Feeds

Yes, Prime Minister to return after 24 years

The modern Sir Humphrey will be rather different

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The great satire of British bureaucracy, Yes, Prime Minister, is to return after 24 years away from our TV screens. The original scriptwriting duo of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn has already turned in their first plot, says UKTV, which has has commissioned the show to be broadcast on UK Gold. The BBC originals, Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister ran from 1980 to 1988.

Not every one thinks it will be a success.

"The format won't translate to a modern audience. Politics and television have changed too much," reckons one pundit, citing The Thick Of It.

But your humble Reg hack begs to differ. The original series was spookily prescient about today's mandarinate. Last year The Spectator's political editor estimated that only four out of 22 elected ministers are actually in charge of their departments - the rest are run by the permanent government of the bureaucracy. Four may actually be on the high side.

The Thick of It portrays a world in which spads (special advisors) and spin doctors are in charge of policy-making - a view promoted by Westminster journalists, who are flattered by the depiction. But the news cycle actually has little do do with long-term policy-making.

Now, more than ever, the bureaucracy marches to its own internal rhythm, and quietly determines policy on issues as diverse as Europe, the environment, and criminal justice. And, as we've seen here, copyright.

The original Sir Humphrey...

...now looks more like this

Naturally some aspects will need to be refreshed.

Then and now, your common-or-garden bureaucrat is likely to be an Oxbridge PPE or SPS graduate, possibly with a weekend cottage in the Cotswolds - but there the similarity ends. The modern mandarin is no longer a patrician High Tory; he's probably a Guardian-reading, carbon-offsetting Coldplay fan - with a risqué Tinie Tempah playlist for dinner parties.

Institutional obfuscation plays less of a role in bamboozling ministers than it used to. Post-modernist evidence-making - generated by seconded academics, or reliably elastic think-tanks - now does the job.

And far more policy has been outsourced to Europe, of course, leaving Whitehall with less to do and ministers with more time to spend on Twitter. They're more ornamental and less in charge than ever. Not so much Sir Humphrey, but shirt-sleeved, sofa government Steve.

“What we see in the news and political programmes is really only half of the truth about politics,” Jay told the Telegraph. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Apple CEO Tim Cook: My well-known gayness is 'a gift from GOD'
'I have benefited from the sacrifice of others'
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
Now: The REAL APPLE NEWS you need to know
OMG! Gravity's totes amazeballs. Calm down, George Clooney, not your film
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Let's make an app that POSTS your POO to APPLE HQ
Plus: It's OPEN WARFARE in the Linux greybeard world
Adorkable overshare of words like photobomb in this year's dictionaries
And hipsters are finally defined as self-loathing. Sort of
Not a loyal follower of @BritishMonarchy? You missed The QUEEN*'s first Tweet
Her Maj opens 'Information Age' at the Science Museum
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.