Nice Guys (Played by Patrick Malahide)

Fearless Admin and I recently read an interview with Mr. Malahide where he mentioned that he “usually play[s] hard-nosed bastards”.  Now granted, this is true…  he certainly has played more than a few of those, and we’ve enjoyed every single one.  But he’s also played quite a few Nice Guys, too, who are deserving of closer examination, so we thought we’d highlight some of them.

Lenny Richards  |  Robert Blair  |  John Poole  |  Axel Kingman  |  John Francis  |
Lord Willingdon  |  Colin  |  The Nicest of Them All


RF:  My choices for Nice Guys:

Lenny Richards
(“Sensitive Skin“, 2007)

Type of Nice Guy:

Artistic impression of Lenny Richards' niceness Nice Guys Played by Patrick Malahide

Artistic impression of Lenny Richards’ niceness

A modest and self-effacing one, for a successful lawyer.  Mind you, a lot of his self-effacing ways are actually humble-bragging, if you listen carefully.  However, that doesn’t make him any less charming.   He’s so nice that he even offers to defend Roger Dorkins (Nicholas Jones), the boorish husband of his best-beloved, Veronica (Maggie Steed), in court free of charge, just out of love for her.  He’s basically an incurable romantic, carrying a blazing torch for Veronica for decades.

What Makes Him Such a Nice Guy?

Working his wiles on Veronica

Working his wiles on Veronica

It’s mostly the incurable romanticism, plus he also has a very persuasive way with words.  He can be very genuine and disarmingly honest; he’s very direct with Veronica when he tells her that he’s been waiting around for her for decades and is willing to wait a few more, if that’s what it takes.

How’s His Wooing Technique?

Deploying the Lethal Dimples

Deploying the Lethal Dimples

I think Veronica would say it’s bloody amazing.  She went from positively, definitely, under no circumstances not having lunch with Lenny, to quite happily having lunch with Lenny in no time flat.  The best part about it was that he didn’t even look as if he was trying very hard, but then again, he’s known Veronica for many years and they were lovers previously, so he has a slight advantage.  Lenny also deployed the Lethal Dimples and talked about his testosterone count in a hilarious, humble-bragging way, so poor Veronica was doomed – not that she minded too much.

Would He Ever Do Something Un-Nice for Any Reason?

Getting a tad impatient with his client

Getting a tad impatient with his client

We don’t actually see him do anything particularly un-nice, but I’m sure he would.  He’s a successful lawyer, after all, which requires a certain ability to be ruthless at times.  Roger does mention that seeing Lenny in action in court is something of an eye-opener; he mercilessly destroys the witnesses against Roger one by one, metaphorically ripping their heads off as he tears into their testimony.  He’s a good man to have on your side!  He also gets a tad impatient with Roger when he sabotages his own defense, but that’s pretty understandable.

What’s His Favourite Tear-Jerker?

Hmmm…  Maybe “A Tale of Two Cities“.  Brilliant lawyer Sydney Carton saves Charles Darnay, the husband of Lucie Manette, the woman he loves, from the guillotine, sacrificing himself in the process.   However, I feel sure Lenny would find some way to circumvent the whole “being beheaded in the other guy’s place” thing so that he’d wind up being awarded several million francs in damages instead, plus a free trip back to England.  He’s not an idiot, after all.

Does He Finish Last?

Finishing last, and very happy about it.

Finishing last, and very happy about it.

Yes, indeed he does, and it’s wonderful.  🙂  He and Veronica both deserved a happy ending after all that.  The real mystery is why she stayed with Roger for so long!

 

 

 


Robert Blair
(“The Franchise Affair“, 1988)

Type of Nice Guy:

Robert Blair yearns for some action.

Robert Blair yearns for some action.

Another shy, retiring, self-effacing lawyer!  What is it with these nice lawyers??  Anyway, Blair is leading a very quiet, provincial life post-war as a partner in a small law firm in the town of Milford. Unfortunately, he’s also very, very bored; he yearns just a bit for some of the action and excitement he saw during World War II.  Life shouldn’t be just having the same bikkies and tea every day.

