Yes, Prime Minister (1986) s01e02 Episode Script

The Ministerial Broadcast

(CLEARS THROAT) Sir Humphrey is waiting to see you, Prime Minister.
Thank you, Bernard.
Show him in.
Yes, Prime Minister.
- Good morning, Prime Minister.
- Ah, Humphrey, good morning.
How's the jet lag? I'm not jet-lagged.
No, I find that jet lag affects me more going the other way.
I felt frightfully tired at the White House.
I can scarcely remember a thing he said.
He didn't really say much, Prime Minister.
He was frightfully tired too.
Bit worrying, isn't it? Statesmen such as myself jetting all over the world, attending major conferences on the future of mankind and we're zonked? It would be, Prime Minister.
Perhaps that's why negotiations are done in advance by humble servants such as I.
They can hardly be left in the hands of the zonked.
Now, what did you want to see me about? Prime Minister? Prime Minister! Ah, yes, Bernard.
Ah, Humphrey, good morning! - You wanted to see me.
- Oh.
Did I? - Don't you know what it was about? - He fell asleep before he told me.
I'll be back if I'm needed.
Bernard, I'd like a word when you're free.
(DOOR CLOSES) Ah, Bernard.
Remind me to see Humphrey .
.
about something.
I suppose now I'm back, I've got a huge backlog of work? - Not really.
- No backlog? Nothing at all.
You have much less to do as Prime Minister.
You don't have a department.
Bernard, you can't be serious.
Everything you've read about how hard a Prime Minister has to work is a bit of a myth really.
It's put out by the Press Office as a matter of course.
If you think about it, what do you have to do? - Chair the Cabinet.
- Two and a half hours a week.
- Chair a couple of Cabinet committees.
- Four hours.
- Answer questions in the House twice a week.
- Another half an hour.
- Er - Audience with the Queen on Tuesdays.
- Another hour.
- Seven and a half hours a week so far.
Bernard, there must be more to it than that.
You have to read all the briefs and we rush you from place to place shaking hands with people.
There's lots of things people want you to do and lots of things you should do and any number of things you CAN do, but very few things you HAVE to do.
It's up to you.
You're the boss.
Thank you, Bernard.
I'll bear that in mind.
Let's have the Press Secretary in to discuss my first TV broadcast as Prime Minister.
Send Malcolm Warren up here straight away, please.
I was busy in America.
It was a great success.
- Was it? - Of course it was, Bernard.
Haven't you read Malcolm's report? I was on all the news bulletins three nights running.
Special feature on ''Panorama'', 1,269 column inches in the nationals.
31 photos, 16 radio reports.
No, was it a success in terms of what it achieved? I just told you.
No, what about agreements with the Americans? Your private conversation with the President? You didn't tell me the result.
Oh, that.
To begin with, I read him my brief and he read me his brief.
Then we decided it would be quicker if we just swapped briefs and read them to ourselves.
We spent most of the time rubbishing the French.
Terrific.
- Good.
- (PHONE RINGS) Yes? Oh, thanks.
Malcolm Warren is on his way up, Prime Minister.
(SNORES) (KNOCK AT DOOR) Ah, Bernard.
How's the Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury? - Sleeping peacefully, Sir Humphrey.
- Bernard, we have a problem.
- Who has? - You and I and the whole of Whitehall.
The problem is the Prime Minister's disastrous new defence ideas - cancelling Trident, reintroducing conscription and all that rubbish.
- The Grand Design? - That's what he calls it.
- If it reduces unemployment - What is the purpose of our defence policy? - To defend Britain.
- No, Bernard.
It is to make people BELIEVE Britain is defended.
- The Russians? - Not the Russians, the British! The Russians know it's not.
It's for all our simple, ignorant people shuffling in and out of houses, buses, factories and the Cabinet room.
We want to make them feel secure.
- But if there's a better way - Bernard, we have a magic wand - Trident.
Nobody understands anything about it, except that it will cost £15 billion, which means it must be wonderful, magical.
All we have to do is write a cheque and then we can all relax, but if people in government start talking about it, in the end, they'll start THINKING about it.
