Our Favourite Characters (Played by Patrick Malahide)

As part of our ongoing anniversary celebrations (I think I have a bottle of Strongbow around here somewhere), Fearless Admin and I thought we’d like to highlight some of our favourite characters played by Patrick Malahide.    These are characters who mean a lot to us or have a great deal of appeal, making a lasting impression.  So without further ado, here they are.

RF’s Choices:   Sir Myles  |   The Reverend Edward Casaubon   |   Mr. Alfred Jingle

Admin’s Choices:  Ebenezer Balfour  |  Mark Finney  |   D.S. Albert Chisholm


RF’s Choices:

RF:  Sir Myles (“The Abduction Club“, 2002)

What Makes Him a Favourite?

Sir Myles:  So gosh-darned dashing we can barely stand it!  Favourite characters played by Patrick Malahide

Sir Myles: So gosh-darned dashing we can barely stand it!

He’s just so gosh-darned dashing!  He’s made it his life’s mission to help a bunch of ne’er-do-well second sons marry heiresses by abducting them, just like he did.  Of course, it helped a lot that his heiress fell head over heels in love with him as soon as she saw him unmasked (Eeeeeeee!!  😉 ).  Sir Myles has a lovely sense of humour, near-infinite supply of patience, exquisite manners, healthy appreciation for romance, and vast amounts of experience at arranging daring escapes.  He’s also highly considerate of the maidens’-in-question feelings and insists that proper protocol must be followed.  No crass or rude behaviour allowed!

The Moment/Scene When You Knew He was Going to be a Favourite:

Strang [offering Sir Myles a bite]: "Pigeon?"<br /> Sir Myles [exasperated]: <i>"Quail."</i>

Strang [offering Sir Myles a bite]: “Pigeon?”
Sir Myles [exasperated]: “Quail.”

When I first saw him wearing his mask (oooo!), Ulster coat, and tricorn, waiting for his gang of second sons to finish the first abduction of the movie.   He complimented the first one, who had a giggling heiress over his shoulder, with a “Good man, very stylish!”  Then when the next offered him a bite of stolen pigeon, Sir Myles exasperatedly corrected him to “Quail.”  It was immediately obvious he was the brains of the outfit and fighting an uphill battle, although keeping a sense of humour about it.  It only got better from there when, at another abduction, he had to keep paying for the damages his boys were racking up, running a tab with the lady of the house.  I’m sure she gave him a big discount for flashing lethal dimples at her with his mask on.

What Would You Do If You Met Him?

Swoon.  And hope to be abducted.  But not by “Poxy” Knox or any of the second sons.

Anything You Don’t Like About Him?

Daring escapes a specialty

Daring escapes a specialty

Alas, he’s already happily and devotedly married and lives in a different century.  But other than that, no.  Sir Myles is charming and romantic and would be extremely handy if I needed rescuing from somewhere, especially if it meant he could annoy Lord Femoy at the same time.  I’d volunteer to be Lord Femoy’s prisoner just for that.

RF:  The Reverend Edward Casaubon (“Middlemarch”, 1995)

What Makes Him a Favourite?

Casaubon:  A shy, bookish reverend

Casaubon: A shy, bookish reverend

Casaubon is more problematic because he’s a very prickly, initially unlikable sort of fellow.  He’s bookish to a fault, socially inept,  and monomaniacal on his chosen subjects. Because of his insecurity and distrust, he treats his wife, Dorothea, very badly when he mistakenly thinks she’s betrayed him.  Despite all of that, he still has the makings of a caring individual.  After all, he did decide, after many years as a bachelor, that he loved Dorothea enough to finally try matrimony, a pretty big step.  He’s shyly and charmingly pleased and really seems to come to life when she  expresses interest in his studies and helps him to work on his notebooks.  He also has a delightfully dry sense of humour and a deadly sarcastic wit he employs all too sparingly for my liking.  He might even be cute if he upgraded his haircut and wardrobe.  Casaubon is a fascinating example of a great deal of missed potential.  However, I’ve written a defense of this man so I might be just a wee bit biased.

The Moment/Scene When You Knew He was Going to be a Favourite:

Oh, that smile looks as if it hurts...

Oh, that smile looks as if it hurts…

When I saw him eagerly,  yet oh so awkwardly, discussing his studies with Dorothea after their first meeting.  Dorothea was genuinely interested and wanting to learn, but Casaubon had clearly never spent so much time discussing anything, let alone his extremely dry studies, with a woman  before, so he was having a little trouble getting the hang of it.  His painfully shy smile, an expression apparently so seldom used that it looked as if it actually hurt, just sealed the deal.  It was Casaubon’s first tentative attempt at emerging from his shell.  Fortunately, Dorothea was already smitten by that point and wasn’t dissuaded by one awkward conversation.

What Would You Do If You Met Him?

Hope that I’d read Etruscan Fish Deities for Dummies the night before and try to hide the fact I was desperately googling Latin vocab during the conversation.  I’d also butter him up by complimenting his resemblance to Thomas Aquinas or John Locke, whichever came first (Casaubon seems somewhat susceptible to compliments) and avoid mentioning Will Ladislaw at all costs.

