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Quotes for
Sir Humphrey Appleby (Character)
from "Yes Minister" (1980)

The content of this page was created by users. It has not been screened or verified by IMDb staff.
"Yes, Prime Minister: A Victory for Democracy (#1.6)" (1986)
James Hacker: Humphrey, I'm worried.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, what about, Prime Minister?
James Hacker: About the Americans.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh yes, well, we're all worried about the Americans.

James Hacker: Foreign affairs are a complicated business, aren't they?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, indeed, Prime Minister. That's why we leave it to the Foreign Office.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: East Yemen, isn't that a democracy?
Sir Richard Wharton: Its full name is the Peoples' Democratic Republic of East Yemen.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah I see, so it's a communist dictatorship.

Sir Richard Wharton: But there's a group of Marxist guerrillas in the mountains somewhere. And we're getting reports that they're planning a coup.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh well, these things will happen.

Sir Richard Wharton: If the PM gets into one of his ghastly patriotic Churchillian moods, he may intervene. All that pro-British, defending democracy nonsense.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, I know, I know.
Sir Richard Wharton: He must understand that once you start interfering in the internal squabbles of other countries, you're on a very slippery slope. Even the Foreign Secretary's grasped that.

James Hacker: Foreign affairs are a complicated business.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: That's why we leave it to the Foreign Office.

Bernard Woolley: The PM seems to be completely in the dark.
Sir Richard Wharton: Good.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Excellent. Anything else?

Bernard Woolley: Well, I wondered if there was anything he doesn't know?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, I hardly know where to begin, Bernard.

Bernard Woolley: What if he demands options?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, it's obvious, Bernard. The Foreign Office will happily present him with three options, two of which are, on close inspection, exactly the same.
Sir Richard Wharton: Plus a third which is totally unacceptable.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Like bombing Warsaw or invading France.

Bernard Woolley: What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Then we follow the four-stage strategy.
Bernard Woolley: What's that?
Sir Richard Wharton: Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis.
Sir Richard Wharton: In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
Sir Richard Wharton: In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we *can* do.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: I gather that there's an airborne battalion in the air.
James Hacker: Sounds like the right place for it.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: You know what happens when politicians get into Number 10; they want to take their place on the world stage.
Sir Richard Wharton: People on stages are called actors. All they are required to do is look plausible, stay sober, and say the lines they're given in the right order.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Some of them try to make up their own lines.
Sir Richard Wharton: They don't last long.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Diplomacy is about surviving until the next century - politics is about surviving until Friday afternoon.


"Yes, Prime Minister: A Real Partnership (#1.5)" (1986)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It is not for a humble mortal such as I to speculate on the complex and elevated deliberations of the mighty.

James Hacker: But that's an outrageous view.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes indeed, it's known as Treasury Policy.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: It is so difficult for me you see, as I am wearing two hats.
James Hacker: Yes, isn't that rather awkward for you.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Not if one is in two minds.
Bernard Woolley: Or has two faces.

James Hacker: You are Cabinet Secretary. You must insist that we get papers circulated earlier.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Alas, there are grave problems about circulating papers before they are written.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: I take it that this paper is not for submission.
Sir Frank Gordon: My dear Humphrey. *Those* are the submission papers.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It only goes up to Appendix K.
Sir Frank Gordon: Sorry. Six more to follow.

Bernard Woolley: Uh, yes. Sir Humphrey, can I just mention one thing?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, Bernard?
Bernard Woolley: There has been movement.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: On what subject?
Bernard Woolley: On a subject on which the Civil Service hopes there will be no movement.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The Civil Service generally hopes there will be no movement on any subject!

Bernard Woolley: I'm sorry, Sir Humphrey, my lips are sealed. I am referring confidentially to minutes that I was duty bound to make of a confidential conversation between the Prime Minister and one of his confidential advisers.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Which adviser?
Bernard Woolley: I'm sorry Sir Humphrey, I'm not at liberty to divulge her name.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Thank you Bernard.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: I see. What do you advise, Bernard?
Bernard Woolley: I advise you consider your position carefully, perhaps adopting a more flexible posture, while keeping your ear to the ground, covering your retreat and watching your rear.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Thank you, Bernard. You've been a great help.
Bernard Woolley: Actually, Sir Humphrey, I haven't told you anything.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I should hope not, Bernard. That would have been most improper.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: It was very painful for me not to be able to support Frank's case.
Sir Arnold Robinson: Deeply distressing.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: But clearly he was going to lose.
Sir Arnold Robinson: Quite.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: And that Wainwright female gave the Prime Minister a list of questions plus the suggestion that they stop us handling our own pay claims and let a Select Committee of parliament decide on them!
Sir Arnold Robinson: Appalling! Next thing you'd have is politicians removing civil servants on the grounds of incompetence! The thin end of the wedge.

Sir Arnold Robinson: Should I talk to Frank about this, too?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Em... oh, no, Arnold. Leave it to me. Not at the moment. Frank's got a lot of problems coming up.
Sir Arnold Robinson: Really? He hasn't mentioned them.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Probably because he doesn't know about them yet.

[last lines]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: After all, this is a partnership.
James Hacker: Yes, a real partnership.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, Prime Minister.


"Yes Minister: A Question of Loyalty (#2.7)" (1981)
Betty Oldham: Look, Sir Humphrey, whatever we ask the Minister, he says is an administrative question for you, and whatever we ask you, you say is a policy question for the Minister. How do you suggest we find out what is going on?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: 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 a responsibility of Ministers and administration as a 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 the administration of policy.
Betty Oldham: Well, that's a load of meaningless drivel. Isn't it?

[On the 1938 Munich Agreement]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It occurred before certain important facts were known, and couldn't happen again.
James Hacker: What important facts?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, that Hitler wanted to conquer Europe.
James Hacker: I thought that everybody knew that.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Not the Foreign Office.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: We write him a speech that makes him nail his trousers to the mast.
Bernard Woolley: Oh, you mean nail his colours to the mast.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, nail his trousers to the mast. Then he can't climb down.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: I sometimes think our minister doesn't believe that he exists unless he reads about himself in the papers. I'll bet you the first thing he says when he gets into the office is, "Any press reports on my Washington speech?"
Bernard Woolley: How much do you bet?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: A pound.
Bernard Woolley: Done! He won't because he's already asked. In the car on the way back from Heathrow.

[about writing speeches for the minister]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: We can't worry about entertaining people. We are not scriptwriters for a comedian. Well not a professional one, anyway.

James Hacker: You said yourself how important these select committees are. I cannot be seen to mislead them.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: You will not be SEEN to mislead them.

James Hacker: I'm made to look like I've wasted all the money that everybody else has been saving.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, minister. Nobody else have been saving anything. You ought to know that by now!

