In Dead Men Do Tell Tales, we get a bit of foreshadowing into what would be future Patrick Malahide projects. We meet an engaging Dickensian drunk who will later become a beloved “Edwardian relic,” and we are reminded of a certain gorgeous, Cockney “Diamond Geezer”.
Minder S03E01, Dead Men Do Tell Tales: Quick Synopsis:
Dodgy travel agent Monty Wiseman (Harry Fowler) is handling the funeral arrangements of his dear departed friend, Joseph Chambers. “Grieving widow” Mrs. Chambers (Patricia Maynard), is happy to let him handle it since she’s mostly interested in collecting the insurance money.
Only things don’t seem quite right. Wiseman inexplicably wants Arthur Daley (George Cole) to look after the body, which is thankfully in a coffin, and is loathe to let the coroner get his hands on it. Meanwhile, Wiseman and his henchman Randolf (Raynor Bourton) are harassing a charming, Dickensian drunk who goes by the name of “Incapable” (Harold Innocent). They want him to do something he doesn’t want to do!
The coffin winds up at Terry’s (Dennis Waterman) place which is bad for his mojo, especially as he’s dating Suzi Quatro! Well, he’s dating “Nancy,” but she’s played by Suzi Quatro. Anyway, she’s a rocker not a goth, so there’s no need for coffins. It is eventually put out on the sidewalk near Terry’s flat and that is around the time we meet Chisholm.
I Couldn’t Agree More, Madam:
Mrs. Chambers and funeral director Mr. Meadhurst (Derek Fowlds) go to tell Chisholm that Daley, McCann and Wiseman have hidden the body from the coroner. They are a little surprised that Chisholm is so familiar with the suspects, particularly Wiseman.
“I do hope you don’t mean in a professional sense, Sargent,” says Mrs. Chambers primly. “That is precisely what I do mean, madam.” Chisholm is quite charming when he’s being formal.
Chisholm and Jones have a little tête-à-tête about whether or not Daley is in Wiseman’s league. Considering how incompetent Wiseman is that is very sad.
They are interrupted with Mrs. Chambers shouting “Sargent!” “I’m sorry, madam, just thinking out loud,” soothes Chisholm. I like the way he remains polite and refers to her as madam, even though he obviously knows she is more aware of her late husband’s dodgy doings than is let on.
“Sargent! I demand something be done about this!” “I couldn’t agree more, madam.” It is also obvious Chisholm is utterly bemused at whatever nonsense Arthur Daley has gotten himself embroiled in this time. I think he’s compelled to investigate more out of curiosity than anything.
Chisholm and Jones, along with Mrs. Chambers and Meadhurst, head over to Terry’s flat where they find the coffin on the sidewalk along with Wiseman, his henchman, Daley & McCann. Mrs. Chambers sets upon Daley, knocking his trilby off!! Chisholm very coolly nods towards Jones who pulls the widow away.
It is a nice moment of Chisholm calmness. She screams that she wants “these animals arrested,” and he quietly responds (with her well out of hearing range), “It’ll be my pleasure, madam, now if you just go and sit in the car and let me handle it.” He is going through the motions while he tries to understand what the heck is going on.
“Well, I don’t know what the wording on the charge sheet will read; bodysnatching more or less went out with Burke and Hare.” Ha! That is so funny. Chisholm even allows himself a very fleeting smile at his joke before threatening them with conspiracy.
Arthur and Terry insist that they were just hired to store the body for a bit until the coroner’s decision. Wiseman and Mr. Meadhurst back them up. Chisholm is listening to all this with a lovely “give me strength” expression until he notices something unusual inside Wiseman’s car.
“Well, well…Incapable..*sniff*..now what would Monty be wanting with you?” The *sniff* lets us know that the booze sodden Incapable is, well, incapable.
Do You Know Why Incapable is Called Incapable?:
Back at the nick, where Arthur and Terry had been held in cells for a bit, Chisholm clears a few things up. Arthur and Terry are off the hook, thanks to Incapable, “the geezer in Monty’s car.”
They are eager to go, but Chisholm is feeling chatty. “Do you know why Incapable is called Incapable?” Nope. “He used to be a surgeon. One day he went into the operating theater, a bit pissed, and his scalpel slipped and the patient died, so he lost his job and took to the sauce.”
That is a sad story really. And Chisholm seems a bit sad about it while keeping his typically bleak look on life. It is a very real moment. He seems completely like a policeman who gotten used to seeing misery and has taken a darkly philosophical, but still not cruel, view of it all.
Incapable actually seems like an articulate, intelligent, and sweet man underneath the booze and filth. Curiously, both RFodchuk and I really liked Incapable. His Dickensian delivery and charm set him apart. We didn’t realize until later that he is played by the same man who portrayed the lovable Bunchie in Alleyn’s Death in a White Tie. Sadly, Harold Innocent passed away in 1993. But, based on these two roles alone, we can tell he was a talented and charismatic performer.
And really, Incapable did manage some decency. He knew what Wiseman wanted him to do was wrong and tried to stand up to him. But, there was no way he could defend himself against Wiseman and his thug. When Chisholm intervened, though, Incapable gave up everything, so Arthur and Terry were absolved.
But what did Wiseman want him to do? Well, Chisholm enlightens us. The late Mr. Chambers was a diamond courier for Wiseman. He swallowed them so they could be smuggled out of the country, then he would “wait for nature to take its course.” Too bad he died before it could. Wiseman wanted to Incapable to operate on the deceased to remove his diamonds!
While talking about Incapable’s past, Chisholm starts out sitting calmly behind his desk, hands folded at his lap. But, by the time he gets to the bit about the diamonds, he is standing, looming over Arthur and Terry. The whole affair disgusts him. It freaks Arthur out too, “Can I have a drink of water, please?”
As usual, Mr. Malahide’s transition is flawless. He goes from calm and chatty to intense and disgusted with a natural flow. There is nothing forced about his emotions, and it gives us insight into Chisholm’s humanity.
At the Funeral:
Everyone seems to be at the funeral. Chisholm and Jones are there, though I notice they don’t sit next to each other. Chisholm has a row all to himself, his arms tightly folded.
The reverend’s words, “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out,” have an ironic significance in the situation. The body is then cremated, and Wiseman manages to get his hands on the urn and wants Terry to get him out of the area fast. But, Chisholm gets to their car before they can go.
Terry, in an uncharacteristic moment of poignancy, hands the urn over to Chisholm, saying that Chambers was a “real diamond.” So, Chisholm is left holding the urn. Of course, he can’t resist giving it a little rattle…and rattle it does! I kind of wished he’d rooted around and filched a few diamonds for his retirement fund, but he’s Chisholm, and Chisholm would *never* do a thing like that. I shouldn’t complain because that honesty is part of why we love “Cheerful Charlie” so much. 🙂
Wrap-Up: Diamond Geezers
Of course, Patrick Malahide starred as the very attractive villain Derek Hadley in the New Tricks episode, Diamond Geezers, which had a plot similar to this one. It is pretty cute that he and Waterman got to trade sides, to a certain degree, for the New Tricks episode. I think someone like Derek Hadley would quickly make mincemeat of Arthur and Terry, but only if he thought it worth the bother.
Anyway, both Dead Men Do Tell Tales and Diamond Geezers are very fun episodes, allowing Mr. Malahide to play very different characters to perfection.