Happy to say that Sony TV has acquired the rights to my novel Samaritans, for Lynda Obst and 3Arts to produce a series. Very pleased that they all like it so much, and see the huge potential of the dark comedy inherent in US healthcare.
“Who better to run a hospital than a billionaire arms dealer and a Las Vegas casino manager? That’s the team that ends up in charge of the Samaritans Medical Center, Washington, in this satirical novel from Jonathan Lynn, best known as co-writer of the Yes, Minister TV series, who has now turned his sights on health care in the era of Trump... Lynn’s novel is not always laugh-out-loud funny, but it demolishes its targets with total accuracy: this is a book George Orwell would have approved of.”
- The Sunday Times, London.
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Samaritans Medical Center, Washington DC, can't seem to look after itself and its increasingly desperate doctors, let alone its patients. The chairman of the board, billionaire arms dealer and part-time philanthropist David Soper, decides that it's time to kill or cure.
Business School alumnus and Las Vegas hotel genius Max Green is the perfect man for the job. A man of vision. A man with a mission. A man who knows that wealth-care is smarter than healthcare. He's going to make Samaritans great again.
Andrew Sharp, star cardio-thoracic surgeon, turns his back on the NHS and buys into this brave new world of Porsches and payola. But when his American Dream turns into a living nightmare, Andrew discovers that even the new-found love of his assistant, Cathy, may not be enough to save him.
“Jonathan Lynn, already a comedy legend, has reinforced his storied reputation with this coruscating, wrathful, passionate, hilarious and astonishingly timely novel. It’s wonderful! I was hooked, mouth open, heart pounding. The catastrophic state of medical care is his story but Samaritans can be read too as a wider allegory, a discourse on a politics of greed, dis-entitlement, deregulation and social brutality that has run quite mad.”
- STEPHEN FRY
"There is reason to believe Jonathan Lynn was not born in the US and, while probably not a spy, he has spent some little time observing Americans in the wild. His observations are not always flattering—he’s talking Big Medicine, Big Insurance, Big Business and their cousin, Small Ethics—but he certainly seems to have our number. Samaritans is smart, dark, and very, very funny. Stay healthy, America!"
- MICHAEL McKEAN
"Jonathan Lynn takes on the US medical system with the same probing laser he applied to 'Yes Minister' and wryly proves that malpractice makes profit. Funny and ingenious.
- MAUREEN LIPMAN
"Given the extraordinarily complicated and often grim circumstances that have become the hallmark of the American healthcare system, I would not have thought it possible to find comedy in what is so often nothing less than calamity. But that was before I was treated to Jonathan Lynn’s satirical and remarkably revealing exposé of the twisted pretzel that is American healthcare. It is with the highest confidence that I recommend this book, with particularity, to those Members of Congress who remain committed to making access to life saving care far too difficult for far too many people. It is my fondest hope that they might laugh their way to the education they so sorely require."
- RICK UNGAR (Co-Host of Steele&Ungar, Sirius XM POTUS Channel, Senior Contributor for Politics & Healthcare Policy, Forbes Magazine)
“Lynn's seasoned and characteristic satirical humor is in full force: fans of his movie Clue or his series Yes, Minister will recognize his unique voice. But he's also created new and memorable characters who jump off the page and his descriptions of a typical American hospital are spot on. But what makes it great is the thought experiment that follows: Lynn exposes the dark future of our health care if the system is left as is and if sweeping changes aren't imposed very soon. And the consequences are frightening. It's a reminder that physicians and nurses and even hospital administrators have chosen careers in which the goal is to help people, not to profit from them. And the ethical dilemmas that the characters face are ones that we can all relate to. The choices we make have consequences and there's a reason civil societies take care of their sick. Lynn reminds us of what can and does happen when we forget that.”
- DR INDRE VISKONTAS, Adjunct Professor ofPsychology at the University of San Francisco
"Jonathan Lynn tackles the US healthcare system in satirical splendour. I laughed out loud. It is both hilarious and scary at the same time! Nobody does it better."
- BARBARA BROCCOLI
“In Samaritans Jonathan Lynn utilizes his legendary comedy genius to enjoy making us laugh at an absurdity, as he subtlety awakens us to the fact that the absurd is the reality, and that the joke is on us for not having noticed. This is a book that is as politically and socially important as is it is entertaining.
- MURIEL GRAY
In Comedy Rules, Lynn sheds light on how it’s done with 150 rules covering such vexed topics as:
Inspiration, collaboration and the Seven Deadly Sins
The perils of unmotivated comic business
Sexist jokes, taboos and bad taste
Pitching screenplays in LA
Writing outside your experience
Avoiding lunch with the Inland Revenue
A host of hugely enjoyable examples drawn from Lynn’s varied and successful career bring these rules to life. Along the way, we meet a cast of luminaries including Leonard Rossiter, John Landis, Nigel Hawthorne, Paul Eddington, Jack Rosenthal and Jonathan’s long-time co-writer, Antony Jay.
As we travel in Lynn’s genial company from early digs in Coventry to the Sushi bars of Hollywood, Comedy Rules offers an enlightening journey into the world of comedy and an indispensible companion to the elusive art of its creation.
‘A terrific read, a masterclass in comedy. To anyone starting out, writing, performing, or producing, Comedy Rules! is a gem. It is also a very engaging memoir of such a productive, creative, and successful career. Finally, perhaps most importantly, it is absolutely hilarious. Terribly funny.’
- Robbie Coltrane
‘Stayed up half the night reading it…loved it.
It’s about WHAT I DO!’
- Steve Martin
"A tightly constructed, rather brilliant little book...Best of all, Lynn makes it look easy, which is the basic rule of comedy, and is only ever the product of long hours of hard work." -The Spectator
"Comedy gold...instantly more entertaining than most memoirs...there are treats galore...If your passion is acting, directing, producing or comedy writing, then this book is a gem. And if you share none of these passions but simply want to laugh out loud as you learn, then this one is for you too." -The Scotsman
“Joanna is in desperate need of $10,000, now or soon. No holds barred.”
Ernest Mayday, a best-selling British author living in a Hollywood Hills mansion with a beautiful masseuse, has everything that money can buy – except an idea for his next book.
Then he replies to the personal ad placed by the mysterious, tantalizing Joanna. She needs money, fast, and will do anything to get it. Compromising a juror on a major fraud trial is just the beginning of an increasingly labyrinthine plot – a plot that Ernest realizes will make the perfect novel.
But is Ernest observer or voyeur? When does fact end and fiction begin? What is the truth about the Reverend Abel Pile and the sinister Angel of Darkness? Suddenly Ernest finds he is no longer calling the shots – and the bullets are real.
Written by: Jonathan Lynn
First published by: Viking UK (1993) and Penguin (1994)
Republished with a new introduction in a 25th anniversary edition by Endeavour Media (2018)
Format: Trade paperback, hardback, e-book
"At last, a thought-filled, mystery-laced,laugh-packed, cynical, satirical knockout novel that takes on L.A.'s cluttered complex culture, the gratuitous embroidery of American speech, the seismic idiocy of the movie business, feel-good religion, fell-bad psychoanalysis, academian nuts. single sex and group as well. Move over, Raymond Chandler and Nathaniel West." - Larry Gelbart
"Jonathan Lynn, with his marvelous sense of the comic and his artist's eye for detail has, like Thackeray, spun an unforgettable portrait of the exotic denizens of L.A - engrossing, scathingly funny, original." - Oliver Sacks
"It is several satirical novels for the price of one, all jostling and milling and spraying their targets with unrestrained vigour." - Times Literary Supplement
"Very funny - will keep you turning the pages right to the surprising end." - Eric Idle
Yes Minister Miscellany
Written by:Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay
Published by:Biteback (2009,2010)
Tracing the careers of Hacker, Sir Humphrey and his loyal sidekick Bernard, this amusing and brilliantly illustrated book will appeal to everyone who remembers the series with affection and can t resist watching the repeats. Containing obituaries of the three leading characters and the sketch written by Bernard Ingham for Margaret Thatcher to perform with Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne, the book contains many surprises as well as reflections on the series and its importance by politicians and journalists of the day.
The Complete Yes Prime Minister
Written by:Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay
Published by:BBC Books (1989)
The Complete YES MINISTER and The Complete YES PRIME MINISTER both became huge best-sellers perhaps because people realized that they were not simply printed versions of the celebrated television series: since they ridicule not only the British Government but also political memoirs, they are major works of political satire in their own right. Indeed, Brian Walden in The Standard described The Complete YES MINISTER as ..."the greatest political textbook in the English language".
That book spent 106 weeks in the Sunday Times top-ten fiction list, has been translated into numerous foreign languages and was described by the New York Times Book Review as "...the funniest, wittiest and truest piece of political satire to be published on either side of the Atlantic in the post-Evelyn Waugh period". Not to be out-done, The Washington Post described the book as "...a priceless comic treasure" and the authors as "...a madcap combination of Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw and the George Orwell of Politics And The English Language."
The Complete YES PRIME MINISTER continued this amazing success: never out of the top-ten for it's first six months and the number one bestseller for twelve weeks. Uniquely, at Christmas 1986 they were at numbers one and two respectively. In the Sunday Times Bestsellers of the Decade, 1980-89, the two volumes were eventually listed as number two and number three.
The TV series. which have been showered with awards, were required viewing among top politicians and civil servants, and were seen in eighty-four countries around the world. The books have become part of the English cultural tradition, just as Sir Humphrey and Jim Hacker have become part of the English language. Many literary classics become television and film classics. YES MINISTER and YES PRIME MINISTER have the rare distinction of becoming classics of English comic literature.
The Complete Yes Minister
Written by:Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay
Published by:BBC Books (1989)
In the spring of 1983 the BBC TV series Yes Minister achieved a unique hat trick: it became the first programme ever to win the British Academy Award for Best Comedy Series for three years running. In those three years the series had progressed from an innovation to an institution, as more and more people realized that behind all the laughter there was a great deal of accurate observation and pertinent revelation about the way the British are governed.
As the series grew in popularity, however, viewers increasingly found that a television tour of British democratic government in the Eighties, however hilarious, was not enough. They wanted this expose of Westminster and Whitehall in a more permanent and portable form. By re-interpreting the stories as Jim Hacker's political diaries (augmented by Sir Humphrey Appleby's papers and a good helping of new material) the authors have produced not just a potted version of the series but books which stand up as works of sharp political comedy in their own right.