Yes, Minister/Yes, Prime Minister


Yes, Minister: Season Three

Equal Opportunities

Hacker is being interviewed by a schoolgirl called Cathy for a school magazine. He is fazed by her last question - what has he achieved since becoming a minister on which he can look back to say "I did that." He has no answer. The appearance on television that evening of a backbench feminist, Maureen Watkins, gives Annie Hacker an idea. Jim could do something to improve the number of women in the Civil Service.

Hacker puts this idea to Sir Humphrey who is, predictably enough, greatly opposed to it, though he claims that he in fact hopes that there shall one day be more women. Humphrey and Hacker have opposing plans for achieving their goal. Hacker has an idea given to him by a woman Deputy Secretary in the Department, Sarah Harrison, who suggests that women could be imported into the open structure from top jobs in industry. Humphrey, on the other hands suggests that their should be a greater intake of women at the recruitment stage. This will lead to greater balance in the open structure but not for 25 years. Hacker wants a 25% quota with in four years. This, he says, is bags of time, and he will begin by promoting Sarah Harrison.

Sir Arnold gets to hear of Hacker's plan and he and Humphrey think about how to sabotage it. Arnold suggests that Humphrey introduce Annie to Mrs Harrison, and that he tell Hacker that the Unions will oppose the scheme. Probably they will in fact support it but this does not matter.

Sir Humprhey duly does this and is a little worried when Hacker suggests getting the Unions in to talk about it. Humphrey does, however, successfully nobble Annie by waxing lyrical about the qualities of Sarah Harrison, how attractive and talented she is and how Hacker will spend more time with her once she is promoted. Annie goes off the idea of her promotion.

Sir Arnold in turn nobbles the other Permanent Secretaries, who decide that, while they all support the promotion of more women, each Department has particular problems which must exempt it from the scheme.

This opposition filters through to Cabinet and Hacker finds that all he can now do is to promote Sarah Harrison within his own Department. However, when Sarah is brought in she announces that she is leaving the Civil Service to become a Director of a Merchant bank. She is, she says, fed up with the pointlessness of the Civil Service and wishes to work somewhere where she can achieve something. She also does not wish to be patronised by Hacker's plan to use her as a Trojan Horse to achieve his 25% quota.

Humphrey and Hacker agree that her behaviour is typical of a woman.

Classic quotes:

Hacker: I'm going to do something about the number of women in the Civil Service
Humphrey: Surely there aren't all that many?

Humphrey: They [Civil Servants] mature like an old port.
Hacker: Like Grimsby perhaps?

Hacker: She's an original thinker.
Humphrey: Yes, I'm afraid that's true, but she doesn't let it interfere with her work.

Guest actors:

Eleanor Bron: Sarah Harrison
John Nettleton: Sir Arnold Robinson
Diana Hoddinott: Annie Hacker

The Challenge

Hacker is being interviewed on radio by Ludovic Kennedy, following the announcement that he has been given new responsibility for local government. He denies that he is involved in increasing, rather than reducing, bureaucracy.

Sir Arnold hears the interview and warns Sir Humphrey that he must not allow Hacker to do anything with his new powers, as any reforms of local government might bounce back on Whitehall. He suggests that Humphrey distracts Hacker by getting him to look into the problem of Civil Defence, other wise known as Fall Out Shelters, which everyone knows is a waste of time and a joke.

Later, at a meeting with the new local government staff, Hacker meets with Dr Richard Cartwright, who passes him privately a scheme to impose failure standards on local authorities. In future any new project would have to be accompanied by a statement of what it will achieve and by when. The scheme has hitherto been rejected. Hacker agrees to give it a go and Bernard predicts that Sir Humphrey will not like it. He is proved correct, and Sir Humphrey is forced to put into action Sir Arnold's plan to distract Hacker. At first Hacker is reluctant to bother with Fall Out Shelters, because they are such a joke. Sir Humphrey persuades him by revealing that Ludovic Kennedy is making a programme on the subject which might otherwise be critical of the Government. Hacker can turn it into a vote winner.

As part of his new project Hacker visits the London Borough of Thames Marsh and has a run-in with the Council leader, Ben Stanley, who says that his Borough is unilateralist and so will not build any Fall Out Shelters. Bernard discovers that Mr Stanley has a place in a shelter beneath the Town Hall. Mr Stanley is suitably embarrassed. Hacker is likewise embarassed when he recounts this story to Ludovic Kennedy during his next interview, and Kennedy responds by pointing out th at the Prime Minister also has a place in a Fall Out Shelter. To get around this sticky moment Hacker tells another story about a group of councillors who travelled to California to investigate Fall Out Shelters and returned to Britain to discover that they no longer had any money to build any, having spent it all on the trip.

When Hacker next meets with Sir Humphrey he discovers that telling this story was an error, because the leader of the delegation in question was the Prime Minister's constituency agent, and that the Prime Minister's constituency falls within the Borough in question. Hacker begs Sir Humphrey to help him out, but Humphrey indicates that in return he wants Hacker to drop the failure standards idea.

Hacker and Sir Humphrey meet with Sir Francis Aubrey, the BBC's director of policy, and blackmail him into withdrawing the interview with Ludovic Kennedy by threatening to give televised Parliamentary coverage to ITV. Later, back at the DAA, Hacker agrees to drop the failure standards scheme.

