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Minder (1979-94)

Courtesy of FremantleMedia

Main image of Minder (1979-94)
Euston Films/Thames Television for ITV, tx. 29/10/1979-10/3/1994, 103 x 52-minute episodes in 10 series plus 5 specials, colour
Created byLeon Griffiths
Production CompanyEuston Films
Series ProducersLloyd Shirley, George Taylor, Ian Toynton
Writers includeBernard Dempsey, Leon Griffiths, Willis Hall, Tony Hoare, William Ivory, Andrew Payne, Kevin Sperring, David A.Yallop

Regular Cast: George Cole (Arthur Daley), Dennis Waterman (Terry McCann), Gary Webster (Ray), Glynn Edwards (Dave), Patrick Malahide (DS Chisholm), Anthony Valentine (Maurice)

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The misadventures of dodgy car dealer Arthur Daley and his 'Minder' as they try to stay one step ahead of the law and London's gangland in Thatcher's Britain.

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Probably to everyone's surprise, Minder (ITV, 1979-94) turned out to be the longest running series made by Euston Films. It began as a vehicle for Dennis Waterman, who had just finished starring in Euston's recent hit The Sweeney (ITV, 1975-78). In Minder he played Terry McCann, a well-intentioned former boxer and jailbird now scraping by as a kind of all-purpose bodyguard.

Leon Griffiths developed the series from an unmade feature film script he had written years earlier, tweaking the rougher aspects of the story, while retaining the action, sex and roughhouse humour that were Euston's stock-in-trade.

What really made the series such a huge success, however, was the supporting character played by veteran comic actor George Cole. Cowardly car salesman and shady businessman Arthur Daley - the name itself evoking the 'Artful Dodger' - was forever on the look out for a "nice little earner", trying to turn situations to his own financial advantage. Arthur's scams invariably go wrong with Terry left to sort things out, usually resulting in a punch-up or two. The series also featured a vast coterie of supporting characters, including Dave (Glynn Edwards), the barman at their regular Fulham haunt, the none-too-bright Des (George Layton), inveterate gambler Maurice (Anthony Valentine) and DS 'Charlie' Chisholm (Patrick Malahide), forever trying to stop Daley's nefarious activities, assisted by a variety of other policemen.

The timing of the series couldn't have been better, debuting only a few months after Margaret Thatcher came to power. It captured perfectly the zeitgeist of her government's so-called 'enterprise culture', doing for light drama what Only Fools and Horses (BBC, 1981-96) would later do for the sitcom.

The show seemed to come to a natural end with the two-hour Christmas special 'Minder on the Orient Express' (tx. 25/12/1985), but returned for a short seventh season three years later with the comedy broader than ever, featuring episode titles like 'Fiddler on the Hoof' (tx. 30/1/1989) and 'The Wrong Goodbye' (tx. 6/2/1989). After that, Waterman decided to call it quits and McCann emigrated to Australia. He was replaced by Arthur's nephew Ray (Gary Webster), providing a much-needed shot in the arm and keeping a softer, more familial Minder afloat for a further three years.

The popular theme song 'I Could Be So Good For You' was sung by Waterman over the end credits for the first seven series - it was co-written by his then wife Patricia.

Sergio Angelini

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Video Clips
1. Opening titles (1:10)
2. Pool talk (2:02)
3. Independent Rastafarian Army (3:08)
4. Demands (2:47)
5. Happy ending (3:54)
Room in Town, A (1970)
Baker, Roy Ward (1916-2010)
Cole, George (1925-)
Ivory, William (1964-)
Jordan, Tony (1957-)
Lambert, Verity (1935-2007)
Waterman, Dennis (1948-)
Euston Films
Thames Television