Margaret Thatcher’s favourite television show Yes, Prime Minister is to be revived 24 years after it last appeared on the small screen.
The acclaimed Westminster satire about Jim Hacker and his toils with the civil service will be brought back to life by original writers Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay for subscription channel Gold.
In an updating of the 1980s show, Gold’s six-part series will feature Hacker leading a coalition government tackling economic mayhem and a Scottish independence referendum. It may be too early in the production process to include a fuel strike, however.
Casting for the show has not been announced. Hacker was played in the original BBC series, which began as Yes, Minister in 1980 and bowed out in 1988 as Yes, Prime Minister, by Paul Eddington, who died in 1995.
Scheming permanent secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby was played by Sir Nigel Hawthorne, who died in 2001. The only surviving member of the main original cast is Derek Fowlds, who played principal private secretary Bernard Woolley.
Yes, Prime Minister’s new outing will be made by BBC Productions and will be based on the stage play version of Yes, Prime Minister in which Hacker was played by Graham Seed and Richard McCabe. Seed starred as Nigel Pargetter in The Archers, his character famously falling from a roof to his death on the show’s 60th anniversary.
The new series will air on digital subscription channel Gold, owned by UKTV, which also operates comedy channel Dave. The commission is part of Gold’s efforts to create new content rather than just repeats.
Director of commissioning for Gold’s parent company UKTV, Jane Rogerson, said: “The political landscape in Britain today is the perfect setting for Yes, Prime Minister to return.”
It will be to a very different TV landscape, with just four channels in 1988, when digital meant a clock without any hands.
Back when Yes, Prime Minister first aired ITV’s Spitting Image was at its height. Now the most lauded political satire, and the one which Yes, Prime Minister will inevitably be compared with by critics, is Armando Iannucci’s The Thick Of It.
Announcing the new series, Gold said Hacker would lead a coalition government tackling “the greatest economic crisis in a generation, with European economies going down the toilet, a tempting energy deal from an unusual source, a leadership crisis with his coalition partners, a Scottish independence referendum and the greatest moral dilemma he has ever faced”.
The BBC’s head of in-house comedy Mark Freeland said: “The much extended tour of Yes, Prime Minister in theatres up and down the country proved that this iconic comedy has lost none of its satirical bite. The one liners hit home like the crack of the whip.”
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