Posh Blokes (Played by Patrick Malahide)

Admin and I recently realized that Patrick Malahide has played more than a few Posh Blokes in his career, and he’s done a great job of it, too – whether they were goodies, baddies, or an intriguing mix of both (okay, truthfully, the latter might be the best).   His Posh Blokes never fail to make an impression with their charisma, presence, and sense of style, and they’re among some of our favourite characters, so we thought we’d discuss a few of them.

Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn  |  Governor Ainslee  |  Sir Hugo Carey-Holden  |
Sir Myles  |  Ebenezer Balfour  |  Who’s the Poshest?

RF:  My choices are…

Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn
(“The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries“, 1992-1994)

What Kind of Posh Bloke Is He?

Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn, the ultimate Gentleman Detective Posh Blokes Played by Patrick Malahide

Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn,
the ultimate Gentleman Detective

He’s pretty much the creme de la creme of poshness, a Gentleman detectivus dashingae.  Alleyn is the younger brother of a baronet, Sir George Alleyn, so he gets all the perks of aristocratic connections with none of the bother, like worrying about the family’s estate or having to vote in the House of Lords or anything like that.  The gentry regard Alleyn as one of them, so they’re more likely to confide interesting bits of aristocratic gossip to him that wouldn’t necessarily make it into the tabloids, which frequently proves useful when he’s investigating crimes.  He also has exquisite taste in his wardrobe and accessories, and extremely good manners no matter who he’s dealing with.  There’s nothing snobbish about him at all.

Can You Tell He’s Posh from Across the Street?

You can tell he's posh from clear across a cliff

You can tell he’s posh from clear across a cliff

Oh, g’lord yes, if not even further.  Even when he’s on vacation, Alleyn’s clothes are well-tailored, immaculately pressed,  and obviously expensive.  He (or his haberdasher) has exquisite taste in single- and double-breasted suits and all the accessories that go with them.  He’s almost never seen without a hat, gloves, and an umbrella, just in case – because it wouldn’t do for him to be caught without.  And even when he’s dressed down a bit, wearing a cream-coloured trenchcoat over his tweeds, he still won’t get a speck of dirt on himself.  He must have a hard time disguising himself as a hobo.

Does He Ever Get His Hands Dirty?

A rare foray into fisticuffs

A rare foray into fisticuffs

Well… yes and no.  When Alleyn does handle evidence, he’s usually careful to use one of his (probably expensive and specially monogrammed) silk handkerchiefs, so he won’t get his own fingerprints all over it – but that’s just good policing.  But mostly he doesn’t have to resort to fisticuffs, although on the rare occasions when he does, he seems to acquit himself quite well and emerges barely mussed.  Admin and I have frequently admired just how much it takes to muss up Alleyn.  😉

What’s His Most Prized Possession?

Hopefully not Alleyn's most prized possession.

Hopefully not Alleyn’s most prized possession.

Hmmm…  as the younger brother of a baronet, Alleyn doesn’t seem to be lacking for anything, even if he doesn’t have the income his brother does.  If anything, I suspect he’s got a favourite homburg, or perhaps he’s more attached to the fedora he wears when he’s at leisure.  Or more likely, perhaps he’s quite attached to his personal library.  In the Ngaio Marsh books, Alleyn was extremely proud of a portrait his artist sweetie, Agatha Troy (Belinda Lang) painted of him after they’d first met.  Unfortunately, the sketch she created for the series made him look more like Lon Chaney.  :-/ Perhaps she improved after some practice.

Would He Rather Not Be Posh?

Fox encountering the class divide, when Alleyn's hat is hung up and his isn't.

Fox encountering the class divide, when Alleyn’s hat
is hung up and his isn’t.

Yes, I think he would.  Alleyn is a bit of a black sheep to his brother (although not to his mother) in that he chose to go into the police force, working his way up from a beat constable to chief inspector.    You get the impression he made a great deal of effort towards not allowing his brother’s name or influence to pave the way for him; he wanted to achieve things on his own.   However, that doesn’t stop Inspector Br’er Fox (William Simons) from occasionally gently ribbing his guv about his aristocratic connections with “his lot”.  On the one occasion we do see Alleyn interacting with his brother, they certainly don’t seem to have a lot in common.  I think Alleyn would be just as happy to be a chief inspector without his family’s title, although that might mean he’d have to economize on his wardrobe.  As long as he could be with Troy, he’d be quite happy.


