Considering that the last TV show I watched for this list was Broen we are talking about going from the sublime to ridiculous. Where Broen is an intelligent, thoughtful crime drama that deals with international relationships – Minder is a fairly mindless comedy drama about the criminal underworld of London.
There was a time where Minder was an extremely successful show in the UK. It pretty much takes place in a similar world to Only Fools and Horses with the exception that one of the characters actually has a fair bit of money. Both tapped into the mindset of Thatcher’s Britain where millions of viewers would tune in and root for the main characters to succeed in their get rich schemes and get one over on the authorities.
The thing is, we no longer live in Thatcher’s Britain – I grew up under Blair and Cameron – which means I have a thoroughly different mindset. Also, I am probably too middle class to properly enjoy it. There were times where we were watching episodes and I found myself actually wanting the police to win out. Now either that’s my overactive sense of authority or the show it just very much of its time (as is the abundance sexism and casual racism).
There are some positives to watching Minder. For one, the running gag from Little Britain about Dennis Waterman writing and singing the theme tune suddenly makes sense. Also, watching these old episodes lead to some interesting pieces of future celebrity spotting (Peter Capaldi and Jonny Lee Miller being two examples) as well as many actors of the time also taking on smaller roles. That’s how big a hit this show was.
Many point to George Cole and his character of mature con man Arthur as being the reason for the shows success. In earlier series he was sidelined in favour of the grittier Terry (played by Dennis Waterman), but they became equal partners once Cole’s appeal was realised. The show really was improved by the growth of Cole’s role with him delivering most of the comedy as he pisses off everyone with his self-centred antics to make money. Didn’t always work for me, but I did catch glimpses of something I could have enjoyed at the time.
One thing that Minder (and other shows like Knight Rider) has shown me is how these TV shows aren’t on list necessarily because they are most enjoyable, but because they capture a feeling of the time. From here it’s likely that we’ll go up in terms of intellectual viewing… I’m not sure what I’ll be watching next though. Depends what I draw from the pot. Exciting times.