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Government policy has nothing to do with common sense.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: A tiny mistake. The sort that anyone can make.
James Hacker: A tiny mistake? 75,000 pounds? Give me an example of a big mistake.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Letting people find out about it.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, Bernard, have you enjoyed having your Minister away for a week?
Bernard Woolley: Not very much. Makes things very difficult.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah, Bernard! A Minister's absence is a godsend! You can do the job properly for once. No silly questions, no bright ideas, no fussing about the papers. I think our Minister doesn't believe he exists unless he's in the papers. I'll bet the first thing he says is, "Any reports on my Washington speech?"
Bernard Woolley: How much?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: A pound.
Bernard Woolley: Done. He won't because he's already asked. In the car on the way back from Heathrow.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: You're learning, Bernard. Sit down. See why a Minister's absence is a good thing?
Bernard Woolley: Yes, but so much work piles up.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: With a couple of days' briefing before he goes and debriefing after, he's out of our hair for a fortnight. If he complains of being uninformed, say it came up while he was away.
Bernard Woolley: Hence so many summit conferences?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: That's the only way the country works! Concentrate all the power at Number 10 then send the PM away to EEC summits, NATO summits, Commonwealth summits, anywhere! Then the Cabinet Secretary can run the country properly.
Bernard Woolley: We ought to see him now.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: What do you think of the Washington speech?
[Reads]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: "British administration as a model of loyalty and efficiency. A ruthless war on waste, cutting bureaucracy to the bone. A lesson Britain can teach the world!"
Bernard Woolley: Can we prove it?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: A good speech isn't one where we can prove he's telling the truth. It's one in which nobody else can prove he's lying!
Bernard Woolley: But even so, I'm sure it was good, but I just wondered whether it might have been boring for the audience.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Of course it was boring! Bored the pants of them! Ghastly to have to sit through it, I should think! Ministers' speeches aren't written for the audience. Delivering a speech is just a formality you go through to get into the papers. We can't worry about entertaining. We're not writing for a comedian. Well, not a professional one. The point is the speech said the right things.
Bernard Woolley: But why say it in public?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It's vital. Once it's printed, the Minister has to defend us in select committees.
Bernard Woolley: He defends us anyway.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well... Only to a point, Bernard. Once something goes wrong, the Minister's first instinct is to rat on his department. That's why we write him a speech that nails his trousers to the mast.
Bernard Woolley: You mean nail his colours to the mast?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, his trousers. Then he can't climb down!


"Yes Minister: The Devil You Know (#2.5)" (1981)
[discussing the EEC]
James Hacker: The trouble with Brussels is not internationalism, it's too much bureaucracy.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: But the bureaucracy is a consequence of the internationalism. Why else would there be an English Commissioner with a French Director-General immediately below him, and an Italian Chef-du-Division reporting to the Frenchman and so on down the line.
James Hacker: Oh, I agree.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It's like the Tower of Babel.
James Hacker: I agree.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, it's even worse, it's like the United Nations.
James Hacker: I agree.
Bernard Woolley: Then perhaps, if I may interject, you are in fact in agreement.
James Hacker, Sir Humphrey Appleby: No we're not!

James Hacker: Speaking with my parliamentary hat on, I don't think it would be a very good idea; on the other hand, with my Cabinet hat on, I think perhaps it would be a good idea. But there again, with my Party hat on, I can see there could be arguments on both sides.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I see, and which hat are you talking through at the moment?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, Minister, I'm afraid that is the penalty we have to pay for trying to pretend that we're Europeans. Believe me, I fully understand your hostility to Europe.
James Hacker: I'm not like you, Humphrey. I'm pro-Europe, I'm just anti-Brussels. I sometimes think you're anti-Europe and pro-Brussels.

James Hacker: I suppose we have got rather fond of one another. In a way.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: In a way, yes.
James Hacker: Like a terrorist and his hostage.
Bernard Woolley: Which one of you is the terrorist?
James Hacker, Sir Humphrey Appleby: [pointing at the other] He is!

James Hacker: Europe is a community of nations, dedicated towards one goal.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: [laughs]
James Hacker: May we share the joke, Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister, may I?
[sits]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Let's look at this objectively. It is a game played for national interests and always was. Why do you suppose we went into it?
James Hacker: To strengthen the brotherhood of free Western nations.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, really. We went in to screw the French by splitting them off from the Germans.
James Hacker: Well, why did the French go into it, then?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, to protect their inefficient farmers from commercial competition.
James Hacker: That certainly doesn't apply to the Germans!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, no. They went in to cleanse themselves of genocide and apply for readmission to the human race.

Sir Arnold Robinson: Then we might be able to move Corbett to Employment.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh. Why? Is Fred definitely going?
Sir Arnold Robinson: Yes. He keeps falling asleep in Cabinet.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I thought they all did.
Sir Arnold Robinson: Yes, but not while they are actually talking...

[Sir Humphrey is trying desperately to get an idea that will make Hacker stay and not go to Brussels]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Supposing you ignore the EEC... and then publish your own plans for word processing machines... with big, big orders for British manufacturers... starting immediately... tomorrow... well certainly before Monday... involving more jobs, investment, more export orders...
James Hacker: More votes?

[last lines]
James Hacker: Tell me, Humphrey. Who would have got my position here if I had gone to Brussels?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, I don't know...
Bernard Woolley: Didn't you tell me it was Basil Corbett?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Basil Corbett...
[laughs uncomfortably]
James Hacker: Oh, I see. Basil Corbett.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: [long pause] Yes, Minister.

[repeated line]
Sir Humphrey Appleby, Bernard Woolley, Annie Hacker, Sir Arnold Robinson, George - Jim's Driver: [referring to the Minister] You've done all right.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Smoke Screen (#1.3)" (1986)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: [discussing how to stop the PM's anti-smoking legislation] I think the crucial argument is that we are living in a free country and we *must* be free to make our own decisions. After all, government shouldn't be a nursemaid, we don't want the nanny state.
Sir Frank Gordon: Oh, that's very good.
Sir Ian Whitworth: Excellent.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The only problem is that that is also the argument for legalising the sale of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, arsenic and gelignite.
Sir Frank Gordon: Well maybe that's a good idea if we can put a big enough tax on them.
Sir Ian Whitworth: Politically difficult.
Sir Frank Gordon: Pity.

Sir Humphrey: Notwithstanding the fact that your proposal could conceivably encompass certain concomitant benefits of a marginal and peripheral relevance, there is a countervailing consideration of infinitely superior magnitude involving your personal complicity and corroborative malfeasance, with a consequence that the taint and stigma of your former associations and diversions could irredeemably and irretrievably invalidate your position and culminate in public revelations and recriminations of a profoundly embarrassing and ultimately indefensible character.
Jim Hacker: Perhaps I can have a précis of that?

Sir Frank Gordon: But let's be clear about this, Humphrey. The entire system hinges on you as Cabinet Secretary controlling the PM and on me as Permanent Secretary at the Treasury controlling the Chancellor. Right?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Right.
Sir Frank Gordon: And on both of us keeping an agreeable tension between them, mistrust, hostility.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Mind you, I think they'd manage that all right even without us. The Chancellor will never forgive the Prime Minister for beating him to Number 10 and the Prime Minister will never trust the Chancellor. After all, one never trusts anyone one has deceived.

Gerald - Chairman British Tobacco Group: He hasn't got much clout in Whitehall, has he?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: None at all. He's just a minister.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: All the hospitality that we've enjoyed at BTG's expense. Champagne receptions, buffet lunches, the best seats at sporting and cultural events.
Jim Hacker: What's the problem?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The tobacco companies may release this embarrassing information to the press.
Jim Hacker: It's not embarrassing. I've had drinks at the Soviet embassy. That doesn't make me a Russian spy.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: A lot of people, eminent people, influential people have argued that such legislation would be a blow against freedom of choice.
Jim Hacker: Rubbish. I'm not banning smoking itself. Does every tax rise represent a blow against freedom?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, depends how big the tax rise is.
Jim Hacker: Oh, that's fascinating. Does twenty pence represent a blow against freedom?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Prime Minister...
Jim Hacker: Twenty-five pence? Thirty pence? Thirty-one? Is something a blow against freedom simply because it can seriously damage your wealth?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: I foresee all sorts of of unforeseen problems.
Jim Hacker: Such as?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: If I could foresee them, they wouldn't be unforeseen.

