Drive Story : On the trail of Arthur Daley

Keith Adams and Mike Humble go walking in the wild West End soaking up the vibes and ghosts of the brilliant Thames TV show, Minder. The MG6 is our transport for the day.

Pictures: Mike Humble, Trigger and

MG6 makes it to Heckfied Place police station in Fulham. You might recognise this from the end titles of Minder.
MG6 makes it to Heckfied Place police station in Fulham. You might recognise this from the end titles of Minder

The idea of searching out some Minder locations and visiting them for a little nostalgia had been the result of another telephone call with Mike Humble on how times have changed when it comes to TV viewing. In the 1980s, we all watched the same programmes, at the same time, and when popular shows gained traction, they became events. Today, it’s all so different, with homogenised TV stations, limitless choice, too much advertising and all the deferred viewing options you can wave a remote controller at. It’s better now, of course… but the cost is certainly camaraderie between mates, who enjoyed genuine shared viewing experiences on a daily basis.

Between 1979 and 1994, an awful lot of us watched Minder. At its peak in 1984 (Series Five is generally regarded to be the show at its best), its most popular episode Second Hand Pose pulled in 16.4 million viewers and I was one of them. I’d been hooked on Minder since pretty much its first episode was aired in October 1979 and, five years on, both Arthur and Terry felt as familiar as my favourite family members – and I made sure I was plonked in front of the family’s 22in colour ITT at 9.00pm on the dot every Wednesday.

Growing up in Blackpool, the world of London Cockney Rhyming Slang, low-life villains and dodgy second-hand motors seemed a million miles away and, for some reason, it was a taste of the exotic. As an avid car-spotter from an early age, perhaps it was the sheer amount of location shooting and, therefore, cars-as-street-furniture that goes on in each episode that pulled me in. Even the opening credits are a joy – and, with a car-lot packed with a line-up that many classic car dealers would die for today, backdrops don’t come any better. However, the reason I kept coming back was far more simple. I thought Arthur Daley was brilliant and I wanted to be just like him.

It's Wednesday at 9.00pm. It must be time for Minder.
It’s Wednesday at 9.00pm. It must be time for Minder

So, early on a Saturday morning, Mike and I agreed to rendezvous at Brent Cross shopping centre (mentioned more than a few times in Minder and featured in the episode You lose some, you win some in Series Two), to go and revisit some of the show’s more iconic locations. My car of choice is the MG6 saloon – and one that, on the trip down from Northamptonshire, had done rather a lot to impress. The mix of A-road and motorway is a good cross-section of what most go-getting MG6 owners will enjoy on a daily basis and it’s no surprise that it performs well here. On the sweeping A509 pre-early morning rush, it steers well and flows with real grown-up verve. On the M1, it just gets on and strides along with the best of them – stable and planted at speed. A real repmobile…

As I pass Toddington services, I can’t help but be tempted to sing Dennis Waterman’s signature I could be so good for you in my loudest voice. Scene setting, yes – but it also makes up for deficiencies in the stereo, which no matter how much I play with the inbuilt graphic equaliser, I just can’t seem to get to sound good. But that’s nit-picking, because the rest of the package is spot-on for M-way cruising, right down to its controlled damping and muted engine. Even the tyre roar is kept in check – something that the Germans especially seem unable to sort out on their UK cars.

Pulling up at Brent Cross before 9am on a Saturday is a real joy. The place is empty and, as Mike is late, I can sit and watch people drive in and wrestle with the concept of leaving their cars in an empty car park. Sounds silly, but watch them if you get the chance. There were people who couldn’t line-up, didn’t know where to go and just generally meander randomly. Of course, Mike joins us in his Rover 75 and we plan the day’s activities – after comparing the two cars. And it’s here that the the term ‘chalk and cheese’ comes to mind, with his Rover looking and feeling very much like a gentleman’s club on wheels and the MG6 contrasting that with a much more modern, edgier style that just works in saloon form.

Hard to believe that the cars share a fair bit of DNA…

Arthur's car lot, series seven and eight.

Time to move on and head west along the North Circular road. It always feels a bit displaced heading in the direction of posh-London, given we’re about to enter the world of dodgy geezers and funny money. Unlike many series at the time, such as The Chinese Detective, which was filmed in the grottiest locations in the East end, Minder beat a more genteel path. Britain in the early 1980s was grubby enough without it being glamorised by ITV’s new flagship show.

