After years in opposition a new party is in power. The new Minister thinks he is the government. Sir Humphrey Appleby, Permanent Secretary, knows that it is he and his civil service colleagues who run the country. An inexperienced and gullible Minister puts forward plans in English, and is frustrated by his chief civil servant, who speaks Red Tape. With help from Bernard Woolley, stuck between his political boss and the master of his career, the Minister gradually learns to master the situation ... or does he?