with him. The puppy, I mean the puppy.
They're not coming here for the funeral, they're coming here for the politics. This is a working funeral.
Bernard: Argentina's not coming. There's a bit of luck.
Graham: Because of the Falklands?
Bernard: No, because their anthem goes on for about six minutes.
No we can't have alphabetical seating in the abbey, we'd have Iraq and Iran next to each other, plus Israel and Jordan all sitting in the same pew. We'd be in danger of starting World War III. I know Ireland begins with an I but no. Ireland doesn't make it any better, Ireland doesn't make anything any better.
Bernard: And watch out for the South Africans.
Graham: Problems with human rights?
Bernard: No, they're trying to unload more grapefruit.
Jim: Where did we get to with that.
Bernard: It weighed in at three and a half pounds this morning.
Jim: The puppy?
Bernard: No, the file.
Jim: Even they wouldn't put a puppy in a bag.
Bernard: It would be a doggie bag.
Sir Humphrey: And that puppy will be in French territory here, right in the middle of London.
Jim: Hanging over our heads.
Bernard: Better pray it's house trained.
Bernard: Commissioner, can I introduce you to Missour Belroget from UNESCO.
Commissioner: UNESCO, ah yes gallant little country.
But you must know that the French government never knows what French security are doing.
Jim: Let us have a draft communique at the funeral tomorrow, will you Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey: Ma Oui, Prime Minister.
Prime Minister, if I may say, you worry too much about what the papers say.
Jim: I know exactly who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country. The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country. The Times is read by people who actually do run the country. The Daily Mirror is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by people who own the country. The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country. The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about people who read the Sun.
Bernard: Sun readers don't care who runs the country as long as she's got big tits.
Sir Humphrey: Bribery?
Sir Desmond: Well, undisclosed advance commissions to foreign government officials.
Sir Humphrey: Bribery.
Decent chaps don't check up on decent chaps to see that they're behaving like decent chaps.
Well if the picture's a total disaster we can always wave the Union Jack.
It is necessary to get behind somebody before you stab them in the back.
Jim: What's the difference between irregularities and malpractices?
Dorothy: Irregularity means it's a crime but you can't prove it. Malpractice means that it's a crime but you can prove it.
Jim: As you know I have to appoint a new governor to the Bank of England. I'd welcome your views.
Sir Desmond: Well I certainly think you should appoint one.
If you go for the sort of chaps that chaps trust, then you can trust him to be the sort of chap to see that the chaps don't get involved in any scandals.
Sir Desmond: The cities a funny place you know Prime Minister, if you spill the beans you open up a can of worms. How can you let sleeping dogs lie if you let the cat out of the bag. Bring in a new broom and if you're not careful you'll find you've throw the baby out with the bath water. If you change horses in the middle of the stream next thing you know you're up the creek without a paddle.
Jim: And then the balloon goes up.
Burandan High Commissioner: A racist attack on our President would undoubtedly create solidarity and support from all the other African states.
Sir Humphrey: Commonwealth countries, Prime Minister.
Burandan High Commissioner: We would move to have Britain expelled from the Commonwealth.
Sir Humphrey: I am entirely on your side.
Dorothy: How can we believe that?
Sir Humphrey: Because this time it's true.
He can talk in cliches till the cows come home.
Jim: Humphrey, ask Sir Desmond Glazebrook to come up here.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
Jim: These wretched councils are run by corrupt morons, too clever by half.
Bernard: The most a moron can be is less clever by half.
She is a lawyer Bernard, getting around the law is what she's paid for.
She's not a gentleman, she's not even a lady.
Sir Humphrey: (to tea lady) Would you get Miss Moorhouse a cup of tea. (to Agnes) Or is it Mrs Moorhouse?
Agnes: My marital status really your concern?
Sir Humphrey: Ah, no, no, no, no. It was just ... you know ... I was just worried about ... whether the ... (to tea lady) would you get, ah her a cup of tea.