So Minder never went down that route and paints a sunny and slightly rose-tinted view of the London of the 1980s. But it still comes as a surprise that we end up heading West along the North Circular and towards Acton. Our first stop is Arthur’s car lot – sadly, the iconic lot (with the Ford Escort Harrier with X Pack kit, Alfa Romeo Type 105 Giulia, Fiat 132 and C1 Audi 100 among other classics) from the titles has gone.

The brilliant confirms that a pair of houses have now built on that spot, so there’s really nothing to see there. Instead, we head for the lot that went on to star in both Series Seven and Eight (above) and heralded the end of the Terry McCann era and the beginning of the all together different Ray Daley shows. The lot is located on the High Street/Vale in Acton, and not at all where I expected it to be. But the MG’s been as good as gold in town – and once used to the light throttle it’s easy to drive smoothly in the cut and thrust. And although the suspension’s firm, it’s never crashy on London’s disintegrating roads. Searching out the location has thrown into light a major MG6 criticism – we couldn’t find a post code search on the otherwise excellent Sat/Nav/ICE set-up.

Arthur's car lot in 2011As for Arthur’s car lot, it’s an initial disappointment. It’s not open at all and all we can see at the end of the row of shops where it is located is a tall green wall. It’s difficult to start replaying episodes in your head, where there’s nothing at all to see. But at least I can see what used to be, when a technician from the neighbouring tyre fitters comes out, punches the buttons on the gate keypad and opens the door.

We sneak in a look and then Arthur’s car lot comes to life. Well, sort of…

Still, after looking around, getting a feel for this unremarkable thoroughfare and generally feeling a little underwhelmed, it’s time to jump back into the MG. Clearly, Arthur wouldn’t own one of these if Minder was set in 2011 – and neither would he own a new Jaguar XJ. I could see him in one of the last generation X350s, though. As for Terry, he’s not an MG6 man either and, if we were to pick the 2011 equivalent of his tired old R-registered Ford Capri Mk2 with vinyl roof (which sometimes in Series Two ended up being a Mk1 with the same registration plate), it would probably be an ageing BMW 3-Series Coupé – on the wrong wheels.

'Cheerful Charlie' Chisholm

But could the MG6 fit into Minder 2011 style? Oh, absolutely… As we head towards the Winchester Club, I chuckle randomly to myself. I’d happily see Daley’s thin blue line nemesis ‘Cheerful Charlie’ Chisholm (left) in this car. Throughout the series, Chisholm – who ended up letting Arthur get the better of him once too often and suffered a breakdown as a result – enjoyed a number of unmarked police cars to ride around him. Often in his trademark trench coat and pork pie hat.

As we head for Portland Road W11, I’m still recalling the cars he had: Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1, Morris Marina, Talbot Solara, Austin Montego and Ford Cortina. Maybe if MG could sell a few to the Metropolitan Police, things might be a little different right now…

The first thing that strikes me about the location of the Winchester Club (Series Two through Six) is just how posh the area is. It’s the sort of place that you’d happily spend a quiet evening at the wine bar before heading off for a quiet sushi meal – and more than a million miles away from the world of fences, hooky gear and bent briefs that Arthur and Terry found themselves in. In short, we’re in Notting Hill, and this just seems wrong. But as Mike explains, sometimes finding a great location was more than getting the atmosphere right.

‘Imagine them trying to film episodes of Minder up in Acton or Brixton? Wouldn’t happen,’ he says. ‘This location would have been chosen for the quiet filming opportunities and lack of crowds.’ He’s right. There’s no through traffic and you guess that you’re unlikely to run into any snotty nosed kids bawling ‘hello mum’ during takes.

The doorway to the Winchester is now a private dwelling next door to a bar called ‘Julie’s’ and, although the context seems wrong, I have to say that within seconds of turning up, the Minder memories come flooding back and I’m back in the 1980s. Is that a good or bad thing to admit to? As it is, the Winchester was every bit as important a location in the Minder programme as the car lot or lock-up. After all, most deals were conducted there and some of the funniest incidents to take place alongside ‘Cheerful Charlie’ also happened here.

Dave at the WinchesterKeith at the WinchesterI can’t resist tracing Dave Harris’ steps (left) and getting poor old Mike to photograph me looking like I’m entering the Winchester. The taste of a ‘large VAT’ is already already on my lips.

But there’s no time to hang about reminiscing about running up a slate at the Winchester. We have another location to get to and the light is fading fast.

The thing about travelling around London is that even when you expect it to be easy (such as on this Saturday), the traffic often conspires to jump up and bite you in the bum. And so it proved for, as we head towards Heckfield Place police station, near Fulham Broadway, we get stuck in some pretty impressive snarl-ups. Not caused by commuters or shoppers – but by the market stalls in the middle of the road that our Sat/Nav is taking us. Still, if this isn’t Minder land, then I don’t know what is.

