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Yes, Minister quotes

Originally published at Angelic Paranoia. You can comment here or there.

While watching HIGFNY and watching them make jokes about the Daily Mail, as per usual, I remembered hhertzof telling me, unsurprisingly, that she didn’t get some of the things they talked about. And I thought of the bit in Yes, Minister where they explain the different British newspapers:

The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country
The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country
The Times is read by people who actually do run the country
the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country
the Financial Times is read by people who own the country
The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country
The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is
Sun readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big tits

(there’s a clip with this info in it on youtube)

My favourite bit is from Yes, Prime Minister, I think, where Sir Humphrey explains to Bernard how market research works:

Humphrey:You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don’t want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: “Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?”
Humphrey:”Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?”
Humphrey:”Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?”
Humphrey:”Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?”
Humphrey:”Do you think they respond to a challenge?”
Humphrey:”Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?”
Bernard:Oh…well, I suppose I might be.
Humphrey:”Yes or no?”
Humphrey:Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told her you can’t say no to that. So they don’t mention the first five questions and they publish the last one.
Bernard:Is that really what they do?
Humphrey:Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren’t many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result.
Humphrey:”Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?”
Humphrey:”Are you worried about the growth of armaments?”
Humphrey:”Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?”
Humphrey:”Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?”
Humphrey:”Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?”
Humphrey:There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample.

(this one you can listen to on this site)

For anyone who doesn’t know what Yes, (Prime) Minister is, it’s a very clever comedy from the early 80s about Ministers trying to stay sane in the face of civil servants. It’s also apparently very true to life on often on BBC7 since most of it is just three men in a room talking, but still manages to be very funny. And if you’re not cynical about government before you watch it, you certainly will be by the time you’ve seen an episode.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 7th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC)
You see both of those bits make perfect sense to me, because they give enough context that I can supply the obvious American equivalents.

However I will probably save the newspapers bit, because that's cultural context that doesn't work in the opposite direction. ;)
Nov. 7th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
The newspapers bit is both true and funny. And amazingly hasn't changed much at all since it was broadcast.

Although what it doesn't tell you is that The Guardian is nicknamed The Grauniad for its constant typos and errors (sometimes the corrections and clarifications section is the best bit of the paper). And the Daily Mail is always annoyed at something, often to do with Princess Diana. Or so I gather from seeing it in the newsagents, it's not a paper I've ever felt the need to read.
Nov. 8th, 2008 03:06 am (UTC)
All of this is very good to know. :)

The other bit was true and funny too.
Nov. 8th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
I always liked this one


This comment really doesn't add anything to your post but it's a very funny clip.
Nov. 8th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
Funny clips are always good :) And I did like that one - it's one of the ones I don't remember so well.
Nov. 8th, 2008 09:03 am (UTC)
I'd forgotten that definition of the different newspapers! And it's still true :>)

Nov. 8th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
It is! It's amazing how much of what goes on in Yes Minister is still true now.
Nov. 8th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
Yes Minister is reportedly so near the mark that even certain senior politicians loved watching it.

Even more damning than the market research scene is the one where Ian Lavender explains to Jim Hacker why the nuclear deterrent doesn't work. The utter pointlessness of the Arms Race and the Cold War debunked in a 30 minute BBC sitcom, it's painful viewing.
Nov. 8th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, I remember that. Hence why Yes Minister makes you cynical about government (and I was cynical before I watched it)
Nov. 8th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
Y(P)M is a personal favorite. After having introduced my husband to The Good Life, we are now working our way through Yes, Minister. Hopefully, we'll get to Y,PM before New Year. At least, that's the plan.

As a political science major, he thoroughly enjoys the show. He's also found a new favorite actor in Paul Eddington.
Nov. 8th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
That's good to hear! And that it makes sense in America too.

There's a more recent equivalent called The Thick of It, which is shot a bit like a documentary and has been described as ministers & civil servants trying to stay sane in the face of spin doctors. It's also funny, although not laugh out loud funny.
Nov. 8th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
Which reminds me, I really must get on with making more icons from YM and YPM... ¬¬
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )