Analysis of a Scene IX: Chisholm Getting Drunk – Minder

Patrick Malahide as DS Chisholm in Minder

Friendly looks for Arthur and Terry

Surely it is about time we had an Analysis of a Scene for our dear chum, “Cheerful Charlie”.   He’s a fun character to begin with, but, it is always impressive to see how much nuance Patrick Malahide adds to his characterization.  In this scene from Return of the Invincible Man,  we see DS Chisholm getting drunk and, as a result, opening up a bit.  It is a funny scene, but it is also revelatory!

[The setting is Dave’s pub.  He is putting the chairs on the tables.  Only Chisholm, Arthur and Terry are at the bar.]
Chisholm: [Giving a friendly glances at Arthur & Terry] I am a people policeman. My role is preventative rather than detentive.

Patrick Malahide as DS Chisholm in Minder

“I am a people policeman.”

Admin:  It is funny from the start.  Chisholm’s friendly glances seem to upset Arthur and Terry more than his usual snide looks do.   They seem utterly discomfited by seeing someone who is usually so taciturn suddenly opening up to them.  Chisholm is looking a lot more ruffled too, with his crooked tie and uncombed hair.  You know he’s getting ready to open up to them…and that they aren’t looking forward to it.

Admin: He then launches into what appears to be dialogue he has recently heard at some sort of mandated policing forum.  It is certainly like he is parroting something he’s heard and, most likely, sickened by.  A “people policeman” isn’t really the way you’d describe DS Chisholm.

RF:  Oh my God, how I laughed at those little amused looks and smirks Chisholm gave Terry and Arthur!   It’s obvious right off the bat that Chisholm is three sheets to the wind and, moreover, doesn’t care.  Terry and Arthur don’t seem to know what to make of him at all; they’ve (and we’ve) plainly never seen him in such a state before.  They’re amused and bemused, but interestingly, they’re not mocking him.

RF:  It’s also very true that he looks uncharacteristically ruffled.  One wonders just how much he’s consumed to get him into such a state, but he seems to have been hanging around the Winchester for a while – not a club where he’d receive the warmest welcome!  And I love the recital of the “My job is a people policeman” bit, as if by rote.  He’s obviously spent a few hours pondering this statement and what it means, and as you say, not liking what he’s come up with.  😉

Admin:  The little expressions at the beginning, the smirks and the grimaces, are absolutely the perfect way to set the scene up.  They immediately convey so much information in just a few seconds.

Dave: Look, I’m trying to close the club, Mr. Chisholm.
Chisholm: [Drunkenly swaying] Yeah……You people don’t understand the policeman.
Terry: Nah. [chuckles]
: Look at the environment I have to live in. Bloody tarts, pimps, grasses, rapists, muggers, transvestites [smirks/laughs]. No wonder I have to have a drink occasionally.
Arthur: Certainly had a few tonight.

Patrick Malahide as DS Chisholm in Minder


Admin:  I love his drunken sway when Dave interrupts him.  It is very cute and makes a sharp return to his usual belligerence.   This is where he opens up and has an honest moan about the sort of nonsense (from his point of view, at least) he has to put up with in his day to day dealings.  The best bit is when he gives the bemused laugh after saying “transvestites.”  They certainly don’t fit into his view of the world.

RF:  I love it when the camera backs up and we get a view of Chisholm’s untucked shirt.  He’s really let himself go.  :-D  You have to think that he must be truly desperate to unburden his soul if he’s willing to say these things to Terry and Arthur.  Granted, he had to get very drunk first; there’s no way he’d say these sorts of things under normal circumstances.  I also liked his description of his day-to-day dealings.  He might hate the people he runs into in his job, but he seems to have built-in policeman instincts.

Chisholm: Flotsam and jetsam…..
Arthur: Oh, they were a good act.
Chisholm: …lowlife. Tell you something, good, honest, straightforward- to-God villain would be a breath of fresh air.

