Sir Humphrey Appleby to return to stage in Yes, Minister stage play

Beloved satire's final chapter will be "funnier than King Lear", says writer Jonathan Lynn
Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne as Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes, Minister. Photo: BBC/courtesy Everett Collection

Fans of Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey Appleby will soon be able to find out what the beloved characters got up to after life in public service, in a stage production that will premiere this autumn.

Yes, Minister co-creator Jonathan Lynn has revived the characters first seen in the BBC2 sitcom in 1980 in Sorry, Prime Minister, I Can’t Quite Remember, which will open in Cirencester this September.

It follows the former prime minister and cabinet secretary’s travails in old age. 

The play will be the "final chapter" in the political satire, said writer and director Lynn, who has written the play solo following the death of his longtime collaborator and Yes, Minister co-writer Anthony Jay in 2016.

“Holed up in his new home at Hacker College, Oxford, Jim finds himself, as ever, in the midst of a set of problems mainly of his own making. Unsure of how to cope, he calls on his old and not so loyal permanent secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby,” reads the introduction to the play.

“What ensues carries all the hallmark comedy of this classic partnership as well as being a touching portrait of two old sparring partners trying desperately to figure out the modern world and work out what their place is in it. In doing so they discover friendship and empathy as well as learning a few hard lessons about life.”

The play will be the pair’s second time on stage. Following the huge success of the 1980s sitcom Yes, Minister and its follow-up series Yes, Prime Minister, a stage play named after the sequel opened at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2010. The play went on to run in three West End theatres and toured the UK twice.

Jonathan Lynn said, “I wanted to write the final chapter about Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey Appleby, now in their ‘80s, discarded, ignored, watching today’s world with utter bewilderment. An elegiac play about old age and loss – loss of power, loss of influence, loss of friends, loss of family. The only play I’ve ever seen on this theme is King Lear. This will be funnier.”

The cast for Sorry, Prime Minister, I Can’t Quite Remember has yet to be announced. The play will run from 25 September until 4 November at The Barn Theatre.

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