Patrick Malahide’s portrayal of DS Chisholm in Minder S02E12, Caught in the Act, Fact, is noteworthy because it seems to have been the last episode he did before becoming a series regular. You can read a bit more about that in my Defense of Chisholm’s Brown Suit post.
There are some key differences between this appearance and his subsequent appearances. For one thing, he doesn’t have his brown suit. 😉 He is also far more laid back and self-assured. It is a lot of fun comparing this Chisholm with his later appearances.
Terry agrees to help his friend, a mechanic named Des (George Layton), out by returning a Cortina to a customer. Little does Terry know that the vehicle had been used in a robbery, and now his fingerprints are on it. This gives Chisholm reason to be very suspicious indeed
Fortunately (?) for Terry, Arthur is ready with an alibi. Arthur also has a nice, little earner: An old associate of his needs a “minder” for his wife, Lady Margaret Thompson (Angela Browne). Lady!?! How very Downton Abbey. Not only that, she’s a magistrate.
Why would an aristocrat / magistrate need a minder? Seems she’s also a bit of kleptomaniac. Arthur neglected to share that keen bit of info with Terry since it would dissuade him from accepting the lucrative minding job. Unaware of her lamentable “condition”, Terry is caught outside the store holding her bag full of pilfered goodies. Oh dear. Whatever will Mr. Chisholm say about that?
Enter Mr. Chisholm
Chisholm first appears in order to interrogate Terry over the whole car fiasco. “Bang to rights, Terry.” Mr. Chisholm looks delightfully smug. He also looks amazing with his very closely cropped hair. It flatters him and brings out all those nice angles.
Chisholm keeps circling and hovering around Terry during questioning. He is so confident and looks like he’s enjoying himself immensely. It is like watching a cat play with its prey.
Terry claims he was at the Winchester during the robbery. Chisholm goes all detective on him asking how he knew what time the robbery took place. It was on the radio and in the papers.
Undaunted, Chisholm continues building the tension, and it is palpable, as he looms over Terry and interrogates him on the fingerprints. Terry reckons his prints might be there because his car has been waiting for repairs, and he’s had loads of lifts. But he can’t think of any friend he has with a blue Cortina.
“Then you are in serious trouble, my son,” intones the supremely confident Chisholm. Terry asks him to check with Arthur and Dave at the Winchester. Chisholm laughs, “Oh, I intend to; I intend to!”
In the Winchester, Mr. Chisholm asks Arthur what he (Arthur) was doing on Tuesday afternoon, the time of the robbery. “Between four and five o’clock,” Chisholm adds for clarity’s sake.
Arthur, with help from Dave, starts bleating on about how he was with Terry all afternoon, taking great pains to mention he was running the motor-less Terry around. Chisholm harshly points out that he wasn’t asking about Terry, “So why mention him?”
Chisholm is decidedly unimpressed with Daley’s alibi. “…Judas Iscariot is the epitome of truth and honesty compared to Arthur Daley, ” he says as he and Jones leave the bar. That’s right, Jones. Only this guy isn’t “Taff” Jones (Meic Povey), our beloved Welsh constable. He is played by Ken Sharrock. It wasn’t until series three that Povey joined the cast and became an intrinsic part of the Chisholm dynamic. Anyway, this Jones basically convinces Chisholm that there really isn’t much point in pursuing this lead anymore and they decide to drop it.
Sticky Fingers McCann?
Terry next runs afoul of Mr. Chisholm after being caught with a bag containing Lady Margaret’s five-fingered discounts. “You don’t really expect us to believe this cock and bull story, do you, Terry?” He is so amused at the thought of “Lady Margret Thompson, the magistrate” being minded by the likes of Terry McCann. “Pubs and mugs is all you mind, Terry, not highly respected citizens like Lady Margaret Thompson.”
Chisholm phones Lady Margaret and is told that neither she nor her husband have ever heard of Terry McCann. Terry says that Chisholm should talk to Arthur Daley, but that just incurs more smirking. The shop’s security officer is there with Chisholm, and he states that Terry was acting suspiciously and was found outside with the evidence, which is now laid out in front of them. Lady Margaret sure knows how to stuff a bag, I’ll give her that. Chisholm gets to smirk some more (I love how much smirking he does in this episode), “Well, there you go, Terry: Caught in the act, fact.” Lovely!
Arthur arrives and tries to have Terry bailed out. Chisholm: “Always one for the little joke, weren’t you Arthur?” Chisholm is more intent on cleaning up his hangnails than anything else. He is sort of listening in a casual, off hand, smirking manner. He looks so cute. Well, Arthur and Terry don’t think he is cute, but they shouldn’t keep getting themselves in these muddles, should they?
Chisholm: World Weary but Reasonable
Chisholm, now tired of the whole ordeal, implores Terry to plead guilty. He knows that there is no way they can take Lady Margaret to court over it.
Arthur starts kicking up about civil rights. Chisholm: “Arthur, I’ll tell you this once only: You are only walking free cause I give you license. I only put up with you because I’m too busy trying to catch the real villains and can’t be pissed about with a bit of petty.”
See? Early Chisholm is very different because later on in the series he is obsessed with locking up Arthur. I do like this smoother portrayal. He isn’t actually better than our “Daley obsessed” Chisholm (who I obviously adore), just different and, therefore, intriguing.
Anyway, Chisholm manages to shut Arthur up by threatening to get a warrant for his lock-up. Terry makes a final stab at trying to subpoena or even just talk to the Thompsons, but that isn’t happening. Chisholm knows that no court would take Terry’s word over Lady Margaret’s, and, besides, she’s now incommunicado because she had a breakdown and is in a private sanatorium. Chisholm is very much aware of the class divide and knows his position in the whole affair is a pretty insignificant one, so he’s hardly willing to start nipping at posh heels.
But, Chisholm, deep down, seems to believe Terry and tries to be reasonable and fair. “You cop a plea, and I’ll try and make it easy for you.” Daley thinks that is a swell idea and promises to step in the box on Terry’s behalf. Why does Chisholm just smirk at that promise? 😉
Copping a Plea
Terry pleads guilty and is duly embarrassed by Arthur’s attempt to be a character witness. The magistrate is unimpressed (huge shock) and gives Terry a six month sentence.
Chisholm, who before was all smirks, looks disappointed that Terry is going down. However, the magistrate makes the save by suspending it for two years. Terry isn’t grateful and chucks out a sarcastic, “Thank you, Mr. Chisholm.” Hey. It wasn’t his fault! Chisholm doesn’t deserve to feel too guilty. I’m just glad he got a nice a result for once. 🙂
I enjoyed this episode. The cooler, confident Chisholm is very different from the uptight, obsessed character we all know and love. Now that I know a little more about Chisholm’s development and the amazing amount of input Mr. Malahide put into making him such a memorable character, it is fun to see the different nuances in his performances from series 2 to series 3. No matter what Chisholm you get, you can be sure there will be loads of detail in his demeanor, vocal inflections, and mannerisms.