Jim Hacker: It says here, smoking related diseases cost the National Health Service £165 million a year.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes but we've been in to that, it has been shown that if those extra 100,000 people had lived to a ripe old age, it would have cost us even more in pensions and social security than it did in medical treatment. So, financially speaking it's unquestionably better that they continue to die at their present rate.

Jim Hacker: We're talking of 100,000 deaths a year.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, but cigarette taxes pay for a third of the cost of the National Health service. We're saving many more lives than we otherwise could, because of those smokers who voluntary lay down their lives for their friends. Smokers are national benefactors.
Jim Hacker: So long as they live.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Grand Design (#1.1)" (1986)
Sir Humphrey: With Trident we could obliterate the whole of Eastern Europe.
Jim Hacker: I don't want to obliterate the whole of Eastern Europe.
Sir Humphrey: It's a deterrent.
Jim Hacker: It's a bluff. I probably wouldn't use it.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, but they don't know that you probably wouldn't.
Jim Hacker: They probably do.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, they probably know that you probably wouldn't. But they can't certainly know.
Jim Hacker: They probably certainly know that I probably wouldn't.
Sir Humphrey: Yes, but even though they probably certainly know that you probably wouldn't, they don't certainly know that, although you probably wouldn't, there is no probability that you certainly would.

Jim Hacker: Nice to be able to reward one's old allies. Was Ron Jones pleased with his peerage?
Bernard Woolley: Oh yes, Prime Minister. He said his members would be delighted.
Jim Hacker: His members?
Bernard Woolley: Yes, the members of his union. The National Federation...
Jim Hacker: I didn't mean him. I meant our backbencher. I meant to give a peerage to Ron Jones, not Ron Jones. The hell!
Bernard Woolley: If it is any consolation, Prime Minister, I gather he was awfully pleased.
Jim Hacker: I bet he was. What are we going to do about Ron Jones's peerage. Give him one too?
Sir Humphrey: With respect, Prime Minister, we can't send two Lord Ron Jones to the Upper House. It will look like a job lot.
Jim Hacker: We got to give him something, I promised.
Sir Humphrey: Well, what is he interested in? Does he watch television?
Jim Hacker: He hasn't even got a set.
Sir Humphrey: Fine, make him a Governor of the BBC.

Jim Hacker: You mean the German ambassador's lunch is government business, but mine isn't?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: That is so. Not just the German ambassador's, of course, any ambassador's.
Jim Hacker: Fine. Bernard, get the diary. On Monday I'll have lunch with the German ambassador. On Tuesday, with the French ambassador; on Wednesday, with the American ambassador. Oh, mustn't leave out the Commonwealth; on Thursday I'll have lunch with the New Zealand High Commissioner. How many countries are there in the UN?
Bernard Woolley: Well 158, Prime minister.
Jim Hacker: Good. That'll take up about six months; then we'll start round again.
Bernard Woolley: Prime Minister, you're not free to have lunch with ambassadors every day. Sometimes there will be other official lunches.
Jim Hacker: Even better. We'll fill up the odd gaps.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I think that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office might have some views on that.
Jim Hacker: Oh, why?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, they always say that one Prime Minister's lunch with an ambassador destroys two years of patient diplomacy. I'm not quite sure how they'd react to 158.

Jim Hacker: You mean there's really no way that we can't not tell them?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Open government, Prime Minister. Freedom of information. We should always tell the press freely and frankly anything that they could easily find out some other way.

Jim Hacker: You know, Humphrey, I've been thinking.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Good.

Sir Humphrey: I understand that were you to cancel Trident you would be met not by the President but by the *Vice* President.
Jim Hacker: The *Vice* President? The *Vice* President? But even Botswana was met by the President, I saw it on TV.

Jim Hacker: You will agree that so far my premiership has been a great success.
Sir Humphrey: Oh, indeed.
Jim Hacker: Yes, and I have been asking myself: "What can I do to continue this run of success?"
Sir Humphrey: Have you considered masterly inactivity?
Jim Hacker: No, Humphrey. A Prime Minister must be firm.
Sir Humphrey: Indeed. How about *firm* masterly inactivity?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Don't you believe that Great Britain should have the best?
Jim Hacker: Yes, of course.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Very well, if you walked into a nuclear missile showroom you would buy Trident - it's lovely, it's elegant, it's beautiful. It is quite simply the best. And Britain should have the best. In the world of the nuclear missile it is the Saville Row suit, the Rolls Royce Corniche, the Château Lafitte 1945. It is the nuclear missile Harrods would sell you. What more can I say?
Jim Hacker: Only that it costs £15 billion and we don't need it.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, you can say that about anything at Harrods.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Ministerial Broadcast (#1.2)" (1986)
[the Prime Minister wants to enact a policy that Humphrey opposes]
Bernard Woolley: He's going to say something new and radical in the broadcast.
Sir Humphrey: What, that silly Grand Design? Bernard, that's precisely what you were there to avoid! How did this come about, I shall need a very good explanation.
Bernard Woolley: Well, he's very keen on it.
Sir Humphrey: What's that got to do with it? Things don't happen just because Prime Ministers are very keen on them! Neville Chamberlain was very keen on peace.

Bernard Woolley: But he's the Prime Minister!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Indeed he is Bernard. 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 Woolley: I think he wants to govern Britain.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well stop him, Bernard.

Sir Humphrey: Ah, Bernard. How is the Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury?
Bernard Woolley: Sleeping peacefully, Sir Humphrey.

Sir Humphrey: It's clear that the Committee has agreed that your new policy is really an excellent plan. But in view of some of the doubts being expressed, may I propose that I recall that after careful consideration, the considered view of the Committee was that, while they considered that the proposal met with broad approval in principle, that some of the principles were sufficiently fundamental in principle, and some of the considerations so complex and finely balanced in practice that in principle it was proposed that the sensible and prudent practice would be to submit the proposal for more detailed consideration, laying stress on the essential continuity of the new proposal with existing principles, the principle of the principal arguments which the proposal proposes and propounds for their approval. In principle.

Sir Humphrey: I don't think we need to bring the truth in at this stage.

Sir Humphrey: Bernard, what is the purpose of our defence policy?
Bernard Woolley: To defend Britain.
Sir Humphrey: No, Bernard. It is to make people *believe* Britain is defended.
Bernard Woolley: The Russians?
Sir Humphrey: Not the Russians, the British! The Russians know it's not.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: [demonstrating how public surveys can reach opposite conclusions] Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think there is lack of discipline and vigorous training in our Comprehensive Schools?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think young people welcome some structure and leadership in their lives?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do they respond to a challenge?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Might you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?
Bernard Woolley: Er, I might be.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes or no?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Of course, after all you've said you can't say no to that. On the other hand, the surveys can reach opposite conclusions.
[survey two]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Are you unhappy about the growth of armaments?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think there's a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think it's wrong to force people to take arms against their will?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Would you oppose the reintroduction of conscription?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
[does a double-take]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: There you are, Bernard. The perfectly balanced sample.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The National Education Service (#2.7)" (1988)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Hello, Bernard. I believe the Prime Minister wants to see me.
Bernard Woolley: Yes, Sir Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: What's his problem?
Bernard Woolley: Education.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, it's a bit late to do anything about that now.
Bernard Woolley: No, no, the education system.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I see. Well, it's a bit late to do anything about that either.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Responsibility without power - the prerogative of the eunuch throughout the ages.

