Officials at the South Wales-based Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency yesterday admitted sending personal details of more than 1,000 drivers to the wrong people by mistake in another government data security lapse.This reinforces by impression that the best guide to what is going on in Brown's government is not Yes, Minister or The Thick of It but The Men from the Ministry.
As a site dedicated to this radio comedy series records:
This parody of the British Civil Service was popular with both domestic and international audiences. Thirteen series of radio programs totalling 147 episodes were broadcast in the UK by the BBC from 1962 to 1977. Most episodes were also transmitted internationally by the World Service. A further series of 14 episodes was produced for the the BBC Transcription Service, but not broadcast in the UK.The great thing about the series was that the plot was he same every week. The officials had two letters to send out, got them mixed up and mailed each to the wrong recipient, and there was then a mock news bulletin describing the resultant chaos.
The stereotypical image of haughty Government officials, complete with pin-stripe suits, bowler hats and umbrellas provides the basis for this comedy series. On the surface, these Establishment figures are all-knowing and confident. However, behind the scenes, they are revealed to be all-too-human. They are selfish and are incompetent almost without limit. Yet the parody is done with a light touch, and the unlikely heroes of the stories are always warm and likeable.
I loved the series as a little boy, and it seems I was not the only one:
The success of The Men From The Ministry extends beyond the BBC programmes. Over 900 episodes were produced and broadcast by Springbok Radio and Radio South Africa from the late 60s to the late 90s. These shows featured the same characters as the BBC episodes, but played by local actors. Some early shows were remakes of BBC episodes, but most were original stories.
A second adaptation of The Men From The Ministry is produced and broadcast by Radio YLE in Finland. Knalli ja sateenvarjo ("Bowler and Brolly") is a popular Finnish language programme with a loyal and appreciative domestic audience. The premise of bowler-hatted twittery within the conservative confines of the British Civil Service is evidently a popular one beyond the English-speaking world. The Finnish version now exceeds the original BBC series both in terms of longevity and number of episodes produced. Most shows are adaptations of the BBC episodes, but the recent episodes are from new scripts written by Edward Taylor.