They will come to realise the problems, the flaws in the reasoning.
The nation will get worried - agitation, questions, criticismchange.
- Change? - Change.
There is one thing, though - this TV broadcast.
Suppose he uses it to announce his new policy? - It has to go through Cabinet and the House.
- He can open the national debate.
You do not do that until the government has made up its mind.
- If the Prime Minister has made up his mind - He must unmake it.
- But he's the Prime Minister.
- Yes, indeed he is, Bernard.
He has his own car, a nice house in London, endless publicity and a pension for life.
What more does he want? I think he wants to govern Britain.
Well, stop him, Bernard.
Should it be an interview or to camera? Yes.
No, Prime Minister, it has to be one or the other.
What about an interview? Bernard, we're discussing a TV interview.
Robin Day, Brian Walden, Terry Wogan, Jimmy Young? - Which do you think? - It depends how you want to appear.
The thinker, man of power, people's friend? - All of them really.
- They won't all interview you at the same time.
No, I want to be seen to have all those qualities.
Well, I think you should do it to camera.
Yes.
At least it'll be me in charge and not all those failed MPs and jumped-up DJs.
- Fine.
A party political? - No, a party political spells instant boredom.
I think it should be a ministerial broadcast, the Prime Minister addressing his people, but I'll do it into the camera like a party political.
- I thought you said they were boring.
- I didn't say I'D be boring, Bernard.
Do you think I'd be boring? Boring? You? - Have you done much talking to camera? - No, mostly interviews.
Then I'd better set up a practice session.
What is the broadcast to be about? - About? - Yes, about.
What will it be about? About me.
Yes, but what are you gonna say? Say? About policies.
Policies, yes.
I thought it'd be the usual thing - go forward together, better tomorrow, tighten your belt, all pull together, heal the wounds.
Yes, but what will you be saying specifically? Oh, specifically.
Well, I thought I'd suggest that we all specifically tighten our belts.
And specifically heal the specific wounds in society.
See what I mean? It's entirely up to you, Prime Minister.
I just thought if you had anything new to say? New? Oh, new! Yes, of course! Get Humphrey back here, will you? My Grand Design.
That's what I wanted to talk to Humphrey about.
Sir Humphrey, the Prime Minister is making arrangements for his TV broadcast.
He wants to talk about his Grand Design and wonders if you Hello? I think he's on his way.
- Grand Design? - I can't tell you now, but it's a big story.
I'll find a producer and set up a practice session in the meantime.
- That was quick.
- You want to discuss a TV appearance? Yes.
It's not so desperately urgent.
Not remotely important.
My first television broadcast as Prime Minister? Terribly important, of course, but not a crisis, not a panic.
I want to announce my new defence policy.
What do you think? - No! - Pardon? - It's a mistake.
- The policy? Well, of course, it's tremendously refreshing to have a new mind on the problem.
Challenging the old ideas, questioning the whole basis of government thinking for 30 years.
- You don't approve of the policy? - It's not that.
There'll be implications, reverberations, repercussions.
We have to weigh the evidence, review, consult.
You get on with that and I'll announce it in the broadcast.
You can't.
Not yet.
Well, we have to tell the Americans.
They will have grave objections.
It will take many months of patient diplomacy.
Delicate issues need sensitive handling.
Who is it who has the last word about the government of Britain? The British Cabinet or the American President? Do you know, that's a fascinating question! - We often discuss it.
- What conclusion have you arrived at? Well, I must admit to being a bit of a heretic.
I think it's the British Cabinet, but I know I'm in the minority.
From now on, you're in the majority.
I shall raise my Grand Design with the Overseas Defence Committee, then I shall put it to Cabinet.
I've sounded most of them out privately.
They think it's a vote-winner a major contribution to our defence.
I'll put it to the House, then announce it in my broadcast.
- Sorry, you can't announce it yet.
- Well, if I can't, who can? So let us be abundantly clear about this.
We cannot go on paying ourselves more than we earn.
The rest of the world does not owe us a living.