I'm not your dear lady, don't patronise me, and cut out the sexist crap. OK?
Sir Humphrey: I am sure we agree on a fundamental basis of order and authority.
Agnes: That's half true.
Sir Humphrey: Half true?
Agnes: You agree and I don't.
Shall I be mother?
Dorothy: Suppose you want to stop a major government project, what do you do?
Jim: Join the Civil Service.
Jim: Ordinary people are stupid.
Annie: Is that why they elected for you?
Jim: Stop barracking darling.
Jim: ... lies in the stout hearts and strong wills of the yeomen of Britain.
Annie: Women have the vote too, you know.
Jim: Yeowomen of Britain? Yeopersons? Yeopeople, no the people ...
Jim: What should I call this new scheme?
Bernard, if the right people don't have power do you know what happens? The wrong people get it. Politicians, counsellors, ordinary voters.
This is a British democracy.
British democracy recognises that you need a system to protect the important things of life, and keep them out of the hands of the barbarians. Things like the Opera, Radio Three, the countryside, the law, the universities ... both of them.
Since 1832 we have been gradually excluding the voter from government.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, do you want the lake district turned into a gigantic caravan site, the Royal Opera House into a bingo hall, the National Theatre into a carpet sale warehouse.
Bernard: Well it looks like one actually.
Sir Humphrey: We gave the architect a knighthood so that nobody would ever say that.
Sir Humphrey: And how would you feel if they took all the culture programs off television?
Bernard: I don't know, I never watch them.
Sir Humphrey: Well neither do I, but it's vital to know that they're there.
Sir Arnold: Doing the wrong this is worse than doing nothing.
Sir Humphrey: Doing anything is worse than doing nothing.
Politicians are dependant on us, a thousand press officers to publicise their little triumphs, the Official Secrets Acts to conceal their daily disasters.
Sir Humphrey: What, do you mean the people don't want your policies?
Agnes: Well of course they would if the understand, but ordinary voters are simple people.
Agnes: People don't always understand what's good for them.
Sir Humphrey: I do so agree with you.
Agnes: Do you?
Sir Humphrey: Well of course, that's how the Civil Service has survived for centuries.
I want your written assurance that you'll stop harassing your local police ... I mean stop making them democratically accountable to you.
Agnes: Oh Humphrey, you're a great loss to the militant revolution.
Sir Humphrey: And you my dear Agnes are a great loss to the Civil Service.
Professor Mariott: Prime Minister, it is an honour to meet you.
Jim: Yes, I know.
Professor Mariott: Parliament would become genuinely democratic.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, it is the most courageous policy that you have ever proposed.
Jim: Professor, thank you so much, absolutely fascinating, good bye.
Sir Humphrey: To put it simply Prime Minister certain informal discussions took place involving a full and frank exchange of views, out of which there arose a series of proposals which on examination proved to indicate several promising lines of inquiry which when pursued lead to the realisation that the alternative courses of action might in fact in certain circumstances be susceptible of discrete modification, leading to a reappraisal of the original areas of difference and pointing a way to encouraging of compromise and co-operation, which if bilaterally implemented with appropriate give and take on both sides might if the climate were right would have a reasonable possibility, at the end of the day of leading rightly or wrongly to a mutually satisfactory resolution.
Jim: What the hell are you talking about?
Sir Humphrey: We did a deal.
Jim: I think we're all agreed that the nation isn't quite ready for total democracy, perhaps ah next century?
Sir Humphrey: Well you could still be Prime Minister next century.
Jim: Or the one after that.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
Sir Humphrey: Ah Bernard, and how is our great statesman this afternoon? Bernard: Well he's very cheerful.
Sir Humphrey: Really. When did he find something to be cheerful about?
Jim: I said my cabinet took a unanimous decision.
Sir Humphrey: That's only because you threatened to dismiss anyone who wouldn't agree.
Jim: Certainly made everyone them unanimously.
Why should we listen in to MP's, boring, stupid, ignorant, windbags. I do my best not to listen to them.