The end credits of Minder... and our last stop for the dayDuring its long day in the city, the MG6 has failed to put a foot wrong. And as the minutes tick on, with the stallholders and shoppers around us doing their best to hold us up at every opportunity, I’m still enjoying being here. Stop-start, stop-start.

It should be wearing us out, but it isn’t. The seating position is spot on, the clutch and accelerator pedals remain mercifully light and the supportive seats are doing a very successful job of staving off backache. Again it’s impressing us, the MG – and that’s also the case with Mike, who I can see is warming to the car throughout the day – not by what it does, but how it does it.

But the traffic clears, and we’re on our way Heckfield Place (left). The talk of going to the ‘nick’ does get me thinking about Arthur’s adversaries, Detective Sergeant Chisholm and Rycott, and how neither managed to nail him with anything approaching a criminal offence. They were both so close throughout the years, but thanks to luck and maybe a little of Terry’s help, he always escaped blotting is copybook.

It’s actually interesting to see how the shows changed over the years. When Minder started and the first episode, Gunfight at the OK laundrette! aired, clearly, the programme was a vehicle for the post-Sweeney Dennis Waterman. He was one of the UK’s best-loved actors and most popular of sex symbols – and billed from the beginning as the star of the show. George Cole, on the other hand was there as a slightly seedy ‘Flash Harry’, there to stitch up Terry for the sake of a few quid at every opportunity – and that he managed beautifully in some of the best character acting British mainstream TV has ever seen.

As the episodes and series progressed, the series producers and writers played to Cole’s strengths beautifully and turned it into his show. So much so that when Dennis Waterman decided to leave the series in 1988, he said that ‘the show has become the Arthur Daley comedy hour’.

However, that is most definitely to downplay Minder’s quality. Yes, it was centred on Arthur’s increasingly unsuccessful ventures and his constant mistreatment of Terry, but the sheer depth of talent in the show’s guest stars has probably never been surpassed in a British popular series. The website lists a few on its front page, ‘these include Billy Connolly, Honor Blackman, Adam Faith, Alfie Bass, Kenneth Cope, Brian Glover, Lionel Jeffries, Mel Smith, Jimmy Nail, Brian Blessed, Ralph Bates, Roy Kinnear, Patrick Mower, Steve McFadden, June Brown, Michael Sheard, George Sewell and more!’ But we’ll throw a few more into the mix such as Derek Jacobi, Saeed Jaffrey, Kenneth Cope, Nicky Henson… And, of course Patrick Malahide as Chisholm. I could go on. But at no point was George Cole in any danger of being overshadowed. A true class act…

It also reflected the political situation of its time – when the UK was struggling, so did Arthur and Terry; but when the grimness of the early 1980s made way for the Thatcher-fuelled boom years, Arthur joined the yuppie revolution in his own unique style. Somehow the Jaguar XJ that he drove (not always, though – he’s also had a Mercedes-Benz W123, a Rover SD1 and and Ford Granada Mk2 in banger trim) suited Arthur down to the ground. Even if he created an image for the XJ that Jaguar ended up being keen to shake off for years to come.

As we roll up to the police station for that final couple of pictures of the day, I’ve come away from the day a little bit more wiser about a couple of things. Minder wasn’t quite all it seemed  – those locations just aren’t as they seem on the telly – and the nostalgia truly is on the screen and not in the locations.

Mind you, it remains a truly pivotal programme in my life, and one that I’m glad gives enjoyment to countless others to this day, some 30-plus years since it first aired. The day also showed that my chosen chariot, the MG6, really is the consummate all-rounder on the roads that Terry and Arthur pounded on week after week throughout the 1980s. It might not be the national phenomenon that its makers may have hoped it would be – yet – and it will be interesting to see how people feel about the model 30 years from now…

Finishing our Minder day just as Waterman and Cole did for the titles back in 1979. But with perhaps a little less style!
Finishing our Minder day just as Waterman and Cole did for the titles back in 1979 – but with perhaps a little less style!


Mike Humble on what makes nostalgia so special…

…and how our long-independent ITV stations shaped it

You can’t beat a bit of nostalgic telly when things are glum. If it contains a few old cars along the way even better. Our capital city used to be blessed with a pair of great ITV companies who oddly enough hated each others’ guts yet between them were famed for some truly epic TV shows, many of which still get repeated and in some cases daily. In the days before telly went all wrong or rather before 1993, our nation was blessed with a whole host of truly Independent companies from Anglia through to Yorkshire.