What Makes Him Such a Nice Guy?

A homebody at heart, listening to music on the wireless

A homebody at heart, listening to music on the wireless

I think it’s because Blair is fundamentally very honest and principled, with a strong sense of integrity and right and wrong.  He lives with his aunt, who acts as his surrogate mother while he looks after her at the same time.  Despite his yearning for action, Blair seems to be more of a homebody at heart.  He appears to like his daily routines, or at least find them comforting.  However, he’s such a nice guy that he’s willing go far outside his comfort zone to take on Marion Sharpe’s (Joanna McCallum) case (she’s been accused of kidnapping, drugging, and unlawful imprisonment) even though it’s far beyond the scope of the usual sort of law he practises.

How’s His Wooing Technique?

Totally chuffed and adorably cute

Totally chuffed and adorably cute

Unfortunately, Blair doesn’t quite have Lenny’s sophistication or gift for gab.  Despite that, I’d say he’s at his best when he’s most unconscious of doing any wooing, like when he and Marion Sharpe first discover that alleged victim Betty Kane (Kate Emma Davies) couldn’t possibly have seen the scene of the crime from her particular vantage point.  Blair is so chuffed at discovering a key point that can be used in Marion’s defense that he’s obviously on Cloud Nine, and adorably cute to boot.  However, later on when Blair wears his heart on his sleeve and proposes to Marion after the trial, she turns him down rather decisively.

Would He Ever Do Something Un-Nice for Any Reason?

Contemplating a picture of Marion in bed: "That bloody woman!"

Contemplating a picture of Marion in bed:
“That bloody woman!”

I doubt that he would, aside from the normal ruthlessness required on behalf of a client for any lawyer to be successful.  Even when he and Marion are butting heads (Marion is a somewhat prickly character, fiercely independent and not well-liked by the townspeople), the worst thing he says about her (only to himself) is “That bloody woman!”  I think Blair has a lot of innate chivalry and perhaps a touch of old-fashioned protectiveness that initially makes him decide to take on Marion’s defense.

What’s His Favourite Tear-Jerker?

I’d say… “Casablanca“.  Reluctantly compelled to “stick [his] neck out” one more time for love and honour, man saves woman from Nazis, imprisonment, and death, woman leaves man to go off with her stiff of a husband (sorry, Victor Laszlo, but it’s true!) at the end.  Plus Blair could’ve seen it when he was on furlough from the RAF, during the war.  But Blair circumvents that sort of ending by catching up to Marion’s train and proposing again; luckily for him, this time she says yes.  I do hope they gave Blair’s auntie and Marion’s mother their own rooms once they set up housekeeping.

Does He Finish Last?

Getting the girl at the end

Getting the girl at the end

Against all odds, yes, he does.  I guess Marion realizes through Blair’s persistence that he’s willing to risk much in order to be with her, which appears to make her change her mind about her earlier refusal.  I personally found the ending just a wee bit forced; I didn’t think we saw that much evidence of Marion’s growing attraction to Blair, especially after she rejected his proposal.  But we’ll handwave that and say they lived happily ever after.


John Poole
(“Five Days“, 2007)

Type of Nice Guy:

John Poole, domestic marvel and jam-maker extraordinaire. Patrick Malahide as John Poole in "Five Days"

John Poole, domestic marvel and jam-maker extraordinaire.

He’s a caring, sensitive, grandfather and a retired schoolteacher.  He’s usually the buffer and peacemaker in family discussions between his wife Barbara (Penelope Wilton), who can be somewhat abrupt and abrasive, and their daughter and granddaughter.   He also seems to have a lot of domestic skills that she lacks, like cooking and baking.

What Makes Him Such a Nice Guy?

