Archive for January 25th, 2013


by Allan Fish

(UK 1980-1984/1986-1988 1,147m) DVD1/2

Creative inertia

p/d  Peter Whitmore, Sydney Lotterby  w  Antony Jay, Jonathan Lynn  m  Ronnie Hazelhurst  titles  Gerald Scarfe

Paul Eddington (Jim Hacker), Nigel Hawthorne (Sir Humphrey Appleby), Derek Fowlds (Bernard Woolley), Diana Hoddinott (Annie Hacker), John Nettleton (Sir Arnold Robinson), Neil Fitzwilliam (Frank Weisel), John Savident (Sir Frederick ‘Jumbo’ Stewart), Peter Jeffrey, Philip Stone, Graeme Garden, Robert East, Nigel Stock,

In the history of television, can there be a more suitable fitting of actor to part as Nigel Hawthorne to Sir Humphrey Appleby, the real hero of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn’s comedy, often perfectly described as a “Whitehall waltz”?  It won him three BAFTA awards as best comedy actor and many other accolades, too.  His very first scene, in the opening episode, demonstrated the superciliousness of the character in a nutshell, detailing the full list of employees under the disposal of his new minister, and baffling him in the process.  It was the first of many Sir Humphreyisms.

Jim Hacker is a former press editor turned MP living in the Midlands, who is appointed Minister for Administrative Affairs in the new government.  He arrives to find that the position is somewhat of a political graveyard, with occupants barely getting chance to get their seat warm before leaving office.  His two principal allies/jousting partners, are his Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, a dyed-in-the-wool Oxford old boy who’s been in the Civil Service for decades, and the Minister’s Private Secretary, the tactful diplomatist, Bernard Woolley, who gets himself caught between the two.  Several years on, Hacker found himself, almost inadvertently, becoming Prime Minister, with Sir Humphrey as his cabinet secretary, still trying to stop him rocking the boat and stymieing his every radical reform move.  (more…)

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