Reproduced from an Afrikaans article published in Keur magazine, 20 January 1995 (South Africa)

The Men From The Ministry became familiar in most SA homes, but on 26 February (1995) the popular series will be heard for the last time on Radio South Africa.
Farewell to
old Friends
Translated from the original text of LIEZL-MONIQUE STRYDOM  

en route to the Seychelles Islands. Tom's faithful cast consisted of John Simpson,

 

Tom Meehan played the part of Sir Gregory Pitkin, die Permanent Under Secretary to

 

Frank Graham played Mathews (the terminal asthmatic who sounded if

THERE was great sadness when one of Radio South Africa's popular programmes officially "retires" after 27 years on the South African airwaves. The last recording of "The Men From The Ministry" was held in the Drostdy Loft Theatre in Durban. Many people grew up with and came to love the colourful characters in the program. Die program was originally broadcast on Springbok Radio until the station closed on the 31st December 1985.
Last year when Don Ridgway was looking for a comedy for Radio South Africa, he knew he couldn't go wrong if he brought the popular series back.
Tom Meehan obtained the original scripts in England. Initially the heads in charge of Springbok Radio were skeptic about scripts for a British audience with British humour, but market research soon indicated it was acceptable in South Africa as well. The production was so successful that a long playing record was produced. A film soon followed and the team performed on board a cruise liner

 

Roger Service, Maureen Adair,Tommy Read and Pat Simpson. After Pat's death in 1972 Frank Graham took over his characters. Tom's son Barry joined the team under the pseudonym Brian Squires so as not to cause any confusion.
He played the part of BBC newsreader Mortimer Thripp.
The program was all about the British civil service and all it's comicality. John Simpson, (Number 1), and Roger Service, (Number 2), were tasked with helping other departments in the civil service who were too snowed under with bigger jobs - usually with disastrous consequences.


Roger Service, Tom Meehan and John Simpson

 

the Prime Minister at the time, such as Callaghan, Thatcher and Major.
Maureen Adair played every female part in the whole series.



Maureen Adair playing Mildred Murfin

She played characters that varied from a tiny baby to a decrepit old hags. Her main role was as secretary Mildred Murfin, and Lol (Lolita) - wife of Humbert Snetherswaite. Tommy Read was Humbert, die gallant philosopher who produced a comical soaking splash with every word with an "s" in it.
He also took the part of the kindhearted Indian "gentlingman" Rampersad Haribhai Spoonilal V. Mukerjee.

 

every breath would be his last), a character he brought to the show. Other characters were the mad Italian opera singer and occasionally a very "quaint" fellow who would appear saying "well hello-hello-hello".

The BBC scripts soon ran out so Tom and Barry wrote the rest of the scripts themselves. The programme was recorded before audiences at the SABC studios in Durban, but Radio South Africa decided to take the show out and record at other venues around Durban.

Sadly, from the 26th of February 1995 South Africans will no longer hear the well known line: "Join the whole mad bunch at the same time next week for the same romp down the corridors of power with "The Men From The Ministry."


Lol Snetherswaite and the "Men" in action

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