There may not be more than one or two people who read this blog who know what I’m talking about here… and those who do know, probably live across the Pond — but I wanted to acknowledge the passing this past week of a British actor, George Cole, who has endeared himself to us over the last several years.
George Cole and Dennis Waterman
As you may know, we are addicted to British telly shows. One of the older shows we have here is called “Minder” starring George Cole and Dennis Waterman. It’s a long series and we have watched a goodly portion of it, one episode a day, for a while now.
I’ve found this collection of videos showing snippets of this show for you here. If you let them just run, there are quite a view videos to see:
George Cole plays Arthur Daley. He is self-employed and deals in all kinds of slightly off-color jobs… he is a skin-flint old guy, and for a lot of the series he employs Terry McCann (played by Dennis Waterman) who acts as a “minder” (like a bodyguard) under Arthur’s employ. A minder is someone who tails around people and protects them from any harm that may befall them. This happens a lot in the criminal world, and a lot of Arthur’s clients are quite familiar with the prison system there. They have “form” – as they call having been locked up in England. For various reasons, these shady characters need protection, and Terry, having a little “form” himself and being a prior boxer, is quite successful at doing the job.
Meanwhile, George makes his money doing shady deals with anyone and everyone. He’s “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 inside the law or not.”
He buys products from shady characters and sells the same things at exorbitant prices. For the first part of this series, I wasn’t sure I even liked Arthur Daley.
Finally, in this series, Dennis Waterman leaves the cast and Arthur changes sidekicks to his nephew, Ray Daley. These particular episodes are quite different from the Terry McCann days, and Arthur becomes a lot more lovable, although doesn’t really get religion or anything. He still is always on the lookout for his shady deals but he’s more stable now and runs a used car lot on a corner somewhere. It’s a simple show but enjoyable.
We’ve seen George Cole in other older films too, but I think he made his mark as Arthur Daley for the most part.
I had bought an old DVD of a movie called “Cottage to Let” starring Leslie Banks, Alastair Sim, John Mills, Michael Wilding, and with George Cole as well. This was my first introduction to George Cole, and since then we’ve had the chance to watch him in other oldies but goodies over the years. Then there were the St. Trinian’s series with George included in them which we are still watching now, also with Alastair Sim. Great old stuff this is! If you click on here, and scroll down to “Partial Filmography,” you can see for yourself the body of his work and can link to a lot of them, if you wish.
Something I hadn’t known before was that George didn’t really like playing the character of Arthur Daley. In his autobiography, The World Was My Lobster, he said as much and couldn’t understand why his character was so beloved!
George died this past week. He was 90. He lived a good long life. It’s sad to say goodbye but at least we have his work on film to go back to whenever the mood strikes. And this week we’ve picked up the series “Minder” again where we left off and have been enjoying it now every night.
Goodbye George… and thanks for all the years…
Bex & Co.
I think I could turn and live awhile with the animals…
They are so placid and self-contained,
I stand and look at them sometimes half the day long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied… not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.
~ [Walt Whitman, from “Leaves of Grass, No. 32”] ~