Those station idents and jingles for those over a certain age, will be forever etched in our minds, the Anglia Knight and Handel’s Water Music would tell your mum in the kitchen that Sale Of The Century was starting on Sunday tea times and the the gold Yorkshire chevron and five note “Ba Da Da Ba Baaa” tune would  pre warn the viewing public of an impending Emmerdale Farm.

The London stations of London Weekend and Thames were probably the most influential stations on the whole of the ITV network. London Weekend operating from the South Bank on Friday evenings through to Sunday night only gave us memorable Saturday night shows such as Game For A Laugh, Blind Date and The Gentle Touch.

Monday to Friday, the London network was the domain of the mighty Thames and most of us remember Rainbow, The Kenney Everett Show, Benny Hill and This Is Your Life being beamed through our 24in colour sets as we sat cross legged on the living room floor.

Monday morning break-times at school would be spent dissecting and discussing the previous weekend’s TV schedule at great length. The recent influx of Government meddling and cable/satellite stations has all but killed off the independent network and their incumbents, but at least their output is still here for us to enjoy…

Keith Adams


  1. well id cat me bobby sands orf to drive a motor like that guv,as long as the chassis aint reels o’ cotton.

  2. Nice to see that the still you have of Chisholm has the word “Sweeney” in the headline of the paper. Another classic from the Euston Films stable.

  3. That Thames TV intro takes me back.

    I remember sitting on an internal flight between cities somewhere in China, possibly the only westerner on the flight, and I hear that music, look up at the screen and there’s St Pauls & Big Ben. I thought I was dreaming!

    The reason is it starts off Mr. Bean, the Chinese think it’s hilarious and it’s often shown on flights, and as there’s no speaking I suppose it’s completly international.

  4. “Hard to believe that the cars share a fair bit of DNA.”

    That’s because they don’t.

    Front subframe, fusebox and an update of the formers engine.

  5. Some interesting old smokes there – love the green Matra Rancho – reminds me of one my dad’s mate had – superb motor!

  6. great article , i love watching minder and have every episode on dvd , i wonder if anyone know’s what happened to arthur and terry’s car’s ?.

  7. I’m sure the MG6 would have managed more than 7 sales in a month if Arthur’s car lot had been it’s only outlet!!!

  8. Great programme, used to be shown in the afternoon on school summer holidays during the late 90s.

    I can’t help but feel that today Arthur would have a Lexus LS. Buy British was going out the window, he had a Merc himself at one point. Spot on though that Terry (or Terence as Arthur called him 🙂 ) would have an old beemer.

  9. As you used the MG6, what about using the same car (or ideally a five-door version finished in solid red) to retrace the steps for the opening credits of Crossroads used from 1985, which featured a Targa Red MG Maestro 1600?

    The locations used were around Birmingham and the Aston Expressway. Let me know if you want more information!

  10. I think the R8 (next to the red Golf?) is actually a Rover 800. The top of the bumpers are body colour whereas I think R8’s were all grey. Lots of SD1s on the lot though!

  11. Really enjoyed that – great article! Really brought back great memories of me and my mates on the bus to school discussing the cars we’d seen on Minder the night before. Simpler times – probably happier for kids back then too, when mobile phones didn’t exist and all you wanted was a Capri with a rev counter and dodgy alloy wheels when you grew up!

  12. What a great idea & article, Keith & Mike.
    Minder was brilliant.
    My personal TV favourite was The Sweeney
    Those old Granada’s & Jag’s charging around the streets. With Regan & Carter and their compulsary punch ups with the local villains. Followed by a p*ss up down the pub 🙂

  13. Was never a Minder fan to be honest. One prog I used to watch regularly, because it was filmed in the towns and cities near where I lived was ‘Delboy’ Jason’s ‘A Touch Of Frost’, Not sure where the original Denton Nick was. I think it was just off Whitehall Road in Leeds, but the second & longest running one was Farnell Instruments on Armley Road, almost bang opposite the prison. |I remember them shutting the main street where the shop I was working in for a complete day, and the only footage was 30 seconds worth. You could always spot the routes that they would drive round, because lamp posts and street signs would have markers on saying T.O.F.

