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Classic TV: Minder – S08 E09 – “The Greatest Show in Willesden”


About this episode

Arthur and Monty Hinchcliffe book a former music hall act for the “British Volunteer” – retired ventriloquist ‘Professor Pickford and Mystic Micky’. The act goes down well with the punters – but Tommy Pickford suffers from heart trouble and can’t continue the act every night. Then some karaoke gear that Arthur’s rented from Mrs Gabadini is stolen from his van. He sees dire consequences from admitting its loss to Mrs Gabadini and her sons, but then Ray strikes lucky. He does a deal with dodgy wheeler-dealer club owner Barry to sell the karaoke machine, which he stole, to the Gabadinis. They recognise it as their own equipment, and Arthur is off the hook. (The title spoofs Dan Rice’s circus (1830s-1860s), first described by an Arkansas paper as “The Greatest Show on Earth”)

Guest stars: :: Steven O’Donnell as Barry the Barrel, John Cater as Tommy Pickford, Harry Landis as Monty Hinchcliffe, Frank Mills as Len, Pauline Letts as Mrs Gabadini, Emma Cunningham as Gloria, James Ottaway as Percy



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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