Patrick Malahide as DS Chisholm in Minder

“A good honest to God villain would be a breath of fresh air.”

Admin: At this point, poor Mr. Chisholm actually looks like he’s ready to vomit.  Thank goodness he didn’t!  Well, at least not on-camera! His facial expressions are amazing.  He looks truly sick, but he is still determined to make his point.  He really does want to make a difference and actually get bad people off the street, but for whatever reason, he is stuck dealing with the petty sort.  Two of which are hearing him out at that very moment.  We get a real sense that Chisholm truly does feel out of step with the rest of the world.

RF:  I do like Arthur’s quip about “flotsam and jetsam” being “a good act”.  😀 But when you think about it, “flotsam and jetsam” is a pretty erudite description, especially in Chisholm’s intoxicated state.  Our Sergeant is a learned man!  Chisholm does indeed look like he’s about to drop right onto the floor and is only staying on his feet because he’s leaning on the bar. Mr. Malahide’s performance is excellent; you can almost smell the alcohol fumes coming off him.  And Chisholm does have that drunken determination to make his point.  I do wonder, though, what or who he would consider to be a “good, honest, straightforward-to-God villain”?  Those crims he was chasing for Interpol, perhaps?

Admin: One always gets the impression that Chisholm has something of an education.  I presume he does a lot of reading in his spare time.  It is obvious he wants to do more with his career, but I’m also not sure what sort of villain he really has in mind either.  The lot being sought by Interpol were probably the closest.  I suppose Freddie from Get Micky was also close, but he’s still more on the seedy side.

RF:  Chisholm did seem awfully happy when he got picked (by default) to go on the Orient Express as an advancement to his career.  [Spoiler!]  Too bad it didn’t work out the way he hoped.  :-(  I think he’d have made a smashing Interpol agent.

[A bell rings]
Dave: That’s got to be your taxi, Mr. Chisholm.
Chisholm: [gulping down drink] Yeah. Give me a five, will ya’?
Arthur: Allow me.
Chisholm: [holding money] This is not a bribe.
Arthur: Certainly not.

Gulping down the rest.

Gulping down the rest.

Admin:  This is more of the DS Chisholm we are used to.  Does he ever have money on hand?  Anyway, he reminds us that he is a straight laced, by the book sort, with his “this is not a bribe” comment.   By the way, Dave and Terry also reached for their pockets, and I’m sure would have spotted Chisholm the fiver.  Fundamentally they are all far more decent than what Chisholm gives them credit for being, Dave in particular.  That is actually kind of sad when you think about it.

RF:  I think it’s more of a mix of characteristic and uncharacteristic Chisholm.  Very uncharacteristic of him to (1) gulp down a drink and (2) ask for a loan and be so blasé about it (see “Minder on the Orient Express” for more typical behaviour).  In fact, he asks for the money as if it’s a matter of course that he’ll get it (love the way he holds out his hand expectantly), almost as if he’s been friends with Terry and Arthur for years and borrows money from them all the time.  But then right away, it’s very characteristic of him to emphasize, in tones of wounded pride, that it’s not a bribe (he can’t be bought, even if he’s drunk!), even if it’s a remarkably cheap bribe at that.  I also like Arthur’s slightly offended and equally proud denial.  😀 Very good point that Terry, Arthur, and Dave all reach for their wallets, which is actually very decent of them.  Or… they’re just in a hurry to put Chisholm in that taxi.

Patrick Malahide as DS Chisholm in Minder

“This is not a bribe!”

Admin: A £5 bribe. 🙂  Well, true, they did just want to get rid of him, but they’d never let him (or really anyone for that matter) out unprotected in that condition.  Arthur’s “certainly not,” was funny.  Of course, he, more than the other two, would be looking forward to being repaid his fiver by a (possibly) humbled Chisholm.