[discussing Hacker's proposal to allow parents to choose their children's school]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: In any case, we're not talking about health; we're talking about education. And, with respect, Prime Minister, I think that the DES will react with some caution to your rather novel proposal.
James Hacker: You mean they'll block it.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I mean they will give it the most serious and urgent consideration, and insist on a thorough and rigorous examination of all the proposals, allied to a detailed feasibility study and budget analysis before producing a consultative document for consideration by all interested bodies and seeking comments and recommendations to be included in a brief for a series of working parties who will produce individual studies which will provide the background for a more wide-ranging document considering whether or not the proposal should be taken forward to the next stage.
James Hacker: You mean they'll block it.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yeah.

[discussing the role of the DES]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Who would plan for the future?
James Hacker: Are you saying that education in Britain today is what the Department *planned*?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, of c... No, of course not!

Sir Humphrey Appleby: [Sir Humphrey has just proven that, despite what the Prime Minister says, he still knows Latin] Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses.
James Hacker: What does that mean?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: If you'd kept your mouth shut, we might have thought you were clever.
James Hacker: I beg your pardon?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, not you, Prime Minister. No, that's the translation.
Bernard Woolley: No one would ever have thought Sir Humphrey was saying that about you.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Go away, Bernard, please.

Bernard Woolley: Yes, but that paper the Party Chairman showed the Prime Minister suggests the whole of the comprehensive system is breaking down.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Bernard! I never thought to hear such language from a loyal member of the Civil Service. Have you been got at by the enemy?
Bernard Woolley: [in a whisper] You mean the Russians?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, Bernard, I don't. I mean the Prime Minister's Political Adviser, that Wainwright female.

Bernard Woolley: [Discussing the Prime Minister's dilemma about education] He can't ignore facts.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: If he can't ignore facts, he's got no business being a politician.


"Yes Minister: The Writing on the Wall (#1.5)" (1980)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister, Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last 500 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?
James Hacker: That's all ancient history, surely.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, and current policy. We had to break the whole thing up, so we had to get inside. We tried to break it up from the outside, but that wouldn't work. Now that we're inside we can make a complete pig's breakfast of the whole thing: set the Germans against the French, the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch. The Foreign Office is terribly pleased; it's just like old times.
James Hacker: Surely we're all committed to the European ideal.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Really, Minister.
[laughs]
James Hacker: If not, why are we pushing for an increase in the membership?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, for the same reason. It's just like the United Nations, in fact. The more members it has, the more arguments it can stir up. The more futile and impotent it becomes.
James Hacker: What appalling cynicism.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes. We call it diplomacy, Minister.

James Hacker: So when this next comes up at Question Time, you want me to tell Parliament that it's *their* fault that the Civil Service is too big?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: But it's the truth, Minister.
James Hacker: I don't want the truth. I want something I can tell Parliament!

[first lines]
James Hacker: I'm still not happy with this report, Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Then, Minister, we shall be happy to redraft it for you.
James Hacker: You've redrafted it three times already.
Bernard Woolley: That's not absolutely correct, Minister.
James Hacker: Yes it is, Bernard. I *can* count. This is the third draft report.
Bernard Woolley: Yes, quite so, Minister. Therefore, it's been drafted once and subsequently redrafted twice.
James Hacker: Don't quibble, Bernard.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: But we shall be happy to redraft it a third time.
James Hacker: And a fourth, and a fifth, and a sixth, no doubt; and it still won't say what I want it to say; it will say what you want it to say and I want it to say what I want it to say.
Bernard Woolley: What do you want it to say, Minister?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: We want it to say what you want it to say, Minister.
Bernard Woolley: I'm sure the Department doesn't want you to say anyting you don't want to say.
James Hacker: Stop wittering!

James Hacker: Will you give me a straight answer to a straight question?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, well, Minister, as long as you are not asking me to resort to crude generalisations and vulgar simplifications such as a simple yes or no, I shall do my utmost to oblige.
James Hacker: Is that yes?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: [long pause as Humphrey considers] Yunp...

James Hacker: All we get from the civil service is delaying tactics.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, I wouldn't call civil service delays "tactics", Minister. That would be to mistake lethargy for strategy.

[last lines]
Bernard Woolley: Can Daniel Hughes really fix this? I mean, don't Prime Ministers have minds of their own?
James Hacker: Oh, certainly. But as President Nixon's henchman once said, when you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow. Right, Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, Minister.

James Hacker: Will you give me a straight answer to a straight question?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, Minister, as long as you are not asking me to resort to crude generalizations and vulgar over-simplifications such as a simple yes or no, I shall do my utmost to oblige.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Bishops Gambit (#1.7)" (1986)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The Queen is inseparable from the Church of England.
Jim Hacker: And what about God?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I think he is what is called an optional extra.

James Hacker: Eccentricity can be a virtue.
Sir Humphrey: If you call it individualism.
Bernard Woolley: That's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it. I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist.

[last lines]
Jim Hacker: How come you know so much about the Dean of Bai... Weren't you at Bailey yourself?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I was, yes.
Jim Hacker: Jobs for the boys, eh?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: On the contrary, Prime Minister, I hardly know him. In fact I happen to know that he dislikes me. You can ask him yourself this evening if you like. I don't like him very much either
Jim Hacker: Honestly?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: On my word of honour.
Jim Hacker: You have nothing to gain from this preferment?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: How could I have?
Jim Hacker: In that case, well done. Helpful, impartial advice. The best traditions of the civil service.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, Prime Minister.

Sir Richard Wharton: I know what we'll do. We'll tell the press that it was the Prime Minister's initiative to send the dean.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, good idea. He'll enjoy taking the credit.
Sir Richard Wharton: But you don't think there's any danger that the PM's denying it just because it isn't true, is there?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Not at all.
Sir Richard Wharton: And then for the Sundays' we leak the idea that the Foreign Office suggested it to HIM when we found all the diplomatic channels blocked.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Perfect. That way nobody gets the blame and everybody gets the credit.
Sir Richard Wharton: Except the person who really thought it up.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, well. I don't mind.

James Hacker: Humphrey, what's a Modernist in the Church of England?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah, well, the word "Modernist" is code for non-believer.
James Hacker: You mean an atheist?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, Prime Minister. An atheist clergyman couldn't continue to draw his stipend. So, when they stop believing in God, they call themselves "Modernists".
James Hacker: How could the Church of England suggest an atheist as Bishop of Bury St Edmunds?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, very easily. The Church of England is primarily a social organization, not a religious one.
James Hacker: Is it?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh yes. It's part of the rich social fabric of this country. So bishops need to be the sorts of chaps who speak properly and know which knife and fork to use. The sort of people one can look up to.

James Hacker: So, the ideal candidate
[for a bishopric]
James Hacker: from the Church of England's point of view would be a cross between a socialite, and a socialist.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Precisely.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: You see, The PM has stated that he wants a devout Christian
[appointed as bishop]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: . Now The Dean only believes in Islam, steam engines, and the MCC
[Marylebone Cricket Club, the governing body of English cricket]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: . In fact, some smart-aleck once asked him on television if he knew what The Bible was.
Peter Harding: And did he?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes. He said it was some Christian version of The Koran.


"Yes Minister: The Moral Dimension (#3.4)" (1982)
[last lines]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Superb, Minister!
Bernard Woolley: Thank you, Minister.
James Hacker: Ah well, it was nothing. One must stick by one's friends, eh, Humphrey. And Bernard. Loyalty.
Sir Humphrey Appleby, Bernard Woolley: Yes, Minister.

