Monday, September 27, 2010

The ongoing fable of Yes Prime Minister

About three weeks ago I spotted an email I'd normally have expected the spam filter to have dispatched along with those pleading emails form the Nigerian central bank which require me to just hand over a few thousand to facilitate the transfer of millions.

Would you like to come and see the new Yes Prime Minister play in London ? Attention grabbed a little more than I suspect is safe in this world of socially engineered deceit, I had a look for the catch - and then couldn't find it. It was tempting - as I think I repeat a line from the Yes Minister series at some point in my head at least once a week. It was the fable of our political times - in the 1980's.

So I said yes and wound up last week at the Gielgud theatre watching the theatre production of Yes Prime Minister.

Its hard to over estimate the impact of the original TV series. The shaped our view of government. Plenty of programmes made fun of politics and politicians, but only one worked on government as its theme and the battle between the civil service and its supposed political masters. So expectations were high. ( Even the tick of it doesn't really qualify as it just shows how dysfunctional New Labour relationships where, rather than the battle between the civil service and the politicians. )

What I'd say - without giving away the plot - is that its inevitably different with a different caste and placed firmly into the world of today's politics. The key character's are all there, as are the set piece demonstration of civil service obscurification , but the moral dilemma's ( as if anything like that would bother Sir Humphrey ) are updated for the age of the coalition and post economic crisis.

There's a touch of Ealing comedy and farce, as well as the theme's you'd expect from Yes Minister - but it also contains in short summary many of the ongoing issues that are faced by government and perhaps more importantly used by it. In that sense Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn have more messages for us and a boaster shot of cynicism to protect us from the slick presentation of modern government. ( Sir Humphrey's explanation of Global Warming was surprising to hear in the theatre - but very close to what many of us suspect is the truth. I'm reminded of the episode "The Grand Design" I think where we get the real explanation about Trident. )

I especially liked the new Bernard, who is in many ways made into more of a hero this time round.

In short the fable of the priests of government against their masters has a new chapter. I genuinely found it entertaining and a good laugh, and most of the time was thinking of the people I know who would have loved to see it also. My late Dad being top of the list - he would have loved it.

I've linked to the Youtube summary below which does give away a little of the plot, but will also give you a flavour. All I can say is I hope David Haig GP has cleared him for the sort of performance he puts in ( think Basil Faulty having a bad day ) and will have to keep going every night.

If you get a chance to see it - do what I did and say yes. If you know someone who loved the series then you will be onto a winner to take them along. The good news is it won't be a brave decision...

See also -
Sir Humphrey's blog
Tired of London's was in the audience also ..

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