Minder – Come in T-64, Your Time is Ticking Away

t-64

Candy Cabs, a minicab firm that Arthur has a share in, has suffered a series of attacks over the last few weeks – drivers have been beaten up and cars torched.  Arthur enlists Terry’s help by giving him the most clapped-out car imaginable and adding him to the drivers roster.  It soon becomes clear that these aren’t random acts of violence though, there’s a definite reason behind them.

The first of twenty Minder scripts written by Tony Hoare (his last, The Long Good Thursday, aired in 1994 and was the final episode of the original run).  He would end up writing more episodes than series creator Leon Griffiths, and whilst Griffiths’ contribution was absolutely key, in many ways Hoare would be as important as Griffiths in shaping the direction of the series.

Come in T-64 has its comic moments, but it’s also very much a product of Minder‘s earlier, more gritty, period.  It captures the late seventies run-down nature of London perfectly – Candy Cabs is located in a dilapidated part of town and whilst Arthur dreams of taking the business more upmarket and appealing to a more refined clientele, it’s clear that this will remain just a dream.

Early on, one of the drivers is attacked by two young tearaways.  Terry drives him home and before he drops him off he wonders why he’s spending his time mini-cabbing.  Terry’s told that he doesn’t have a choice – he married young, at nineteen, and has a wife and two children to support.  They live in three crummy rooms and in order to try and get on the property ladder he works nights in a bakery and spends the afternoons and evenings driving a cab.  It sounds like quite a bleak existence.

There are a few lighter moments though.  Terry agrees to spar with the local boxing champ as his regular partner hasn’t turned up.  Whilst he’s in the ring, Arthur turns up and gives Terry plenty of, no doubt well-intentioned, support even though it’s clear that Terry’s coming off second best.  When he’s knocked down again, Arthur’s incensed – he tells the barely conscious Terry that this is very damaging to his (Arthur’s) reputation!

One of Terry’s customers is Debbie (Diana Malin) who works as a stripper (the first of five appearances she’d make in the series).  Terry’s instantly attracted and it doesn’t take too long before they get together.  The next morning, Arthur calls to see him and is shocked by her nakedness (“oh my good gawd”).  This is the more familiar, prurient, Arthur that we’d grow used to seeing – always disapproving of Terry’s numerous liaisons – and is far removed from the lecherous Arthur of the earliest episodes.

By far the best comic moment comes when Kevin walks out, leaving Arthur in charge of the office.  His increasingly frantic efforts to keep track of the calls and direct the cabs makes him more and more stressed!  It’s a lovely comic sequence from George Cole.

Come in T-64 also highlights Arthur’s ruthless nature.  Although he’s invested £5,000 into the business, Kevin bitterly complains that he leaves him to do all the work.  Kevin’s keen to buy Arthur’s share, that way he claims he’d be able to make a decent living, but Arthur’s not interested – unless Kevin can come up with £8,000, some three thousand more than Kevin was expecting.

As might be expected, Alfred Burke is excellent as Kevin.  Best known for Public Eye, Burke brings a similar level of laconic weariness to this character.  There’s a few other familiar faces that pop up, such as Oscar James who’d later be a series regular in the early years of Eastenders.

In the end, both Arthur and Terry do quite well.  Arthur ends up buying Kevin’s share of the business (for a mere two thousand) and it’s plain that he’ll make a great deal more money once the site forms part of a new redevelopment.  It was Kevin, of course, who was behind the attacks – attempting to panic Arthur into selling his stake cheaply, so that he could benefit.  And even Terry, who spends most the episode being conned by Arthur, manages to make some money (a rare victory for Terry at this early point in the series).

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