Bernard Woolley
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Quotes for
Bernard Woolley (Character)
from "Yes Minister" (1980)

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"Yes, Prime Minister: A Victory for Democracy (#1.6)" (1986)
James Hacker: Are you telling me the Foreign Office is keeping something from me?
Bernard Woolley: Yes.
James Hacker: Well, what?
Bernard Woolley: I don't know; they're keeping it from me too.
James Hacker: How do you know?
Bernard Woolley: I don't know.
James Hacker: You just said that the Foreign Office sas keeping something from me. How do you know if you don't know?
Bernard Woolley: I don't know specifically what, Prime Minister, but I do know the Foreign Office always keep everything from everybody. It's normal practice.

James Hacker: Apparently the White House thinks that the Foreign Office is full of pinkos and traitors.
Bernard Woolley: No, it's not. Well, not full.

James Hacker: I was on the receiving end of some frightful pressure from the American ambassador at that drinkies do last night.
Bernard Woolley: Ah.
James Hacker: Apparently they'd heard about my plan to cancel Trident.
James Hacker: Ah.
James Hacker: It seems that the American defence industries are among the biggest contributors to the President's party funds.
Bernard Woolley: Ah.
James Hacker: Then he said we had a big problem in East Yemen.
Bernard Woolley: Ah?
James Hacker: Stop saying "ah" like that, Bernard. I'm not your doctor.
Bernard Woolley: I'm sorry, Prime Minister.
James Hacker: What is this big problem in East Yemen?
Bernard Woolley: Ah...
James Hacker: Thank you, Bernard.

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.

Jim Hacker: Who knows Foreign Office secrets, apart from the Foreign Office?
Bernard Woolley: That's easy. Only the Kremlin.


"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.

Jim Hacker: So let us be abundantly clear about this. We cannot go on paying ourselves more than we earn. The rest of the world does not owe us a living. We must be prepared to make sacrifices and... Who wrote this rubbish?
Bernard Woolley: You did, Prime Minister. It's one of your old speeches.

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.

James Hacker: [reading a speech written for him] "We shall of course be reviewing a wide range of options over the whole field of government expenditures." Bernard, this doesn't say anything.
Bernard Woolley: Oh, thank you, Prime Minister.
James Hacker: It's completely lacking impact.
Bernard Woolley: You're too kind, Prime Minster.


"Yes, Prime Minister: A Real Partnership (#1.5)" (1986)
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.

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.

James Hacker: Bernard. Humphrey should have seen this coming and warned me.
Bernard Woolley: I don't think Sir Humphrey understands economics, Prime Minister. He did read classics, you know?
James Hacker: How about Sir Frank? He is head of the Treasury.
Bernard Woolley: Well, I'm afraid he's in even greater disadvantage in understanding economics. He's an economist.

James Hacker: If there were a conflict of interests which side would the civil service really be on?
Bernard Woolley: The winning side, Prime Minister.


"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.

Bernard Woolley: [Around at the Hackers' flat] Oh, there's that jar from Qumran.
Annie Hacker: Yes, funny enough, a friend of mine was round this afternoon and was frightfully interested in it.
Bernard Woolley: Oh, really?
Annie Hacker: Her name's Jenny Goodwin, from "The Guardian".
Bernard Woolley: The Guardian?
Annie Hacker: She asked where it came from.
Bernard Woolley: A journalist?
Annie Hacker: Yes. Well, the Guardian, anyway. She asked what it was worth. I said about £50.
Bernard Woolley: You said about £50.
Annie Hacker: Yes, funny enough, she thought it was genuine.
Bernard Woolley: She thought it was genuine.
Annie Hacker: Yes. Bernard, you sound like an answering machine.
Bernard Woolley: Oh, I'm sorry.
Annie Hacker: She asked if I mind if she rang up the Qumrany Embassy to ask what it was worth.
Bernard Woolley: To ask what it was worth.
[Annie gives him a strange look]
Bernard Woolley: Oh, ah, so what did you say?
Annie Hacker: Oh, I said by all means. It is only a copy, isn't it, Bernard?
Bernard Woolley: Well, uh, so far as I'm... so I'm... lead to...
[glances at his watch]
Bernard Woolley: Good gracious, is that the time?

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.

Bernard Woolley: Minister, there's an urgent call for you in the communications room. A Mr Haig.
James Hacker: General Haig?
Bernard Woolley: No, MR Haig. You know, with the dimples.
James Hacker: Yes, yes. Do excuse me. Most important.