  14. Minder.. Ahh, them days as a kid sat at home with family watching Thames telly and hearing that classic ident as the London skyline cuts into view.. Great times of real regional identity and real TV programming… In my faux-posh, put-on Arthur Daley accent, ‘I was very, very delighted to see that kind sir’…

    By the way, that profile view of that MG6 had me thinking that was a SAAB 9-5 (without the chrome bling) for a moment there…

  15. Ah, ‘Minder’. A gem of a show and Thames was a gem of company too. It lost its franchise to Carlton TV despite beating them on the quality test. The Broadcasting Act (1990), in rules devised to fill the coffers at HM Treasury, stated that companies that won ITV franchises had to pay an annual levy to the Treasury for their franchise. There was no set fee so consortia bidding for a franchise had to guess what rivals might be bidding and then outbid them. For example, Granada TV in the north west guessed they had no serious rivals so bid only £2m pa whereas Yorkshire TV bid, if I remember rightly, £52m pa – and this was before they’d even made a programme. The idea was that you had to clear two tests (quality of your programme proposals and the size of your bid) before you won a franchise. Thames easily beat Carlton but lost on the latter and so, amazingly, lost altogether. Carlton were a rather cheap and tacky outfit with one David Cameron as a PR man. Wonder what happened to him.
    Thames had, of course, made ‘Death on the Rock’ about the killing of the IRA gunmen in Gibraltar some years earlier. The Thatcher government denied the programme’s claims although subsequent inquiries proved Thames to have been correct in what they said and the government to have been less than honest. Some people say that Thames losing their franchise was Mrs T’s revenge.
    The 1990 Broadcasting Act was complete madness and threw a very successful and highly profitable ITV into chaos. Of course it was done at the behest of Rupert Murdoch. Sky was struggling at the time and would have more than likely gone under had he not made a direct appeal to Thatcher for help. She brought in the act which took money out of ITV and introduced a non-UK (Sky are a Luxembourg based company and don’t pay taxes here) commercial tv company to Britain. Her pay-off was Murdoch’s unstinting support.
    Anyway…good to be reminded of ‘Minder’ again and nice to see the MG6 out and about. I think MG should get their employees to drive MG6s around the country. It would be a cheap way of promoting the car and the brand.

  16. @ Dave (9)
    I read somewhere that Arthur’ Jag (Reg DYO 979V on screen but this car acutally wears an X plate in real life) was given away as a prize in a TV Times competition. I’m sure it leads a cosetted life somewhere and has spent much if its time going to charity shows but I do not know much more than that. Terry’s Capri (Reg SLE 71R) has allegedly lead a much more chequered life being ‘discovered’ as a bit of a wreck and is now in the safe hands of a Capri enthusiast. What a find that must have been!
    A great article guys – really enjoyed it. I grew up in Northampton in the 1970’s & 80’s and the antics of Terry & Arthur where highly entertaining back then as they are now (I invested in the box sets of each series and the ‘film’ specials a few years back) – well reccomended to anyone with an interest in cars. I always liked the ‘odd’ names the characters Arthur would deal with had: hacksaw, the syrup, mournful, tick tack, nostalgic, second hand Sid,etc etc – a wonder trip down memory lane when this country just seemed to be a bit nicer than it is today…

  17. And also who could not have fond memories of the rhyming slang and other language used? My favourite was ‘sovs’

  18. Great stuff….Minder was to give Waterman a new way forward after ‘The Sweeney’ and the feel and locations were very similar, the police station for example was used in The Sweeney, as was George Cole too… claim to fame is that my office in Hammersmith is around the corner from Colet Gardens, the street where the opening titles to the Sweeney was filmed, and no, I haven’t driven a car down it……yet. Consul GT anyone? As for Minder, you will often see me on Hammersmith bridge looking out toward the Anchor pub….Oh my gawd

  19. Great points by Richard Addison.

    TVAM were also booted out, and I think the chairman was a pal of Thatcher, I read she wrote him a letter of apology?

    ITV plc was the result, churning out constant celeb nonsense and X-factor-got-talent shows.

    UTV and STV (inc. the ex-Grampian region) are the last remaining stubbornly independent ITV regional companies, but even so their programming is mostly ITV London feed. (In fact, UTV make most of their revenue from their radio stations including TalkSport, and their broadband company).

  20. “I was but a prawn in the game, Mr Chisholm.”

    As a long-time fan of Minder I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent article. The chemistry between George Cole and Dennis Waterman was brilliant and added to the show’s appeal; I just couldn’t see Denholm Elliott playing Arthur Daley (he was supposedly Waterman’s choice for the part.)

    I’d also quibble about Series 5 as the show’s zenith. For me this has to be the third series from 1982 which includes such brilliant episodes as “Dead Men Do Tell Tales”, “Broken Arrow”, “You Need Hands”, “Another Bride, Another Groom” and my all-time favourite episode, “Poetic Justice Innit?” where Arhtur is on jury duty in a case where Chisholm is the arresting officer.