James Hacker: Will you answer a direct question?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I strongly advise you not to ask a direct question.
James Hacker: Why?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It might provoke a direct answer.
James Hacker: Never has yet.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: [Bernard has a problem] Tell me about it.
Bernard Woolley: Well, you know that jar the Minister was given in Qumran? Well, the Minister's wife liked it.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I expect she did.
Bernard Woolley: Then when I explained the rules to her, she looked terribly sad.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: They always do.
Bernard Woolley: And then she asked was it really worth more than £50 and she said wouldn't it be marvellous if it wasn't and she sort of... looked at me.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: But my dear Bernard, a 17th century vase...
Bernard Woolley: Yes, I know, I know. But there was this terribly nice Qumrany businessman and we had a... a... a conversation and he valued it as a copy, not as an original. £49.95.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: And you believed him?
Bernard Woolley: Well, yes, he said he was an expert and he spoke Arabic awfully well. And so I accepted his valuation in good faith. After all, Islam is a jolly good faith.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Bernard, you took a grave personal risk. You're lucky nobody's been asking any questions.
Bernard Woolley: Well, that's just it, you see, a journalist from the Guardian saw it in the Minister's house and started to ask a lot of questions. Of course, Mrs Hacker said it was a copy, but, well the Press are so... horribly suspicious of things.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Despicable.
Bernard Woolley: So what shall I do?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The Minister must be told.

James Hacker: Bernard, any messages?
Bernard Woolley: Well, there is one for Sir Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, good.
Bernard Woolley: The Soviet Embassy on the line. Mr Smirnoff.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Sorry. So sorry.
James Hacker: Isn't there one for me?
Bernard Woolley: There was a message from the Embassy, the school - a delegation of Teachers.
James Hacker: Ah, I must go and greet the Teachers... before the Bells goes... bell goes!

Bernard Woolley: Minister, can I have a private word with Sir Humphrey?
James Hacker: You may speak freely, Bernie.
Bernard Woolley: Yes... Oh, there was a message for you in the communications room. The VAT man, your 69 returns.
James Hacker: What?
Bernard Woolley: VAT 69.
James Hacker: Oh. Ah! Yes... thanks.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the minister has had almost as many urgent messages as he can take.

James Hacker: Ah, Lawrence of Arabia, you're wanted in the communications room.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, good. Er, who is it?
James Hacker: Napoleon!


"Yes Minister: The Economy Drive (#1.3)" (1980)
[Discussing property owned by the Department of Administrative Affairs]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ladysmith House is top secret.
James Hacker: How can a seven storey building in Walthamstow be top secret?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Where there's a will, there's a way.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Politicians like to panic. They need activity; it's their substitute for achievement!

James Hacker: How many people have we got in this department?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Er... in this department? Oh. Very small.
James Hacker: Small? How small?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I don't know...
James Hacker: 2,000? 3,000?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: [Counts on his fingers] Um. About 23,000 I think, Minister.

James Hacker: It is very popular with the voters, Humphrey. Gives them at chance to help us to finds ways to stop wasting government money.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The public doesn't know anything about wasting government money. We're the experts.

[Frank Weisel has told Hacker about a northwest regional controller who have managed to save 32 million pounds]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: He told you it was 32 million pounds?
Bernard Woolley: Yes, Sir Humprhey.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I'm aghast.
Bernard Woolley: So was I. I mean it's incredible we didn't know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I knew about it.
Bernard Woolley: Then why are you aghast?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I'm aghast that it got out.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Tangled Web (#2.8)" (1988)
James Hacker: I mean, why should we bug Hugh Halifax's telephone? I mean, one of my own administration. Don't know where they got such a daft idea. Sheer paranoia.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, the only thing is...
James Hacker: I mean, why should we listen in to MPs? Boring, stupid ignorant windbags, I do my best *not* to listen to them. He's only a PPS. *I* have enough trouble finding out what's going on at the Ministry of Defence, what could *he* know?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: So I gather you denied that Mr Halifax's phone had been bugged.
James Hacker: Well, obviously. It was the one question today to which I could give a clear, simple, straightforward, honest answer.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes. 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 bear.
James Hacker: Epistemological? What are you talking about?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: You told a lie.

James Hacker: But it wasn't my fault. I didn't know he was being bugged.
Bernard Woolley: Prime Minister, you are deemed to have known. You are ultimately responsible.
James Hacker: Why wasn't I told?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The Home Secretary might not have felt the need to infrom you.
James Hacker: Why?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Perhaps he didn't know either. Or perhaps he'd been advised that you did not need to know.
James Hacker: Well I did need to know.
Bernard Woolley: 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 this time known or needed.
James Hacker: What!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: We could not know that you would deny it in the House.
James Hacker: Well, obviously I would if I didn't know and I were asked.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: We did not know that you would be asked when you didn't know.
James Hacker: But I was bound to be asked when I didn't know if I didn't know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: What?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: We can issue a clarification.
James Hacker: I think you've already made yourself very clear.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, Prime Minister, a clarification is not to make oneself clear. It is to put oneself *in* the clear.

[discussing Sir Humphrey's upcoming interview with Ludovic Kennedy]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: His researchers mentioned that lots of people are interested to know why so much power is centralised in my hands.
James Hacker: Lots of people? Hardly anybody's ever heard of you, Humphrey.
Bernard Woolley: Perhaps they meant lots of Radio 3 listeners.
James Hacker: That's a contradiction in terms.

James Hacker: It was the one question today to which I could give a clear, simple, straightforward, honest answer.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes. Unfortunately although the answer was indeed clear, simple and straightforward, there is some difficulty in justifiably assigning to it the 4th of the epithets you applied to the statement, in as much as the precise correlation between the information you communicated and the facts, in so far 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 bear.
James Hacker: What are you talking about?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: You... told a lie.


"Yes Minister: The Skeleton in the Cupboard (#3.3)" (1982)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: If local authorities don't send us the statistics that we ask for, then government figures will be a nonsense.
James Hacker: Why?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: They will be incomplete.
James Hacker: But government figures are a nonsense anyway.
Bernard Woolley: I think Sir Humphrey want to ensure they are a complete nonsense.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: 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 whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of defining by means of the perpendicular pronoun.
James Hacker: I beg your pardon?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It was... I.

[last lines]
James Hacker: How am I going to explain the missing documents to "The Mail"?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, this is what we normally do in circumstnces like these.
James Hacker: [reads memo] 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, some correspondence lost in the floods of 1967...
James Hacker: Was 1967 a particularly bad winter?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, a marvellous winter. We lost no end of embarrassing files.
James Hacker: [reads] 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 libel or breach of confidence or cause embarrassment to friendly governments.
James Hacker: That's pretty comprehensive. How many does that normally leave for them to look at?
James Hacker: How many does it actually leave? About a hundred?... Fifty?... Ten?... Five?... Four?... Three?... Two?... One?... *Zero?*
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, Minister.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Administration is eternal.
Bernard Woolley: Forever and ever.
Sir Humphrey Appleby, Bernard Woolley: Amen.

