Minder S06E03, The Return of the Invincible Man, gave Patrick Malahide (DS “Cheerful Charlie” Chisholm) and Meic Povey (DC “Taff” Jones) a great opportunity to show off their brilliant double act. Every time they were together, it would be gold, but this particular episode is one of my favorites when it comes to this duo.
Arthur’s old tailor mate Solly Salmon (John Bluthal) is in a right bind. His business is doing poorly and he’s been forced to make his seamstresses redundant. They aren’t too happy and are picketing outside his establishment. He wants Arthur to arrange a safe robbery, which will include a gelatine explosive, so he can claim the insurance. Terry quickly distances himself from the whole ridiculous idea, but greedy Arthur sees pound signs before his weasel-like eyes and agrees to it.
He enlists the assistance of the Beesley brothers, Billy and Benny, and Scotch Harry (Phil McCall), a character known to the police. The explosion goes wrong, somewhat injuring Scotch Harry. Terry takes him to the hospital where he winds up being heavily bandaged and feigns a sort of amnesia so his name won’t be discovered by the police
I am a People Policeman
Chisholm’s first scene in this episode is sheer brilliance. He is clearly drunk, giving both Arthur and Terry surprisingly friendly smirks. Then he goes into his diatribe, “I am a people policeman. My role is preventive rather than detentive.”
Dave is trying to close the bar, but Chisholm just shrugs him off and continues, “You people don’t understand the police. Bloody tarts, pimps, grasses, rapists, muggers, transvestites…” at that point he does a cute little snickering laugh. “No wonder I have to have a drink occasionally.” “You certainly had a few tonight,” deadpans Arthur.
His taxi eventually does arrive, but he doesn’t have any money so Arthur loans him a fiver. Chisholm ungraciously declares that it is not a bribe! It is then up to Terry to get him safely up the stairs and into his cab. “Community policing,” laughs Chisholm, as he somehow makes it up.
It is hilarious. I have to wonder if Chisholm had to sit through a boring, politically correct presentation on “community policing”. It is the sort of thing such an old fashioned copper would hate.
There is a bit of a goof, though. If you watch the video below, you’ll notice that the man who Terry helps into the cab is not Patrick Malahide. Obviously it was not filmed sequentially, so Malahide probably wasn’t available at the moment they shot the scene.
The following morning, Chisholm and Jones are called out to investigate the bungled burglary at Solly’s. Jones notices that Chisholm seems particularly fragile, “Headache, Guv?” “Certainly not!” Chisholm would never admit to such a weakness.
He admits, however, he was out late in that “well known den of thieves, the Winchester.” “Socializing?” “Would I? Twenty-four hour copper, me. Even when I’m asleep, I’m thinking.” “And vice versa, hey Guv?” “That Celtic humor doesn’t travel, Jones….very witty with the sheep, not so clever in the metropolis. Why don’t you go try out your silver tongue with these bolshie strikers!” “They’re not suspects, are they?” “Who knows,” intones Chisholm, rather ominously, “in this world of ours everything is suspect.”
The bolshie strikers are just the group of women protesting against Solly’s decision to make them redundant, but I suppose that is the sort of thing Chisholm does not approve of. I like the way he manages to put his myopic worldview into what is actually a reasonable and peaceful protest 🙂
The scene is fantastic. Poor Chisholm looks so huddled up and cold (it is snowing or sleeting in the shot) while Welshman Jones doesn’t seem at all bothered by the cold. I love the contrast between those two. Every scene they have together always seems to be filled with nice, little touches.
The Work of Incompetent Gas Meter Thieves
Chisholm is suitably unimpressed with the bungled burglary. “What you have here, Mr. Salmon, is a shambles, the work of incompetent gas meter thieves. Rank amateurs!” His sneering suspicions are raised a bit when Solly wonders that they weren’t experts. “This isn’t exactly the most inviting premises on the manner, is it? I mean, why this place?”
He then tears the burnt safe’s door off its hinges and spies the badly scorched money inside. Money that had been intended for Scotch Harry and the two idiots to grab as payment. He asks Solly how much was in there and is told £20,000, probably more. “Ashes to ashes. Don’t look like 20 thou’ ashes to me.”