Governor Ainslee
(“Cutthroat Island“, 1995)

What Kind of Posh Bloke Is He?

Governor Ainslee: It's hard out here for a corrupt governor.

Governor Ainslee: It’s hard out here for a corrupt governor.

He’s a Villainus dastardlius, complete with a downtrodden henchman/gofer, a ruthless attitude towards wealth and whoever or whatever gets in his way of acquiring it, an oppressive, corrupt,  and frequently cruel regime to run, and a highly developed sense of greed.  Ainslee is also the governor of the island of Port Royal, which means that he’s responsible for enforcing the law (and/or making up new ones on a whim) to keep pirate activity in check.  But that certainly doesn’t mean he shouldn’t throw some swank parties in his spare time.

Can You Tell He’s Posh from Across the Street?

Fopped up to 11

Fopped up to 11

Oh yes.  All those bows, fripperies, lace, lamé, ribbons, and brocades are dead giveaways, as is the long and luxuriously curly dark brown wig Ainslee favours.  He’s usually fopped up to eleven, as Admin once said, so he’s pretty unmistakable.   Even in an age when those kind of clothes were the norm, it’s still obvious that Ainslee appreciates the good things in life – and thinks he should have all of them.  To give Ainslee a bit of credit, he is capable of dressing down; he also has a military uniform for those occasions when he wants to do some personal oppressing.

Does He Ever Get His Hands Dirty?

Clearly not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Clearly not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Surprisingly, yes.  Ainslee is remarkably hands-on for a posh, snobbish villain with a penchant for silks, and lace.  Despite appearances, he’s perfectly capable of taking matters into his own hands, and even relishing the experience.   When protagonists and amateur pirates Morgan Adams (Geena Davis) and William Shaw (Matthew Modine) make a daring escape in Ainslee’s carriage, Ainslee is right behind them riding at full gallop with sword drawn, ready to catch them and make them pay for their deeds.   He’s also not above hanging around with pirates like “Dawg” Brown (Frank Langella) and making deals with them, so he’s interestingly non-snobbish for a governor.  Or he’s just opportunistic and thinks he’s SMRT enough to outwit them if the chips are ever down.  That said, when Ainslee makes a deal with Dawg, he’s so posh that he arranges for a full china tea service, lace tablecloth, and dainty little snacks to mark the occasion.

What’s His Most Prized Possession?

Cuddling with his Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Cuddling with his Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Aside from all the pirate gold he’s appropriated (and is planning to appropriate), I think Ainslee’s most prized possession is… his Cavalier King Charles spaniel.  Ainslee is so posh that not only does he take his spaniel with him on outings, he’s not afraid of being seen cuddling with it out in public.  And the dog evidently adores him, so obviously it hasn’t yet heard that its master is an evil, mean, nasty, corrupt governor who likes to execute pirates.  We aren’t told what the dog’s name is but I bet it’s something embarrassing like Bitsy Pookums or Num-nums, and Ainslee probably feeds it choice morsels from his own plate with his own hands, right after their daily carriage ride.

Would He Rather Not Be Posh?

Give up being posh? Perish the thought!

Give up being posh? Perish the thought!

Oh good heavens, no!  Where’s the fun in that??  What, give up all his money, power, prestige, expensive wardrobe, elaborate parties, mistresses, servants, money… did I say money?… and for what?  Having to go to work like a common person?  No, Ainslee would never want to not be posh.  His whole identity depends upon it.  How could he oppress the citizens of Port Royal and acquire ill-gotten booty otherwise?


Admin:  And my choices are….

Sir Hugo Carey-Holden
(“Lovejoy: The Italian Venus“, 1991)

What Kind of Posh Bloke Is He?

Patrick Malahide: Lovejoy, The Italian Venus

Sir Hugo Carey-Holden

A baronet with delusions of grandeur. He inherited the family pile and is pretty tightfisted when it comes to sharing the wealth (and there is definitely some wealth, so he has that going for him) with his younger “starving artist” brother Dougie. Sir Hugo is terribly greedy and is always on the lookout for ways to make even more money. Enter Lovejoy who has plans of teaching him a little lesson while also helping poor Dougie out. Sir Hugo pretty much embodies every negative stereotype of the feckless rich. He is lazy, drinks too much, fancies himself a ladies’ man, and has a spoiled and capricious wife named “Flickers” because of course he does. Weirdly, Hugo is still more likable than the whiny and hapless Dougie, but that might just be my bias at play. 🙂

Can You Tell He’s Posh from Across the Street?