James Hacker: Bernard. Wanted in the communications room. A Mr John Walker.
Bernard Woolley: Johnnie Walker?
James Hacker: Yes, from the Scotch Office... Sorry. Scottish Office.
Annie Hacker: Isn't there a message for me?
James Hacker: Yes, of course. Bernard will get it for you if you give him your glass. If you... give him your glass, he'll get you some more orange juice.

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.


"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: But we can't stab our partners in the back and spit in their face.
Bernard Woolley: You can't stab anyone in the back while you spit in their face.

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!

Bernard Woolley: [to Sir Humphrey and Sir Arnold] Wouldn't it be interesting if ministers were fixed and permanent secretaries were shuffled around?
[both Sir Humphrey and Sir Arnold look shocked that somebody could even think of such an outrageous idea]

[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 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 has shooed Hacker out of the office of a colleague]
James Hacker: Bernard, how did Sir Humphrey know I was with Dr. Cartwright?
Bernard Woolley: God moves in a mysterious way.
James Hacker: Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Humphrey is not God, OK?
Bernard Woolley: Will you tell him or shall I?

Bernard Woolley: Well it is understood if Ministers want to know anything it will be brought to their notice. If they go out looking for information they might... oh well, they might...
James Hacker: ...find it?

Bernard Woolley: He's coming round now.
James Hacker: Why, did he faint?

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, 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: [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.

James Hacker: You think I could? Grasp the nettle? Take the bull by the horns?
Bernard Woolley: Prime Minister, you can't take the bull by the horns if you're grasping the nettle.
James Hacker: Oh, really, Bernard?
Bernard Woolley: All I meant was, if you grasp the nettle with one hand, you could take the bull by one horn with the other hand, but not both horns because your hand isn't big enough. And if you did take the bull by one horn, it would be rather dangerous because
[he acts out a bull butting out at someone]
Bernard Woolley: . Well, it was just a mixed metaphor, and since we were discussing education, I, I just...
[phone rings]
Bernard Woolley: Thank God.

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, Prime Minister: The Key (#1.4)" (1986)
Jim Hacker: Bernard, I really don't want Humphrey putting his head round the door during this meeting.
Bernard Woolley: Well, I'll do my best, Prime Minister.
Jim Hacker: That may not be good enough, Bernard. Dorothy tells me that technically Humphrey's supposed to phone you from the cabinet office before he comes through to Number Ten; is that true?
Bernard Woolley: Well, perhaps in theory, but it's really just a formality.
Jim Hacker: Good. Humphrey likes formality.

Bernard Woolley: As they say, it's a custom more honoured in the breach than in the observance.
Jim Hacker: Oh really, Bernard, must you and Humphrey really always express yourself in this roundabout and pompous way? "More honoured in the breach than the observance"! Must you always distort and destroy the most beautiful language in the world - the language of Shakespeare?
Bernard Woolley: That *is* Shakespeare, Prime Minister.

Jim Hacker: But me no buts, Bernard. Shakespeare.
Bernard Woolley: Oh no, Prime Minister. "But me no buts" is circa 1820. Mrs Centlivre used the phrase in 1708, but actually it was Scott's employment of it in 'The Antiquary' in 1816 which made it fashionable.
Jim Hacker: Shall we keep to the point please, Bernard?

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

Jim Hacker: Bernard, I want you to put Dorothy back into her old office.
Bernard Woolley: You mean, carry her there?


"Yes Minister: A Question of Loyalty (#2.7)" (1981)
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.

James Hacker: Why is it that Ministers can't ever go anywhere without their briefs?
Bernard Woolley: It's in case they get caught with their trousers 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.

James Hacker: I have backed you up, Humphrey, in just the same way that you have always backed me up. Isn't that so?
[Sir Humphrey is so shocked he can only utter some unintelligible words]
James Hacker: [to Sir Humphrey] Did you say something?
Bernard Woolley: I think he said "Yes, minister".

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: 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!

Annie Hacker: [Bernard is waiting at the Hackers' flat for the Minister to come home] He's obviously been held up. You can stamp some of these cards for me while you're waiting if you like.
Bernard Woolley: Oh, but aren't they to constituents?
Annie Hacker: Yes.
Bernard Woolley: Well, that's not government business, Mrs Hacker, that's political activity. I'm not allowed to help with the Minister's political activities.
Annie Hacker: Suppose they were all to journalists?
Bernard Woolley: Oh, that would be alright.
Annie Hacker: They're all to journalists.
Bernard Woolley: Fine. I suppose licking is an essential part of relationships with the press.

