Page last updated at 09:25 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

Yes Minister gets a Dutch double

Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds in Yes Minister
Paul Eddington (l) played the lead role in the original Yes Minister

Classic BBC sitcom Yes Minister is to return to TV - but only in Holland, the third country, after India and Turkey, to buy the show's format.

This time around, however, Sir Humphrey Appleby, the devious Whitehall mandarin played by the late Sir Nigel Hawthorne, has been recast - as a woman.

The move is one of several made by the Dutch production company S&V Fiction to bring the 1980s original up to date.

They include giving the lead character a Moroccan assistant private secretary.

"At first glance Yes Minister seems very British," said Pita de Leeuw, head of drama production at Dutch broadcaster VPRO.

'Enduring quality'

"But the themes that form the basis of the series are still very much relevant: Bureaucratic red tape, political deal-making and the closed ranks in the civil service."

The broadcaster's words were echoed by Claudia Danser from the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

"It's a sign of the enduring quality of great formats that the humour, political jostling and absurd bureaucracy in Yes Minister are as relevant today the world over as they were 25 years ago."

Yes Minister ran from 1980 to 1984 with the late Paul Eddington as the beleaguered Jim Hacker.

The show continued for a further two series as Yes, Prime Minister, which saw Hacker move into 10 Downing Street.

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