Sir Humphrey: Unfortunately, although the answer was indeed clear, simple and straightforward there is some difficulty in justifiably assigning to it the fourth of the epithets you applied to the statement, inasmuch as the precise correlation between the information you communicated, and the facts insofar as they can be determined and demonstrated is such as to cause epistemological problems, of sufficient magnitude as to lay upon the logical and semantic resources of the English language a heavier burden than they can reasonably be expected to bare.
Jim: Epistemological, what are you talking about?
Sir Humphrey: You told a lie.
Jim: A lie?
Sir Humphrey: A lie.
Jim: What do you mean, a lie.
Sir Humphrey: I mean you ... lied. Ah yes, I know this is a difficult concept to get across to a politician um ... you ah ... ah sorry ... ah yes, you did not tell the truth.
Jim: You mean we are bugging Hugh Halifax' telephone.
Sir Humphrey: We were.
Jim: We were, when did we stop?
Sir Humphrey: Um (looks at watch) seventeen minutes ago.
Bernard: Apparently the fact that you needed to know was not known at the time that the now known need to know was known, and therefore those that needed to advise and inform the Home Secretary perhaps felt that the information that he needed as to whether to inform the highest authority of the known information was not yet known and therefore there was no authority for the authority to be informed because the need to know was not at that time known or needed.
Sir Humphrey: We did not know that you would deny it in the House.
Jim: Well obviously I would if I didn't know and I was asked.
Sir Humphrey: We didn't know that you would be asked when you didn't know.
Jim: But I was bound to be asked when I didn't know if I didn't know.
Sir Humphrey: What?
To decide to conceal information from you is a heavy burden for any official to shoulder but, to decide not to reveal information from you is routine procedure.
Humphrey, I need to know everything.
I, I Prime Minister am merely a humble servant, a lowly official.
With respect Prime Minister, you must learn discretion.
In government there is always something to be discreet about.
Jim: Anyway, why are we bugging Hugh Halifax, is he talking to the Russians?
Sir Humphrey: No, the French actually, that's much more serious.
Bernard: Well the Russians already know what we're doing.
The French are our trusted allies, whatever you think of them, and who doesn't.
Sir Humphrey: And obviously one shall have to tell them everything.
Bernard: Everything they can find out from other sources.
Bernard: You could say the Prime Minister knows more about it than you do.
Sir Humphrey: Then they'd know I was lying.
One can be too self-effacing.
Sir Humphrey: That would be lying.
Jim: Nobody would know.
Sir Humphrey: Oh what a tangled web we weave.
I am sorry Prime Minister, I cannot become involved in some shabby coverup.
Sir Humphrey: Was I alright?
Mr Kennedy: Couldn't you have said a bit more, especially about unemployment.
Sir Humphrey: Such as?
Mr Kennedy: Well the truth.
Sir Humphrey: (laughs)
Mr Kennedy: Why do you laugh?
Sir Humphrey: My dear Ludo nobody tells the truth about unemployment.
Mr Kennedy: Oh, why not.
Sir Humphrey: Because everybody knows you can halve it in a few weeks.
Mr Kennedy: But how?
Sir Humphrey: Cut off all social security to any claimants who refuses two job offers, there's genuine unemployment in the north but the south of England is awash with layabouts, many of them graduates, living off the dole and housing benefit. Plus quite a lot of cash that they pick up without telling anybody.
Mr Kennedy: You mean moonlighting.
Sir Humphrey: Well sunlighting really. Most employers will tell you they're short staffed, but offer the unemployed a street sweeping job or a dish washing job they'd be off the register before you could say parasite. Frankly this country can have as much unemployment as it's prepared to pay for in social security. And no politicians have got the guts to do anything about it.
Switch it on Bernard, you may learn something.
Bernard: Sir Humphrey, that wasn't you was it?
Sir Humphrey: Yes Bernard.
Bernard: How can you say such things? Is there any more?
Sir Humphrey: (says nothing for a while) Yes Bernard.