Bernard Woolley, James Hacker, Annie Hacker: Have you heard the news?
Bernard Woolley, James Hacker, Annie Hacker: Yes!

Bernard Woolley: So the resignation is to give time for the new leader to be run in before the next election?
Annie Hacker: Now the Home Secretary's been run in already!
[They both laugh]

Bernard Woolley: [Discussing possible reasons for the Prime Minister's early retirement] Minister, I've heard something quite different.
James Hacker: What?
Bernard Woolley: That there is £1 million worth of diamonds from South Africa in a Downing Street safe, but of course it's only a rumour.
James Hacker: Is that true?
Bernard Woolley: Oh, yes.
James Hacker: So, there ARE all those diamonds in Downing Street!
Bernard Woolley: Are there?
James Hacker: You just said there were.
Bernard Woolley: No, I didn't.
James Hacker: Yes, you did! You said you'd heard this rumour, I said is it true, you said yes!
Bernard Woolley: I said yes, it was true that it was a rumour.
James Hacker: You said you heard it was true!
Bernard Woolley: No, I said it was true that I heard it!
Annie Hacker: I'm sorry to cut into this important discussion, but do you believe it?
James Hacker: I believe I heard it. Oh, about the diamonds. No.
Annie Hacker: Is it impossible?
James Hacker: No, but it's never been officially denied. First rule in politics: never believe anything until it's officially denied.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Grand Design (#1.1)" (1986)
Jim Hacker: Tell me, General, where is the Hot Line?
General Howard: Which one?
Jim Hacker: The one to Russia.
Bernard Woolley: The Red Hot Line, Sir.
General Howard: That's in Downing Street.
Jim Hacker: So in an emergency, I can get straight through to the Soviet President?
General Howard: Theoretically, yes.
Jim Hacker: Theoretically?
General Howard: That's what we tell journalists. In fact, we did once get through to the Kremlin, but only to a switchboard operator.
Jim Hacker: Couldn't the operator put you through?
General Howard: We never found out. He didn't seem to speak much English.

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.

Bernard Woolley: That is why that torpedo landed on Sandwich Golf Course.
Jim Hacker: Sandwich Golf Course? I didn't read that in the paper.
Bernard Woolley: No, of course not. There was a cover-up. The members just found a new bunker on the 7th fairway the next day.


"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: It's envy, you know. Dudley is consumed with envy.
Bernard Woolley: It's one of the seven Dudley sins.

James Hacker: I occasionally have confidential press briefings, but I have never leaked.
Bernard Woolley: Oh, that's another of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he's been charged under Section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.


"Yes Minister: Jobs for the Boys (#1.7)" (1980)
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.

Bernard Woolley: Then the report's foresight had some insight, in the light of hindsight.


"Yes, Prime Minister: A Diplomatic Incident (#2.3)" (1987)
[on the phone, discussing the arrangements for a state funeral]
Bernard Woolley: No, we can't have alphabetical seating in the Abbey. You'd have Iraq and Iran next to each other. Plus Israel and Jordan all sitting in the same pew. We'd be in danger of starting World War III. I know Ireland begins with an 'I' but no! Ireland doesn't make it any better; Ireland doesn't make anything any better.

Bernard Woolley: [on the phone] Yes, we will want simultaneous translators. Uh, no, not when the P.M. meets the leaders of the English-speaking nations. Yes, the English-speaking nations can be said to include the United States. With a certain generosity of spirit.

[Bernard Woolley enters the PM's office carrying two files - one considerably larger than the other]
James Hacker: [indicating the smaller file] What on Earth is that, Bernard?
Bernard Woolley: It's the Channel Tunnel file, minister.
James Hacker: What about the other one?
Bernard Woolley: That's the puppy file.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Smoke Screen (#1.3)" (1986)
Bernard Woolley: Do you think you will win this one? The tobacco lobby is incredibly powerful.
James Hacker: Well, some you win, some you lose, Bernard. This one I shall definitely lose.
Bernard Woolley: Then why?
James Hacker: If you were the Treasury, which would you rather do without? One and a half billion pounds in tax cuts or four billion pounds in lost tobacco tax revenue?
Bernard Woolley: The tax cuts. It's smaller.
James Hacker: Exactly. That's what I want and that's what I shall get.

Jim Hacker: Tell the Minister that I will see him at the house at 2.30 for ten minutes.
Bernard Woolley: With pleasure, Prime Minister.
Jim Hacker: No, not with pleasure Bernard, but I'll see him anyway.

Jim Hacker: He's got to learn to co-operate.
Bernard Woolley: What do you mean co-operate?
Jim Hacker: I mean obey my commands. That's what co-operate means when you're Prime Minister.


