First aired in 1986, the TV show, Lovejoy, was based on the antique escapades of the books written by Jonathan Gash. Lovejoy is the main character of the programme; he is an antiques dealer looking to survive buying and selling anything and everything old and valuable. He is joined on his rambles by Lady Jane Felsham, a respectable lady of the manor, Eric Catchpole, his general dog’s body, and Tinker Dill, his knowledgeable friend. The series follows Lovejoy and his friends as they get themselves into so many odd situations and problems and how they get out of them.
Lovejoy is a loveable rouge you will always make things turn out okay for him often at the detriment of others. He knows his antiques inside and out and is referred to as a divvie on the show. A divvie is someone who has such a skill at identifying valuable antiques and differentiating them from fakes and forgeries. He uses this to his advantage by always spotting the rare antique while all his competitors look over it. He is universally liked among those in the business apart from his rival Charlie Gimbert. Lovejoy would do almost anything to mess Gimbert up, especially if he made an extra bit of money from it. Speaking to almost anyone comes easily for Lovejoy, as he has to deal with almost every kind of person one time or another. He always seems to have someone who will buy one of his items. He is a real ladies man, and can charm the birds out of the trees. He may be a rouge, but will always help out those in more need than himself.
Lady Jane Felsham is Lovejoy’s romantic interest, even though she is already married to a Lord. She often travels around with Lovejoy, and gets him out of scrapes with her esteemed position and wealthy contacts. She runs an interior design business, and is often buying items from Lovejoy to then sell on to her clients. Lovejoy will often embarrass her and her business by dabbling in forgeries and fakes or ripping off clients. Lovejoy runs his business from one of her outbuildings on the manor, so Lady Jane needs Lovejoy to succeed no matter how he does it.
Eric Catchpole is the light relief of the show. His stupidity and ignorance of antiques makes him a perfect candidate for winding up and goading. He works with Lovejoy in his shop and is the restorer and porter of the operation. He is often seen cleaning off items and moving stuff in an out of the shop. The funniest moments of the show are when Eric thinks he knows more about antiques than Lovejoy. Eric has been known to buy items thinking he will make a massive profit, while failing miserably at the end. Like Lovejoy, he acts a bit rough and would not immediately be seen as an antiques dealer.
Tinker is the oldest of the group. He seems to know everyone in the business. He is the man for getting leads. Tinker is slightly barmy and a massive alcoholic. Not one show can pass without him taking a swig of whisky from his hip flask. He is very knowledgeable about antiques, and has been around so long in the business he has seen almost everything.
I love this programme. The dramatisation of the antiques business is such as great idea. The little scams and brilliant bargains make the show seem so realistic. The show visits auction houses, antique centres, shops, and markets. As someone in the business I find it hilarious and very accurate. The money making schemes are so good and clever. Throughout the series you see so many interesting escapades and people. Auctioneers, forgers, police, porters, and dealers all appear in some form or another. The cast is also fantastic. Lovejoy is played by Ian McShane, better known now for his part in Pirates of Caribbean, and Lady Jane is played by Phyllis Logan of Downton Abbey fame.
The show contains intrigue, romance, drama, and humour all in one. The characters all gel incredibly well and play off each other. It is great seeing the different antiques bought and sold by the group and the problems that come from them. The problems being very funny and sometimes very serious. It is great to see someone having a genuine love of antiques and not just for their monetary value.
If you are a fan of Only Fools and Horses or Minder, I would certainly recommend Lovejoy. You don’t have to be in the business to enjoy it, but being in the business just makes you appreciate it even more. It was made in 1986 and ended in 1994, so expect some references you may not understand if you are not British and weren’t alive then. The show is full of British charm being set in East Anglia with most of the locations being stately homes, cottages, or local pubs. Watching it now it also contains a lot of nostalgia of the period with a lot of old cars and shops being shown. If you watched this back in the day, you should watch it again. If you have never watched this, but are interested in antiques, you should watch this.
So is Lovejoy Worth a Watch?
Yes. How can you not? It is a British classic!