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Classic TV: Minder – S03 E07 – “The Birdman Of Wormwood Scrubs”


About this episode

Arthur and Terry are asked to look after former gangster Ernie Brooks, just out of prison after 14 years. Arthur helps Ernie financially, on the understanding that the latter will pay him back when he gets his ill-gotten money out of a secret bank account. They discover that the account has been closed and emptied by a corrupt bank manager. And they soon realise that Kate Grundy, daughter of Ernie’s former partner, a retired (and corrupt) police superintendent and a bent ‘screw’ are also after the money. But the now-deceased manager has lost the money in bad business deals and all that’s left is his widow’s pet shop. (The title spoofs the 1962 film Birdman of Alcatraz.)

Guest stars: Rula Lenska as Kate Grundy, Maurice Denham as Billings, Max Wall as Ernie Dodds, Joe Ritchie as Ron Grundy, Avril Angers as Mrs Knight, Stephen Greif as Spencer, Frederick Treves as Bank Manager


About the series

Minder is a British comedy-drama about the London criminal underworld. Initially produced by Verity Lambert, it was made by Euston Films, a subsidiary of Thames Television and shown on ITV (originally by Thames, then Central Independent Television in 1993 and 1994 after Thames lost its franchise). The original show ran for ten series between 29 October 1979 and 10 March 1994. The series was notable for using a range of leading British actors, as well as many up-and-coming performers before they hit the big time; at its peak it was one of ITV’s biggest ratings winners

The show starred Dennis Waterman as Terry McCann, an honest and likeable bodyguard (minder in London slang) and George Cole as Arthur Daley, a socially ambitious, but highly unscrupulous importer-exporter, wholesaler, used-car salesman and purveyor of anything else from which there was money to be made, whether within the law or not.

The series is principally set in inner West London (Shepherd’s Bush/Ladbroke Grove/Fulham/Acton), and was largely responsible for putting the word minder, meaning personal bodyguard, into the UK popular lexicon. The characters often drank at the local members-only Winchester Club, where owner and barman Dave (Glynn Edwards) acted, often unwillingly, as a message service for Arthur, and turned a blind eye to his shady deals.

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