Feeds

Yes, Prime Minister to return after 24 years

The modern Sir Humphrey will be rather different

Seven Steps to Software Security

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. ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Canuck reader threatens suicide over exact dimensions of SPAAAACE!
How many As? Reg hack's writing cops a shoeing
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
Japanese artist cuffed for disseminating 3D ladyparts files
Printable genitalia fall foul of 'obscene material' laws
Brit Rockall adventurer poised to quit islet
Occupation records broken, champagne corks popped
Apple: No, China. iPhone is NOT public enemy number 1
Beijing fears it could beam secrets back to America
Accused! Yahoo! exec! SUES! her! accuser!, says! sex! harassment! never! happened!
Allegations were for 'financial gain', countersuit claims
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.