Yes Minister to return to the stage

Tuesday 18th April 2023, 8:17am

  • Yes Minister co-creator Jonathan Lynn has written a new stage play featuring Jim Hacker and Humphrey Appleby
  • I'm Sorry, Prime Minister, I Can't Quite Remember will run at the Barn Theatre in Cirencester from 25th September to 4th November 2023
  • The plot sees Hacker working at Oxford university and calling for Appleby's help when he faces cancellation for his views about a statue
Yes, Prime Minister. Image shows left to right: Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne), James Hacker (Paul Eddington)

Yes Minister co-writer Jonathan Lynn has created a new stage play, I'm Sorry, Prime Minister, I Can't Quite Remember, featuring the sitcom's characters Jim Hacker and Humphrey Appleby.

He revealed the news in an interview with The Telegraph, confirming the play will run at the Barn Theatre in Cirencester from 25th September to 4th November 2023.

The new production imagines how former PM Hacker and his Cabinet Secretary are "faring in their old age and in the woke era".

The plot sees Hacker working at Oxford university, however he is ousted as its Master after one too many gaffes. The plot continues: "He has declared himself in favour of keeping the Cecil Rhodes statue at Oriel College and opined that the British did more good than harm in India. Tended to by Sophie, his care worker, a thirtysomething black woman who once studied English at the college, he calls in Humphrey from his retirement home to save him from cancellation."

The writer comments: "It seemed an interesting subject. Powerful people in their old age, who have been put in the dustbin of history but are still around. As well as being funny, it's also going to be elegiac. I can address their sense of loss, and how they can't understand the world."

Yes, Prime Minister. Image shows from L to R: Sir Humphrey Appleby (Henry Goodman), Jim Hacker (David Haig). Copyright: BBC

The Yes Minister characters last appeared on stage in 2010 with David Haig and Henry Goodman in the lead roles. The show transferred from Chichester to the West End, and also led to a six-episode TV series on Gold in 2013.

There is no news yet on the casting for the new 2023 version, however Lynn - referring to original stars Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne - commented to the newspaper: "Paul and Nigel were superb but that doesn't mean the characters can't be played another way."

Lynn created Yes Minister in 1980 with Antony Jay, who died in 2016. He said in the Telegraph interview of his co-writer: "I can't envisage all his thoughts but I don't think he would object to anything in the play."

Reflecting on the success of their original programme, he commented: "It had none of the ingredients of a successful TV show - three middle-aged men sitting around talking about government. It was about the relation between politicians and the civil service. No action, no sex, virtually no women. We thought we'd be attacked on all sides of the political spectrum, but the opposite happened.

"I think the change that it made was that people and politicians now distrust the civil service in a way they didn't used to. In the old days, people imagined it was men with bowler hats sitting around drinking cups of tea. Our series revealed that they are the people who mostly run the country."

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