Minder ran for 15 years and there were 108 episodes. It grew out of a need to replace The Sweeney (which starred John Thaw and Dennis Waterman) which was then nearing the end of its TV lifespan.
The premise of the series has ex-boxer and ex-con Terry McCann (played by Dennis Waterman) working for highly dodgy car dealer Arthur Daley (Arthur: “Daley’s the names got two meanings – Daley as in everyday” – Terry: “Yeah and Daley as in Rip-off”). Terry really wants to go straight but of course Arthur’s plans often lead him into trouble.
Season one of Minder is a fair bit darker than the later series but still has plentiful funny moments. Episode one (Gunfight at the OK Laundrette – incidentally one of the joys of Minder is the episode titles) is certainly not a typical episode with Terry and Arthur getting caught up in a siege at a Laundrette.
Series one of Minder, whilst proving in hindsight to be a healthy dose of classic TV, had been hit and miss with the general public who seemed unable to decide whether the new show was a comedy or a crime drama. Season two though saw the show gaining a wider audience with each of its 13 episodes. Show creator Leon Griffiths had been debilitated by a stroke and missed almost all of this season, script editor Linda Agran taking over the reigns.
Season two takes all the classic elements of the first series, the Daleyism’s, Terry’s weekly fight, the comic police always on the verge of nicking Arthur, Arthur’s well dodgy deals and refined them and in the process turned Minder into truly great television. This second season also saw a big influx in quality name guest stars and semi-regular characters (who included George Layton’s excellent conniving mechanic Des, Patrick Malahide as Sgt Chisholm and Gennie Nevison as Terry’s on again off again girlfriend Penny whilst notable guest stars included the likes of Karl Howman, Anthony Valentine, Tony Selby, Peter Jeffrey and Liza Goddard).
From there it was a quick step to Minder becoming one of the most popular shows on TV attracting some high profile guest stars (who by now included the likes of Brian Blessed, Rula Lenska, Ray Winstone, Michael Kitchen, Don Henderson, Paul Eddington, George Baker, Michael Melia, Billy Connolly and Ian McShane).
Series 7 marked Dennis Waterman’s last appearances on the show and by now Terry was becoming very wise to Arthur’s wiles and tricks and was less willing to get involved in Arthur’s schemes. Dennis Waterman having clearly tired of the role and it looked for a time as though that was it for the show but then after a gap of three years Minder returned for an 8th series in 1991 (12 episodes) with a very important change, Terry was out, Ray was in. With Terry having conveniently got married and moved to Australia Arthur’s nephew Ray (Gary Webster) was drafted in as Arthur’s new minder.
Luckily the series easily maintained its high quality standard with funny scripts and some classic Daley shenanigans. Arthur’s business interests were becoming a little more legit by now, his main business being the importing of cars from Europe and although Ray is pretty handy with his fists there is more humour than ever, as always the police were on hand to give Arthur a hard time, this time in the shape of Nicholas Day and a young Stephen Thompkinson as his offsider.
Somewhat surprisingly there was an ill judged and short lived (6 episodes) reboot made by Channel 5 in 2009. Shane Richie played Arthur’s nephew Archie. This series is not included in the episode count below and neither is a not for TV 28 minute production the team made in 1982 for the Central Office of Information for the DHSS. The production was called A Little Bit Of Give And Take.
UK / ITV – Thames – Euston – Central / 108 episodes 106×50 minute episodes 1×73 minute episode and 1×100 minute episode/ Broadcast 29 October 1979 – 10 March 1974
Creator: Leon Griffiths / Theme Music: Gerard Kenny sung by Dennis Waterman / Executive Producers: Verity Lambert, Lloyd Shirley,
George Cole as Arthur Daley
Dennis Waterman as Terry McCann
Glynn Edwards as Dave
Gary Webster as Ray Daley
Patrick Malahide as Chisholm
Peter Childs as Rycott
Michael Povey as Jones
George Layton as Des
Mark Farmer as Justin
Nicholas Day as Morley
Stephen Tompkinson as Park