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Series / Minder

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Left - George Cole as Arthur Daley. Right - Dennis Waterman as Terry McCann
Minder was a British television comedy-drama (1979-1994) starring George Cole as Arthur Daley, a shady London businessman and conman, and Dennis Waterman as his "minder" (bodyguard/strong-arm man) Terry.

As the title suggests, the series was conceived as a star vehicle for Waterman, then recently of The Sweeney fame, with Arthur as only a supporting character. Cole's portrayal and his rapport with Waterman led to him getting a more even share of the limelight, and when Waterman decided to leave the series in 1989, the series continued without him, with Cole as the star and Arthur's nephew Ray (Gary Webster) becoming his new minder.

There was a short-lived revival in 2009, starring Shane Richie (as another of Arthur's nephews) with Lex Shrapnel as his minder.

Minder provides examples of:

  • The '80s: Natural for a series starting in 1979. Examples include an episode based around car phones as a new, futuristic technology and an episode that begins with Arthur and Terry playing Space Invaders.
    • The later episodes also have a touch of The '90s, and plots around Arthur struggling to keep up with technology such as computers relative to his younger nephew Ray.
  • All There in the Manual: Creator Leon Griffiths published a book Minder - A Novel by Leon Griffiths around three months before the series started that details some backstory:
    • Terry had a small following as a boxer at the tail end of The '60s. Terry remembers Arthur first coming into his life in 1969. Arthur first offered Terry work after Terry was found guilty of diving in a fight which resulted in his licence being removed. After a year, Terry was so used to working for Arthur he decided not to go back into the ring. Although at times Terry didn't like the jobs he did for Arthur, he always showed 100% loyalty. This was due to a lack of any real alternatives and because of a big favour that Arthur had done him a long time ago, which Terry could no longer remember the details of. Terry is 32 years old and has a criminal record as follows - aged 15 he got 6 months in a detention centre for screwing a TV rental shop, aged 23 he got 1 year for assault, aged 28 he got 2 years for GBH and now aged 32 he is in for an 18 month stretch (at the start of the book).
    • Arthur's wife's first name is Sarah. In the book she is described as "45 but looks older" and is never referred to as 'er indoors at any point in the book. Arthur is a womaniser and seems to be having a long term affair with Pat Maxwell, described in the book as 30 years old and the manageress of the 'Funny Valentine' boutique near the Fulham end of the Kings Road. Despite Arthur's infidelity to his wife, he (somewhat hypocritically) doubts Pat's commitment to their relationship, which is over by the time you reach the end of the story. Arthur respects family - 16 or 17 years ago Arthur was suspected of being involved in nailing Harry Pavitt's foot to the floor when it was rumoured that Pavitt abused one of Arthur's nephews.
  • Arab Oil Sheikh: A subversion or aversion- in "A Tethered Goat", the character to be guarded is a wealthy Arab politician who is a rather noble good guy who doesn't show any of the stereotypical love of excess associated with the character. Amusingly, one character in the episode is hired as a temporary butler and believes the stereotype and thus thinks that hiring a white prostitute for his boss is the first thing he should do.
  • Arranged Marriage: In "The Bengal Tiger", an Indian newsagent has promised his daughter to more than one family in order to raise cash for his failing shop. One of these included local hardnut Aslam. When Indira's true love Kev tries to sort the problem out himself, Indira and Mukerjee ask for Terry's help.
  • Asian Storeowner: In "The Bengal Tiger", Indian newsagent Mr Mukerjee is persuaded by Arthur that he needs protection when his shop is damaged. Terry is called in to take care of the newsagent, but as usual, not everything goes smoothly.
  • Banana in the Tailpipe: A potato was used in this manner to shoot out and smash the window of another car.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The Winchester Club, albeit of a small-time variety. It is the preferred hangout for Terry and Arthur, as well as a number of the district's small time crooks. It is where Arthur conducts a lot of his dodgy deals.
  • The Bartender: Dave Harris, Arthur's childhood friend and co-owner of the local members-only, the Winchester Club. He acts, often unwillingly, as a message service for Arthur and turns a blind eye to the shady deals being arranged by the patrons. As a counsel and resource of last resort, he on occasion helps Arthur and Terry get out of tight spots through offering advice, money, space at the Winchester to store items or people and reluctantly, personal information through a brother-in-law working in the police.
  • Book Dumb: Terry isn't quite a Genius Bruiser, but he's certainly more intelligent than most characters.
  • Bouncer: One of Terry's regular forms of employment.
  • The Boxing Episode: Usually tying in with Terry's former career as one.
  • Breakout Character:
    • The show was conceived as a star vehicle for Dennis Waterman and Arthur was meant to be a supporting role. Arthur proved so popular that the focus shifted to feature Terry and Arthur more evenly, with more screen time to Arthur and his dealings.