We must be prepared to make sacrifices and Who wrote this rubbish? You did, Prime Minister.
It's one of your old speeches.
- What about a draft of the broadcast? - It's still only a draft.
- This is only a practice.
- It's confidential.
- Everyone's been cleared.
Go on.
- Yes, Prime Minister.
- How was that, Godfrey? - Excellent, Prime Minister.
Just one thing.
- Will you be wearing those glasses? - What do you think? It's up to you.
With them on, you look authoritative and commanding.
With them off, you look honest and open.
I want to look authoritative AND honest.
It's one or the other really.
I could start with them off and put them on when I talk? - That just looks indecisive.
- Oh, I see.
What about a monocle? Let's just leave them off for the moment, shall we? Can we go again? - Have you got that new script, Bernard? - Yes, Prime Minister.
The Trident programme is too expensive.
By cancelling it, we shall release billions of pounds to fund an imaginative and radical attack on the nation's problems.
- What this country needs - Can we hold it? - What was wrong? - No, it was very good.
- Prime Minister - Just a minute.
Yes? Do you mind not leaning forward? It makes you look as though you're selling insurance.
And also it makes you look up at the lens like a sort of suppliant.
You should be looking down from on high.
What this country needs What this country needs What this country needs Prime Minister, Malcolm and I have drafted a slightly different version to this speech.
''We shall review a wide range of options over the whole field of government expenditure.
'' - This doesn't say anything.
- Thank you, Prime Minister.
- Completely lacking impact.
- You're too kind.
- No, I don't like it.
- You could say ''urgently review''.
- No.
- I do think it should be toned down a bit.
Any thoughts, Malcolm? What about ''the Trident programme is a heavy burden on your tax bill.
''We should look at it carefully to see if it merits the £15 billion it costs.
'' All right.
It's OK to mention figures? Yes.
Practically no one takes them in and those who do don't believe them, but it makes people think you've got the facts at your fingertips.
People don't know you're reading them off the teleprompter.
- Otherwise, it was fine? - You were going a bit slowly.
The teleprompter was going a bit slowly.
No, no.
It follows your speed.
Try going slow and then fast.
- Oh, I see.
- And cue.
TheTridentprogrammeisaheavy (VERY QUICKLY) .
.
burden on your tax bill.
£15 billion is a lot of money.
I see what you mean, yes.
Would you mind not saying ''YOUR tax bill''? Why not? It makes you sound like the ruler talking to the ruled, them and us.
- What should I say? - ''OUR tax bill''? You pay taxes, too.
- Yes.
Change that, Bernard.
- It's still very direct.
- Good.
Thank you, Bernard.
- No, lots of people's jobs depend on Trident.
- Until there's been a consultation - Yes.
Malcolm? We could say, ''Defence expenditure is one of those areas which we will look at closely ''to see if we can meet our defence needs at a lower cost.
'' - Can you make it two sentences? - Why? Prime Minister, we find that if a sentence goes on over three lines, then by the time it gets to the end, most people will have forgotten how it began.
Two sentences, Malcolm.
And you are leaning forward again a bit.
That's what I do when I want to look sincere.
It makes you look like someone who wants to look sincere.
If you lean back, you look relaxed and in control.
That's it.
Don't lean back quite as far as that.
It looks as though you've had a liquid lunch.
You can always underline bits of the script where you want to look sincere, then you just frown and say them a bit more slowly.
Anything else? Well, your face is a bit wooden.
Wooden? Yeah, only when you're speaking.
In normal speech, you move your head and eyebrows and cheek muscles and so on.
Don't let the teleprompter turn you into a zombie.
OK? And cue! Defence expenditure is one of the areas which this government will be examining closely.
It may be that we can achieve the same Prime Minister, that's just a little bit too much.
You'll have heard a lot of nonsense from the opposition.
They say we waste money.
They say we're selling out to the United States.
I say look at the mess they made when they were in power, look at the damage they did to the economy Could we hold it there? Prime Minister, if I might suggest, don't attack the opposition.
Oh.
Those are the bits the party likes.
Now, the party will vote for you anyway.