Solly claims to have no idea about who could have known he had that much money in his safe. Jones enters with the information he gleaned from the picketers: Daley and McCann had visited Solly! “Well, well, well…you didn’t tell me that Mr. Salmon, did you?” Solly is very uncomfortable, but Chisholm is delighted. “Suddenly, I see blue skies, sunlight on the horizion.” Solly acts like Arthur would never do such a thing. “Now, now, Mr. Salmon, your business is tailoring, mine is the criminal mind.”
He Looks Like the Invincible Man
Chisholm soon learns that a mystery man suffering from burns, and therefore heavily bandaged, had been admitted into the hospital. The Irish nurse reckons he looks the “invincible man”, meaning the invisible man.
Chisholm looms over poor Scotch Harry, “Well sir, what have we got here? What are you, hey, safebreaker or an ubran terrorist?” He looms closer in, menacingly growling, “I know him. It’s them minces.” He goes on, “There’s an aura of wickedness. Copper’s instinct, he’s a wrongun.” Jones shakes his head, “You’re amazing, guv.” “You taking the piss?” “No, guv, would I do that.”
Chisholm then demands they get Harry’s dabs, grabbing his bandaged hand roughly. The doctor says that would be impossible. After Harry groans in pain, Chisholm casually drops the hand with a little apology. The doctor and nurse are very unhelpful so Chisholm leans over Harry one more time, “We’ll be back, my old friend, and we won’t be bringing any grapes.”
They have a final word with the nurse and learn that someone called Terry helped the “invincible man” into the hospital. “Well, well, well…about two thousand Terrys on this manner, for some reason, one particular Terry leaps to mind.”
Habeas Corpus and All that Cobblers
Terry is brought in for questioning. There is a cute bit where Chisholm thoughtfully rolls his eyes to the ceiling; Terry looks up to see what Chisholm is looking at, and Jones does the same. Chisholm is enjoying himself at first, wistfully thinking about how if they lived in a police state, he could just sling Terry behind bars. “But you are protected, by rules and laws, arrest procedures, habeas corpus, and all that cobblers.”
Terry is amused at first, until Chisholm mentions safe breaking. The more frantic Terry becomes, the more Chisholm enjoys himself. Until he is suddenly reminded that Terry has an alibi, a very drunk Mr. Chisholm! We get some great jaw flexing when Terry also remind him that he owes Arthur a fiver. Chisholm still doesn’t have any money on hand, and gets poor Jones to hand £5 over to Terry.
Chisholm and Jones go back to the hospital where they run into Arthur. Terry is inside, breaking Harry out. Arthur reminds Chisholm of the night before, “Nice drink last night. No hangover, I hope.” “No! Thank you.” He also reminds Chisholm of the fiver and is told it was given to McCann. It is a bad trip for Chisholm. Not only does Arthur show him up in front of Jones, but McCann successfully absconds with Scotch Harry.
Back at Solly’s, Chisholm and Jones make one last attempt at nabbing Arthur and Terry. “Patient disappears from a well known hospital, can’t tolerate that. Whatever next? Body snatching? We had Burke and Hare, now we got Daley and McCann.”
But, Solly is just in the process of restarting his business. He is bringing the picketers back in and they will run the place like a co-op, much to Arthur’s chagrin. “That’s communism!”
Jones decides it is finally time to speak up, “What’s in it for us? No money stolen, no circumstantial or forensic evidence, the prime witness has disappeared, and the victim seems very friendly with the suspects. All I’m saying is this: Who bloody cares?” Then Chisholm shocks us all, “Yeah. Sod it!” He stomps off; the end.
It is a fantastic episode. Patrick Malahide’s performance as Chisholm is tense and brilliantly brittle. The drunk scene is fantastic. He has the lithe, wafting movements down pat. You can’t help but feel sorry for Chisholm. He is genuinely unhappy with the modern world and sees the antics of Daley and McCann as being part of the overall breakdown of society.
The comedy pairing of Malahide and Meic Povey is the best aspect. They have so much chemistry. I know that Povey has mostly gone into writing these days, and while I’m sure he is very happy being successful at doing what he loves, I can’t help but feel he would be a welcome return to television. His deadpan, comic timing as Jones is perfection. The contrast of the uptight Cockney and the easygoing Welshman would have undoubtedly been worthy of spin-off series.