RF:  Humbled or at least really hungover.  😀

Dave: See him off, would you, Tel.
Terry: C’mon, this way, go on then.
Chisholm: You just took a wrong turn in your life, McCann.
Terry: Well, you didn’t help, did ya’?
Chisholm: Community policing! [laughing]

Admin: Again, we see some of that decency showing which Chisholm never seems to notice.  Or maybe he does notice it?  His reaction to Terry, “you just took a wrong turn,” is actually rather friendly and understanding, albeit a bit patronizing.  Then we get back to the issue that was probably bothering him, that Community Policing forum he likely had to attend.

RF:  Terry gets the hard job of actually getting Chisholm out the door.  :-D  I love Chisholm’s rather unsteady walk; it makes me wonder how he managed to get up the stairs to his flat (I feel fairly sure his flat is up a few flights of stairs) and in the door.  Still, it’s nice of Terry and Arthur to have some mercy on their nemesis for a change.  They obviously know it wouldn’t be a fair fight otherwise.

RF:  I also think that Chisholm’s remark about Terry “[taking] a wrong turn” is something he’d never, ever say sober, but you’re right that it does betray he might have some friendly and sympathetic feelings lurking in there somewhere.  Plainly Terry and Arthur aren’t the “good, honest, straightforward-to-God villain[s]” he’s seeking.  And Chisholm’s laugh when he says “Community policing!” reminds me of no one so much as Mr. Alfred Jingle himself.  😉

Community policing!

Community policing!

Admin: Chisholm did look like he was trying to launch himself up the stairs.  Hopefully the cabbie helped him up the steps to his flat.   I can see what you mean about the Jingle comparison, it was like he was randomly sharing something that makes more sense to him than anyone else.

Dave: I should bar him, he upsets people.
Arthur: Yeah, especially when they’re discussing business; they don’t want him earholing.
[Chisholm (?) is seen flopping over in the back of the cab.]

Admin: I like Dave’s line, “he upsets people.”  I can see how Chisholm would be unsettling and disturbing.  He’s bad enough when he’s suspicious, but the vulnerability he shows when drunk really seems to make them cringe.  But, I didn’t cringe.  I think it shows us a lot of what makes Chisholm tick, reinforces how fundamentally old-fashioned he is, and how out-of-sorts he feels with the rest of world.

RF:  Excellent points about the scene showing us some of the inner workings of Chisholm’s mind and his true (if old-fashioned) opinion of his profession; we also see a healthy dollop of his cynicism when it comes to “community policing” and “people policeman” paradigms.  Just as well Jones wasn’t around, or Chisholm might have corrupted his young mind.  ;-)  It’s fascinating to see Chisholm in such an unguarded, vulnerable state.  It could have been disastrous if he’d done this in front of other people who maybe wouldn’t have been inclined to be decent about it… but it’s also a bit sad that Terry and Arthur are the nearest people he has to “friends” to whom he could confess all of this.  Or they were just in the wrong place at the right time.

Admin: Imagine if Rycott had seen all that?  I think you are right, in some ways, Arthur and Terry are the nearest he has to friends.  DC Jones would be understanding, at least, but he wouldn’t hang around Dave’s that time of night to witness it.  Or, at least, I don’t think he would.  So, it is a combination of them being the only people he can talk to, and being the ones most likely to hang around at Dave’s right at closing.

Who is that guy in the back?

Who is that guy in the back?

Admin:  Interesting side-note, if you watch as the cab pulls away with Chisholm inside, you’ll see that it is most certainly not Patrick Malahide flopping over inside the cab.  I suppose that happened because of the way the filming schedule worked out.  It isn’t a clanger of a blooper or anything, but I still noticed it. 🙂

RF:  I didn’t notice it the very first time I watched, but you’re right that it’s obviously not Mr. Malahide in that cab.   Uhm… unless something really drastic happened on those stairs and/or Chisholm ran into Hagrid the toupée salesman on his way out.  😀

Admin:  Hagrid 😀  And that was also a great scene — it will have to be covered someday. 😉

Video Clip:

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