The Blog

Yet Again, Prime Minister

left a large gap and now, more than ever, it's just waiting to be re-filled. I sincerely hope it's up for the top job again.

It has come to my attention while in the regular pursuit of one's quotidian habits, that it has been deemed sufficiently advantageous by non-terrestrial commissioners that an erstwhile popular television programme outlining the mechanics, frustrations and obfuscations of high office and the people who administer it would be rejuvenated with a view to transmissions commencing forthwith.

In other words, I was mucking about online and noticed that Yes, Prime Minister is coming back for some new episodes on GOLD.

It's a piece of news that fills me with equal joy and trepidation. Yes, Prime Minister is one of my favourite shows (the one thing in common I share with Margaret Thatcher), and its earlier incarnation was one of the best crafted, sharpest, irreverent and blisteringly accurate comedies ever. And attempting to revive a good show has often been a recipe for being underwhelmed. Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?Ant and Dec, that's what.

The fact it's been reintroduced by the untested GOLD, one of the vanguard of monosyllabic channels desperately trying to assert itself as a proper channel and generally something aside from a BBC warehouse, also gives cause for concern. And of course the biggest worry of all is that one of comedy's greatest actors Paul Eddington and the magnificent verbal free-runner Nigel Hawthorne are simply irreplaceable.

Thankfully though, the pro ledger feels more weighty than the con one, and not just because Sir Humphrey has massaged the figures. The original writers, Jonathan Lynn and Sir Anthony Jay are back at the helm for starters, and if reviews of their hit stage version are anything to go by, they haven't lost their touch.

Plus, even though their writing had a timeless, "true today as it was then" quality to it anyway, recent events will provide their acerbity with a litany of ammunition, as episodes about devolution, coalition and financial crisis are already in the offing. Sir Desmond Glazebrook for one is a character that may pick up a whole new world of traction this time around.

The writers being in fine form is vitally important, but just as important is casting Sir Humphrey, Bernard and Jim. Keeping Whitehall in a state of perpetual agelessness a la The Simpsons is an interesting call all of its own, but breathing new life into such established old characters is a daunting task. As such while casting hasn't been announced yet, the favourites to take over the helm are two actors who tore the house down in the aforementioned stage production. The versatile David Haig, who has played everyone from comically un-PC police inspectors to the groom in a hapless wedding ceremony is in provisional pole to become the long-suffering PM with Henry Goodman, an actor you know you've seen in a load of things but can't think what exactly, likely to become the loquacious cabinet secretary.

Yes, Prime Minister ended last time when TV satire was in a much healthier position, but nowadays save for the bizarrely scheduled 10 O'Clock Live (Wednesday seems a curious day for a news review show by any standards) and the much more unhinged The Thick of It biting satires are few and far between. Yes, Prime Minister left a large gap and now, more than ever, it's just waiting to be re-filled. I sincerely hope it's up for the top job again.