One of Us (Yes, Prime Minister)
“One of Us” is the eighth episode of the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 comedy series Yes, Prime Minister
Yes Minister
Yes Minister is a satirical British sitcom written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn that was first transmitted by BBC Television between 1980–1982 and 1984, split over three seven-episode series. The sequel, Yes, Prime Minister, ran from 1986 to 1988. In total there were 38 episodes—of which all but...

and was first broadcast 27 February 1986.


Jim Hacker
James Hacker
James George Hacker, Baron Hacker of Islington, KG, PC, B. Sc. , Hon. D. C. L. was a fictional British politician. He was the Minister of the fictional Department of Administrative Affairs, and later the Prime Minister, in the 1980s British sitcom Yes Minister and its sequel, Yes, Prime Minister...

 gets back to his apartment above 10 Downing Street
10 Downing Street
10 Downing Street, colloquially known in the United Kingdom as "Number 10", is the headquarters of Her Majesty's Government and the official residence and office of the First Lord of the Treasury, who is now always the Prime Minister....

 just in time to sit down with his wife, Annie, and watch the end of a television news bulletin. He is upset that the report of his performance at Prime Minister’s Questions
Prime Minister's Questions
Prime minister's questions is a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom that takes place every Wednesday during which the prime minister spends half an hour answering questions from members of parliament...

, which he regarded as one of his best, has been dropped in favour of a story concerning Benji, an Old English sheepdog
Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdog is a large breed of dog which was developed in England from early herding types of dog. The Old English Sheepdog has very long fur covering the face and eyes...

 owned by an eight-year-old girl, which has strayed on to an artillery range on Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain is a chalk plateau in central southern England covering . It is part of the Southern England Chalk Formation and largely lies within the county of Wiltshire, with a little in Hampshire. The plain is famous for its rich archaeology, including Stonehenge, one of England's best known...

. The Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 has ruled out a rescue, and Annie is aggrieved at its decision.

Back at work, Hacker meets with Sir Geoffrey Hastings, the Director General of MI5
The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 , is the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence...

, who has a serious disclosure. It has transpired that the late Sir John Halstead, Sir Geoffrey’s predecessor during the 1960s, was a Russian spy. In the 1970s, there was an inquiry into his activities that cleared him. However, its main inquisitor was none other than Sir Humphrey Appleby
Humphrey Appleby
Sir Humphrey Appleby, GCB, KBE, MVO, MA , is a fictional character from the British television series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. He was played by Sir Nigel Hawthorne. In Yes Minister, he is the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Administrative Affairs...

. The Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 is urged to conduct an inquiry of his own, in order to ascertain that the Cabinet Secretary
Cabinet Secretary
A Cabinet Secretary is almost always a senior official who provides services and advice to a Cabinet of Ministers. In many countries, the position can have considerably wider functions and powers, including general responsibility for the entire civil service...

 is “one of us.”

Hacker meets Sir Humphrey and is at first more concerned with his plummeting opinion poll ratings. He wishes to be more relevant, but Sir Humphrey points out that the only topic occupying the nation at present is a lost dog on Salisbury Plain. The PM then turns to his “security matter.” Sir Humphrey readily admits that government security inquiries are primarily designed to kill press speculation, and in any case, he was certain of Sir John Halstead’s integrity. He is therefore unprepared for the truth, and still can’t quite believe it when Hacker enlightens him. He protests that he was a busy man at the time and couldn’t look into everything, as “you never know what you might find.” Nevertheless, Hacker tells him, he was either in collusion or incompetent. The PM is minded to send Sir Humphrey on gardening leave
Gardening leave
Garden leave describes the practice whereby an employee who is leaving a job is instructed to stay away from work during the notice period, while still remaining on the payroll...

 until the matter is fully investigated. However, Hacker confesses that he has no experience of such things and wishes to speak to Sir Humphrey’s predecessor, Sir Arnold Robinson, to ask his advice. He forbids Sir Humphrey to contact him beforehand, and the mandarin states that he “wouldn’t dream of it.”

Sir Humphrey meets Sir Arnold, who is unwilling to give his former subordinate the benefit of the doubt. Sir Humphrey tells him that he can’t be a spy as he never studied at Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

; moreover, he has never believed in anything in his life. He implicates Sir Arnold in instructing him to clear Sir John Halstead but naturally he has no written evidence. Sir Arnold contemplates the likely scenario if Sir Humphrey is innocent: he would still be viewed as incompetent. His solution is for Sir Humphrey to make himself so valuable to the PM that Hacker could not afford to lose him. He proposes that Hacker be given a leading role in the main news story of the day…the lost dog on Salisbury Plain.