Unappreciated in his own home

Unappreciated in his own home

I think it’s because he has all the warmth, empathy, and sensitivity that Barbara lacks.  His daughter and granddaughter know that they can approach him, whereas they’d be more reluctant to approach her.  He’s supportive, kind, and prepared to listen; he’s more of a nurturer than Barbara is and obviously adores his daughter and granddaughter.   Unfortunately, because John leaves his heart out there, he’s also more susceptible to being hurt and/or feeling unappreciated when Barbara makes unthinking or uncaring comments.

How’s His Wooing Technique?

Wooing with jam

Wooing with jam

The Pooles’ marriage is in a state where it doesn’t appear that there’s much intimacy happening.  John makes overtures, like inviting Barbara to go to the farmers’ market with him (where he sells his jam), but she turns him down flat.  She also engages in a lot of small, niggling criticisms about things he does.  I wonder if he didn’t take on more of the cooking duties in the home to prove himself useful and try to wring some appreciation from her, but if so, it didn’t work.  Everything about their body language says that they’ve grown apart.  It’s a sad state of affairs, especially since John appears to be a wonderful, caring man.  I would love to buy some of his jam.

Would He Ever Do Something Un-Nice for Any Reason?

If looks could kill: John spies his former son-in-law

If looks could kill: John spies his former son-in-law

RF:  Yes, he would, although only under severe provocation.  The Pooles’ daughter Leanne (Christine Tremarco) goes missing, and for a long time, nothing is known of what became of her.  Tensions within the family rise as suspicion falls on various suspects, but nothing is known of her fate.  Leanne’s ex-husband Daf Parry (Richard Harrington) arrives, accompanying his and Leanne’s daughter Tanya (Lucinda Dryzek) home from France where she’d been staying with him for a time.  However, Daf just ends up creating more tension because his arrival is unannounced and the Pooles never liked him as a husband to their daughter anyway.  The look John gives Daf when he spies him at the airport is surprisingly murderous; he shouts at, and even takes a swing at Daf, although he’s prevented from doing any real damage.

What’s His Favourite Tear-Jerker?

RF:  This is a toughie because “Five Days” in itself is rather a tear-jerker.  🙁  John has enough unhappiness in his life that he doesn’t need more, even if artificially created.  Hmm… maybe a tear-jerker with a happy ending would be appropriate; something like “The Secret Garden” where Mary Lennox finds herself accepted by her uncle at the end.  That could work.

Does He Finish Last?

An ambiguous ending rather than a happy one

An ambiguous ending rather than a happy one

RF:  This is also a toughie because John Poole has a nervous breakdown after his daughter’s body is discovered and he insists upon seeing it.  He spends a long time recovering in a mental health facility with Tanya as his only regular visitor; Barbara, abhorring weakness, has somewhat abandoned him.  By the end, John has started to recover a bit, enough to realize what his relationship with Barbara has become, so I suppose you could call that finishing last, in a way.  By the end, I think he understands he can’t count on her for emotional support, but the outcome is ultimately left ambiguous.  I personally hoped he and Tanya would leave Barbara and move in together, since they care so much for each other.


Admin:  And my Nice Guys

Axel Kingman
(“The Ruth Rendell Mysteries: Means of Evil“, 1991)

Type of Nice Guy:

Patrick Malahide in Ruth Rendell Mysteries

“a simple sort of person who doesn’t expect very much from life “

Axel is a compassionate vegetarian who longs for a simple life and who runs a health-food store.  He is also the sort who finds confrontation difficult.   Essentially, he is the kind of guy who just wants everything to be genuinely good.  He sums himself up this way: “a simple sort of person who doesn’t expect very much from life but has quite a capacity for contentment.”  Awwwww.

What Makes Him Such a Nice Guy?

Well, in running his health-food store, he is actually reaching out to the community at large and encouraging an ethical and humane way of eating.  He really does proselytize for the vegetarian lifestyle.  Recently married to Hannah, he still maintains a friendly relationship with his ex-lover Corrine and her daughter Saffron.  He really is the sort who wants to make everyone happy.

