Yes, Prime Minister is one of my favorite British sitcoms that features lots of political satire , witty humor and fun power plays. This show, which ran for 2 seasons in the 1980’s, is ranked 3rd in the Top 20 comedy shows and 9th in the top 100 television programs by the British Film Institute. It’s all about a Mr. Jim Hacker, a bumbling Minister of Administrative Affairs who suddenly finds himself promoted to the top job on 10 Downing Street. His attempts to come to terms with his new position and make a difference at the top is met with resistance from a Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Cabinet Secretary, who will do anything to keep Hacker from interfering with the machinations and copious red tape of the Civil Service.
This is one of the few shows that actually gets better with repeated viewing. The performance from the 3 principal actors is excellent. Nigel Hawthorne as Sir Humphrey is especially funny when he makes remarks in “bureaucrat-ese” in response to simple questions from the PM. Paul Eddington is a very believable and funny Prime Minister Jim Hacker. Derek Fowlds, as Hacker’s Private Secretary, is perhaps the most comic actor of the show, who must walk a fine line between helping the Prime Minister but also keep in step with Sir Humphrey, who far outranks him in the Civil Service bureaucracy.
Each show is full of witty dialogue that brings much amusement even after repeated viewings. Some of the best lines of the show come from the supporting cast. Jim Hacker’s wife has lots to say about what its like to live in 10 Downing Street, and most of it is not very favorable. Sir Arnold Robinson, the former Cabinet Secretary, has lots of gems of worldly wisdom to pass on to Sir Humphrey in several scenes that I think are some of the best of the show.
My favorite episodes are ones where PM Hacker gets the upper hand on the scheming Sir Humphrey. This includes “The Key” from season one, where Hacker’s political advisor convinces Hacker to reassign Sir Humphrey (thus locking him out of 10 Downing Street) so that he will be pressured to let her have her own office. Perhaps the best is “The Tangled Web” the last episode of season two, when Humphrey’s attempts to blackmail the PM backfire when he himself is caught on tape saying a little too much for his own good.