    • Barman Dave (whose last name was given on a couple of occasions as Harris) at first made only occasional appearances, but the rapport between Arthur, Terry and Dave also become popular and by the second series he too was given more screen time.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Terry. Also, to a lesser extent, Ray.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: An episode in which Arthur has a car phone fitted and then starts to sell them (and featuring a young Peter Capaldi as a guest) has the phones interfering with police radio.
  • Christmas Episode:
    • "Christmas Bonus", which is also a Clip Show with exactly 13 minutes and 13 seconds of new footage filmed only in the Winchester Club set. Clips from the first three seasons are mixed with this new footage which features only Arthur, Terry and Dave.
    • "Minder on the Orient Express" was first broadcast on Christmas Day 1985, as the highlight of that year's ITV Christmas schedule.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A few characters disappear without any explanation between series, despite being regular members of the cast up until then.
    • Des, the rogue backstreet mechanic that is part of many episodes in the first three series. In Series 4 he is replaced by Arnie, but Des' fate is never explained.
    • Rycott, Jones (a.k.a. Taff) and Melish are all not given a send-off, and leave the cast in the break between Series 7 and 8. The other major Waterman era police character, Chisholm, is at the end of Series 6.
    • Air hostess Penny and stripper Debbie, two of Terry's main female companions, are never given a send-off from the series. (It can perhaps be assumed that Penny may have tired of Terry's loyalty to Arthur, as was hinted in one of her final episodes.)
    • Minor characters frequently disappear without a trace, including multiple of Terry's other girlfriends. Although this is common in any series, several are painted as regular contacts of Arthur, only to never appear again.
  • Clip Show: "Minder's Christmas Bonus" had principals sitting around the pub remembering the events of the year.
  • Con Men Hate Guns: Arthur is thrown into a panic by "shooters" and Terry although not a con is rightfully wary of them. And of course, there's also the consideration of just how difficult and expensive it is to get hold of a firearm in London compared to somewhere like New York or Chicago; if a D-List fixer like Arthur's looking down the barrel of one, the shit has really hit the fan.
  • The Conscience: Despite being the one who we know has been to prison, it is Terry who serves as the show's moral conscience, keeping Arthur from straying too far outside the law and persuading him to do the right thing whether Arthur likes it or not.
  • Convenient Replacement Character: Arthur's nephew Ray arrives looking for a job in the same episode (the season opener) that Arthur learns Terry has emigrated to Australia.
  • Cool Car:
    • Arthur typically drives an upmarket car, beginning with a silver Jaguar XJ 6 4.2 Series II. In the latter part of Series 3, he's changed over to a silver Mercedes 280E and in Series 4 he drives a Portland beige Daimler Sovereign 4.2 Series III. Series 7 again sees him driving a silver Jaguar XJ 6. As a used-car salesman, it is not surprising that Arthur occasionally makes use of other cars. In the Series 3 episode "Broken Arrow", he uses a Ford Granada Mk.II. However, due to an accident, this car has to go in for repair and Arthur is forced to borrow a friend's customised Chevrolet Corvette C3 Stingray that he is trying to sell. Also in Series 3, Arthur uses a brown Jaguar XJR in the episodes "Dead Men Do Tell Tales" and "Looking for Micky". In the Series 7 episode "It's a Sorry Lorry, Morrie!", Arthur is down on his luck and has to resort to driving a clapped-out mustard yellow Ford Granada Mk.II. In the episode "A Nice Little Wine" Daley drives, in order to test, a pale blue Rover SD 1. In the special episode "An Officer and a Car Salesman", Arthur has moved up in the world and drives a yellow Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.
    • Terry drove a Ford Capri, most notably a 1976 Mark II Ford Capri 2.0S d. It differentiates between a copper coloured Capri in some mid-run episodes, and a silver Capri in several others, and the exact model is seen to vary between different episodes
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Arthur often uses larger words than he understands and is prone to malapropisms, as tries to present himself as genteel and upper crust.
  • Dirty Cop: Rycott is a classic bent copper, 'moonlighting' when not on duty.
  • Dirty Coward: Arthur will do everything he can to avoid getting hurt or caught by the police, up to and including leaving Terry in the lurch.
  • Disco Dan: Terry is relatively well-up on current trends in pop culture, and Ray even more so, but Arthur spends the series stuck in the 50s, bemoaning that none of the musicians Dave gets in at the club are as good as his beloved Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. In one episode, he takes it on himself to manage the career of a young cabaret singer and is oblivious to how completely bereft of vocal talent she is because she sings his kind of music.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: "I Could Be So Good for You" as sung by Dennis Waterman reaching No. 3 in the UK charts and later used in an episode of Phoenix Nights and in an episode of Roger Roger.
