Pilot Demand 'Lost BBC Yes, Prime Minister Revival'Bookmark and Share

Friday, 4 January 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The BBC lost the TV revival of political sitcom Yes, Prime Minister to digital channel Gold because it demanded a pilot episode, it has been revealed.

Both Yes, Prime Minister and its antecedent, Yes, Minister, were originally BBC series, and BBC In-House Comedy has made the six new episodes, based on the stage play. However, co-writer Jonathan Lynn has told Chortle that when he and Antony Jay were looking to bring the show back to TV screens, following an approach by Gold, the duo decided to give first refusal to the BBC "as a courtesy" but the corporation told them to write a pilot first.

Lynn said that they pointed out to the BBC:
there were 38 "pilots" available on DVD, manufactured by the BBC, and a play running in the West End to capacity audiences. They said it was policy. So we said our policy was to not write a pilot for them. I thought it was absolutely extraordinary.
In response, a BBC spokesman said:
Yes, Prime Minister was last on air 25 years ago so it would not be unusual to ask for a pilot, as clearly a lot of the elements, including the cast, would be different.

[Gold parent company] UKTV was involved in the initiation and development of the project; the BBC decided not to broadcast a new series as it was felt a better use of resources to invest in new comedy, for example Mrs Brown's Boys and Miranda.
Yes, Minister ran for three series of seven episodes each from 1980 to 1982, winning BAFTAS for Best Comedy Series in 1980, 1981, and 1982. An hour-long Christmas special called Party Games in 1984 paved the way for Yes, Prime Minister, which comprised two series of eight episodes each, airing between 1986 and 1988. Nigel Hawthorne won the Best Light Entertainment Performance BAFTA four times - in 1981, 1982, 1986, and 1987 - for his portrayal of Sir Humphrey Appleby.

The new series of Yes, Prime Minister - starring David Haig as the premier Jim Hacker, Henry Goodman as Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, and Chris Larkin as Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley - starts on Gold on Tuesday 15th January at 9pm. It co-stars Zoe Telford as political adviser Claire Sutton, and will guest-star Robbie Coltrane.

The first episode - called Crisis At The Summit - will be followed at 9.40pm by the documentary Yes, Prime Minister: Re-Elected, which will celebrate the phenomenon of the show and reveal how influential it was in its 1980s heyday.





Yes, Prime Minister Revival Start DateBookmark and Share

Saturday, 29 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The revived and updated political sitcom Yes, Prime Minister will start airing on Gold on Tuesday 15th January at 9pm.

The six episodes have been made by the BBC, which also made the show's antecedents, and star David Haig as the premier Jim Hacker, Henry Goodman as Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, Chris Larkin as Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, and Zoe Telford as political adviser Claire Sutton.

The titles for the first three episodes have been given as Crisis At The Summit, The Poisoned Chalice, and Gentlemen's Agreement, with the remaining three unknown as yet. All six have been written by the TV series' original authors, Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn.

It's the present day and the Rt Hon Jim Hacker is back in office as Prime Minister, leading a coalition government confronting the greatest economic crisis in a generation.

European economies are going down the toilet, there's a tempting energy deal on the table from an unusual source, a leadership crisis with his coalition partners, a Scottish independence referendum, and the greatest moral dilemma Hacker has ever faced.

Following the broadcast of the first episode, Gold will be showing a documentary called Yes, Prime Minister: Re-Elected celebrating the phenomenon of the show and revealing how influential it was in its 1980s heyday.

It will feature the thoughts of John Sergeant, Rufus Hound, Richard Wilson, Andrew Neil, Nigel Lawson, and Roy Hattersley, while former cast members Diana Hoddinott (who played Jim Hacker's wife, Annie) and Deborah Norton (political adviser Dorothy Wainwright) will reveal what life was like on the set of the original series and what they thought of their most famous fan, Margaret Thatcher.

An excerpt from the documentary, narrated by Tamsin Greig, can be seen below.


Gold is available on Sky 110, Virgin Media 126, and Top Up TV 20.





Yes, Prime Minister TV Revival Cast AnnouncedBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The principal cast for the TV revival of political sitcom Yes, Prime Minister was announced today.

David Haig will play PM Jim Hacker, Henry Goodman will be Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, and Chris Larkin Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley. All three will be reprising their roles from the recent theatrical production, on which the series will be based.

The original show ran for 16 episodes over two series between 1986 and 1988 on BBC TV. Six 40-minute episodes of the new series are to be produced by BBC In-House Comedy for the digital channel Gold and all of them will be written by the TV series' original authors, Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn.

Also signed up to appear in the new TV series are Zoe Telford, playing political adviser Claire Sutton, and - as a guest star in an episode about Scottish devolution - Robbie Coltrane.

The casting announcements were made by UKTV, of which Gold is part, at a TV showcase held at the Saatchi Gallery in London. The new series will air next year.





Yes, Prime Minister To Return To TV After 24 YearsBookmark and Share

Thursday, 29 March 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The hit political sitcom Yes, Prime Minister is to be revived for a new series - 24 years after its last TV episode.

The classic comedy channel Gold has commissioned six new episodes from the BBC - the satirical show's original home. It will be written by the TV series' original authors, Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, who will be basing it on their theatrical production of two years ago.

Yes, Prime Minister, which ran for 16 episodes over two series between 1986 and 1988, was a sequel to the equally popular Yes, Minister and starred Paul Eddington as PM Jim Hacker, Nigel Hawthorne as his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, and Derek Fowlds - who was formerly married to Adrienne Corri - as his Principal Private Secretary, Bernard Woolley. Both shows' opening title sequences were drawn by the artist Gerald Scarfe, who is married to Jane Asher.

The new episodes will be set in the present day and will see Hacker at the head of a coalition government, facing, says Gold:
the greatest economic crisis in a generation, with European economies going down the toilet, a tempting energy deal from an unusual source, a leadership crisis with his coalition partners, a Scottish independence referendum and the greatest moral dilemma he has ever faced.
Jane Rogerson, of Gold's parent company UKTV, said: "The political landscape in Britain today is the perfect setting for Yes, Prime Minister to return."

Mark Freeland, the head of BBC In-House Comedy, said: "The much-extended tour of Yes, Prime Minister in theatres up and down the country proved that this iconic comedy has lost none of its satirical bite."

Casting is yet to be announced. Eddington died in 1995 and Hawthorne in 2001.

It is Gold's first commission since it was announced last month that it would inject "double-digit millions" into creating original content over the next two years. As part of the overall investment by UKTV, sister channel Dave recently finished recording a new six-episode series of Red Dwarf, to be shown later this year.
(newslink: BBC News)