The Official Visit
|"The Official Visit"|
Episode title card
|Episode no.||Series 1
|Written by||Antony Jay
|Produced by||Sydney Lotterby|
|Original air date||2 March 1980|
"The Official Visit" is the second episode of the BBC comedy series Yes Minister and was first broadcast 2 March 1980. This was the first episode to feature the animated title sequence designed by Gerald Scarfe, and the theme music composed by Ronnie Hazlehurst.
Having now settled into his Ministerial routine, Hacker is becoming buried in the amount of correspondence he has to deal with. Bernard explains to him that he doesn't actually need to examine any of it: it's as simple as transferring it from the in-tray to the out-tray, as the civil service will take care of all of it. When Hacker then questions the reason for his existence, Bernard replies that the Minister is there to make policy decisions... from time to time.
Sir Humphrey Appleby arrives with news of an official visit to the United Kingdom by the president of Buranda, who will be met by The Queen. Hacker initially derides Buranda as a "TPLAC" — "tin pot little African country" — but Sir Humphrey admonishes him and explains that in a few years it will be a key provider of oil. Hacker now decides that the visit will take place in Scotland, at Holyrood Palace — ostensibly to save Her Majesty a trip to London, but in reality to aid his party's chances in three Scottish by-elections, all of them in marginal seats, which he now intends to hold immediately after the visit. Sir Humphrey criticises his Minister for using the situation for political purposes, but then concedes that the reason for the visit is to hopefully secure a contract for off-shore drilling equipment. Hacker indicates that the best places to see such facilities are in the likes of Aberdeen and Clydeside and pointedly remarks that they are unlikely to be found in Hazlemere. Against Sir Humphrey's wishes, he is determined on his plan. After Sir Humphrey leaves the office, Bernard confides in Hacker that his superior was looking forward to the London embassy dinner, which now in all likelihood won't be happening. He also reveals that Sir Humphrey has a KBE in the pipeline.
Sir Humphrey meets Sir Frederick Stewart, Permanent Secretary to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the hope that "Jumbo" (as he is known) has been able to dissuade his Minister from adopting Hacker's scheme. However, Sir Frederick believes that in any case the visit may not take place owing to an impending coup d'état in Buranda.
As Hacker watches television in his office, a news report confirms Sir Frederick's misgivings. However, Hacker confers with Martin, the Foreign Secretary, and they agree that the invitation must be re-issued to the new president of Buranda — much to Sir Humphrey's dismay.
As the visit goes ahead, Hacker watches the president's televised arrival and is surprised that he recognises him from his student days, when he was known as Charlie Umtali.
On board the train to Scotland, Bernard interrupts Hacker with an urgent message: the Burandan president's impending speech contains some highly inflammatory language which effectively calls on Scottish and Irish Nationalists to rise up against the English. A hurried (and somewhat squashed) meeting in Hacker's sleeper compartment is convened. Sir Frederick surmises that there may be an ulterior motive, and Hacker agrees to meet with the president.
Hacker, with Sir Humphrey in tow, confronts President Selim Mohammed (as he is now known) to discuss the speech. It transpires that the president is seeking an interest-free loan of £50 million to offset any concerns from oil investors at his change of government. He intends to spend this money in the UK, on Clyde-built oil rigs. Hacker is all in favour — in return for the necessary cuts to the speech, and uses the threat of withholding Sir Humphrey's imminent KBE as the means to convince his Permanent Secretary.