In the Cabinet Office, Sir Humphrey meets Sir Norman Block, the Permanent Secretary
Permanent Secretary
The Permanent secretary, in most departments officially titled the permanent under-secretary of state , is the most senior civil servant of a British Government ministry, charged with running the department on a day-to-day basis...

 of the Ministry of Defence, who is incredulous at the suggestion that the dog be rescued—potentially a very expensive operation. However, as Sir Humphrey indicates, if it goes ahead, and the true cost is hidden from the PM until afterwards, it would make it very difficult for the PM to continue with his ongoing battle for defence cuts. He instructs Sir Norman to put the army on standby and makes him promise that Hacker will get all the credit.

Meanwhile, Hacker is interviewing Sir Arnold. The PM is relieved to discover that he can clear Sir Humphrey on security grounds: Sir John Halstead provided a damning assessment of the Cabinet Secretary’s inquisitorial skills, which Sir Arnold has managed to procure from MI5. There remains the question of incompetence, but Sir Arnold reminds the PM that inquiries into such matters usually lead back to mistakes by ministers
Minister (government)
A minister is a politician who holds significant public office in a national or regional government. Senior ministers are members of the cabinet....

. After Sir Arnold has left, Sir Humphrey joins the PM. Hacker can scarcely conceal his glee at reading out the exonerating evidence: “…so much wool in his head, it was child’s play to pull it over his eyes.” Sir Humphrey is forced to swallow the accusation, but steers the conversation from his alleged ineptitude by referring to Hacker’s current popularity ratings and how these may be improved. He convinces the PM to allow the dog rescue to go ahead.

After a successful canine retrieval, Hacker is overwhelmed by his coverage in the tabloids, and Sir Humphrey is hard-pressed to draw his attention away from them. He wishes to recommend that the planned defence cuts be referred to a Cabinet
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

 Committee and, before the PM can protest, gives him the provisional costings for the operation on Salisbury Plain. They amount to £310,000: Sir Humphrey’s plan has worked.

Episode cast

Actor Role
Paul Eddington
Paul Eddington
Paul Eddington CBE was an English actor best known for his appearances in popular television sitcoms of the 1970s and 80s: The Good Life, Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.-Early life:...

Jim Hacker
Nigel Hawthorne
Nigel Hawthorne
Sir Nigel Barnard Hawthorne, CBE was an English actor, perhaps best remembered for his role as Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Permanent Secretary in the 1980s sitcom Yes Minister and the Cabinet Secretary in its sequel, Yes, Prime Minister. For this role he won four BAFTA Awards during the 1980s in the...

Sir Humphrey Appleby
Derek Fowlds
Derek Fowlds
Derek Fowlds is an English actor, known for playing Bernard Woolley in popular British television comedies Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister and Oscar Blaketon in the long-running ITV police drama Heartbeat....

Bernard Woolley
Michael Aldridge
Michael Aldridge
Michael William ffolliott Aldridge was an English actor. While it was his role as Seymour in the television series Last of the Summer Wine which made him widely recognised, his long career as a successful character actor on stage and screen dated back to the 1930s.-Early life:The son of Dr...

Sir Geoffrey Hastings
John Nettleton
John Nettleton (actor)
John Nettleton is an English actor.One of his most notable roles was that of Sir Arnold Robinson, the Cabinet Secretary in Yes Minister and President of the Campaign for Freedom of Information in the follow-up Yes, Prime Minister...

Sir Arnold Robinson
John Normington
John Normington
John Normington was an English actor who appeared widely on British television from the 1960s until the year of his death. Normington was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company performing in more than 20 RSC productions...

Sir Norman Block
Diana Hoddinott
Diana Hoddinott
Diana Hoddinott is an English actress. She was born to Winifred Doris, née Dibble and Alan Hoddinott , who married in 1934 in Langport....

Annie Hacker
Martin Muncaster Newscaster
Miranda Forbes Secretary

Cast notes

  • The head of MI5, Sir Geoffrey Hastings, is played by Michael Aldridge, who a few years before played the head of the Circus (a fictional version of MI6) in the dramatisation of John le Carré
    John le Carré
    David John Moore Cornwell , who writes under the name John le Carré, is an author of espionage novels. During the 1950s and the 1960s, Cornwell worked for MI5 and MI6, and began writing novels under the pseudonym "John le Carré"...

    ’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a 1974 British spy novel by John le Carré, featuring George Smiley. Smiley is a middle-aged, taciturn, perspicacious intelligence expert in forced retirement. He is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the "Circus", the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence...

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