However, in his zeal to be nice, he actually winds up being a tad clueless.  For example, it is very obvious that young Saffron harbors some romantic feelings for him, although confusingly she also still views him as a father figure, but he is (willfully?) blind to it all.  It is equally obvious that his insistence on maintaining a friendly relationship with Corrine is hurting his marriage with Hannah, but again, he seems to prefer burying his head in the sand.

How’s His Wooing Technique?

Patrick Malahide in Means of Evil

Wedding day whites

Expert! As a vegetarian evangelist Axel is also quite the cook.  He is very happy to prepare lavish, locally sourced meals for his lady friends.  One just has to hope that the mushrooms are non-poisonous.  He’s a fitness buff who plays a mean game of racquetball.

Honestly, he doesn’t have to do much wooing since women seem to flock to the handsome devil anyway.  Chief Inspector Wexford and Inspector Burden are both mightily chagrined to see their wives take staunchly pro-Axel positions when he is a suspect in his wife’s murder.  Women just seem to like him.  Who can blame them?

Would He Ever Do Something Un-Nice for Any Reason?

Playing some squash

Playing some squash but really showing off.

Indeed.  He is a wee bit gloating during a game of racquetball where he is handily beating his overweight, out-of-shape brother-in-law.  Granted, he is trying to convince the less healthy man to improve his lifestyle, but a sense of smug superiority is there.

Also, because of his inability to confront those he loves when problems first arise, he bottles his emotions up until they finally explode in ugly and regretful scenes.  It seems that occasionally being nice isn’t very nice at all.

What’s His Favourite Tear-Jerker?

That would have to be “Watership Down“.  Vegetarian Axel is a sensitive man with an old-fashioned love for simplicity and gentleness.  Watching so many poor rabbits flee their warren and die as the result of man would be heart-breaking for him, but he would appreciate and share its message.  He probably likes the soundtrack’s beautiful “Bright Eyes” song by Art Garfunkel also.

Does He Finish Last?

Feeling depressed

Feeling depressed

Poor Axel finishes in a very bad way.  His wife was murdered by his ex-lover who then framed him.  It was also established earlier that his store was struggling financially, so by the end of the episode he was definitely in last place.  But, perhaps there is still hope for him.  He was shown to be completely innocent of the murder and also shown to be a victim of Corrine’s jealously.  I think he would be able to move on eventually and restart his life afresh.


John Francis
(“New Worlds“, 2014)

Type of Nice Guy:

And he raises his glass in a toast. But Beth already knows she's not his real daughter and is wondering what the heck's going on.

“To my most precious daughter”

An Obsessed Scholar sort. 😉  Fortunately, he’s not too much like Casaubon because this guy can actually talk to a woman and seems to be able to share his interests without boring her to death.   He is also a kind, fatherly sort who raised his step-daughter Beth as his own child.  Additionally, he is devoted to his faith.  He practices Roman Catholicism even though it is very, very dangerous to do so during the reign of King Charles II.

What Makes Him Such a Nice Guy?

John Francis: "You've had your answer, Hardwick."

Supporting his wife’s decision to keep her property as-is.

Well, he is quite the feminist.  His wife Angelica owns the property in which they live.  It is a sort of quasi-commune, actually.   As a seventeenth-century husband, one would expect him to have control of her property, but he does not.  Instead, he fully supports his wife’s decision to keep her property away from Charles II who would use it for claypits.

He is also a devoted friend.  A young man named Will Blood is sent by the evil Judge Jeffreys to befriend and spy on John Francis.   The two men genuinely bond.  When John Francis is arrested and locked up  in prison, Blood confesses that he set him up so he could save his own father from the King’s wrath.  John Francis forgives him instantly, feeling only compassion for the terrible situation that Will Blood had been placed in.

How’s His Wooing Technique?

A shy, slightly bewildered reaction

Trust me, he handles this way better than Casaubon.

