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Jim Hacker

Prime Minister Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington)

James George "Jim" Hacker, Baron Hacker of Islington, KG, PC, BSc (Lond.), Hon. DCL (Oxon.) is the main protagonist of the 1980s British sitcom Yes Minister and its sequel, Yes, Prime Minister. He is the Minister of the (fictional) Department of Administrative Affairs, and later the Prime Minister. Although he has sympathetic qualities, and genuinely desires to bring about positive changes to his country (which his Permanent Secretary, and later Cabinet Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, opposes at every turn), he is primarily motivated by desire for votes and popularity (thereby ensuing his own career survival and advancement) rather than altruistic motives, and is not above dishonesty and abuses of power for his own (often self-serving) ends.

He was portrayed by the late Paul Eddington in the original show, and David Haig in the 2010 stage production and subsequent 2013 revival series.

Fictional biography

Hacker was a member of the Opposition, and he served as Shadow Minister of Agriculture from 1974 on. In 1980, he served as the head of the unsuccessful party leadership campaign of Martin Walker; the winner of this campaign, Herbert Attwell, later went on to win the general election in 1981, and thereby became the UK's new prime minister. Although the series itself ends with Hacker still Prime Minister, this obituary mentions his later career as a member of the House of Lords. After his death, a college is named after him (Hacker College, Oxford).

In Yes, Prime Minister Hacker strives to perfect all the skills needed by a statesman, giving more grandiose speeches, dreaming up "courageous" political programs, and honing his diplomatic craft, nearly all of these attempts landing him in trouble at some point. (In a Radio Times interview to promote the latter series, actor Paul Eddington stated, "He's beginning to find his feet as a man of power, and he's begun to confound those who thought they'd be able to manipulate him out of hand.") Hacker becomes a more competent politician by the end. Though primarily interested in his personal career survival and advancement, he, unlike Sir Humphrey, views government as a means rather than an end in itself.

Other Media

In a radio broadcast spoof of Yes Minister performed by the late Paul Eddington and the late Nigel Hawthorne, both of whom played their respective parts from the show, Hacker is a Minister in the government of the day, that of Margaret Thatcher, who also played herself as Prime Minister. In the sketch, she asks that Hacker and Sir Humphrey abolish economists.