Bernard Woolley: [on the phone] Hello, Graham, it's Bernard. Tell Sir Humphrey that the Minister's just gone walkabout. Yes, yes, AWOL. Well, of course I told him, yes. I know. I think you'd better let him know right away.
[hangs up]
Bernard Woolley: One... two... three... four... five... six... seven... eight... nine... TEN.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: [arrives at the office] What's all this about?
Bernard Woolley: The minister's just left the office, that's all.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: That's all? Do you mean he's loose in the building? Why didn't you warn me?
Bernard Woolley: I did advise him, but he is the minister. There's no prohibition aga inst ministers talking to their staff.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Who's he talking to?
Bernard Woolley: Perhaps he was just restless.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: If the minister's restless, he can feed the ducks in St James's Park!
Bernard Woolley: Yes, Sir Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Tell me who the minister's talking to.
Bernard Woolley: Well, surely the minister can talk to anyone.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Bernard... I'm in the middle of writing your annual report. Now, it is not a responsibility that either of us would wish me to discharge whilst I am in a bad temper. Who's the minister talking to?
Bernard Woolley: Perhaps you could help me. I can see that you should know if he calls on an outsider. I fail to see why you should be informed if he just wants to, to take a hypothetical example, to check a point with... Dr Cartwright...
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Thank you, Bernard. Must fly.
Bernard Woolley: Room 4017.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I know.


"Yes Minister: Jobs for the Boys (#1.7)" (1980)
[Sir Humphrey is interviewing a prospective appointee]
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: So it all boils down to the Industry Co-partnership Commission. Still, I find that quite acceptable.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, it is within the gift of my Minister, and you need only put in appearances once or twice a month.
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Are there lots of papers?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, but it wouldn't be awfully necessary to read them.
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Then I wouldn't have anything to say at the monthly meetings.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Splendid, I can see you're just the chap I'm looking for.

Bernard Woolley: How was Watergate different, exactly?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Watergate happened in America, Bernard.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Bernard, Ministers should never know more than they need to know. Then they can't tell anyone. Like secret agents, they could be captured and tortured.
Bernard Woolley: You mean by terrorists?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: By the BBC, Bernard.

[last lines]
Frank Weisel: What about my quango paper, then?
James Hacker: Invaluable. Take it with you.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I'll, um, I'll keep a copy if I may. On the files.
James Hacker: With the Solihull report?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, Minister.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Key (#1.4)" (1986)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Prime Minister, I must protest in the strongest possible terms my profound opposition to a newly instituted practice 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 co-ordinated discharge of the function of government within Her Majesty's United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Jim Hacker: You mean you've lost your key?

Jim Hacker: People can wait in the lobby. Or in the state rooms.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Some people. But some people must wait where other people cannot see the people who are waiting. And people who arrive before other people must wait where they cannot see the people who arrive after them being admitted before them. And people who come in from outside must wait where they cannot see the people from inside coming in to tell you what the people from outside have come to see you about. And people who arrive when you are with people they are not supposed to know you have seen must wait somewhere until the people who are not supposed to have seen you have seen you.

[the PM is considering taking the joint headship of the civil service away from Humphrey and making Frank the full head]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, Frank.
Sir Frank Gordon: Yes?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Good meeting with the PM?
Sir Frank Gordon: Yes, very good.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Good. Any particular subject come up?
Sir Frank Gordon: Any particular subject you're interested in?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, not particularly. He didn't raise the issue of service appointments and so on?
Sir Frank Gordon: It may have cropped up.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Did he foreshadow any redistribution of responsibility?
Sir Frank Gordon: Shall we say it was a wide-ranging discussion.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Did it move towards any conclusion?
Sir Frank Gordon: There were arguments on both sides.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Evenly balanced?
Sir Frank Gordon: Perhaps tending slightly more one way than the other.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: But nothing to worry about?
Sir Frank Gordon: Nothing for *me* to worry about. See you this afternoon.

Bernard Woolley: My God!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, Bernard. It's just your boss.


"Yes Minister: Party Games (#3.8)" (1984)
[there has arisen the possibility of James Hacker becoming Prime Minister]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: How would you feel about your present master as the next Prime Minister?
[Bernard looks at his watch]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Are you in a hurry?
Bernard Woolley: No, I was just checking my watch to see it wasn't April 1st!

[the Home Secretary has been forced to resign after a drink-driving incident]
James Hacker: What will happen to him?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, I gather he was as drunk as a lord. So, after a discreet interval, they'll probably make him one.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: How are things at the Campaign for the Freedom of Information, by the way?
Sir Arnold Robinson: Sorry, I can't talk about that.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: I think they refer to it as "horizontal jogging".


"Yes Minister: The Compassionate Society (#2.1)" (1981)
[Jim Hacker has just learned about a brand new hospital with a staff of 500 administrators, but no doctors, nurses or patients from his driver]
James Hacker: Humphrey I'm appauled!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: So am I, minister!
James Hacker: The incompetence of it all. The stupidity!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I agree. I can't think what came over you!

Sir Humphrey Appleby: We are going to get some patients into St. Edwards... eventually, aren't we?
Sir Ian Whitchurch: It's possible. Certainly our present intention. In a year or two. Probably.

[last lines]
James Hacker: Tell the press that it was *my* decision, and that everybody's happy.
Bernard Woolley: Uh, do, do you want to give them a quote, Minister?
James Hacker: Oh, why not. Say it was a tough decision, but a necessary one... if Britain is to retain the name of, um...
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The compassionate society, Minister?
James Hacker: Thank you, Humphrey. The compassionate society. You got that, Bernard?
Bernard Woolley: Oh, uh, yes, Minister.


"Yes Minister: The Right to Know (#1.6)" (1980)
James Hacker: The department prepared this. "No loss of amenity" it says.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, Minister, not no loss of amenity; no *significant* loss of amenity.
James Hacker: Well, same thing.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: On the contrary, there is all the difference in the world. Almost anything can be attacked as a loss of amenity, and almost anything can be defended as not a significant loss of amenity, which seems to signify that one should appreciate the significance of significant.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister, I have something to say to you which you may not like to hear.
James Hacker: Why should today be any different?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: 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 that are the inevitable concomitant of their exalted position.
James Hacker: Now, whatever made you think I wouldn't want to hear that?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, I thought it might upset you.
James Hacker: 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 Appleby: If you insist. You are *not* here to run this Department.
James Hacker: I beg your pardon.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: You are *not* here to run this Department.
James Hacker: I think I am. The people think I am, too.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: With respect, Minister, you are... they are wrong
James Hacker: And who does run this Department?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I do.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister, I have something to say to you which you may not like to hear.
James Hacker: Why should today be any different?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: 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.
James Hacker: I wonder what made you think I didn't want to hear that?


"Yes, Prime Minister: Man Overboard (#2.1)" (1987)
Bernard Woolley: But, you only need to know things on a need-to-know basis.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I need to know *everything*. How else can I judge whether or not I need to know it?
Bernard Woolley: So that means you need to know things even when you don't need to know them. You need to know them not because you need to know them but because you need to know whether or not you need to know. If you don't need to know, you still need to know so that you know that there is no need to know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes!
Bernard Woolley: Good. That's very clear!

James Hacker: May I remind the Secretary of State for Defence that every problem is also an opportunity?
Several Ministers: Hear, hear!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I think that the Secretary of State for Defence fears that this may create some insoluble opportunities.

Employment Secretary: Prime Minister, why was my request for a further discussion and your reply not minuted?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah, Prime Minister... 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 officially recorded in the minutes by the officials, from which it emerges with an elegant inevitability that any decision which has been officially reached will 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 had been officially reached it would have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials. And it isn't so it wasn't.


"Yes Minister: The Quality of Life (#2.6)" (1981)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Didn't you read the Financial Times this morning?
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Never do.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well you're a banker, surely you read the Financial Times?
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Can't understand it. Full of economic theory.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Why do you buy it?
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Oh, you know, it's part of the uniform.

Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Surely once a Minister has made his decision, that's it, isn't it?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: What on earth gave you that idea?
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Surely a decision is a decision.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Only if it is the decision you want. If not it's just a temporary setback.

James Hacker: After all, Humphrey, who are you serving: God or Mammon?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I'm serving you, Minister.


"Yes Minister: The Greasy Pole (#2.4)" (1981)
James Hacker: This is a democracy, and the people don't like it.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The people are ignorant and misguided.
James Hacker: Humphrey, it was the people who elected me!
[Humphrey nods]

Sir Humphrey Appleby: A minister can do what he likes.
James Hacker: It's the people's will. I am their leader. I must follow them.

Joan Littler: What does "inert" mean?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Eh, it means it's not... ert.
Bernard Woolley: Wouldn't 'urt a fly.


"Yes Minister: Doing the Honours (#2.2)" (1981)
The Master of Ballie College: How might one set about persuading a Minister of the importance of Baillie College?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, I don't know. Why don't you get him down here to a High Table dinner?
The Master of Ballie College: Is he of the intellectual caliber to understand our case?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh yes. Well, surely our case is intelligible to anyone with the intellectual caliber of of Winnie-the-Pooh.
The Master of Ballie College: Quite. And Hacker *is* of the intellectual caliber of Winnie-the-Pooh?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh yes. On his day.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister, if you block honours pending economies, you might create a dangerous precedent.
James Hacker: You mean that if we do the right thing this time, we might have to do the right thing again next time. It seems on that philosophy, nothing would ever get done at all.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: On the contrary, many, many things must be done...
Sir Humphrey Appleby, James Hacker: [together] but nothing must be done for the first time.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, no, Minister. What I mean is that I am fully seized of your aims and of course I will do my utmost to see that they are put into practice.
James Hacker: If you would.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: And to that end, I recommend that we set up an interdepartmental committee with fairly broad terms of reference so that at the end of the day we'll be in the position to think through the various implications and arrive at a decision based on long-term considerations rather than rush prematurely into precipitate and possibly ill-conceived action which might well have unforeseen repercussions.
James Hacker: You mean no.

James Hacker: I'm not going to approve any honour to any civil servant in this department who hasn't earned it.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: What do you mean "earned it"?
James Hacker: I mean "earned it". "Done something to deserve it".
Sir Humphrey Appleby: [indignantly] But that's unheard of!


"Yes, Prime Minister: A Conflict of Interest (#2.4)" (1987)
Sir Humphrey: The only way to understand the Press is to remember that they pander to their readers' prejudices.
Jim Hacker: Don't tell me about the Press. I know *exactly* who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by the 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 the people who actually *do* run the country. The Daily Mail 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 the people who think it is.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?
Bernard Woolley: Sun readers don't care *who* runs the country - as long as she's got big tits.

[discussing a financial scandal]
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: They've broken the rules.
Sir Humphrey: What, you mean the insider trading regulations?
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: No.
Sir Humphrey: Oh. Well, that's one relief.
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: I mean of course they've broken those, but they've broken the basic, the basic rule of the City.
Sir Humphrey: I didn't know there were any.
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Just the one. If you're incompetent you have to be honest, and if you're crooked you have to be clever. See, if you're honest, then when you make a pig's breakfast of things the chaps rally round and help you out.
Sir Humphrey: If you're crooked?
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Well, if you're making good profits for them, chaps don't start asking questions; they're not stupid. Well, not that stupid.
Sir Humphrey: So the ideal is a firm which is honest and clever.
Sir Desmond Glazebrook: Yes. Let me know if you ever come across one, won't you.


"Yes, Prime Minister: One of Us (#1.8)" (1986)
[Could Sir Humphrey be a Russian spy?]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: So, what do you think I should do, Arnold?
Sir Arnold Robinson: Difficult. Depends a bit on whether you actually *were* spying or not.

Sir Humphrey: Arnold, are you suggesting that I should have the Prime Minister crawling all over Salisbury Plain, with a mine detector in one hand and a packet of Winalot in the other?
Sir Arnold Robinson: It would probably do Britain less harm than anything else he is likely to be doing.


"Yes Minister: Equal Opportunities (#3.1)" (1982)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister, it takes time to do things 'now'.
James Hacker: The three articles of civil service faith: it takes longer to do things quickly; it's more expensive to do them cheaply; it's more democratic to do them in secret.

[about Hacker's plan to promote more women in the civil service]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister. I have come to the conclusion that you were right.
James Hacker: Are you being serious, Humphrey?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes indeed, Minister. I am fully-seized of your ideas and have taken them on board and I am now positively against discrimination against women and positively in favour of positive discrimination in their favour - discriminating discrimination of course.


"Yes Minister: The Death List (#2.3)" (1981)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Surveillance is an indispensable weapon in the battle against organized crime.
James Hacker: You're not describing politicians as organized crime?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No... well, disorganized crime too of course.

James Hacker: This can't go on, Humphrey!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I'm glad you said that, minister, because it isn't going to. We have just heard from the Special Branch that your protection is being withdrawn.
James Hacker: Ah, now wait a minute. I... I... I didn't mean... But why?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, the police have suffered an acute personnel establishment shortfall.
James Hacker: They what?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: They're short-staffed, so they can no longer continue protecting you.
James Hacker: Short-staffed?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, because of the much more real and dangerous threat to the Soviet Premier at the Chequers meeting tomorrow.
James Hacker: But he's Russian. I'm British.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, in fact, minister the special branch have reason to believe the threat to your life has been diminished.
James Hacker: How do they know?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Surveillance. They overheard a conversation.
James Hacker: What did it say?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, I don't think it is of any imp...
James Hacker: Come on, Humphrey, I have a right to know!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: 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.
James Hacker: They said that?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: That was the gist of it.


"Yes, Prime Minister: A Diplomatic Incident (#2.3)" (1987)
James Hacker: Don't we ever get our own way with the French?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, sometimes.
James Hacker: When was the last time?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Battle of Waterloo, 1815.

[last lines]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Mais oui, Prime Minister.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Patron of the Arts (#2.6)" (1988)
James Hacker: It is to be to a hostile audience of posturing, self-righteous, theatrical drunks.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The House of Commons you mean?

James Hacker: Humphrey, I need help.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: You do. You do?
James Hacker: I've got to make a speech. It could be very embarrassing.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, Prime Minister. Your speeches are nothing like as embarrassing as they used to be.
James Hacker: I didn't say the speech would be embarrassing, I said the occassion could.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah, yes, yes, indeed. Why?
James Hacker: It's to be to a hostile audience of posturing, self-righteous, theatrical drunks.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The House of Commons, you mean?


"Yes Minister: The Whisky Priest (#3.6)" (1982)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: What's the matter, Bernard?
Bernard Woolley: Oh nothing really, Sir Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: You look unhappy.
Bernard Woolley: Well, I was just wondering if the minister was right, actually.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Very unlikely. What about?
Bernard Woolley: About ends and means. I mean, will I end up as a moral vacuum too?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, I hope so, Bernard. If you work hard enough.
Bernard Woolley: I actually feel rather downcast. If it's our job to carry out government policies, shouldn't we believe in them?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Huh, what an extraordinary idea.
Bernard Woolley: Why?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Bernard, I have served eleven governments in the past thirty years. If I had believed in all their policies, I would have been passionately committed to keeping out of the Common Market, and passionately committed to going into it. I would have been utterly convinced of the rightness of nationalising steel. And of denationalising it and renationalising it. On capital punishment, I'd have been a fervent retentionist and an ardent abolishionist. I would've been a Keynesian and a Friedmanite, a grammar school preserver and destroyer, a nationalisation freak and a privatisation maniac; but above all, I would have been a stark, staring, raving schizophrenic.

