The Picaro and the Prole, the Spiv and the Honest Tommy in Leon Griffiths's Minder

Steve Baker, Paddy Hoey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

First broadcast in 1979, Thames Television’s comedy drama, Minder, coincided
with the arrival of the Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher.
Central to the series’ popularity was the character of Arthur Daley, a shady,
small-time businessman whose proclivity for wheeling and dealing saw him
regarded as epitomising an era marked by the free-market, entrepreneurial zeal
of the Thatcher administration. Arthur’s ‘partner’, Terry McCann, by contrast,
was a disconcerting picture of what life could be like for the working class in the
new economy. As an ex-boxer and an ex-prisoner with a conscience, he relied
on Arthur to find him casual employment as a minder.
Far from reading Minder as an endorsement of Thatcherism and its military
adventurism, enterprise culture and hankering after a perceived past national
glory, this article considers the series as an ironic comment on such pretentions,
and Arthur and Terry as underworld, low-life versions of familiar national
heroes – the entrepreneur and the ‘honest Tommy’. The article also goes
further, situating Arthur Daley’s character in a generic tradition of dubious
working-class enterprise and criminality that pre-dates the image of the spiv,
popularised in British films such as Waterloo Road in the 1940s, going back
to the picaros and proles of the eighteenth century and illustrated in Peter
Linebaugh’s book about the period, The London Hanged.
LanguageEnglish
Pages513–531
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Volume15
Issue number4
Early online date30 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Sep 2018

Fingerprint

casual employment
businessman
Criminality
conscience
Television
prisoner
broadcast
drama
working class
entrepreneur
eighteenth century
popularity
Industry
television
road
economy
market
Enterprise
Free Market
Working Class

Keywords

  • class; comedy drama; Minder; picaresque; proletarian; spivs; Thatcherism

Cite this

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title = "The Picaro and the Prole, the Spiv and the Honest Tommy in Leon Griffiths's Minder",
abstract = "First broadcast in 1979, Thames Television’s comedy drama, Minder, coincidedwith the arrival of the Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher.Central to the series’ popularity was the character of Arthur Daley, a shady,small-time businessman whose proclivity for wheeling and dealing saw himregarded as epitomising an era marked by the free-market, entrepreneurial zealof the Thatcher administration. Arthur’s ‘partner’, Terry McCann, by contrast,was a disconcerting picture of what life could be like for the working class in thenew economy. As an ex-boxer and an ex-prisoner with a conscience, he reliedon Arthur to find him casual employment as a minder.Far from reading Minder as an endorsement of Thatcherism and its militaryadventurism, enterprise culture and hankering after a perceived past nationalglory, this article considers the series as an ironic comment on such pretentions,and Arthur and Terry as underworld, low-life versions of familiar nationalheroes – the entrepreneur and the ‘honest Tommy’. The article also goesfurther, situating Arthur Daley’s character in a generic tradition of dubiousworking-class enterprise and criminality that pre-dates the image of the spiv,popularised in British films such as Waterloo Road in the 1940s, going backto the picaros and proles of the eighteenth century and illustrated in PeterLinebaugh’s book about the period, The London Hanged.",
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The Picaro and the Prole, the Spiv and the Honest Tommy in Leon Griffiths's Minder. / Baker, Steve; Hoey, Paddy.

In: Journal of British Cinema and Television, Vol. 15, No. 4, 30.09.2018, p. 513–531.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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