TV UK TV

Charmer, The (ITV 1987, Nigel Havers, Fiona Fullerton)

The Charmer Nigel Havers

Period drama serial The Charmer gave Nigel Havers one of his best roles ever as the suave 1930’s conman Ralph Ernest Gorse – a man with with an eye for the ladies and the main chance lets his schemes get more involved and even deadly but eventually gets his comeuppance.

When The Charmer begins it’s the late 1930’s and Ralph (or Rafe as he prefers) is busy working his way into the heart of the wealthy and much older Joan Plumleigh-Bruce (Rosemary Leach), he’s only interested in what he can get out of her (namely money of course), his real target is the very sexy Clarice Manners (Fiona Fullerton looking never better than here) she is from a well to do family and Rafe knows that unless he has cash he can never persuade her to be with him; Joan doesn’t know any of this of course and is more than delighted to have a young suitor paying her attention. Joan’s bank manager Donald Stimpson (the excellent Bernard Hepton) also has designs on her and is more than put out when Joan goes ‘the whole hog’ with Gorse. When Rafe then does a runner taking much of Joan’s money with him Stimpson is determined to track him down and get revenge.

Rafe tries to stay one step ahead of Stimpson and at one point even ends up married (with truly murderous consequences) whilsy the onset of World War II sees him posing as an RAF pilot. We won’t reveal the ending here as that would spoil it somewhat if you’ve never seen this excellent production.

The Charmer Rosemary Leach

Rosemary Leach as Joan Plumleigh-Bruce.

Shot on videotape and featuring very good production design The Charmer is based on a trilogy of books by Patrick ‘Gaslight’ Hamilton. This is quality viewing that comes complete with a Cole Porter theme tune (You’re the Top) sung by Paul Jones of Manfred Mann fame.

Wonderfully atmospheric, excellently cast. Bernard Hepton in particular is a delight as the cuckolded real estate agent Donald Stimpson who will not give up in making sure Gorse gets his just desserts after making a fool of the woman Stimpson is in love with. Fiona Fullerton is also something of revelation, very sexy and probably the only character able to play Gorse at his own game.

The serial stays remarkable true to Patrick Hamiltons source novels, which are easily up there with the likes of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock.

production details
UK | ITV Network – London Weekend Television

RUNNING TIME: 60 minutes | NUMBER OF EPISODES: 6 | ORIGINAL AIRDATES: 18 October – 22 November 1987

WRITER: Allan Prior | NOVELS: Patrick Hamilton | THEME MUSIC: You’re The Top by Cole Porter Sung by Paul Jones | PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe

cast
NIGEL HAVERS as Ralph Ernest Gorse
FIONA FULLERTON as Clarice Manners
BERNARD HEPTON as Donald Stimpson
ROSEMARY LEACH as Joan Plumleigh-Bruce
JUDY PARFITT as Alison Warren
ABIGAIL McKERN as Pamela Bennett

THE EPISODES
1. GORSE, THE TEMPTER
2. GORSE, THE INVESTER
3. GORSE, THE DECEIVER
4. GORSE IN THE MIDDLE
5. GORSE, THE IMPOSTER
6. GORSE AT THE END