Bernard Woolley: So what do we believe in?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: At this moment, Bernard, we believe in stopping the minister from informing the Prime Minister.
Bernard Woolley: But why?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Because once the Prime Minister knows, there will have to be an enquiry, like Watergate. The investigation of a trivial break-in led to one ghastly revelation after another and finally the downfall of a president. The golden rule is don't lift lids off cans of worms. Everything is connected to everything else. Who said that?
Bernard Woolley: The Cabinet Secretary?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Nearly right. Actually, it was Lenin.
Bernard Woolley: How do you stop a Cabinet Minister talking to a Prime Minister?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Interesting question. You tell me.
Bernard Woolley: I don't know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Work it out. You're supposed to be a high flier. Or are you really a low-flier supported by occasional gusts of wind?
Bernard Woolley: Well, YOU can't stop the minister seeing the PM, can you?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I can't.
Bernard Woolley: Nor can the private office at No.10.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Correct.
Bernard Woolley: It has to be someone high up in government.
Bernard Woolley: Someone close to the PM. Someone who can frighten the minister... The Chief Whip?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Excellent, you've learnt a lot. So, how do you crack the whip?
Bernard Woolley: I'm sorry?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: How do you mobilise the Chief Whip?
Bernard Woolley: The minister's asked me to phone the PM's private office for an appointment, so if you had a word with the Cabinet Secretary, and he had a word with the diary secretary, and they all had a word with the Whip's office, then when the minister arrived, the Whip could meet him and say the PM is busy and asked him to have a word with the minister instead.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Excellent, Bernard. You should have taken a degree in engineering!
[Bernard picks up the phone]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: What are you doing?
Bernard Woolley: I thought you wanted the Cabinet Secretary.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I do, indeed. Now, do you, as the minister's private secretary, feel obliged to tell the minister of this conversation?
Bernard Woolley: What conversation?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well done, Bernard. You'll be a moral vacuum yet!


"Yes, Prime Minister: Power to the People (#2.5)" (1988)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: 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 certain promising lines of enquiry which when pursued led to the realization that the alternative courses of action might in fact, in certain circumstances, be susceptible of discreet modification, leading to a reappraisal of the original areas of difference and pointing the way to encouraging possibilities of compromise and cooperation which if bilaterally implemented with appropriate give and take on both sides might if the climate were right have a reasonable possibility at the end of the day of leading, rightly or wrongly, to a mutually satisfactory resolution.
James Hacker: What the hell are you talking about?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: We did a deal.

Agnes Moorhouse: Animals have rights too, you know. A battery chicken's life isn't worth living. Would you want to spend your life packed in with six hundred other desperate, squawking, smelly creatures, unable to breathe fresh air, unable to move, unable to stretch, unable to think?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Certainly not. That's why I never stood for parliament.


"Yes Minister: The Official Visit (#1.2)" (1980)
[Discussing response to an inflammatory speech by a foreign diplomat]
James Hacker: Humphrey, do you think it's a good idea to issue a statement?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, Minister, in practical terms we have the usual six options. One, do nothing. Two, issue a statement deploring the speech. Three, lodge an official protest. Four, cut off aid. Five, break off diplomatic relations; and six, declare war.
James Hacker: Which should we do?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, if we do nothing we implicitly agree with the speech. Two: if we issue a statement we'll 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 though we were over-reacting.
Martin - Foreign Secretary: In the old days we'd have sent in a gunboat.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes.
James Hacker: I suppose that is absolutely out of the question.


"Yes Minister: Big Brother (#1.4)" (1980)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It must be hard for a political adviser to understand this, but I'm merely a civil servant. I simply do as I am instructed by my master.
James Hacker: What happens when a Minister is a woman, what'll you call her?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, that is rather interesting. We sought an answer to that point when I was Principal Private Secretary and Dr. Edith Summerskill - as she then was - was appointed Minister in 1947. I didn't quite like to refer to her as my mistress.
James Hacker: What was the answer?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, we're still waiting for it.


"Yes Minister: The Challenge (#3.2)" (1982)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: [talking about nuclear fallout shelters] Well, you have the weapons, you must have the shelters.
James Hacker: I sometimes wonder why we need the weapons.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister! You're not a unilateralist?
James Hacker: I sometimes wonder, you know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well then you must resign from the government!
James Hacker: Ah, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I'm not *that* unilateralist! Anyway, the Americans will always protect us from the Russians, won't they?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Russians? Who's talking about the Russians?
James Hacker: Well, the independent deterrent.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It's to protect us against the French!


"Yes Minister: Open Government (#1.1)" (1980)
[Jim Hacker is being introduced to his new position as Minister]
James Hacker: Who else is in this department?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well briefly, sir, I am the Permanent Under Secretary of State, known as the Permanent Secretary. Woolley here is your Principal Private Secretary, I too have a Principal Private Secretary and he is the Principal Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary. Directly responsible to me are ten Deputy Secretaries, eighty-seven Under Secretaries and two hunddred and nineteen Assistant Secretaries. Directly responsible to the Principal Private Secretaries are plain Private Secretaries, and the Prime Minister will be appointing two Parliamentary Under-Secretaries and you will be appointing your own Parliamentary Private Secretary.
James Hacker: Do they all type?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: None of us can type, Minister. Mrs. McKay types. She's the secretary.


"Yes Minister: The Bed of Nails (#3.5)" (1982)
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Formulating policy means making choices. Once you do that, you please the people that you favour, but infuriate everybody else. One vote gained, ten lost. If you give the job to the road services, the rail board and unions will scream. Give it to the railways, the road lobby will massacre you. Cut British Airways investment plans, they'll hold a devastating press conference that same day.
James Hacker: But I'm going to be Transport Supremo!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I believe the Civil Service vernacular is Transport Muggins!
James Hacker: No, the Prime Minister has asked me to undertake this task, this necessary duty. After all, we must all endeavour to do our duty. Furthermore, Sir Mark thinks there may be votes in it. And if so, I don't intend to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I put it to you, Minister, that you are looking a Trojan horse in the mouth!
James Hacker: If we look closely at this gift horse, we'll find it full of Trojans?
Bernard Woolley: If you had looked a Trojan horse in the mouth, Minister, you'd have found Greeks inside. Well the point is, it was the Greeks who gave the Trojan horse to the Trojans, so technically, it wasn't a Trojan horse at all, it was a Greek horse. Hence the tag "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes", which you'll recall, is usually and somewhat inaccurately translated as "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts". Or doubtless you would have recalled had you not attended the LSE.
James Hacker: Greek tags are all very well, but can we stick to the point?
Bernard Woolley: Sorry, Greek tags?
James Hacker: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts". I suppose the EEC equivalent would be, "Beware Greeks bearing an olive oil surplus"!
Bernard Woolley: No, the point is, Minister, just as the Trojan horse was Greek, what you call a Greek tag is, in fact, Latin. It's obvious, really: The Greeks would never suggest bewaring of themselves, if one can use such a participle, and it's clearly Latin not because "Timeo" ends in "o", as the Greek first person also ends in "o". No, there is a Greek word "Timao" meaning "I honour", but the "os" ending is a nominative singular termination of a second declension in Greek and an accusative plural in Latin, though actually Danaos is not only the Greek for Greek, it's also the Latin for Greek.