Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Minder: lovely oysters

The remake of Minder is obviously rubbish. However, Private Eye this week described the original as rubbish too (although they did also say it was 'likeable' and 'warm-hearted' in mitigation).

As luck would have it the first Minder is being repeated on ITV4 (yes, count 'em). A lot of old programmes once you see them again turn out to be not as nearly as good as remembered. Minder is just as good as I remember it and certainly a long way from 'rubbish'.

I assumed the acting would have lasted, what with George Cole, Dennis Waterman and a collection of superb British character actors in supporting roles (June Whitfield, Jimmy Nail, Roy Winstone, Glynn Edwards as good old Dave of the Winchester and many more). What surprised me was the quality of the scripts. Truly witty, great dialogue (with some choice bits of rhyming slang thrown in) and more often than not nicely plotted (if with admittedly predictable story arcs).

It got me wondering who had written it. Why weren't they as celebrated as Clement and La Frenais, Galton and Simpson,  Carla Lane, Richard Curtis, Ben Elton, etc.?

I assumed a team of writers was involved as there's a lot of dialogue, many characters and the wit comes thick and fast. Well, the largest number of episodes, including some of the best ones, were written by Tony Hoare who had also written for the Sweeney. 

I think he probably didn't get as much credit as he deserved as Leon Griffiths created the show and wrote the first series (before having to bow out after suffering a stroke). Other writers also wrote a good number of episodes. However, I gather the Hoare episodes are among the best and most characteristic (I hope to confirm this via ITV4).

Sadly Tony Hoare died last October. Having read his obituary it turns out he was writing about a very familiar milieu: he was a convicted bankrobber and had spent most of the 1960s in and out of prison. How about that for authenticity?

BTW great geezer photo accompanying the obit.

No comments: