Yes Minister is a political satire set in the fictitious Department of Administrative Affairs. Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington, The Good Life) was made Minister of Administrative Affairs and Cabinet Minister under the newly elected government and starts of with an agenda to reform the department, cut the red tape and safe costs. His Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne) assists him in every way to navigate the complexities of such an undertaking, but the necessities of government often call for a compromise. When for example the Minister raises the point that the number of twenty three thousand staff members in the department could be cut, Sir Humphrey replies that a study on that matter was conducted last year and it turned out that the department was indeed understaffed. Then there is the Minister's Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley (Derek Fowlds) who is loyal to the Minister, Sir Humphrey and the department. In this position he skillfully avoids any conflict of interest usually by indicating logical and linguistic inconsistencies and relying on his classical erudition.
Margaret Thatcher, who was Prime Minister when the programme was first broadcast, named the show as her favourite television programme. The episodes are notable for their witty dialogue and sophisticated language. Government is portrayed comically, but probably also realistically, as an expensive exercise in bureaucracy, where the drive for change is often frustrated by the inherent inertia of a system that cultivates resistance to even small alterations, especially when it comes to the institutions of government themselves. Notably the show's writers, Sir Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, were often inspired by real-life events and inside stories from government employees.