Tuesday, 10 February 2009


Since the Beeb launched the new Doctor Who in 2005, making it its most profitable franchise, Memory Lane means Penny Lane for British television. The Corporation tastes the sweet success of the reinvention of Terry Nation'Survivors by Adrian Hodges (Primeval), ITV's The Prisoner is coming soon and a new Blake's 7 is in the air. What's next? Robert Glenister as John Steed in a remake of The Avengers? John Simm as Bergerac? A new Van Der Valk? (not a Wallander in Holland, please...) Stephen Fry as Jason King? (God, I would love this one!)

Every Wednesday on Five since February 4, UK viewers have now another new version of a cult show: Minder. The original Minder ran from 1979 to 1994 with Dennis Waterman (after The Sweeney, another favourite of your humble servant) and George Cole. Waterman was Terry McCann, a sympathetic former boxer who served time in prison because of his loyalty, and who becomes the "minder" (i.e. bodyguard) of Arthur Daley (Cole), an unscrupulous but lovable rogue "entrepreneur". In 1991, Gary Webster replaced Dennis Waterman, as Arthur's nephew, Ray.

The first Minder, produced by Euston Films (a subsidiary of Thames Television), is one of the jewel of the crown of the late Verity Lambert, and is considered as a classic amongst the classics - like the famous theme song of the show, I could be so good for you, performed by the great Waterman himself. So Five takes some true risks but shows a real ambition with the new version, even launching a national advertising campaign to promote the new Minder (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jan/20/minder-campaign-to-hit-streets), and signing up Attic Lights to perform the 2009 version of the theme (http://www.sundaymail.co.uk/tv-showbiz-news/music-news/2008/11/02/attic-lights-win-deal-to-record-new-theme-tune-for-minder-comeback-78057-20862115/).

In Minder 2009 - produced by Talkback Thames, Shane Richie (EastEnders) is Archie Daley, Arthur Daley's nephew, and Lex Shrapnel is Jamie Cartwright, the new "Minder". The duo works quite well, and Minder borrows its look and style to Hustle (is the Gherkin building the new symbol of London under credit crunch?) or Ashes to Ashes. Critics are devastating (for a nuanced and rather relevant review: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/6182/) but why flush already this sincere attempt of Five to offer popular entertainment a la Kudos? Minder could be so good for you...

Minder on the Five website: http://www2.five.tv/minder/ (with a funny video of the theme song by Attic Lights).

Update: Interview of the two stars of the show, Shane Richie and Lex Shrapnel (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/4386540/Interview-Shane-Richie-and-Lex-Shrapnel-on-Minder.html).

Update (March 19, 2009): Minder on DVD (http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/03/minder-on-dvd-fremantle_18.html)

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