He would read love sonnets in that beautiful voice of his.  He would know all the most romantic and exciting mythologies and could spend hours entertaining any lucky lady with such tales.  He’d take her for long walks in the woods and know all about every legend associated with the trees and flowers that grow there.  And if said lady should kiss him, he’d know to kiss her back.  Basically, he’s like Casaubon but with a lot more game.  A whole lot more game.

Would He Ever Do Something Un-Nice for Any Reason?

"When Jeffreys does his worst to me, Will, I'm very afraid that I will betray Angelica. I pray God that she is out of the country by then."

“When Jeffreys does his worst to me, Will, I’m very afraid that I will betray Angelica.”

No!  He feared he would, however.  While in prison, he told Will Blood about how his parents once gave shelter to a Catholic priest.  The priest was arrested and tortured so brutally that he eventually gave the names of those who had sheltered him.  John Francis’ main fear was that he might betray his wife if he was tortured as viciously.  But, in an act of kindness, Will Blood killed him in his prison cell so it would not come to that.

What’s His Favourite Tear-Jerker?

I think it would be “Gone With the Wind“.  Scarlett O’Hara is a very strong minded heroine, something I think John Francis would appreciate.  I think he would root for her during all the struggles and the ups-and-downs she endures.  And, if anyone could appreciate a woman’s love for her ancestral home, it would be John Francis.

Does He Finish Last?

Getting a look at John Francis' secret chapel, which is enough to condemn him with Judge Jeffreys.

John Francis’ secret chapel.

As already mentioned, John Francis does not survive New Worlds.  But because of his deep friendship with Will Blood, John Francis’ wife Angelica died a far more dignified and quick death than what the King would have had, and their daughter Beth survived to continue fighting for human rights.  And if there is at all a Heaven then I am very certain that is exactly where John Francis wound up.


Viceroy, Lord Willingdon
(“Indian Summers” 2015)

Type of Nice Guy:

The Viceroy's back! Greeting Ralph at his house: "Ah, my boy!"

Greeting Ralph at his house: “Ah, my boy!”

A kind, generous fatherly sort who takes his responsibilities very, very seriously.  As the Viceroy of India during an extremely tumultuous time, Lord Willingdon never loses sight of his sense of duty and responsibility.

What Makes Him Such a Nice Guy?

Lord W. "Any man who stands before a bullet, I think can look me in the eye. Don't you?"

Lord W. “Any man who stands before a bullet, I think can look me in the eye. Don’t you?”

His relationship with his secretary Ralph is very touching.  He rather sees Ralph as a surrogate son.  There is a very sad scene where Lord Willingdon is sleeping after having partied perhaps a wee bit too hard (he is a jolly kind of guy) and briefly mistakes Ralph for his own son Gerard who died in the Great War.  It is such a sad moment, but it helps explain why he becomes so close to Ralph.

I say he is jolly.  Well, the Viceroy is quite the fan of light opera, Oscar Wilde plays, cricket, and seems to know how to generally enjoy life.  He is also very considerate of the feelings of others.  During his final appearance in the series, he  assures his worried valet, who he considers to be a friend. that he is feeling just fine even though in reality his heart is breaking over Ralph’s betrayals and massive shortcomings.

He is also very quick to embrace those that Ralph cares about.  When Ralph introduces him to Aafrin, the man who inadvertently took a bullet intended for Ralph, the Viceroy quickly tells Aafrin not to bow.  “Any man who stands before a bullet, I think can look me in the eye, don’t you?”  He takes a similar approach when Ralph’s soon-to-be-fiancée Madeleine curtsies before him.  “Up, up, up,” he commands.   Oh, and he laughs at Cynthia Coffin’s feeble jokes, that is pretty generous of him. 😉

How’s His Wooing Technique?

They are so cute.

They are so cute.

He’s been married for quite some time, but I reckon his technique was and is pretty darn good.  During their courtship, he probably amused his wife with rousing songs, literary references, and nights out watching comedic plays.

He is also quite the athlete, an avid sailor and cricketer.  He probably put on some stellar cricketing performances for his wife to cheer.  And she still seems terribly fond of him so his wooing technique must be working just fine even after years of being married.  After he gives a Jubilee speech on the wireless, his wife zips right over to congratulate him on his success.  She seems ever so proud of him.

