TV Cream

TV: L is for...


The BBC Trust meets to consider their response to the government's Digital Britain report. "Yes, but is there any scope for divvying?"AH, THE gentle swish of a watercolour paintbrush, the chiming tinkle of an endlessly hummable signature tune…the smell of an ace, if preposterous, classic. LOVEJOY was the business, despite its titular hero being a blackguard, a cheat, a rogue and a sporter of the Phil Collins Jacket And Jeans. IAN MCSHANE was your avuncular antiques dealer, running juvenile amok in East Anglia with PHYLLIS LOGAN (posh love interest Lady Jane), DUDLEY SUTTON (dandied loon Tinker) and CHRIS JURY (hapless klutz on motorbike Eric). Each week the gang fell foul of ludicrous plot devices, ancient earthenware, foreign crime syndicates, a man from the council, MALCOLM TIERNEY (Charlie Gimbert) and inclement weather. First series ended with our man being sent to prison, only to emerge five years later with a bouffon and a propensity for wearing Motorhead T-shirts, driving a car called Miriam and helping out old ladies in peril from marginally less ethical dealers. Show then gained a huge following and, weirdly, a huge currency amongst the luvvie community, with the likes of JOHN GIELGUD and JOANNA LUMLEY showing up for a bit. Inevitably ran out of steam towards the end, with McShane apparently calling the shots and the likes of Logan and Dury pissing off as a result. Still, at its peak it was nonsensical wonderment, especially the bits where Lovejoy talked straight to camera a la Francis Urquhart and Garry Shandling.



  1. Nick H

    October 11, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Perhaps would have been better if Ian McShane hadn’t toddled off to the States to woo Sue Ellen or whoever, as I think the early 90s revivial never quite matched the quality of that first series. Then it would have been Lovejoy 1986-1990 and a stone cold classic…

  2. johnnyboy

    October 11, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    This was indeed brilliant. I was never sure if I fancied Lady Jane though (or the other woman who appeared later in the second series). However I do remember that episode where an old lady was diddled out of an expensive pot or something and Lovejoy, bless ‘im, manages to get something else of hers and sells it for a small profit, buys something else with that and on it goes until… he manages to buy back the afore-mentioned – I’ll say vase, as pot can mean something else altogether.
    Splendid stuff.

  3. Paul Gatenby

    October 12, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Both Ian McShane and Dudley Sutton are so readily identified with their roles in this series that whenever they pop up in something else, even retrospectively, everyone I know says things like; “You know, The Devils; with Oliver Reed and Tinker off Lovejoy.”

  4. Rob Free

    October 12, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    I remember the rather crap Hothouse Flowers appearing in an episode. Tinker actually danced on stage with them at one point. I urge people to Youtube it. It truly is “TV gold”.

  5. Claire Cracknell

    October 30, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Lovjoy- Alan Davies. DCI Jane Felsham- Catherine Tate. Tinker Dill- Amanda Redman. Edith ‘Edie’ Cartwright- Isy Suittie. Charlie Gimbert- Phill Jupitus

  6. Sidney Balmoral James

    December 6, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    No mention in this review of the shift in tone in this programme, between first and second series. First series was quite dark, with people being murdered, and I think was broadcast post-watershed, although I may be wrong about that (was the title music also slower?) Then it became a rather tiresome jape, and Ian McShane became addicted to black mascara and Pavarotti-intensity hair dye. Reached rock bottom when Linda Gray appeared, in a rather ‘look, it’s Linda Gray from Dallas’ sort of way. Not I suspect likely to be fondly resurrected, unless Talking Pictures TV run it in 2035 (who’d have thought The Mind of Mr. J. G. Reader would ever be seen again?)

    • THX 1139

      December 6, 2020 at 5:14 pm

      I was a big fan of the first series, and you’re correct, it was on at half nine on Friday nights, BBC1, always a good slot for interesting, quirky drama way back when. I remember one storyline about an antique pistol that fired its bullets backwards, killing the person holding the gun. When it was revived on Sunday nights I’d moved on.

      There was a great interview on this site with Dudley Sutton, who pointed out that by the end the rest of the cast were merely required to say “You were right, Lovejoy!”

  7. Richardpd

    December 6, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    I quite liked it almost as much as my Mum (always a fan of a Sunday night drama), even from season 2 onwards there were a few gritty episodes among the light hearted ones.

    It was never as good after Eric & Lady Jane left.

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