The Men From The Ministry


At the start of several of the broadcast series of The Men From The Ministry, the Radio Times included short articles about the programmes and the actors. The following are some transcripts. The author would appreciate receiving details of other articles that are not included here.


25 Oct 1962. p.29. Vol.157, No.2033.
(1/1 The Great Footwear Scandal)
Wilfrid Hyde White and Richard Murdoch
in the public service as The Men from the Ministry
tonight at 8.0

If a spy ring could teach its pigeons to observe and report, as well as merely to carry messages, Britain's secrets would be in great jeopardy. For Whitehall, where so many government offices are to be found, is also the home of most of our pigeons. An astute bird, on the window sill of the Ministry of Defence or the Admiralty, might hear a dozen plans and projects put up every day. Later, lurking on a parapet at the Treasury, he might hear them all turned down. Pecking innocently around the highly polished shoes of Foreign Office men in St. James's Park, he might pick up any number of secrets, as well as crumbs from rolls stuffed into pockets at some of London's best clubs.

A lazy pigeon, on the other hand, could hear the work of all the different ministries discussed without leaving his nest, if he built it outside a certain window at the top of one of Whitehall's oldest buildings. For in here is the General Assistance Department, which exists to help any section that's over-loaded. One day, aviation: the next, education: always, confusion.

Incidentally, if this pigeon were a film-goer, he would recognise the head of the department, Roland Hamilton-Jones, as Wilfrid Hyde White: if a radio fan, he would soon identify Richard Lamb as Richard Murdoch. And if he were too lazy even for the flight to that high window, he could hear all their activities by tuning into the Light Programme on Tuesday nights. Tonight he would hear about 'The Great Footwear Scandal.'

              EDWARD TAYLOR


22 Jul 1965. p.15, Vol.168, No.2176.
(2/1 Pirates of Lakeview Reservoir)
The Men from the Ministry

When we first met The Men from the Minstry - a couple of years ago, if you remember - it quickly became obvious that they attracted disaster as a picnic attracts wasps. Well-meaning, genial - how could they be otherwise, when they bore so close a resemblance to our old friends Wilfrid Hyde White and Richard Murdoch? - they yet had a flair for falling into little errors. For example, they lumbered the War Office with twenty thousand left-foot boots; they put a woman into space by accident; they provoked the Isle of Wight into war with Great Britain. Small things, perhaps, but it was inevitable that sooner or later, even as Established Staff, they were due for some mark of official disfavour. And sure enough, after that had had the new Snedfield Flyover blown up (what they meant to have blown up were the photographs of it) they made their exit, posted to Records at Inverglochie.

But there was always the chance that, if they messed things up badly enough at Inverglochie, they would find themselves posted back to London. And, indeed that has now happened. Their removal from the tiny Hebridean island of Inverglochie has, of course, provoked among the crofters mixed feelings - a curious blend of relief and delight. But it is a source of regret to the flocks of gulls, cormorants, and shags, who appreciated those impeccable bowler hats. Be that as it may, The Men from the Ministry are back in London, and back on the Light tonight.

              EDWARD TAYLOR


8 Dec, 1966. p.19, Vol.173, No.2248.
(3/1 Rebel in Regent's Park)
New Man at the Ministry

The Men from the Ministry returns to the air this evening, and London has been buzzing with rumours of radical changes in the organisation. I went down to their offices in Whitehall to find out.

At first it all seemed the same. Old Mathews in the porter's cubby-hole was darning a pair of khaki socks. The brown lino in the hall, the long staircase, on each landing a fire-bucket full of waste paper, the top floor with pigeons nesting in the corridor - it was all as it was last year.

In the outer office, secretary Mildred Murfin wore the same wary smile, but a much shorter skirt. And when I found Richard Lamb chipping a golf ball into his in-tray, and looking remarkably like Richard Murdoch, I felt nothing had changed. But from Lamb I learned the astonishing news. They've lost Mr. Hamilton-Jones. "He's gone,' said Lamb quietly, 'to a better place. In fact, to the Ministry of Expansion, where they get two biscuits with their tea.'

The new chief is Mr. Lennox-Brown, who looks extra-ordinarily like Deryck Guyler. As soon as we met, I sensed that the old era of ludicrous incompetance had ended. And that a new era of ludicrous incompetance was about to begin.

              EDWARD TAYLOR


20 Mar 1969. p.45. Vol.182, No.2367.
(5/1 A Rotten System)
The Men from the Ministry

Citizens beware! The Men from the Ministry are back! The economic miracle is in danger: the peaceful lives of long-suffering tax-payers are again liable to disruption!

Actually, as fans of The Men from the Ministry will know, it's not quite as bad as all that. However great the Ministry confusion appears, things have a way of coming out all right in the end. Remember how The Men from the Ministry accidently flooded a village? And how the inhabitants only just escaped, floating away on every available bit of furniture? By a quick change of plan, this turned out into the Branmble Bumstead Hydro-Electric scheme - such a boon to the community today.

This new series consists of six programmes specially commissioned for the BBC World Service - for our Men are as popular and as recognisable in other countries as they are in Britain.

In the next few weeks, Richard Murdoch and Deryck Guyler face a new set of problems, ranging from the loss of top secret military plans and wrecking London's new underground extension to fighting woodworm in the seat of government.

              EDWARD TAYLOR


22 May 1975. p.33, Vol.207, No.2689.
(11/1 Nothing But The Vest)
The Men From the Ministry: 6.15 pm

Producer and co-writer Edward Taylor has been with The Men from the Ministry, starting up a new series on Monday (6.15 pm Radio 4), since the beginning. He's rather proud of the way that real life has a habit of copying the programme.

Shortly after The Men from the Ministry had a plague of mice, Whitehall was similarly stricken; when Lamb and Lennox-Brown lost a rocket, Whitehall followed suit and mislaid a missile.

The show is basically old-fashioned: it's even peppered with old jokes. Yet a large proportion of its audience is young. Taylor reckons that a part of its appeal lies in being distinctly untrendy, a gentle echo of the Civil Service as many would like to think it is.

The layman's view of bureaucracy seems to be universal. Taylor gets letters in response to BBC Wolrd Service transmissions from Spain and Turkey, India and Suadi Arabia. And the message is the same: 'That's our Civil Service ...'


22 December 1990 - 4 January 1991. Vol.269, No.3497.
(14/14 The Christmas Spirit)
Richard Murdoch (left) and Deryck Guyler

Richard 'Stinker' Murdoch, who died this year, starred for over 52 years in great radio comedies such as Band Waggon, Much-Binding-In-The-Marsh and The Men from the Ministry. Deryck Guyler, who, for many years, was Murdoch's 'Number One' in The Men from the Ministry, says: 'Dickie was wonderful to work with and very funny. I miss him very much.' Radio 2 broadcasts a Christmas edition - and also remembers Murdoch in a tribute narrated by Bob Monkhouse.

Thank you, Richard Murdoch Saturday 22 Dec Radio 2
The Men from the Ministry Wednesday 26 Dec Radio 2

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This page was compiled by Gary Schajer, Vancouver, Canada.