In Minder S04E04, “Sorry Pal, Wrong Number”, Arthur Daley gets involved with charming con artist J. J. Mooney (T. P. McKenna). Mooney puts up the cash to set up a horse racing consultancy business, “Mayfair Course Consultants”. It is quite the wheeze. They place an ad in The Sporting Times offering punters, free of charge, horse racing tips. If the punter chooses to take the advice, he is asked to also place a tenner for them and send the winnings via postal order. Sounds legit.
All Daley needs is an office address (to receive any winnings) and some telephone numbers for the punters to call. Daley hires an office which sublets to a myriad of dodgy fly-by-night “businesses” and uses three red public call boxes at the Acton Green Station to handle the tips.
A Very Wicked Mr. Chisholm
But, we’re more concerned with Chisholm, so let’s discuss his role in all this. Chisholm first appears driving near the Winchester when he spies Terry leaving with J. J. Mooney. Chisholm’s Spidey senses immediately begin to tingle. The cinematography is really good as we get a great look at his suspicious expression.
Chisholm enters the Winchester and notices Daley enjoying a higher class of beverage than usual. That’s because Mooney had been flashing the cash earlier. “Did I just see young Terry with the remarkable J. J. Mooney?” Arthur asks if that would be such a crime. It might be. Chisholm explains that Mooney had just turned over The London Clinic for £13 grand by not paying for his open-heart surgery. Dave the Barman is duly impressed because Liz Taylor had her operation there. I now imagine Dave reading gossip rags behind his bar.
Chisholm gets snide, “No doubt…Richard Burton, the Sheik of Araby, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.” I had to Google to find out what the Uncle Tom Cobley reference meant. It is a folk song. Further proof of RFodchuk‘s and my shared theory that Chisholm has a secret appreciation for the humanities.
Chisholm becomes considerably more menacing, intently asking Arthur “Have you ever heard of Sprott of the Yard?” “Sprott’s life ambition was to nick J.J…..’til he got nicked himself by our own gestapo.” No matter, Chisholm wickedly assures Daley that someone else will get J. J.
Daley: “Is that the best you people can do? A sick man? Bank robberies every day, bomb outrages with terrorists, rape rife on the street.” Chisholm remains defiantly wicked. “Oh dear, Arthur, you haven’t been interfered with, have you?” Mr. Chisholm’s evil smile is hilarious. 🙂
Daley sings “war hero” Mooney’s praises with a long list of compliments. Chisholm is very amused, “Oh, that’s enough Arthur, cor dear, do you owe him money or something?” Daley: “Me? No, I hardly even know the man.” OK. That was funny 🙂
It is a great scene. Chisholm starts off very menacing, but he just can’t hide his pleasure and amusement at being able to rattle Arthur. Plus, he probably figures they are getting close now to nicking the infamous J. J. Mooney. A bit of the humour is subversive, but it works really well. Chisholm’s soft but amused minacious voice is so effective as he looms over Daley. I love it.
The Business Actually Kind of Works
Daley eventually sets Terry to “minding” the phones. Needless to say, Terry is not thrilled at the notion of having to answer three phones for a few hours each day. Fortunately, he befriends a lady named Petal (Jumoke Debayo) who helps him handle all the calls without even insisting upon payment. That’s incredibly (and somewhat illogically) nice of her. There is a running joke where Daley can’t remember her name, calling her every floral name possible other than Petal.
The business is going well and, shockingly, they actually do get paid by several clients. There is one snag, Mooney, being in poor health, winds up in hospital again. Also, the business front office manager tells Daley that “Mr. Plod” (that would be Chisholm) has been looking for him. Poor Chisholm doesn’t even have to say he’s police, everyone just knows he is by looking at him. 🙂
Chisholm meets up with Sprott (Shaun Curry) outside of the “Mayfair Course Consultants” headquarters to let him know what Mooney and Daley have been up to. Chisholm is not happy about the meeting. “Alright, Sprotty, shouldn’t even be seen with you.” Sprott doesn’t see the big deal, “You mix with thieves, gangsters, whores, pimps, transvestites and shoplifters.” But Chisholm thinks Sprott is worse. “You’re a bent copper, Sprotty. Even worse, you got found out.”
Sprott thought they were friends, but Chisholm sets him straight. “A friend in trouble is no friend of mine.” I like that quote. 🙂
“Who needs friends like that? I’ll be up for inspector in a year…again.” Chisholm hits the “again” with a heavy dose of ruefulness. It is very effective. You can sense his frustration with that one little word. And of course we know he blames the likes of Arthur Daley on his lack of career advancement.
They finally bring their discussion back to Mooney and his new racing venture. Sprott, who claims to be familiar with the specifics, is very keen to know who Mooney’s new partner is. Chisholm might not like Sprott, but he is always happy to drop Daley in it. He recognizes Daley’s car which is parked nearby noting that “he shouldn’t have this disabled sticker on the windscreen.” Nothing gets by Chisholm. 🙂
Chisholm describes Daley as “dishonest, mean, greedy, shifty, slippery…Daley is your true metropolitan hyena. He’s an urban vulture, and that’s just his good side. He’s your man, Sprotty. Handle him with care, right side up, know what I mean, on his head.” Mr. Malahide makes every single word count in that list.
And with that Chisholm is now done with Sprott and never wants to see him again. “Goodbye, Sprotty!” Sprott gets in one last question, “What’s he look like?” “Horrible!” Awww, I think Daley looks quite dapper, actually.
Goodbye Mayfair Course Consultants
Sprott finally catches Daley. It turns out that Sprott had planned to go into the horse betting business with Mooney and even put up the money, but Mooney took the money and ran, starting the business with Daley instead. So, Sprott menaces the business out of Daley’s control. Obviously he is not very happy when he discovers the business is essentially comprised of three public call boxes by a rail station. 🙂
Daley is able to slip away and lets go of the business, handing over most of the earnings over to con man Mooney who escapes with his daughter, leaving Sprott all alone and friendless with a now dud business.
It is a good episode. I liked the charmingly roguish J. J. Mooney, and Sprott is a very convincing bent copper. Sprott looks all disheveled and sleazy compared to the neat as a pin Chisholm.
And Patrick Malahide is brilliant in this episode. His disgust for both Daley and “Sprotty” is palpable. I like to think he has at least a teensy-weensy bit of respect for Mooney as the old boy aimed high in his disreputable undertakings, taking on the London Clinic and all, and made Sprott look a crooked fool. And I just love the way Chisholm kept saying “Sprotty”. 🙂
Chisholm is intimidating with great observational skills and a wicked sense of humour in this episode, but he also shows clear principles. He has no problems telling Sprott what he thinks of him. The references to thieves, whores, pimps, transvestites, etc., reminds me of his drunken scene in “Return of the Invincible Man“. He has no high regard for the people he encounters as a police man, but he considers Sprotty to be much lower than them. So all in all, it is a good episode with a good ending for Chisholm.
Gallery, courtesy of RFodchuk