Back to November 1982 (25th November 1982)

I’ll be kicking off the evening with TOTP. Not a classic edition but studio performances by Talk Talk (Talk Talk) and A Flock of Seagulls (Wishing If I Had a Photograph of You) ensure that it’s not a total write-off.

From then on, it’s sitcoms all the way. There’s an embarrassment of riches tonight, beginning with Only When I Laugh and Shelley on ITV. Then it’ll be over to BBC1 for Only Fools and Horses before the highlight of the evening (both mine and Stan’s) which is Yes Minister on BBC2.

Tonight’s episode is The Skeleton in the Cupboard and offers Jim the satisfaction of gaining the upper hand over Sir Humphrey. The episode has two plotlines which are only tenuously connected (either could have worked just as well in another episode without the other) but when there’s so many quotable lines flying about, I’m not too concerned about plotting. To give just two examples ….

Sir Humphrey Appleby: If local authorities don’t send us the statistics that we ask for, then government figures will be a nonsense.
Jim Hacker: Why?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: They will be incomplete.
Jim Hacker: But government figures are a nonsense anyway.
Bernard Woolley: I think Sir Humphrey want to ensure they are a complete nonsense.

Jim Hacker: Bernard, how did Sir Humphrey know I was with Dr. Cartwright?
Bernard Woolley: God moves in a mysterious way.
Jim Hacker: Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Humphrey is not God, OK?
Bernard Woolley: Will you tell him or shall I?

The first storyline concerns a local council which has attracted Sir Humphrey’s ire (because they never send their paperwork back to the DAA). This hasn’t stopped them from becoming the most efficient council in the country though, but that’s something which cuts no ice with a bureaucratic mandarin like Sir Humphrey.

Jim is reluctant to censure the council simply because they can’t fill in forms, but he’s pressured by Sir Humphrey to do so. Jim seems to have no choice, but then a gift (evidence of Sir Humphrey’s incompetence from thirty years ago) is dropped into his lap. This is the cue for some exquisite squirming from Nigel Hawthorne as he reluctantly confesses all (equally good as ever, of course, is Paul Eddington as we see Jim delight in twisting the knife).

It’s difficult to say that Hawthorne didn’t deserve the four BAFTAs he won for Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, but it’s a bitter irony that Paul Eddington had to lose out to his colleague on each occasion (in the years that Hawthorne won, Eddington was always also nominated). If Jim and Sir Humphrey were a double act, then you could say that Eddington tended to play the feed at times (but though he had the less showy role, he was always excellent value). Indeed, one of the pleasures of rewatching the series is simply to appreciate just how good they both were.

2 thoughts on “Back to November 1982 (25th November 1982)

  1. We couldn’t get Channel 4 when it started, but I remember Tom Keating and his reproductions of old paintings. Shortly before he died he did a reproduction of Vincent Van Goch’s Sunflowers, and the he died and the painting became more valuable.

    A few weeks before Channel 4 started Clive James on Television showed clips of The People’s Court, and then Channel 4 started showing whole episodes.

    Collecting Now sounded interesting. A few years ago there was a series on BBC2 called Collectaholics.

    Sometime when I got back from college I’d catch Eureka. This week it was on the theme of games, looking at the origins of snooker, Monopoly and crosswords. I remember one programme showed how table tennis was invented, it was first played with table mats and a champagne cork.

    I stopped watching Top of the Pops when I was eighteen, for the rather mundane reason that I was studying. See below for more.

    Sorry was a right apology of a comedy programme. But I’m surprised when you talked about Yes Minister that you didn’t mention Russell Harty’s programme just before, in which Nigel Hawthorne was one of the guests.

    I saw bits of Tenko because my mum watched it.

    Forty Minutes visited a mining village in Barnsley. The Radio Time entry reads:

    “Even here, in the heart of Arthur Scargill country, there was a marked dwindling of enthusiasm for strike action when the votes were counted earlier this month. So the industrial peace that broke out in the coalfields eight years ago remains intact, despite the annual flexing of muscles.”

    In 1982 Arthur Scargill called a ballot on strike action and the majority of NUM members voted against going on strike. Two years later he called a strike without having a secret ballot. So the miners’ strike of 1984-85 shouldn’t have happened.


    • Top of the Pops was:

      The Other Side of Love by Yazoo
      Youth of Today by Musical Youth
      Truly by Lionel Richie
      Hymn by Ultravox
      Time (Clock of the Heat) by Culture Club
      It’s Raining Again by Supertramp
      Talk Talk by Talk Talk
      Wishing by A Flock of Seagulls
      The number one I Don’t Wanna Dance by Eddy Grant
      Cry Boy Cry by Blue Zoo played over the closing credits

      They went from Yazoo to Blue Zoo, but no appearance by Zoo. Where they still on Top of the Pops by then.

      There was one time I went away over the New Year weekend, and when I went home I was very tired and the driver put on a tape of Raining Again by Supertramp and I went out like a light. Then someone changed the tape and put on Phil Collins and the driver went out like a light.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s