Yes, Prime Minister: The New Series… Something Missing?

I’m a massive fan of the BBC’s Yes, (Prime) Minister series – I have the DVD box set at home and watch it regularly. So, as you can imagine, I was very much looking forward to the new series – the first in 24 years, which started last night on Gold.

I watched the Yes, Prime Minister: Re-Elected documentary at 21:40, and then the repeat of the first episode at 23:40 (having missed it the first time it was broadcast), through my Sky Go account.

Written by the original writers, the new series has a brand new cast. And this I think was part of the problem. The writing was as good as the original, but there was something missing. Parts of it were funny, but for me, it just did not work as well as it should have done.

For devotees of the original BBC series, it may initially have jarred to see anyone other than the beloved trio of Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds (the first two sadly no longer with us) play this marvellously dysfunctional triumvirate. Clear that hurdle, however, and there was much to enjoy. Crucially, this new series is by the original creators Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, who also wrote the recent stage adaptation, much of which seemed to be recycled here.

Mark Monahan
The Telegraph
Yes, Prime Minister, Gold, Review

The problem is that the original cast of Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds will always be THE proper cast. Nothing can change that. With Eddington and Hawthorne no longer with us, a new cast is essential for any new series. But the trouble is, the new cast is so different to the original, that it feels wrong to have them playing the same characters.

It would almost be better if they had created completely new characters. Last night, all I ended up doing was trying to relate what I was seeing to the original cast. Henry Goodman does not play Sir Humphrey was well as Nigel Hawthorne, and I felt he was trying to copy Hawthorne’s style too much – and not doing very well at it.

(You can see some more of the Twitter reaction on the Radio Times website).

That said, the new series was still funny in places. I do doubt however whether it will live on in the same way that the original series still does. The plot itself wasn’t too bad – in fact much of it recycled from the stage play I saw earlier this year. The stage play was very good. When you go to see a stage play, you know that you’re not going to get the same characters; you expect something different. But take the same thing to TV and it just doesn’t work in the same way.

I will however continue to watch the new series. I may find that it grows on me as I get in to it. But based on what I’ve seen, I think it could have been done a lot better than it actually was…

What did you think of Yes, Prime Minister last night? Leave a comment below and let me know.


Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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