"Yes Minister: Doing the Honours (#2.2)" (1981)
[talking about honours and the abbreviations of the Order of St Michael and St George: CMG, KCMG and GCMG]
Bernard Woolley: Of course in the service, CMG stands for Call Me God. And KCMG for Kindly Call Me God.
James Hacker: What does GCMG stand for?
Bernard Woolley: God Calls Me God.

James Hacker: When did a civil servant last refuse an honour?
Bernard Woolley: Well I think there was somebody in the Treasury that refused a Knighthood.
James Hacker: Good God. When?
Bernard Woolley: I think it was 1496.
James Hacker: Why?
Bernard Woolley: He'd already got one.

Bernard Woolley: Actually, minister. Baillie College does have an outstanding record. It's filled the jails of the British Empire for many years.


"Yes Minister: The Compassionate Society (#2.1)" (1981)
James Hacker: Fortunately, Bernard, most of our journalists are so incompetent they'd have the gravest difficulty in finding out that today is Wednesday.
Bernard Woolley: It's actually Thursday.

[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 Writing on the Wall (#1.5)" (1980)
[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!

[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.


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Tangled Web (#2.8)" (1988)
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?

[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.


"Yes Minister: Equal Opportunities (#3.1)" (1982)
James Hacker: Sarah tells me this complaint is nonsense.
Bernard Woolley: Oh, fine. So we can CGSM it.
James Hacker: CGSM?
Bernard Woolley: Civil service code. It stands for Consignment of Geriatric Shoe Manufacturers. Load of old cobblers, Minister.
James Hacker: I'm not a civil servant. I shall use my own code. I shall write "round objects".

Bernard Woolley: Remember that letter you wrote "round objects" on? Sir Humphrey has commented on it.
James Hacker: What's he say?
Bernard Woolley: "Who is Round and to what does he object?"


"Yes Minister: The Quality of Life (#2.6)" (1981)
[On Hacker's planned visit to a inner city farm]
Bill Pritchard: The Sun specifically asked if you could be photographed amongst the donkeys.
James Hacker: I'm not sure about the donkeys. What do you think, Bernard?
Bernard Woolley: Well even if the Sun has no ulterior motive, it will be a gift for Private Eye. You with a crowd of other donkeys. I mean, that's what they would say, Minister. Or: "A meeting of the Inner Cabinet."

James Hacker: This is the greatest disaster of this century, Bernard!
Bernard Woolley: There were two world wars.


"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: 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.


"Yes Minister: The Economy Drive (#1.3)" (1980)
[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 Minister: The Official Visit (#1.2)" (1980)
James Hacker: When am I going to do all this correspondence?
Bernard Woolley: You do realize you don't actually have to, Minister.
James Hacker: Don't I?
Bernard Woolley: Not if you don't want to. We can draft an official reply.
James Hacker: What's an official reply?
Bernard Woolley: It just says "The Minister has asked me to thank you for your letter"; then we say something like "The matter is under consideration", or even, if we feel so inclined, "under active consideration."
James Hacker: What's the difference?
Bernard Woolley: Well, 'under consideration' means we've lost the file; 'under active consideration' means we're trying to find it.


"Yes, Prime Minister: Official Secrets (#2.2)" (1987)
Jim Hacker: Bernard, just because people ask you questions what makes you think you have to answer them?
Bernard Woolley: Well, I don't know...
Jim Hacker: You've never answered my questions just because I asked them.


"Yes Minister: The Right to Know (#1.6)" (1980)
Bernard Woolley: [Referring to the Minister] Why shouldn't be allowed to know things if he wants to?
Sir Frederick 'Jumbo' Stewart: Silly boy!


"Yes, Prime Minister: The Bishops Gambit (#1.7)" (1986)
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.


"Yes Minister: Open Government (#1.1)" (1980)
[the Minister asks for a different chair for his desk]
Bernard Woolley: It used to be said there were two kinds of chairs to go with two kinds of Ministers: one sort that folds up instantly, the other sort goes round and round in circles.


"Yes Minister: The Death List (#2.3)" (1981)
[a very successful petition on electronic surveillance has just become politically damaging]
Bernard Woolley: Shall I file it?
James Hacker: Shall you file it? Shred it!
Bernard Woolley: Shred it?
James Hacker: Nobody must ever be able to find it again.
Bernard Woolley: In that case, Minister, I think it's best I file it.


"Yes Minister: The Greasy Pole (#2.4)" (1981)
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: 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.