Patrick Malahide: Lovejoy, The Italian Venus

About as outwardly posh as he gets.

Only if he’s shouting. While Sir Hugo doesn’t look especially posh, he does have a (rather sexy) upper-crust drawl. I think he puts it on a bit for effect, but he really does sound appealing. Otherwise, you wouldn’t really know he’s posh simply by looking at him. He dresses smartly and looks like a professional, but that isn’t necessarily the same thing as “posh”. He does have a sort of casual upper class slouch going on, but again, that appears cultivated and doesn’t really do much to clearly identify him as posh.

Does He Ever Get His Hands Dirty?

Patrick Malahide: Lovejoy, The Italian Venus

Doing what he does best.

Nope. He pretty much lets others do his work for him. Sir Hugo is a rascal, but he isn’t going to put his neck out too far for any reason. Also, he’s much too boozy and snoozy to ever be a real threat to anyone. Sir Hugo looks out for all of life’s shortcuts and takes them. Of course, that makes him an easy foil for someone like Lovejoy who has no problem getting his hands dirty. Maybe if Sir Hugo were to roll up his sleeves once in a while and dig in, he might be able to find some excellent antiques and valuables on his property through his own initiative.

What’s His Most Prized Possession?

Patrick Malahide: Lovejoy, The Italian Venus

It’s like she’s hiding from them.

Probably his booze decanter. It certainly isn’t any of his antiques. He had a valuable Niccolo Guarini School of Florence bronze “Venus” literally hiding in plain view under a lampshade that he managed to avoid noticing for decades. The only interest he has in the antiques is a purely financial one. Money is his one true love….poor Flickers. He is also terribly fond of his title, so there is that too. So while Sir Hugo is a greedy fellow, he’s not necessarily a particularly materialistic one. It is the underlying monetary value and social prestige he is interested rather than the beauty and history of the possession itself. In Lovejoy’s world of beautiful art and historically significant antiques that makes Sir Hugo a right proper villain since all the family relics are wasted on such an unappreciative and artless bore.

Would He Rather Not Be Posh?

Patrick Malahide: Lovejoy, The Italian Venus

Sir Hugo Carey-Holden being a bit forward with Lady Jane (Phyllis Logan)

He’d rather be posher! Crassly referring to himself as “Sir Hugo Carey-Holden” is beyond tacky, but he is determined to wave his title about for all to see. A properly confident gentleman would simply say “Carey-Holden.”  As mentioned earlier, I think he somewhat cultivates that fetching posh drawwwwlllll in order to highlight his poshness. Dougie manages to speak far more normally which suggests a certain level of fakery on Hugo’s part. Hugo also loves hosting dinner parties for other members of the gentry. He uses those parties to try and chat up elegant and comparably posher guests like Lady Jane, so he’s certainly into a little bit of social climbing. I don’t think anyone is particularly interested in allowing him to rise any further up though.


Sir Myles
(“The Abduction Club“, 2002)

What Kind of Posh Bloke Is He?

...he notices Femoy noticing him.

Sir Myles….swoooon!

He’s the opposite of Sir Hugo in that he’s actually a younger son meaning he did not get to inherit the family pile. But, he’s a resourceful sort of posh bloke and devised a plan to woo and “abduct” a wealthy heiress and marry her. He gets the lady, the title and the money (and she gets him) so it is win-win-win all around. Being a generous sort, he then went on to teach other younger sons how to do the same thing. The whole abduction thing sounds rather roguish, but Sir Myles is principled enough to insist that the ladies involved must be genuinely happy to marry their penniless abductors. He’s not a blackguard or anything like that!

Can You Tell He’s Posh from Across the Street?

Giving Byrne some dating tips. *Do* talk about music, *don't* talk about dead mothers.

He’s a bit boisterous.

You can tell he’s dashing and in command, but I don’t think he necessarily screams “posh” in and of itself. He surrounds himself with loads of young reckless ruffians and is boisterous and loves having a good time. He really comes across as hearty, charming and bold as opposed to posh.

Does He Ever Get His Hands Dirty?