Anything You Don’t Like About Him?

He needs to get out more.

He needs to get out more.

He tends to fix on certain subjects and actively resist being dislodged.  He also shows an alarming tendency to make any overseas trip a crashing bore, either by too much “educational” lecturing or too much hiding away in libraries.  Then there’s his difficulty with basic communication and predisposition for paranoia in the presence of younger, curly-haired cousins.  A little bit of communication with Dorothea and others would go a long ways towards getting past these faults, though.

RF:  Mr. Alfred Jingle (“The Pickwick Papers“, 1985)

What Makes Him a Favourite?

Alfred Jingle:  Could make you enjoy having your pocket picked -<br>although it'd be <i>so</i> much easier if you just gave it to him.

Alfred Jingle: Makes you enjoy having your pocket picked –
although it’s so much easier if you just give it to him.

Everything!  His incredible insouciance, epigrammatic speech, ability to effortlessly freeload wherever he may be, size up and dispense with opponents as easily as Bugs Bunny (this is a serious compliment, by the way), read people accurately, and his humour, utter self-confidence, and style.  You could plop Alfred Jingle down anywhere and he’d have new friends in five seconds flat, to say nothing of the ladies of all ages and marital statuses who’d be offering him breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, new clothes, or a ticket back to Blighty if he needed it (though they’d beg him to stay).  Jingle is as socially adept as Casaubon isn’t.

The Moment/Scene When You Knew He was Going to be a Favourite:

About to shove an urchin out of his way.  Even the urchin doesn't mind.

About to shove an urchin out of his way.
Even the urchin doesn’t mind.

The instant he casually shoved an urchin out of his way, without even looking, as he went to help Mr. Pickwick.  He then proceeded to order drinks for the Pickwickians (most of which he consumed but none of which he paid for), climb nimbly onto a coach, and entertain them all on their journey, describing their characters with uncanny accuracy.  Then he regaled the by-now thoroughly fascinated Pickwickians with tales of exotic ladies and his own worldly experiences, completely flabbergasting them.  Jingle had known the Pickwickians for maybe twenty minutes and they were already eating out of his hand.

What Would You Do If You Met Him?

Drop my handkerchief like the Widow Budger and hope he took the hint, followed by some dancing.  Or I’d try to sit next to the wine decanter, buffet table, or punch bowl so I’d have the best chance of getting his attention.  I’d have to remember to be cautious if he suggested eloping and getting a special marriage license, but mentioning that I was a penniless heiress would probably nip that in the bud.

Anything You Don’t Like About Him?

At his best when he's naughtiest.

At his best when he’s naughtiest.

Well, he was a bit mean to Miss Rachel Wardle, making her think she was (finally!) going to marry a dashing young man, then leaving her in the lurch for a “pecuniary consideration”.  And I suppose it was somewhat inconsiderate of him to borrow Mr. Tupman’s ten pounds with no intention of returning it.  But most of Jingle’s targets were well puffed-up with themselves and totally deserving of deflation so…  no, there isn’t anything I don’t like about him.  I thought his reformation into a “good man” was unconvincing, but that’s Dickens’ fault.  If Dickens had made it look as if Jingle was rewarded for his lifestyle, then there would’ve been an epidemic of strolling, charming charlatans!  I still like to think Jingle found a way to wriggle out of his ultimate fate somehow.


Admin’s Choices:

Admin: Uncle Ebenezer Balfour (“Kidnapped“, 1995)

What Makes Him a Favourite?

Patrick Malahide as Uncle Ebenezer : Kidnapped

Friendly welcome from Uncle Ebenezer

Well, I’ll start with evil opposite of the gorgeous Sir Myles: Uncle Ebenezer.  Uncle Ebenezer is one of the most convoluted characters imaginable.  He is dangerous, pathetic, grasping, crazy, cunning, wistful, funny, scary, guilt-ridden and devious all at the same time.  Ebenezer is a truly batty character who is desperate to get rid of his nephew, David Balfour, so he can hold onto the estate and all its money.  He can’t look his nephew in the eyes, but nor does he take his eyes off him.  The effect is both unsettling and comical at the same time. The overall production is an energetic, swashbuckling escapade and miserly Uncle Ebenezer fits into it all perfectly by being a very visually arresting villain in both style and substance.   He’s a colossal mess, but he will display little sparks of humanity that suggest he does have a sensitive soul underneath all those cobwebs.

The Moment/Scene When You Knew He was Going to be a Favourite:

Patrick Malahide as Uncle Ebenezer : Kidnapped

Doesn’t everyone keep a giant hammer handy?

Oh, that’s easy.  It is when he picks up that ridiculously large mallet to make a booby trap for his nephew.  It is such a funny scene because while he’s banging away at the support beam, Davy is patiently reading a book, ignoring the clatter.  This production is very much a romp, and they are obviously having a lot of fun, but everyone plays it so straight that it doesn’t delve into camp.  But, at any rate, it was when he swung that outsized mallet that I knew Ebenezer would be a fave.

What Would You Do If You Met Him?