You'll make the floating voter see you as an angry and divisive figure.
- I see.
What should I say about them? - Don't mention them at all.
Everything you say has to make you sound warm and friendly.
Authoritative, of course, but affectionate.
The father of the nation.
Could we just run forward to that, um, that new bit? Try lowering the pitch of your voice.
All right? (HIGH VOICE) We want (DEEP VOICE) We want to build a bright future for our children.
We want to build a peaceful and prosperous Britain, a Britain that can hold her head high in the fellowship of nations.
This is rather good.
Who wrote this? Actually, it's from the last party political by the leader of the opposition.
As for your appearance, what will you wear? - What do you suggest? - A dark suit represents traditional values.
- Fine, dark suit.
- But a light suit looks business-like.
What about a lightish jacket with a darkish waistcoat? I think that would look as though you've got an identity problem.
Excuse me, Prime Minister.
Godfrey, could we have a word about make-up? - Shall we darken the grey hair? - No, it's fine.
- And the receding hairline? - Receding what? High forehead.
And can you try to do something about the eyes, make them look less close-set? Sure.
Lighten the bags underneath.
- The nose is still a problem.
- Problem? No, just a lighting problem, Prime Minister.
A very large, um, shadow.
The teeth, of course.
Could you smile, Prime Minister? Yes Prime Minister, how would you feel about a little dental work? Can we get on with this? OK, we're going again.
Super.
And cue the Prime Minister.
We shall review a wide range of options over the whole field of government expenditure - Bernard, this is what we started with.
- I do think it's the most appropriate.
- What do you think, Godfrey? - It's up to you, Prime Minister.
All I can say is, if that's what you're going to say, I suggest a very modern suit, hi-tech furniture, high-energy yellow wallpaper, abstract paintings.
In fact, everything to disguise the absence of anything new in the speech.
I'll go back to my original dynamic speech about the Grand Design.
Fine, then it's the reassuring traditional background, dark suit, oak panelling, leather volumes, 18th-century portraits.
One other thing - opening music.
Once again, Bach - new ideas; Stravinsky - no change.
I think I ought to have a British composer, something that would reflect my image.
- Elgar perhaps? - Elgar, yes, yes.
Not ''Land of Hope and Glory''.
What about the ''Enigma Variations''? He's going to say something new and radical.
That silly Grand Design? Bernard, that was precisely what you had to avoid! I shall need a very good explanation! - He's very keen on it.
- What's that got to do with it? Things don't happen just because Prime Ministers are keen on them.
Neville Chamberlain was very keen on peace! He thinks it's a vote-winner.
Ah.
That's more serious.
Sit down.
What makes him think that? The party did an opinion poll and all the voters were in favour of national service.
Have another opinion poll done showing they're AGAINST national service.
- They can't be for AND against it.
- Ever been surveyed? Yes.
Well, not me, my house.
Oh, I see what you mean.
Bernard, a nice young lady comes up to you.
You want to create a good impression, you don't want to look a fool, do you? - No.
- So she starts asking you some questions.
Mr Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs? Yes.
Are you worried about rising crime among teenagers? - Yes.
- Do you think our schools lack discipline? Yes.
Do you think young people welcome authority and leadership? - Yes.
- They like a challenge? - Yes.
- Would you be in favour of national service? - I suppose I might be.
- Yes or no? - Yes.
- After all you've told me, you can't say no.
They don't mention the first five questions and publish the last one.
Is that really what they do? Not the reputable ones, but there aren't many of those.
Alternatively, the young lady can get the opposite result.
- How? - Mr Woolley, are you worried about war? - Yes.
- Are you worried about the arms race? - Yes.
- Is it dangerous giving young people guns? - Yes.
- Is it wrong to force people to take up arms? - Yes.
- Would you oppose national service? Yes.
There you are, you see, Bernard.
The perfect balanced sample.
So we just commission our own survey for the Ministry of Defence.
See to it.
- What about the broadcast? - When will he do it? Some time next month.
Tell him it'll be in 11 days' time.
That's a bit soon.
