The Minister and Sir Humphrey must appear before a Select Committee looking into government waste. Sir Humphrey suggests a number of ways the Minister can elude difficult questions but ... See full summary »




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Episode complete credited cast:
Paul Eddington ...
Derek Fowlds ...
Betty Oldham
John Pennington ...
Peter - Civil Servant
Rosemary Williams ...
Civil Servant
Anthony Dawes ...
Committee Chairman
John Rolfe ...
Committee Member


The Minister and Sir Humphrey must appear before a Select Committee looking into government waste. Sir Humphrey suggests a number of ways the Minister can elude difficult questions but Hacker is blindsided by an MP who has in her possession the draft of a book by a former civil servant outlining huge waste in his Department. When Hacker is called to a meeting at 10 Downing St., he realizes there is only one solution, much to Sir Humphrey's dismay. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

6 April 1981 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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James Hacker: The committee isn't the least bit interested in the nature of truth. They're all MP's!
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User Reviews

Season 2: Still great stuff but the harsh cynicism of season 1 is softened a little to the slight detriment of the show
19 January 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Following on from finishing season 3 of The Thick of It recently, I returned to Yes Minister for its second of three seasons. Having only watched the first season a few weeks ago, the difference in season 2 is quite obvious even though, in fairness, it is only slight. This difference is in the approach of the show because it suddenly appears to have been made a bit more "accessible" perhaps in light of the success of the first season. I'm guessing of course because I was not watching at the time it first was screened but the three seasons it got (five if you include Yes Prime Minister) lead me to assume that it was considered a success and that it returned with hopes for increased audiences and success.

The pieces are more or less the same as the first season. Hacker is still the Minister with the Department of Administrative Affairs with civil servants Bernard and Humphrey alongside him to guide, support, serve and perplex him in equal measures. The only significant change is the absence of Frank Weisel, who is not a great loss as I didn't think he really fitted in particularly well anyway. Likewise the plots are similar in theme, with Hacker dealing with opportunities (which Humphrey often sees as problems) and problems (which Humphrey mostly sees as opportunities) but what is slightly different is the tone of the show. In the first season it was very sharp and cynical and perhaps to the point where it prevented a wider audience from getting into it. I'm stretching here because personally I enjoyed it but I can also see why it perhaps didn't get the ratings of "easier" fare such as Only Fools and Horses (I'm trying not to sound elitist or patronising but not doing a good job). Anyway, in this second season the very first episode demonstrates the slight tweaking because the show is immediately a little broader in its content and characters, with the laughs perhaps a little easier to come by and more obvious comedy. Humphrey doesn't seem quite as slick or as cynical as before while Hacker is a little bit more clownish. Like I said, this isn't a big problem but the first episode it is a little broader than I would have liked.

It is still good though and in essence does the same thing but it does have an edge of absurdity to the fore that the previous perhaps did not. This isn't a big deal but I did prefer that the next episodes didn't seem to do this to the same degree, although they do still retain an air of broader accessibility that the first season didn't have. The laughs are frequent but the show does better with a wry sense of humour that matches the characters and situations. The cast continue to do well with it even if their performances are slightly different from the first season. Hacker is a bit broader but still has the same essential strengths as in season one while Fowlds has plenty of good lines in an unchanged character. Hawthorne is very good of course and, had I not watched the first season I would not have a problem with him, but his material and performance here seems to see him lack a little of the bite and sharpness he had then.

Overall though, season 2 is still a very good political satire that makes for an entertaining comedy. The extreme cynicism of the first season appears to have been softened a little bit and that did irk me throughout the season (even though it does still have a good core of that in place) because it does have an impact on the characters, the performances and the writing, but it is still very good stuff and well worth seeing.

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