Something Neat VIII: Defense of Chisholm’s Brown Suit

Awful Brown Suit?

Here’s a neat find: The Phenomenon That Was Minder by Brian Hawkins.  It is a 2002 guide book to the television series.  The author’s website has a quote from Patrick Malahide who played our beloved DS Chisholm.


Chisholm’s first appearance: He looks a bit different.

Malahide recalls: `For the first episode I was paid for just half a day to turn up to play this copper, and would I bring my own suit? In those early episodes you can still spot me with long hair and a trendy seventies whistle. From then on if they needed a copper they would call me. It wasn’t until the second or maybe even the third series that they told me I was a regular. It was only then that I was allowed to really focus the character the way I wanted and the designer and I went out and bought this awful brown suit and a porkpie hat.’

Wearing a wide tie. And where is Jones?

I had to Google it, but “whistle” is Cockney slang for suit (whistle and flute).  The earlier episodes featured a somewhat different looking Chisholm.  He does have longish hair in Gunfight at the OK Laundrette (Minder S01E01).  Later in episodes such as Caught in the Act, Fact, he has very short hair, but his neckwear is decidedly 1970s.

His character is also a little more relaxed.  He hasn’t quite hit that uptight, Daley obsessed stride yet.  Still, it is enjoyable to see the more laid back version of Chisholm as he is also very entertaining and engaging, particularly in Caught in the Act, Fact.

From Monday Night Fever.  Friendly and trendy.

From Monday Night Fever. Friendly and trendy.

I love hearing that Mr. Malahide put so much thought and effort into the way Chisholm should be.  It shows how he  takes control of his characters, giving them personality and nuance.  Chisholm could have just been a cardboard copper, but instead he was a genuine scene stealer, all because of what Patrick Malahide did with him.

In Defense of That Brown Suit

But, oh dear.  We (RFodchuk and myself, to be exact) are extremely fond of the “awful brown suit”.   Patrick Malahide looks really very good in browns and, honestly, it just adds to his overall Chisholmishness.   The suit is slightly old fashioned and completely without frivolity.  But, that old-fashioned element is kind of what makes it work.

Patrick Malahide: Sgt. Chisholm in Minder

Why so angry?  You have such a nice trilby.

RFodchuk has correctly pointed out that the hat is technically a trilby, a narrow brimmed hat sometimes described as a “crumpled fedora”. (Source: Wikipedia.)

A porkpie hat is actually the thing Buster Keaton and Walter White would wear.  (I learned that from Wikipedia too.)

Hat semantics aside, it was a handsome, little thing that Chisholm wore, and it suited him admirably.  I reckon for Chisholm, the hat wasn’t about being stylish; it was about keeping his head warm while looking like a respectable policeman.  I don’t think he was ever aware of how fine he actually looked.


Seriously, that jumper has eyes and a mouth.

If I were to remark on a potential drawback concerning his brown ensemble, it would be that his sweater vest looks a little bit like Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat.  That is because the sweater is baggy and Chisholm is so slim.  But, the Sorting Hat is a great character (especially as voiced by the lovely Leslie Phillips) so that’s cool. 🙂  It still remains a nice suit.

So what Hogwarts House would Chisholm be sorted in?  I think he’d be in Ravenclaw.  He’s clever enough, albeit a bit unlucky and obsessive.  He is too principled for Slytherin, too cautious for Gryffindor, and too singular for Hufflepuff.  Ravenclaw it is.

Was Chisholm a Nan Kid? 

Granted, we may actually overthink Chisholm.  (You don’t say?)  But that is only because Mr. Malahide created a character who seems very real.  Even though we see next to nothing of his personal life, Chisholm is more complex than even Terry McCann, the program’s namesake character, whose personal life was always front and center.  That shows what a brilliant job Mr. Malahide did.

So, with the admission of overthinking things, we have speculated that Chisholm got his baggy sweater from his Nan; possibly it belonged to his grandfather.   Basically, we’ve decided that Chisholm is what Russell Brand would call a “Nan Kid.”  😉

Harbut remembers Chisholm... ;-)  "I remember you. Horrible Harbut. So what?" Aaaww, his cup has chickens on it! Or are they ducks? :-D And he doesn't interrupt his bikkies for this.

Nan Kid Exhibit A: Quaint mug and a plate of biscuits.

Our “nan kid” proof:  As already mentioned, his brown suit, complete with Sorting Hat vest and trilby.  More proof is provided with his dietary choices.  He seems to go for digestive biscuits and tea, which he once drank out of chickie (or duckie) mug.  It is all very Nan Kid, as well as sweet.

Overthinking or not, I like to think of Chisholm as a Nan Kid.  It just adds to his overall charm.  I know he’s not meant to be charming, but he is.  He just can’t help it.  There is something about his old-fashioned demeanor that makes him come across as all the more believable.  So, maybe it wasn’t such an awful brown suit, after all. 🙂

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1 Response to Something Neat VIII: Defense of Chisholm’s Brown Suit

  1. Pingback: The Obsessed Boys (Played by Patrick Malahide)Patrick Malahide, An Appreciation

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