Classic quotes:

Sir Arnold: A minister with two ideas? I can't remember when we last had one of those.

Dr Cartwright: I fear I shall rise no further.
Hacker: Why not?
Dr Cartwright: Alas, I'm an expert.

Guest actors:

Sir Arnold Robinson: John Nettleton
Dr Richard Cartwright: Ian Lavender
Sir Francis Aubrey: Moray Watson


Hacker is defensive of his predecessor when Ludovic Kennedy suggests he might have failed, but his predecessor was a member of the previous government, now the Opposition.

Ludovic Kennedy quotes the Daily Mirror regarding Hacker's new appointment, but Hacker has come straight to the studio from No. 10, so the paper could not have printed anything yet.

The Skeleton in the Cupboard

At a meeting with his staff Hacker is asked to discipline South Derbyshire Local Authority for inefficiency. It seems that they are not submitting their statistics to the Department. Hacker is reluctant because the Authority is run by his party, and gets the impression that Dr Cartwright has additional information that Sir Humphrey does not want disclosed. He decides to go to Cartwright's office to discuss the matter with him.

When Sir Humphrey learns from Bernard that the minister has "gone walkabout" he is enraged and heads off in pursuit. He bursts in on Hacker and Cartwright just after Cartwright has revealed that South Derbyshire is in fact the most efficien t Local Authority in Britain and, while they do not submit statistics to the Department, they keep their own records perfectly well.

When Hacker puts this to Sir Humphrey Sir Humphrey informs him that he is nevertheless obliged to discipline the Authority because that is his job. Hacker still refuses.

Following this meeting a journalist, Alex Andrews, comes to see Hacker and requests the release of papers relating to an administrative error in the 1950s as a result of which a large amount of land was effectively given away by the then government. Hacker agrees, believing that the revelations can do no damage to the current government. The next day Sir Humphrey is in a state of extreme agitation and Hacker begins to smell a rat.

Bernard consults Who's Who and discovers that the responsible official was probably Sir Humphrey. Hacker calls Sir Humphrey back in and asks him to investigate the matter so that the culprit will be unmasked. With great reluctance Sir Humphrey admits that it was himself who was responsible.

In return for keeping the matter quiet Hacker demands that Sir Humphrey drop his insistence that South Derbyshire Local Authority be disciplined. Sir Humphrey agrees.

Classic quotes:

Hacker: I have learned some very interesting facts.
Sir Humphrey: Well I sincerely hope it does not happen again.

Hacker: Humphrey is not God, okay?
Bernard: Will you tell him or shall I?

Guest actors:

Dr Richard Cartwright: Ian Lavender
Alex Andrews: Donald Gee

The Whiskey Priest

Hacker receives a visit from an army officer, Major Saunders, who tells him that on a visit to Rome he discovered that hi-tech British weapons are being used by Italian terrorists. Hacker, suitably appalled, assures the Major that he will have something done about it.

During a discussion with Sir Humphrey Hacker attempts to discover how sales of arms are made and to whom. He is not comforted by the safeguards which Sir Humphrey tells him are in place and resolves to inform the Prime Minister of Major Saunders' discovery. Sir Humphrey attempts to dissuade him but is unsuccessful. Hacker requests that Bernard make an appointment for him.

Once the Minister has gone Bernard shares with Sir Humphrey his worry that Hacker might be right in his disquiet. Sir Humphrey explains that Bernard's primary concern should be to prevent the Minister from telling the Prime Minister about the arms sales. Bernard determines that the best means of doing this is to have the Chief Whip put the frighteners on Hacker. Prior to making the necessary arrangements Bernard agrees not to let the Minister know that he and Sir Humphrey have discussed the issue behind the Minister's back.

Arriving for his meeting with the Prime Minister Hacker discovers the Chief Whip waiting for him instead. At first reluctant to disclose the purpose of his visit Hacker is soon persuaded to tell the Chief Whip what he has learned. The Chief Whip tells Hacker that all sorts of such arms sales go on and advises Hacker to keep quiet if he does not want to jeopardise jobs, export revenue, votes in the marginal constituencies where such arms are manufactured and a forthcoming anti-terrorism agreement. Hacker tries to protest but the Chief Whip bullies him into silence and Hacker agrees to drop it.

Annie, Hacker's wife, reveals that dropping the issue might not be so easy. A letter has arrived at the Minister's flat from Major Saunders, expressing relief that something will soon be done. If Hacker does nothing, it is implied, Major Saunders will drop him in it.

Bernard suggests that a way out of the Minister's dilemma might the Rhodesia Solution. A letter should drafted to Prime Minister explaining the situation in a vague and circulatory way, susceptible of misinterpretation and timed to arrive as the Prime Minister is departing on an overseas trip. All being well the matter will be written off as a breakdown in communication.

Hacker agrees to the letter and decides that he, like Sir Humphrey, is a moral vacuum.

Guest actors:

Diana Hoddinott: Annie Hacker

Classic quotes:

Hacker: We are discussing right and wrong.
Humphrey: You may be, Minister, but I'm not. It would be a serious misuse of government time.

Bernard: Will I end up as a moral vacuum, too?
Humphrey: I hope so Bernard, if you work hard enough.


Annie points out that Hacker's flat is unlikely to be bugged since Hacker is the Minister in charge of bugging politicians. This fact was the subject of the Season Two episode The Death List.