Causing a bit of distraction on the day of execution. He's banded his young 'uns together to save Byrne and Strang's butts.

He’ll get his hands dirty.

His life revolves almost entirely around getting his hands dirty. He loves nothing more than donning a mask and charging about on his noble steed as he assists his young protegees in their nightly heiress raids. He’s not too caviler about it, mind you. He takes care to ensure minimal damage is done to the raided estates even paying out of pocket for any breakage that might occur. When things eventually go horribly wrong and two of his lads, Strang and Byrne, are sentenced to death by hanging, Sir Myles wastes little time in planning a daring rescue mission. And, yes, he does it all in the most dashing way possible. I think he would be terribly bored if he didn’t get to do at least a little bit of adventuring for as long he possibly can.

What’s His Most Prized Possession?

"You were delighted." Aaaww! I bet she was! :-D Actually, we find out *why* she was so delighted very soon.

A happily married couple.

I doubt he has one.  Maybe he’s held on to the same mask over the years for sentimental reasons.  I  say that because he seems to love his wife more than anything or anyone.  He is clearly very devoted to her and she to him. It is because of their love, actually, that Strang and Byrne were sentenced to death. Years ago Sir Myles “stole” her from her intended suitor the unpleasant Lord Fermoy. Lord Fermoy took it all very personally and eventually tried to get his revenge on Sir Myles by sentencing Strang and Byrne to death. Honestly, Lord Fermoy is lucky he didn’t die from the Glare of Death that Sir Myles shot him at sentencing. But, Sir Myles is ultimately a fair man who abhors unnecessary violence while also loving a bit of daring-do, so he initiated an escape plan to rescue the two lads. Hooray!

Would He Rather Not Be Posh?

It's becoming a bit of a brawl. Hardly the genteel abduction he planned on.

He goes to a lot of bother maintaining the lifestyle.

I doubt it very highly. He wouldn’t have gone to the bother of abducting an heiress  if being posh meant so little to him. I mean, yeah, he truly loves her and all, but the entire point of the Abduction Club is to allow younger sons to maintain the same privileges as the eldest ones. So, while Sir Myles isn’t a snob by any means, he still is willing to go to heck of a lot of effort to maintain a posh lifestyle for himself and those like him.


And One Honourable(?) Mention Who Used to be Posh, If You Can Believe It

Ebenezer Balfour
(“Kidnapped“, 1995)

This guy used to be posh.

This guy used to be posh.

RF:  It’s pretty hard to believe when you look at the wreck he became, but Uncle Ebenezer in “Kidnapped” was actually a posh young gentleman once.  He had manners and means, a huge estate, what was probably then a fashionable, snazzy wardrobe, and a beautiful young fiancée.  But Ebenezer made a choice, giving up love for money, or rather, love of money, because he certainly never spent any of it.  Not even on himself, when he could’ve used some new clothes and some repairs to Shaws after a decade or two.  Ebenezer still has his estate and a huge chest full of money, but you couldn’t really say it’s made him happy.  Bedbug crazy, paranoid, and miserly, yes, but not happy.  I think some part of him realizes what he gave up and regrets it, though.

Admin:  That’s right, he never allowed himself the opportunity to actually enjoy the money or use it for any societal good.  It was just there…glittering away in some moldy old chests.  By the time we first meet him, Ebenezer is literally living in fetid squalor.  He may as well have had nothing in the first place.  Awwwwww.


Who’s the Poshest of Them All?

Alleyn, the last word in posh.

Alleyn, the last word in posh.

RF:  This won’t surprise Admin in the slightest, but I have to go with… Alleyn.  From his impeccable manners and engaging personality to his immaculate wardrobe and everything in between, he’s just the last word in Posh.  And best of all, he’s not aware of it.  He just is that charismatic and charming.  He doesn’t have a snobbish bone in his body, which just makes him all that more attractive.  He’s as naturally, unforcedly posh as it’s possible to be.  He even manages to remain posh when he’s a bit mussed, which is really quite a feat.  So, it has to be Alleyn.

Admin:  I have to say I agree.  No one makes being posh as effortlessly easy as Alleyn.  He doesn’t take it for granted as he is very aware of his privilege, but he never hides behind it or flaunts it either.  Poshness is simply a part of his overall charming being.  As a result, he commands respect naturally, but he is still approachable and trustworthy.  Basically, he is perfect. 🙂

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