1 9 8 6 – 1 9 9 4 (UK)
Set in the world of the antiques trader, Lovejoy introduced Ian McShane as the titular character – An opportunistic, charming, slightly roguish and non-conformist dealer possessed of the rare – near-supernatural – gift of being able to identify a real antique (“the genuine article”) even when located in a room filled with junk.
This ability as a diviner (or ‘Divvy’) enabled Lovejoy to happily fleece the unscrupulous dealers he encountered, whilst ensuring that those who had fallen victim to the sharks received what was rightfully their due (albeit usually for a small fee).
Lovejoy’s chief nemesis was the superciliously underhanded dealer Charles Gimbert (Malcolm Tierney), who fell foul of this type of enjoyable retribution on numerous occasions.
Lovejoy was assisted in his endeavours by Tinker (Dudley Sutton) who was older, erudite and alcoholically challenged, and Eric (Chris Jury), who was younger and very enthusiastic (but ever so slightly dim). Eric eventually left to run his uncle’s pub and was replaced by another young trainee, Beth (Diane Parish).
Romantic interest was provided via a “will they, won’t they” arrangement between Lovejoy and his posh friend and sometime business partner, Lady Jane Felsham (until 1993 when Phyllis Logan decided to leave the show).
A succession of fleeting romantic interludes ensued until the arrival of university-educated auctioneer Charlotte Cavendish (Caroline Langrishe) in 1994 as the new woman in Lovejoy’s life.
Lovejoy employed the television technique known as ‘breaking the fourth wall’ whereby McShane would talk directly to the camera as if taking the viewer into his confidence.
Lady Jane Felsham