Would He Ever Do Something Un-Nice for Any Reason?

Absolutely.  In order to achieve his position, he probably had to do some not-very-nice things and make some tough and unpleasant decisions.  On screen, he left the decision whether or not to hang (the innocent) Ramu Sood up to Ralph.  I don’t think that was a very nice thing to do whatsoever.

What’s His Favourite Tear-Jerker?

Upon waking, mistaking Ralph for the son he lost in WWI: "Gerard?"

Upon waking, mistaking Ralph for the son he lost in WWI: “Gerard?”

I think he would have a great understanding for “My Boy Jack”.  It is the true story of Rudyard Kipling’s son who died in WWI.  I’m sure the Viceroy would be a fan of Kipling, and, tragically, we know he understands exactly how it feels to lose a son.

Does He Finish Last?

Hard to say really.  In the series, he left India feeling very heartbroken and let down by Ralph the man he once loved like a son.  He also left knowing that the bill they had fought so hard for had just gone over like a lead balloon.  And it must be terribly demoralizing to have attempts made on your life.  However, the real Lord Willingdon continued diplomatic duties after returning to the UK and was made Marquess by Edward VIII, so it seems he was very well respected in real life.


And One Honourable Mention:

Colin
(“Comfort and Joy“, 1984)

Ultimate Nice Guy and Best Friend, Colin

Ultimate Nice Guy and Best Friend, Colin

RF:  We don’t see nearly enough of him, but Colin is a wonderfully Nice Guy in “Comfort and Joy”.  He’s warm and kind, and a small pond of sanity in the ocean of insanity that results when his friend Alan “Dickie” Bird (Bill Paterson) gets embroiled in a Glaswegian ice cream war – which actually is all about ice cream.  He’s also a very caring and attentive doctor and father, married to a gorgeous woman, and the absolute picture of domestic contentment, all things Alan lacks and is somewhat jealous of.  What makes it worse for Alan is how unaware Colin seems to be of all of this, and he still finds time to be a supportive friend.

Admin: He is indeed the perfect father, husband, and friend.  I enjoyed the part where he introduced Alan “Dickie” Bird (a radio DJ) to an elderly patient who happened to be a fan.  “Comfort and Joy” is a rather manic (but in a lovely way) film, and Colin adds an element of comfort (so fitting) and warmth.  You can’t help but feel cozy watching him be all domestic in his lovely jumper. 🙂


Who’s the Nicest of Them All?

RF's Pick: Robert Blair!

RF’s Pick: Robert Blair!

RF:  They’re all really nice, but I’m going to have to go with… Robert Blair.  He’s just so nice and risks so much in going far outside his comfort zone that he deserves it.  Despite the fact he’s in a ruthless profession, he’s still old-fashionably chivalrous, polite, and protective, both of his auntie and Marion Sharpe and her mother.  He also has a great deal of personal integrity and honesty which he won’t compromise, although he is willing to be slightly sneaky to help a client.  About the least nice thing he does is steal the last piece of cake – but I’m sure his auntie’s cake is super-delicious, so who can blame him?  He’s just and all-round Nice Guy, and he looks great in a trenchcoat and fedora.  😉

"I was actually referring to the curves." And deploying the lethal dimples for good measure.

Admin’s Pick:  Lenny Richards

Admin:  Robert Blair is an excellent choice, however, I’ll go with Lenny Richards.  This is a guy who despite his fantastic success, wit, and good looks held out for decades to be with the one woman he loves.  Talk about playing the long game.  He is kind and generous, but I honestly do like that he has a definite edge.  His honesty can be brutal at times, but it comes from a place of wearing his heart on his sleeve.  And as mentioned way at the top, some of his humility is actually humble bragging which totally adds to his charm.  And can you blame him?  The Lethal Dimples and testosterone make him unstoppable. 😉

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