Based on a series of hard hitting novels written by Jonathan Gash Lovejoy concerned the often shady dealing of antiques expert Lovejoy (he never revealed his first name). Set in the idyllic countryside of East Anglia amongst the cottages and villages Lovejoy was an antiques dealer with a difference, he was a “divvie” a diviner, someone who could tell just by the emanations given off a piece whether it was genuine or not.
Season one was very much in keeping with the hard edged novels with Lovejoy not being averse to the odd spot of skullduggery. He had a couple of helpers in the shape of alcoholic Tinker Dill and the somewhat stupid Eric Catchpole whose father was paying Lovejoy to teach Eric the trade. Lovejoy usually found himself at loggerheads with millionaire Auction house owner Charlie Gimbert. The other main regular was Lovejoy’s sort of love interest Lady Jane Felsham (she was married but was constantly in Lovejoy’s schemes). After 10 excellent episodes it looked like that was it.
Then 4 years later a watered down version of the series returned along with all of the cast (minus Charlie Gimbert), the series was now aimed at the Sunday evening market, still deservedly popular but lacking the original spark.
The show was Ian McShane’s baby, co made by his production company with McShane even directing a few episodes. As was the norm with the BBC’s hit shows during the 80’s and 90’s feature length Christmas specials were made and the show attracted some big names including the likes of Sir John Gielgud, Joanna Lumley (who Lovejoy fell in love with), Warren Clarke, Lysette Anthony (who Lovejoy fell in love with – lets face it Lovejoy fell for most of his female co-stars), Anthony Valentine and many more.
The final two seasons saw many changes. Lady Jane and Eric both departed the show (although both returned for the final ever episode) and in came new assistant Beth and the haughty Charlotte Cavendish who at first had an antagonistic relationship with Lovejoy (she was a fellow antiques expert) but later the pair fell in love and got married.
A popular Sunday night staple for many years Lovejoy set out to entertain and did just that.
UK / BBC-1 – Witzend – Tamariska / 73 episodes mostly fifty minutes but with some feature length specials / Broadcast 10 January 1986 – 4 December 1994
Creators: Ian la Frenais, Ian McShane / Characters: Jonathan Gash / Theme Music: Denis King
IAN McSHANE as Lovejoy
DUDLEY SUTTON as Tinker Dill
CHRIS JURY as Eric Cathcpole
PHYLLIS LOGAN as Lady Jane Felsham
PAVEL DOUGLAS as Lord Alexander Felsham
MALCOLM TIERNAY as Charlie Gimbert
CAROLINE LANGRISHE as Charlotte Cavendish
DIANE PARISH as Beth