In 2005, Patrick Malahide appeared in the documentary Drama Connections S01E04: Minder. Drama Connections would look at well-loved groundbreaking television shows. Actually, Mr. Malahide appeared in two episodes of this series, as they also took a look at The Singing Detective in episode seven. It’s a pity they didn’t also do an episode focusing on Middlemarch; they should have gone for three. 🙂
It is so nice to get to hear Mr. Malahide talk out of character about Minder. And he looks very fit and is really stylish in his pinkish striped shirt and neutral tone jacket, I got to say.
Groundbreaking Comedy Drama and The Sweeney
One of the things that made Minder, which ran from 1979 to 1994, groundbreaking was that, initially, they didn’t really know what genre to call it. It had elements of action, drama and comedy. Of course, today there are loads of comedy-dramas, New Tricks being a very popular one, but back then the format was far less common. According to Patrick Malahide, Minder “could be quite tough and, you know, there would be action sequences, and then suddenly it could be quite sad.”
The Minder story starts with Euston Films’ popular series The Sweeney which began as a feature for Armchair Theatre. Patrick Malahide has appeared twice in Sweeney productions. Once in a very brief role as Major Conway during a bomb scare scene in the feature film Sweeney 2, and later in S04E03 Drag Act as Scottish forensics analyst Mason. (Note: Mason is a very fun and charming character. RFodchuk and I like him a lot.)
Patrick Malahide: Euston Films had this reputation for doing sort of real in the street stuff and it was all up close and personal. In fact, we used to have a thing: We used to say what size is the shot and they’d say it’s the ‘Euston Salute’ which means (frames face up close with hands) *that*.
When John Thaw decided to call it quits on The Sweeney, ITV wanted a show that would replace it pretty quick. Thus, with the hard work of famed producer Verity Lambert and script executive Linda Agran, Minder was developed with Dennis Waterman (who played George Carter in The Sweeney) as the lead.
Unfortunately, the first series did not receive favorable reviews nor was it a ratings success. But, Verity Lambert had complete faith in the series and vouched for it. It was given another chance and proved to be every bit as popular (more so, even) as they had hoped.
The Colorful Tony Hoare
I was interested to learn that it was after the first series that they started using writers like Tony Hoare more. He wrote 20 episodes total, nine of which featured Patrick Malahide as DS Chisholm. Chisholm actually appeared in the first episode of Minder, but he was nothing like the Chisholm fans are familiar with.
Hoare was a very colorful character and had actually done some time in prison. He would call on his own background when developing scripts like Poetic Justice, Innit? which featured Daley as a juror foreman much to Chisholm’s chagrin. Seriously, Chisholm gives some pretty good laser glares in that episode. 🙂
Interestingly, it was Hoare who took special notice of Patrick Malahide when developing Chisholm. The two met at a Christmas party and Tony Hoare — again a very colorful character — greeted Mr. Malahide with “oooh… you f***ing beauty…you jus’ like the c*** who nicked me.” Charming! 😮 😉 It makes me wonder what the cop who nicked Hoare really did look like. Could it be there was a real life Cheerful Charlie Chisholm?
Watch Out for that Raft
The show talks about a specific incident that took place when filming Goodbye Sailor. According to the narrator, “Malahide nearly paid the price of losing his Niagras…that’s Niagra Falls.” Dear, oh dear.
Patrick Malahide: The scene ended up in the Winchester, as always, and Chisholm thinks he’s finally nailed it because there in the middle is the evidence, and there is this bag. Now, obviously I knew it was an inflatable raft as an actor, and I said to them ‘What happens when I do this?’ They said, ‘Oh, it will be alright, it just sort of inflates slowly.’ Woah! Blimey! It explodes, and it lifts me off the ground. I go absolutely white and sort of stagger to the bar and lean on it, and they were really worried; I think they thought I was going to sue them. The only time I was ever offered a gin and tonic. ‘Oh, come into the producer’s office, Patrick. Gin and tonic, perhaps?’ ‘Thank you very much.
‘Er in Number Ten
Drama Connections speculates that a big part of Minder’s success was due to the influence of Thatcher’s Britain. It was the time of yuppies, overzealous privatization, and a general grab it while you can attitude, so Minder was able to satirize that through Daley’s dodgy doings. As Daley says of Thatcher, “She has sold the nation a whole host of things they already own…gas, phones, oil.” Maybe Daley sees Margaret Thatcher as the ultimate spiv. 😀
Patrick Malahide: I just think there was something wonderful about it…there was her preaching all this free market Capitalism and there in Fulham was this dodgy guy in a camel-haired suit talking about entrepreneurship, and he couldn’t even pronounce it. I think people enjoyed having a laugh at Minder because they were sort of saying two-fingers up to the government.
New Times and New Tricks
Patrick Malahide left Minder in 1988. By that point, the program was shifting its focus even more to comedy, and (according to Drama Connections) political correctness was affecting script direction. No more sleeping around and violent punch-ups for Terry McCann. I’m not entirely sure I buy that argument, though. I remember some pretty sexy and violent programs from that time-frame. My personal thinking is that it was becoming increasingly unlikely that McCann would be the same “lad” he was a decade ago. Plus, George Cole had cemented himself firmly in the nation’s heart as Arthur Daley and stole the focus of the show. But, that’s just my personal opinion. 🙂
Connections wraps up by discussing what George and Dennis did post-Minder. Of course, Waterman was in New Tricks for twelve years. Both George Cole and Patrick Malahide guest stared in New Tricks with Mr. Malahide appearing in the fantastic episode Diamond Geezers as the exceptionally entertaining Derek “Chopper” Hadley. He’s another of our favorites. 🙂
Drama Connections is a really good program, and it is very interesting to hear so many thoughts and memories on a groundbreaking show like Minder. It is especially wonderful to hear the real Patrick Malahide share some of his memories playing one of our favorite characters, DS Albert “Cheerful Charlie” Chisholm.