Suppose he refuses? Tell him that we've learnt from the Joint Broadcasting Committee that the opposition will hold a party political in 18 days' time and he can get his ministerial in first.
If he wants the first political broadcast of his premiership to be given by the opposition, fine.
Erm, is that true? It will be if you don't mention it till tomorrow.
- He could still announce his new policy.
- I don't think so.
He'll have only one meeting with his Cabinet colleagues.
They're all in favour of it.
Only personally and politically, but are they in favour as responsible departmental ministers? I see.
That will depend on the advice they get.
I understand, of course, there's no question of our opposing this scheme to cancel Trident.
It's a question of holding back a little until we've thought through all the implications.
So what are you going to brief your man at Employment to say? What are the others saying? Will Dick brief the Foreign Secretary to say the Americans will hit the roof? No, he thinks it might be more persuasive to argue that cancelling Trident will look like weakness, appeasing the Soviets.
Good thinking.
Just as Norman won't tell his man at Defence to say that the service chiefs won't have their elite forces diluted with riff-raff.
- But they won't? - He felt they needed another argument.
Two? Two arguments? Isn't that putting rather a strain on the Defence Secretary's somewhat Obsolete intellectual equipment? Yes.
He's just going to brief him that Trident is best and Britain must have the best.
Oh, good.
Even the Defence Secretary should be able to handle that.
With a bit of coaching, yes.
And Giles? I know! The National Union of Teachers are scared stiff that conscription will expose the fact that school leavers, while tremendously integrated socially and creatively aware Can't actually read, write or do sums, yes.
Giles has got the Education Secretary worried that the colleges prefer their education to be taken over by the services and actually used for teaching people.
- We can't have that.
- No.
So what about your man at Employment? It's the same problem.
The truth is the unions don't want kids undercutting them on community work.
Yes.
I don't think we need to bring the truth in at this stage.
Hold on.
Now, suppose he argues that unemployed young people are, at the moment, unfit, unorganised, undisciplined and untrained, but that conscription will eventually release on to the streets an army of fit young people, all trained to kill.
Good man! Does he actually believe that? He will by tomorrow morning.
Ah, Humphrey.
Gentlemen.
Sorry.
Good committee, Prime Minister? - Extraordinary.
Extraordinary.
- How extraordinary? Last week, all my colleagues were all for my Grand Design.
And now? The Foreign Secretary says it would appease the Soviets.
I hadn't thought of that.
The Defence Secretary says Trident is best and Britain must have the best.
Does he really? How fascinating! The Education Secretary says conscription would undermine the educational system.
It is a worry.
And the Employment Secretary? Well, he goes on about a million unemployed trained fighters being let loose on the streets.
- Well, he has a point there.
- I don't understand it.
Last week, they all thought my new defence policy was a winner.
Can you explain it? It's beyond me, Prime Minister.
Yes, Bernard? Sorry to interrupt, Prime Minister.
The MoD said it was urgent.
What? It seems that 74% of the population are against conscription.
74? Good Lord! The party poll said that 63% of the population was for it.
You see, party figures can be very unreliable, Prime Minister.
- Evidently.
- May I suggest a compromise? Well, it's clear that the committee's agreed that your new policy is an excellent plan, but in view of some of the doubts expressed, may I propose that after careful consideration, the considered view of the committee was that while the proposal met with broad approval in principle, some of the principles were sufficiently fundamental in principle and some of the considerations so complex and finely balanced in practice that in principle it was proposed that the sensible and prudent practice would be to submit the proposal for more detailed consideration, stressing the essential continuity of the new proposal with existing principles and the principle of the principal arguments which the proposer proposes and propounds for their approvalin principle.
What? Don't refer to your Grand Design in your television broadcast on Friday.
- You're not suggesting I should abandon it? - Good heavens, no! Heaven forbid! It is a most excellent policy! All right.
We'll look into it further before I say anything about it.
The TV people want a decision about the background scenery for the broadcast.
I suppose it had better be the modern suit with the hi-tech furniture and the yellow wallpaper.
And abstract paintings? I suppose so.
And Stravinsky? (BOTH) Yes, Prime Minister.