I’d cross the street and pretend I didn’t see him.  No matter how awesome a character he is, Uncle Ebenezer really isn’t the sort of guy you want to hang out with.  Even if you tried to befriend him, he’d only think you were after his gold and sell you to pirates.

Anything You Don’t Like About Him?

Patrick Malahide as Uncle Ebenezer : Kidnapped

This would have been a good moment to tell the truth.

Well, I should say that I don’t like the way he treats his lovely nephew.  David is a fine boy who didn’t deserve booby traps and pirates.  But, those qualities were so entertaining and the lad turned out OK.  Instead, I’ll say I don’t like his dishonesty.  If he had been upfront and told David the truth from the very beginning, he would have remained at Shaws as David’s resident crazy uncle.  Davy is just that good-hearted sort.  Then instead of Kidnapped we’d have had an 18th-century Odd Couple.

Admin: Mark Finney (“The Singing Detective“, 1986)

What Makes Him a Favourite?

Patrick Malahide as Mark Finney in Singing Detective 01

Modern technology and earrings: Eighties style.

Admin:  I like how shiny and aggressively modern he is, even if he is a bit dated by today’s standards.  He has a spiffy computer that he uses to “steal” Philip Marlow’s novel with.   His styling is so cool.  He looks great and he totally knows it.  I love his mannerisms most of all.  He is so slinky and serpentine that he very much reminds one of  a snake.  And it is fitting because he is a cold-hearted snake.  Sadly, we don’t get a tremendous amount of detail on his life, there’s a very good reason for that, but I love every moment he is on screen because he is glossy, wicked, modern and highly entertaining.

The Moment/Scene When You Knew He was Going to be a Favourite:

You're terrific when you're angry....like a wasp..

You’re terrific when you’re angry….like a wasp..

It was when he first starts looming over Nicola, insisting she secure the rights to Marlow’s novel.  The way he twists his neck about is kind of unsettling, but it is also intriguing.  You know this is going to be a “bad guy”, but he’s so bizarre and quirky that when you realize the truth about him, it all adds up.  But that first introduction we get of him is a very, very good one.

What Would You Do If You Met Him?

I’d ask him to show me his computer.   I know what I wouldn’t do.  I wouldn’t waste time making silly shadow puppets.  Oh, Nicola!

Anything You Don’t Like About Him?

I have this awful....premonition!

I have this awful….premonition!

Spoiler alert! 😉
I don’t like that he lives in Philip Marlow’s mind.  I guess it was nice of Marlow to imagine such an attractive boyfriend for his estranged missus, but it isn’t like they got very far.  Even weirder, and it is truly freaky, is that Finney seems to know something is amiss with his whole existence.  Creeeeepy!

Admin: Detective Sergeant Albert Chisholm  (“Minder“, 1979-1988)

What Makes Him a Favourite?

Epic jaw clench!!

Epic jaw clench!!

I’ve probably mentioned the things I love about Chisholm a gazillion times, but one more go won’t hurt.  He’s witty and sarcastic, principled, dedicated to his job and steals every scene he’s in.  (He should be arrested for that.) Despite being a young man, Chisholm has a decidedly old-fashioned mindset which he displays without the least little bit of irony or even self-awareness.  He simply is what he is.  The thing is, he really is (in my opinion) a fundamentally good copper.  He is smart, dedicated, observant, honest, bold (he stood up to an Interpol agent and took his gun away), and really wants to do right.  For my real summation of Chisholm, just read this.  That pretty much answers it all.  Oh! I must mention those jaw clenches.  Chisholm’s jaw muscles have flexing capabilities which know no bounds.

The Moment/Scene When You Knew He was Going to be a Favourite:

But better not make a twit of himself.

So boyish.

To be honest… I’m not sure… I never watched Minder in its filmed order, so I’ll go with the proud, boyish smile he gave when he promised his boss he’d do his best on the Orient Express since it was one of my earlier introductions to Chisholm.  He had just been insulted by being told the only reason he was being given that opportunity was because everyone else was either sick, on leave, or working other cases.  Since he was the only one left with a valid passport, he got the job.  Poor Chisholm.  He was even told not to make a twit of himself.  But, he still promised to do his best.  It wasn’t his fault Daley was on the train also.

What Would You Do If You Met Him?

Beg him to ask for a transfer out of the city!  I know he’s a London boy but a change of scenery (and faces!!!) would have done that man good.

Anything You Don’t Like About Him?

Dalye:"Come on Mr. Chisholm, on your flat feet."

Daley: scarier than the little girl in The Ring.

Sometimes he can be kind of mean to his adorable Welsh constable, DC Jones, but even that is fun.  I think the most annoying thing about him, actually, was that he wasn’t the main character even though he was the best character.   No matter what, he had to put up with Arthur Daley and Terry McCann.

In any given episode of Minder, the moment that the prickly sergeant slinks into the rabbits’ warren of no-goodniks is the moment things get interesting.  Truly, I think Minder would have been better if it had been Chisholm instead.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like Arthur Daley, but I still think it is a shame that Chisholm never got to break free of the dapper bête noir.

RF:  There are a lot of characters we haven’t mentioned who also qualify as favourites, so we’ll call this part 1 of a series.  😉

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