Minder – The Beer Hunter

beer

Arthur’s reunion with Yorkie (Brian Glover), an old pal from his army days, doesn’t go to plan after Yorkie disappears following a night of drunken revels. This means that Arthur and Terry have a race to find him before his wife, Dora (Pat Ashton), arrives from Rotherham …

The sight of Cole and Glover, drunkenly singing off-key, is an early episode highlight. Arthur and Yorkie have clearly been having a good evening, Terry less so. He’s been dozing in Arthur’s car, waiting to pick them up and drive them home.

The sight of Terry in an expensive motor catches the eye of a passing policeman but although there’s a brief moment of tension when Terry admits he doesn’t know the registration, the officer accepts his story and walks on by.

Yorkie’s presence helps to shade in a little of Arthur’s backstory.
We learn that Arthur’s military career was far from distinguished, but possibly Yorkie was the key to his survival anyway. Arthur tells Terry that Yorkie was “my best mate in the Army. I would go to hell and back again on my hands and knees for Yorkie”.

Did he operate pretty much as Terry does now, as a minder, keeping Arthur safe from his fellow soldiers? It’s easy to imagine Arthur back then running various dodgy schemes and if Yorkie did have his back it makes sense why Arthur now feels indebted to him. It would also explain Terry’s presence today- a Yorkie substitute, if you will.

Naturally, it doesn’t take long before Willis Hall’s script undercuts Arthur’s drunken reminisces of heroic endeavour (lovely playing, as usual, by Cole). Terry reminds him that he wasn’t called up until 1949! It quickly becomes clear that Arthur spent most of his service time propping up the bar, but it’s entirely characteristic that over the decades he’s rewritten this humdrum chapter of his life into something much more impressive.

We get a close encounter with ‘Er ‘Indoors – possibly about the nearest she ever came to making an onscreen appearance. As Arthur, propped up in bed, makes an early morning phone call to Terry, we see and hear the curtains being quickly drawn back (causing Arthur a momentary spasm of pain) followed by the slam of the bedroom door. Two off-screen moments which suggest his better half is not amused.

Carlos Douglas plays the imaginatively named Carlos, one of the hotel staff at Yorkie’s seedy hotel (Janine Duvitski is another) . He’s probably best known for playing the equally imaginatively-named Carlos in Duty Free. An uncredited Phil Rose (Friar Tuck from Robin of Sherwood) makes a brief appearance whilst Harry “Aitch” Fielder pops up as one of the patrons in the Winchester – if his face is instantly recognisable then, like me, you’ve clearly watched far too much old television …

The mystery of Yorkie’s disappearance isn’t a mystery for long. He’s ended up in the bed of a prostitute called Renee (Georgina Hale). Hale had previously appeared in Budgie (scripted by Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse) which might explain her presence here. Hale’s acting style has always been unique – thanks to her drawling delivery – and she’s typically entertaining here, as poor Yorkie wakes up to find he’s lost his trousers and Renee does her best to help him.

A later highlight has to be when Arthur interferes with a school rugby match – he picks up the ball and runs off, pursued by the pack of kids! Arthur subsequently compares himself to Gareth Edwards, although Terry thinks Jimmy Edwards is nearer the mark. And Arthur’s earlier comment, as he runs onto the rugby pitch (“don’t you speak to me like that! I used to play for the All Browns!”) is another wonderful line from an episode packed with first-class comic moments.

Yorkie’s hero-worship of Arthur is also developed as the episode progresses – he tells the disinterested Renee that Arthur’s got more cars than British Leyland. This sort of dog-like devotion might also explain why Arthur enjoyed having him around during their service days.

There’s some other lovely performances scattered throughout – Alan David as a chef who’s obsessed with hats that don’t stand proud, for example – and although The Beer Hunter does feel at times like a series of vignettes, there’s plenty to enjoy in this densely-packed script, not least the wonderful performance by Brian Glover. The sight of Glover hiding in a Wendy House is just one treat amongst many.

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