Bernard: As damaging as what we've just heard.
Sir Humphrey: More damaging.
Sir Humphrey: Doesn't he know I'm a poor man.
Bernard: Maybe he hasn't read that you live in abject poverty on eighty-one thousand a year.
Perhaps you should put out a press statement expressing sympathy for the unemployed. Well you may be joining them any moment.
Bernard: Shall I tell him?
Bernard: I think he'd like to know.
Jim: I'm sure he would, but does he need to know.
Thank you Bernard, I couldn't have put it less clearly myself.
Jim: The indiscretion, the irresponsibility, is there any more?
Sir Humphrey: No!
A clarification is not to make oneself clear, it is to put oneself in the clear.
Sir Humphrey: May one have ones' tapes back
Jim: Tomorrow, after the Committee on Privileges, alright Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.
But isn't it bad to be associated with actors, I mean their job is pretending to be what they're not and if you're seen with them, well people might realise.
Jim: Do you think there'll be boos?
Bernard: Oh, bound to be, we don't have to pay for it.
Jim: I mean boos, boos, hiss.
Jim: Is there a major crisis coming up?
Bill: Not really Prime Minister.
Jim: Is there a distant crisis that we can bring forward.
Bill: What sort of crisis would justify cancellation.
Bernard: Pound plunges, small war in the South Atlantic, small fire in a nuclear power station.
Jim: Bernard, I don't think any of those things would improve my image.
Bernard: But they would justify you staying away. I know what about the death of a Cabinet colleague?
Jim: Is one imminent?
Bernard: No, but that would justify your absence without damaging your image.
Bill: But we can hardly hope for that to fall on the right day, well not by accident.
Practically nobody goes to political plays and half those that do don't understand them, and half those that understand them don't agree with them and the seven who are left were devoted against the government anyway.
Sir Humphrey: Plays criticising the government make the second most boring theatrical evenings ever invented.
Jim: So they insult me. What are the most boring?
Sir Humphrey: Plays praising the government.
Sir Humphrey: It's what artists always do, crawling towards the government on their knees, shaking their fists.
Jim: Beating me over the head with their begging bowls.
Bernard: Oh, I'm sorry to be pedantic Prime Minister, but they can't beat you over the head if they're on their knees, ah unless of course (kneels on floor, raises arm) they've got very long arms, or unless ...
Jim: Get off the floor Bernard.
People don't go to church, but they fell better that it's there.
Simon: Only six, you're not serious.
Sir Humphrey: I'm afraid that's the new diet, six breadsticks is the absolute maximum.
Simon: Is that gross breadsticks or net breadsticks.
Arts Minister: Jim, I think there's going to be terrible trouble when they find out how small the grant increase is.
Jim: Well, we'll just have to brazen it out, won't you?
Sir Humphrey: If you want to change government decisions you have to do it before anybody knows the decision's been made.
Simon: Isn't that rather difficult.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, that's what the Civil Service is for.
Simon: To change government decisions?
Sir Humphrey: Well, only the bad ones, but that's most of them of course.
So when you say you believe in the theatre it's like believing in God, you mean you believe it exists.
Jim: Of course we do what we can, but there's many calls on the public purse you know, inner cities, schools, hospitals, kidney machines.
Lady 1: Tanks?
Lady 2: Rockets?
Lady 3: H-Bombs?
Jim: Well we can't really defend ourselves against the Russians with a performance of Henry V.
Jim: This is a real hot potato, if I don't do anything it could turn into a banana skin.
Bernard: Prime Minister, a hot potato can't become into a banana skin, well if you don't do anything a hot potato just becomes a cold potato.
Jim: Nobody'ld be able to call me a Philistine then.
Dorothy: Not if they knew you.
Of course we would have all liked it to be larger but apparently this is a time of national stringency and we must think of course in terms of national needs, there are many calls on the public purse, education, inner cities, health, kidney machines.
Jim: Excellent speech, don't you think Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey: Yes, Prime Minister.