1 9 7 9 – 1 9 8 0 (UK)
7 x 60 minute episodes
Six months before viewers were treated to the dodgy dealings of Arthur Daley and his muscle-bound sidekick Terry in Minder, ITV launched this not dissimilar series.
The focus was on Turtle (John F. Landry) – a character first seen in the 1975 thriller serial, The Hanged Man – a loveable, unrepentant, small-time crook who lived with his Aunt Ethel and was joined in his petty larceny by the big-eating Razor Eddie (Michael Attwell) – a giant former hooligan, now “bettering himself”.
Indicative of this duo’s criminal ambitions was the fact that they nicked a van for the modest fee of £35.
What they didn’t realise was that the van contained a hoard of seven stolen safety deposit boxes, which their rightful and wrongful owners soon demanded back.
Keeping out of the reach of both police and fellow law-breakers – a splendid gang of heavies led by one “Bullitt” (Godfrey James) who conducted his activities from a council flat (“with a few modifications”) – Turtle and Eddie discovered that the boxes contained a fortune.
They hid half in a safe in a scrapyard, and the other half in a neighbour’s loft, and set up a company – Guaranteed Security Inc. (which specialised in murky underworld operations) – with some of the loot, taking a five-year lease on a high-rise office in Victoria.
Unfortunately, each security box (one was opened per episode) also contained a headache for the lads – top-secret documents, important chemical formulae etc – that they needed to shake off.
The setting was Fulham, and Turtle’s local was The Robin Hood pub, where the redoubtable Aunt Ethel worked as a barmaid, calling time while her husband was inside doing it.
The character of Turtle’s nemesis, Superintendent Rafferty, was taken over by David Swift after original actor James Grout broke a leg.
Alan Price wrote and sang the theme song. The series was an immediate hit with the critics.
John F. Landry
Aunt Ethel Wagstaff
Colour Sergeant Arnold