The world premier production of the latest adventures of Jim Hacker, a former Prime Minister still looking for his next role…
Really the timing couldn’t have been any better. A former British Prime Minister dusted off and pulled back into public view as he struggles to discover his place in the world – but that’s enough of David Cameron…
Last night we were at the Theatre Royal in Bath for the world premiere production of I’m Sorry, Prime Minister, I Can’t Quite Remember, the final chapter in the live and career of now former prime minister Jim Hacker, currently the master of Hacker College at Oxford and in the midst of troubles of his own making.
Who can he turn to for help? None other than his old Permanent Secretary and sparring partner, Sir Humphrey Appleby.
Of course, Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey were introduced to audiences back in the 1980s, initially through three series of the Yes Minister British political sitcom written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, and then Yes, Prime Minister which ran from 1986 to 1988. These were wonderfully written and hugely popular satires of political life in the halls of power, with the pompous but canny Sir Humphrey often besting his Minister, and then Prime Minister, Jim Hacker as they tackled the challenges of the day.
Such was the quality of the writing that re-visited today, those old episodes still come across as relevant and biting. And it’s wonderful that this final chapter comes at a time of typical ineptitude and confusion from the current lot in power, making this latest chapter still seem relevant.
With Clive Francis as Sir Humphrey and Christopher Bianchi and Jim Hacker, the two leading roles are in safe hands, brought back to life with a skill and artistry that is wonderful to watch. While Hacker totters and trips, both as a result of old age and a lack of ability to grasp the needs of modern political and social life, Sir Humphrey is still able to bring his sharp wit and masterdom of befuddlement to the fore.
Together the old foes are brought back together to find a way for Hacker to maintain his position as Master at Hacker College, and with it his free accommodation for life, despite a series of unacceptable comments and quotes which have outraged the student faculty. And so the old foes, along with Hackers new care-worker, Sophie, player by Michaela Bennison, attempt to unravel the modern challenges of language and freedom of speech in order to fight their corner and secure Hacker’s future.
This is a hugely entertaining, clever and pertinent production, as well as being just a good laugh, underpinned by top class performances and very clever writing. It also allows a couple of old political heavyweights the chance to finally glide off into retirement knowing that their place in the world has somewhat passed them by.
I’m Sorry, Prime Minister, I Can’t Quite Rememberappears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 14th to Saturday 18th November. To purchase tickets contact the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or book online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk