Ian McShane, played the the roguish, antique expert Lovejoy, who was one step ahead of the bill collector or the jealous husband. The BBC series that ran from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s, airing on the A&E Network. Lovejoy usually got wrapped up in swindling, theft and other larcenous activities.
Based on books written by John Grant, the series was adapted by writer/producer Ian La Frenais. The series was co-owned by McShane.
Who would have thought antiques and mysteries in the English countryside could be so charming, and funny. Not as zany as Monty Python or as hoity toity as Downton Abbey, but packing a lot of wit and cleaver writing.
Over the course of ten years, there were six seasons and 71 episodes, with a gap of five years between seasons 1 and 2. I guess they weren’t sure about it.
If you had a question about antique furniture or art or jewelry, Lovejoy was your guy. He often found secret panels in the furniture or little known facts about the pieces of jewelry or ancient coins, that somehow led to someone wanting to steal or murder for them.
Assisting Lovejoy are Tinker (Dudley Sutton), a mature, natty gentlemen who liked to take a nip, Eric (Chris Jury), a young kid who is searching for something he is good at, and Lady Jane Felsham (Phyllis Logan), happily married, but who had a fascination with Lovejoy. Later in the series, Eric leaves and is replaced by Beth (Diane Parish), as Lovejoy’s helped, and Lady Jane departs as auctioneer Charlotte (Caroline Langrishe) joins the cast as Lovejoy’s love interest.
Opportunity/trouble usually finds Lovejoy, often in disguise as bill collectors or the tax man. Money seems a constant issue for Lovejoy. His car breaks down, his house is rented out from under him, and he owes support for his only child. All concerns, but never Lovejoy’s main drive. He enjoys the challenge of unraveling the mystery of a piece of art or furniture, and fending off those keen on getting it.
Lovejoy has competitors of course, usually Charlie Gimbert, who owns an auction house and is the owner of the house Lovejoy lives in. They are constantly after the same items.
The curious thing about Lovejoy’s adventures are how things do not seem to be what they are. Lovejoy can stir up plenty of flimflam, but often finds himself on the receiving end of it. It’s his familiarity with a scam that helps to save his skin many a time and keep swindlers at bay.