30 March 2011

1984: Minder - A Nice Little Earner...

Terry McCann (Dennis Waterman) tells Arfur Daley (George Cole) where to get off at The Winchester Club. Dave (Glynn Edwards) looks on. Launched towards the end of 1979, Minder was not initially a success. Given a nice new coat of humour in the early 1980s, Minder soon hit the big time.

Ah, Minder...

I could be so good for you...

The show was created by Leon Griffiths.

Launched on October 29 1979, after the infamous ITV strike, the series was not initially a success.

TV critic Hilary Kingsley wrote in 1989:

The first [series] went out straight after the ITV strike and should perhaps have been called "Mindless" - it couldn't make up its mind what it was. Audiences were still confused by Dennis Waterman looking and sounding like the tough cop in 'The Sweeney' but playing the thick thug Terry here. Should they laugh? and where was John Thaw?

Brian Cowgill, managing director of Thames Television, was in there rooting for the show to continue.

And so it did.

The non-successful series of October 1979 to January 1980 soon evolved into one of the "must see" shows for millions of viewers throughout the 1980s as the violence decreased and the humour increased.

And what a beautifully written show it became.

Dennis Waterman took I Could Be So Good For You, the Minder theme tune, into the pop charts in November 1980, and the show itself first appeared in the monthly Top Twenty TV ratings (at No 20) in December 1980.

Arthur Daley, sorry, Arfur Daley, and "Minder" Terry McCann (usually wondering just what his boss was up to) became much-loved regulars on the 1980s TV scene.

As did Arfur's "Mrs" - 'Er Indoors - although we never saw her. She did, however, become the subject of a 1983 Christmas novelty record - What Are We Gonna Get For 'Er Indoors? by Arfur and Terry - AKA George Cole and Dennis Waterman, of course.

A vexing question for Christmas 1983...

George Cole had played spivs long before his debut as Arthur Daley - ever seen him as "Flash Harry", in the 1950s film The Belles Of St Trinian's? As Minder continued and the comedy element was upped (indeed, a mid-1980s TV Times I recently acquired suggests that the comedy element was still on the rise), George Cole was clearly a man in his element.

People loved Minder.

People adored Minder.

People copied Minder.

"People COPIED Minder?!" you cry.

Oh, yes, I reply...

From the Daily Mirror, October 1, 1984:

Conmen are doing a roaring trade with a ruse they pinched from the TV series Minder.

They are posing as council workmen authorised to tow away vehicles which are illegally parked or apparently abandoned.

And that's exactly what happened in an episode of Minder two weeks ago.

A car mechanic posed as a council official to steal a parked car. Terry - alias actor Dennis Waterman - was his unwitting accomplice and the racket was financed by Arthur Daley, played by George Cole.

As usual, Arfur's idea of a nice little earner didn't come off. But the thieves who have copied it are making a small fortune in the Collier Row area of Romford, Essex.

They have used the ruse each time in a spate of thefts. Police have now warned residents to keep tabs on each others cars and to watch out for the conmen.

Meanwhile, Thames Television, who make Minder, are insisting: "Don't blame Arfur."

A spokeswoman said yesterday: "Arfur and Terry can't really be held responsible for what's happened in Romford.

"Every Minder story could be carbon-copied, but they are totally fictitious stories.

"Life can sometimes be stranger than fiction."

Would you Adam and Eve it? Better not try it nowadays though. The 1980s, home to Arthur and Terry, were a different planet. Nowadays, with CCTV cameras and DNA Databases sprouting everywhere, you could end up right up the creek without a paddle.

Mind you, I've got a few dozen original 1980s deelyboppers if you're interested...

Only one careful owner.

Bound to sell.

Guaranteed to go "boing boing" when you pop them on your bonce.

Well... at least till you get them home...

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