    I was never that keen on the Ray Daley episodes as I felt the writing was pretty awful and the plots sloppy.

    And the least said the better about the 2009 revival featuring Shane Ritchie as Arthur’s nephew Archie (played by Shane Ritchie.) Anyone recall Archie’s rather tasty set of wheels though?

  21. @24, good stuff Richard. Amazingly, the regions became intermingled when the two largest ITV regionals, namely Carlton and Granada merged and decided to embark on their ill-datde ITV Digital project in order to try and rival Sky. Of course that went tits up and so they ended up fully consolidatinf the regionals into ITV1, it’s slowly decaying the final remnants of the news divisions.

    I personally miss Central and in some ways, bored though I was with my mum watching it of an evening, Crossroads is the first soap I remember truly viewing. Don’t remember Tiswas (shot from the old ATV studios on Broad Street) but quite a lot was filmed and broadcast from there. Most main studio work got shifted off to new purpose built development in Nottingham (who remembers ‘The Price Is Right!’?).. But Central will always be Brummie to me.

    • I remember Central shifting production to Lenton (Nottingham) well, it coincided also with a new series of BOON, whereby Harry Crawford buys a hotel complex over that way.

      Bullseye also heralded a new era of Central. Jim Bowen regularly would make refference to the TV regions rather than the actual hometowns of the players.

      “well lads.. youv’e travelled a long way down from Tyne Tees land it says here, is that right?”

      “aye that’s reet Jim”

      “Super! well, welcome to Nottingham lads anyway”

  22. Wasn’t there an episode of Minder where Arthur stood as his area’s MP on a law & order platform, much to the annoyance of DCI Chisholm?

    • Yes there was Adrian, the episode was called “Balance Of Power”

      There’s plenty of dialogue between Daley and Chisholm in that one too along with some SD1 action.

      The only thing that spoilt that episode was the Terry McCann charracter seemed to be trying to hard!

  23. “As for Terry, he’s not an MG6 man either, and if we were to pick the 2011 equivalent of his tired old R-registered Ford Capri Mk2 with vinyl roof (which sometimes in series two ended up being a Mk1 with the same registration plate), it would probably be an ageing BMW 3-Series Coupé. On the wrong wheels.”

    Na, I think he’d have one of these –

  24. @28 – Will M – yes, TVAM lost their franchise at the same time as Thames. Bruce Gyngell, their MD, was known as the Pink Panther to one and all because he always wore a pink shirt and tie. He was Mrs T’s favourite tv executive having led TVAM during the strike which, in effect, broke ACTT (tv union). She saw him at a lunch or some reception or other after they lost the franchise and said she was sorry and that she’d never intended for TVAM to be on the losing side. History doesn’t convey what his reply was.

    @31 – Ross A – Central took the midlands franchise in the early 80s. It was formed in part by ATV (which had previously held the licence) which was another tv comapny that had fallen foul of Mrs T when they made a documentary about the the execution of a Saudi princess (‘Death of a Princess’) which had upset the Saudis who whinged big time at Mrs T. Lo and behold, a couple of years later ATV effectively lost their franchise. They had to close their studios at Elstree (which are now home to the BBC and ‘Eastenders’). ATV Birmingham became part of Central and they opened the Lenton Lane studios in Nottingham. Michael Green, owner of Carlton TV, became a shareholder in Central in the 80s, having failed to win a franchise in his own right. He complained to Thatcher about not winning but his turn came when Carlton took over from Thames. I think he was a big time supporter of the Conservatives. Anyway she certainly looked after fellow believers.

  25. Jason @27,

    my claim to fame is that my office in Hammersmith is around the corner from Colet Gardens, the street where the opening titles to the Sweeney was filmed, and no, I haven’t driven a car down it……yet. Consul GT anyone?

    Does a Merc Sprinter count? 5 seconds earlier there was a Connect coming up the road a la Consul GT, but it parked up. Well it was a Ford…


  26. God,the sweeney-so good i bought the box set and the three films,regan,the sweeney and sweeney 2,i wasnt allowed to stay up and watch it in the seventies i was only 5,so i made up for the deprivation and bought the lot!

  27. They’re remaking ‘The Sweeney’ at the moment. Don’t know whether they’re keeping it set in the 70s or updating it. Wonder which cars they’ll use if they update it? An Audi A6 instead of a Granada perhaps?

  28. Focus ST makes as much sense as putting the original in an XR3.

    Just import the Australian Ford Falcon already!

  29. Just re-read the title – ‘Walking in the Wild West End’ – a brilliant track from (IMHO) the best Dire Straits LP – their debut! Good call!