  • Dumb Muscle: What Terry is frequently mistaken for, and more often than not the kind of people he ends up having to deal with.
  • Evil Debt Collector: In Arthur's mind any of them - bankers, bailiffs, old friends, even his employee Terry.
  • Faking the Dead: In "A Star is Gorn", a pop star gets tired of his fame and fakes his death so that he can be rid of the corrupt influence of his agent.
  • Fanservice: In earlier series, Terry often worked as a doorman to Soho strip clubs, on top of being something of a hit with the ladies. As a result there were frequently scenes of at least partial nudity from various women he became entangled with.
  • Feeling Their Age. For much of the Terry era, this is averted. At the beginning of Series 7 (Terry's last), however, several scenes play up to Terry's age, including one in which Terry flirts with the sort of girl he'd previously hooked up with only to be told he's in his "mid-life crisis".
  • Friend on the Force: DS Rogerson in the later series, from time to time. He assists Ray in proving Arthur innocent of a charge, and on other occasion joins The Winchester's quiz team.
    • Jones has a more friendly relationship with Arthur and Terry than the other officers, and sometimes joins them in the Winchester Club for a drink when off duty.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Arthur is always trying to make a quick few quid which he often describes as a "nice little earner", and his schemes usually backfire and leave him either in debt to local underworld figures, or with his activities coming under the scrutiny of the police (or often a combination of both) - with Terry ultimately being left to sort out the mess and get him out of trouble.
  • The Ghost: Arthur's wife, "'Er Indoors," is frequently referred to but never appears on screen.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Terry, an ex-boxer, is particularly proficient at beating the snot out of people with his bare hands. Arthur was as surprised as anyone when the apparently unpromising Ray turned out to be equally skilled in that department.
  • Groin Attack: In "Fiddler on the Hoof", Terry is chaperoning a beautiful young blonde Swedish woman named Imogen within a department store when the two of them are confronted by a threatening thug. Before the thug is able to cause any trouble to them, Imogen immediately kicks him in the groin and as he falls down in pain, Imogen asks Terry "I think that hurts, yes?"
  • Harmless Villain: Arthur is often written off as this in-universe, as a small-time crook.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: In a great many episodes, Arthur would refer to his wife as "'er indoors" (Ray would call her "Auntie" in the later series). This character was never named or appeared throughout the entire series, with it left to Arthur's occasional comments about her to give viewers a mental image as to the personality of his unseen wife.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Arthur constantly had his finger in a number of dirty pies which in at least one case did include selling shoddy cars, but was generally (at best) in the gray market, if not outright criminal. (The pilot episode mentioned that Arthur was mostly legitimate nowadays and possibly didn't need a "minder" anymore.)
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Debbie, the stripper who Terry befriends.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Garfield Morgan, who played Dennis Waterman's superior on The Sweeney, appeared in four episodes as Superintendent Mason.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Many Episodes had names that parodied famous films or sayings, often with a 'London' twist: "Gunfight at the OK Laundrette", "Senior Citizen Caine", "Rocky Eight and a Half".
  • Jury Duty: In "Poetic Justice, Innit", Arthur gets called up for jury duty and ends up trying to emulate Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men with mixed results.
  • Just Got Out of Jail: The series opens with Terry being released from prison having served several years for Grevious Bodily Harm and attempted armed robbery. Lacking job prospects, he ends up as a "minder" (bodyguard, heavy, etc.) for Arthur Daley. Throughout the series, Terry is treated with suspicion and hostility by police as a result of his criminal record.
  • Land Down Under: In an episode , Arthur somehow manages to find himself in the middle of inhospitable outback and in real danger of dying of thirst a few hours drive outside of Sydney. Never mind that anywhere he could have driven to in that time would be urban sprawl, rolling farmland or on the coast.
  • Lighter and Softer: When Waterman left, the rough and ready elements of the early series had been toned down, concentrating on the comedic aspects of Arthur's dodgy dealings.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Most of Arthur's schemes are illegal in some way, but he's seen as a well-meaning villain, for example not seeking to bring harm to others. Many of his rivals are painted as more evil.
  • London Gangster: Many, usually serving as the antagonist in episodes. Notables include Mickey 'The Fish' Metcalfe (David Calder) and Jack Last (Ian McShane).
  • Malaproper: Arthur "The world is your lobster" Daley.
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: In season seven, the final series to feature Dennis Waterman as Terry and thus the last to feature the original opening credits, the sequence was modified very slightly to include shots of Terry, Arthur and Dave at the Winchester, giving Glynn Edwards his own billing (previously he had been credited amongst the guest cast).
  • Put on a Bus: When Waterman left the series, the on-screen explanation was that Terry had had enough of Arthur and moved to Australia.
  • The Quincy Punk: Punk-styled villains are used a couple of times, normally in the earlier series.
  • Rabid Cop: 'Cheerful Charlie' Chisholm is brought to the point of a nervous breakdown by Arthur and Terry's antics.
  • The Rat: There's a good few scattered around the series, such as 'The Ferret'.
  • Reformed Criminal: Terry, sort of, are Arthur's dealings are clearly not entirely legal either. Terry's criminal past makes him a source of regular suspicion for the police.
  • The Rock Star: Suzi Quatro in the episode that she appears in, although she plays a generic musician called Nancy rather than herself.
  • Rogue Juror: Played for Laughs in "Poetic Justice, Innit" where Arthur finds himself serving on a jury, on a fairly minor criminal matter. He is initially the sole holdout for not guilty, but eventually turns the rest of the jury to his point of view. Eventually, the only holdout for guilty is a little old lady. However, she then drops a single piece of information that swings everyone back to guilty and Arthur has no choice but to follow.
  • Shady Real Estate Agent: One episode had a crooked slum lord who might have been based on Peter Rachman (or at least the two used similar methods).
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Several of Arthur's business rivals mocked him and his "clothes horse" nephew Ray after Terry left. Ray's reaction was what inspired Arthur to appoint him as Terry's replacement.
  • Smith of the Yard: A couple of characters who disturb Chisholm and Rycott's peaceful existence of low level corruption. Micheal Culver's Dectective Soames is a good example. Lampshaded with 'Sprott of the Yard'- a copper who went too far in trying to catch one particular conman and was kicked off the force.
  • Smug Snake: Freddie Fenton (Derek Jacobi) in "The Bounty Hunter", officially "bankrupt" property conman who manages to live in a mansion with swimming pool, Rolls Royce (with personalised number plate) with money to gamble at a high end gentleman's club despite not formally 'owning' any of it. As he says to Terry, "In this life there are winners, and there are losers".
  • Special Guest: Among those who made guest appearances were Derek Jacobi, Warren Clarke, Brian Cox, Patrick Troughton, Robbie Coltrane, Pat Roach, Honor Blackman, Richard Briers, Billy Connolly, BRIAN BLESSED, Ian McShane, Michael Kitchen, Michael Gambon and Pete Postlethwaite .
  • Street Smart: Most characters to some degree, especially the main pair with Terry being the more honourable in his use of it.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Chisholm again, he's not particularly laudable as a human being but the amount of trouble caused by the protagonists and the lack of recognition he believes himself to have suffered does make him something of if not this trope then at least a Jerkass Woobie.
  • Those Two Guys: Terry and Arthur but also their police rivals - Rycot and Melish and Albert 'Cheerful Charlie' Chisholm and Jones.
  • Trademark Favorite Drink: Arthur's favourite drink was a large vodka and tonic, which was referred to as a "large V.A.T", a wordplay on Value Added Tax (the UK tax on sales).
  • Training Montage: When Terry is training for a return to boxing, to the sound of the theme music (and the only use of other verses of the song during the series).
  • Vague Age: Both Arthur and Terry's ages are never given in the series.
    • Arthur served in the Second World War and speaks of business activities in the 1930s during the series, which would realistically make him at least 70 when the series begins, and in his 80s by the end of the series in 1994.
    • Terry was a boxer in the 1960s, fighting in the early 60s, probably making him around 35 years old at the start of the series, which fits in with the plot lines he's part of during the run.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In Series 2, a young boy is left with Terry by a woman on the run from the boy's abusive father. She initially tells Terry the boy is his son, revealing at the end that he is not, but Terry has grown attached to the boy and wants to keep seeing him, which the woman agrees to. It is arguably the most emotional moment of the series for Terry, yet after the episode the boy is never mentioned again.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: In "Bury My Heart At Walham Green", Arthur Daley helps an old lag find his hidden loot in return for a 25% cut. However, when he tries to spend it, he finds that nobody accepts old green £1 notes any more, having been replaced by the £1 "gold" coin. Arthur, never usually handling anything smaller than a £20 note, was unaware of the change until the time limit on changing the notes for coins had expired.
  • Younger Than They Look: An actor example is George Cole (Arthur Daley), who is only 54 when the series starts but is played to look older and plays a character who, based on Arthur's background, should be roughly 70 at that point. (George Cole passed away in 2015, aged 90.)

The revival provides examples of:

  • Generation Xerox: Pretty much the whole concept of the series. Archie Daley, the nephew of Arthur Daley? Who picked up a taxi driver as an assistant? Okay.
  • Spin-Offspring: The main character of the revival is Arthur's nephew Archie, another small-time gangster who hires a "minder" to keep him safe.