  30. “The Focus ST they’re using is registered with the DVLA as a 1.6 ”

    I expect they have several.

    I hope it doesn’t end up like the other films Ford have sponsored. The more recent Bond films for example. Then thunderbirds really took the piss in terms of product placement! It even had sponsored by Ford plastered across the screen in several places for no good reason!

    I’m not against product placement, but when a film just becomes one long advert for a car manufacturer it becomes rather pointless to watch.

  31. I expect they do have a couple for filming, but why dress up a lowly 1.6 as an ST when they have the real things there??? Unless it ends up being blown up. You know how all films today have to have a big explosion or 500 to make it ‘entertaining’.

  32. I too was a huge Minder fan in the days when ITV made shows everyone wanted to watch, unlike the braindead trash they churn out now. While we all bemoan the death of Rover, the death of Thames Television was equally sad and marked the end of quality commercial television in this country.
    While we still all watch 30 year old repeats of Minder, who will remember such disposable junk as The X Factor, Red or Black and The Biggest Loser in 2041.

  33. Malcyk, comment 17

    Yep, I think you’re right! It’s not an R8 next to the Golf but an 800. Thinking about it, this fits better time wise.

  34. Sorry but I don’t believe a lad from Blackpool saying “low life villains” and “dodgy 2nd hand car dealers” are a world away. Take it he doesn’t go home often these days then!
    Seriously though what a cracking idea and a great piece of writing.
    Minder was my favourite and I watch it over and over again these days. The cars used and the ones on the streets are fantastic to see again and I agree with a lot of posts on here, yes Britain was grubby then but the much simpler lifestyle we had made it a better place for me to grow up in than the one that my kids are growing up in today.
    “Respect” is the big thing missing today and all todays problems stem from that in my opinion.
    Interesting read about the ITV franchise stuff. Yes I’m sick of the C-grade celebrity filled junk we get today and long for decent regional days again. Brilliant news for me though because its just something else I can blame the torys for!
    On the product placement with cars, it does spoil the programme but Ford probably supply as many cars as is needed and on time. I’m no fan of the oval badge but it has to be said they grab a chance when its there. Don’t forget, BL was the prefered supplier for The Professionals and the early progs had TR7’s and Dolomites but they kept breaking down. In stepped Ford with the Capri and never looked back.
    I love the history, size, tradition and truely Britishness of BL, but that was its downfall. It was a nationalised dinosaur and went extinct. Blame the government, blame the management as much as you like but their own workers didn’t help with their reluctance to change or to even take an instruction. I hate Thatcher with every bone in my body and i’m a staunch Labour supporting trade unionist but have to say the BL workers signed their own death warrant. Most got good redundancy packages and some are still drawing final salary pensions so it won’t fuss them. Short sighted in the extreme but at least what they’ve had they can’t take off them, hope they think what they’ve left behind for future generations and weep into their overused Longbridge tea mugs!

  35. The Ford product placement was getting laughable in the Bond films. The Aston was spot on, as was the XK in Die Another Day, but in Casino Royale/Quantum of Solace, having Bond in Kas and Mondeos, and every other car being a Range Rover was taking the biscuit. At least there was a 159 car chase though! (and not as bad as having Bond in a 7 series! Tomorrow never dies, I’m looking at you!)

  36. Over fifty comments and barely a couple mention the MG6.

    Says a lot, that.

  37. Great thread – for anyone interested in minder visit which has a lot on the motors and also the ZX Spectrum game – remember that anyone else?

    Its also worth visiting which has lots of info and good links to forums on The Sweeney and The Professionals.

    As for cars today:
    – Arfur X350 XJ6
    – Terry Got to agree with the consensus of a 3 series coupe on the wrong wheels

    As for the MG6 it would be ideal for Chisholm and Rycroft.

    As for the Sweeney – it would have to be a 5 series in my view – big, powerful, RWD and used by the Met as well.

    No idea what Bodie and Doyle would be driving.

  38. What were the main vehicles used when Alfie out of eastenders tried to do Minder?

    What would they drive today?
    – Arthur in an E38 7 series, in gold.
    – Terry in a 3 series is a good call. Are there any other ‘manly’ coupes now? Possibly a ‘small exec’ like an A4.

  39. @55 I just can’t see Arthur in a beemer. He did have a Rolls in one of the movie length specials though.

    Terry in an A4 works.

    I think it was a aging Bentley Turbo in the remake of it.

  40. @53

    It certainly does – attitudes are softening as people realise that the cars are in fact, quite good.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this piece, though I cant actually remember the program as Im too young, sounds like it was a good un though.

  41. Ever noticed in the first three series, they used this grainy, rather harsh film to record the series, which fitted in so well with Britain in the start of the eighties, and then as the economy picked up and the yuppie era began, in later series the colours became less harsh and the series added a bit of glamour.
    Also if you watch one of the first series, notice how Londoners seem far keener on foreign cars than the rest of the country, with Arfur’s car lot containing an Audi, a Fiat and an Alfa. In the rest of the country most cars on the road seemed to be made by the big four with a sprinkling of Japanese and French cars.

  42. Well done both – a cracking article and some intelligent responses that make the thread worth watching – well, apart from references to Arthur driving a BMW which is clearly as mad as Colonel Barker’s hat band!
    I loved all the Minders until the ‘Ray’ series and have a very soft spot for the lovely English actress Georgina Hale who played so wonderfully in the episode called The Beer Hunter. No other actress could say the words quite like she could – her pronunciation (particularly of the word ‘strides’) has no parallel.
    I have every episode on DVD and will continue to watch with pleasure. Whoever said earlier in the thread about the ‘brain-dead’ stuff we are fed today was quite right. The only light at the end of the tunnel (for me personally) has been the (admittedly not really new) fantastic performances of the cast in the Vice. Somehow that programme managed to shun every plot pre-conception and every personal response prediction – it was just different! I like different!

  43. @The Wolseley Man

    The new XJ6 is out. Not his cup of tea.
    The X305 is a good call, yes.

    However for RWD and squared off looks the E38 is almost a modern day Granada. Available in a Gold colour which would match the old Daimler Sovereign too.
    Have seen a few used car ‘every one’s a go-er’ dealers using them as their own transport.
    He isn’t adverse to big German saloons – he had a Merc at one point, and a base level Granada (OK, Ford was still promoting itself as British).
    Mad as a hat, maybe. It’s all speculation anyway.
    AndrewP says the new C5 series used an aging Bentley Turbo.

  44. Glad to know old ITV idents are still remembered and venerated!

    Western Australian telly showed an immense amount of ITV programming when ITV was ‘independent’, and was non-shit! It’s a pity the current ITV is a shadow of it’s former self.

    And all it took was a large drinking session or a session of a different kind to get all teary eyed and nostalgic about the various ITV station idents that existed, not excluding favourites like the Tyne-Tees ident before Billy Connolly belted out the theme to Supergran!

    And of course the Thames ident before Minder goes down as the most remembered, being shown on our version of Aunty (ABC) for as long as it was shown on ITV.

    And Yes, I’ve sung ‘I Could Be So Good For You’, well drunk in a pub with mates when the song came up!

  45. Current ITV is a London based broadcaster that produces tripe like Jeremy Kyle and every variation of Cowell talent show.

    The only offshoots of independence that are holding out are STV in Scotland and UTV in Northern Ireland. But even these, for the most part, simulcast ITV London, with local news and the occasional localised programming (A Rare Breed is an example of an excellent local documentary series).

    The days of pre-Alfie Moon ‘Minder’ and ‘World in Action’ are long gone.

  46. A great series, which in my view seemed to peak in 1984.

    Remember that episode where Arthur set up a bar in competition with the Winchester, only for everything to go predictably pear shaped and end in tears?

  47. I think having so many channels now has meant the money had to be spread more thinly, hence more repeats, reality shows and soaps and fewer quality programmes that cost money. Also in years past you’d be able to go for a quiet drink on a Sunday afternoon or a weekday evening, now nearly all the time there’s Sky showing bloody football.
    Now if there is one sport I really detest, it’s this one as it never seems to go away and is like paint drying and also the anal, retentive fans are people I tend to avoid.

  48. I was in partnership with a mad Irishman and a young guy who dedicated his life to ‘having’ every girl he met! We ran a back street garage and every day was a little bit of ‘Minder’ – I knew it was special then. We even had a real life Arffer who rode around town in the back of a completely blacked out Zody Mk4 with a ‘minder’ called Dave (not Terry). The things we had to for this guy would fit in nicely with some Minder scripts. He’d come to us and say things like “I gotta a white ‘Vicky’ coming darn from smoke at 3 – gotta be green by 6. Translated means he had a Vauxhall Victor coming from London at 3 in the morning and he wanted it painted green by 6!
    We lasted a year but for us two young’ns the old feller was arranging far too much dodgy stuff that we knew nothing about when we started.
    I drove a fork lift after that for 6 months – I would have had to work in that garage for 20 years to earn that much money!

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