Thursday, 6 August 2015

The world is your lobster

Back in June, I used the phrase "dropping like flies" to refer to the apparent fact so many stalwarts of British artistic and cultural repute had died this year. Since then we have lost a few more "national treasures"...

Another one went yesterday: Mr George Cole, a major screen presence for over 60 years - both big (he was famous as “Flash Harry” in the St Trinian's films) and small. For fifteen years, he held sway over the prime-time television schedules here in the UK as Arthur ("Arfur") Daley, the ne'er-do-well spiv and conman of the Minder series.

  • At the age of 14, he "ran away" to join a theatre company, but the tour was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War.
  • He was in all but name "adopted" by the comedy actor Alistair Sim and his wife, and it was through this association that he began to get roles in films - not least A Christmas Carol and four St Trinian’s films: The Belles of..., Blue Murder at..., The Pure Hell of..., and The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery; he even had a part in Cleopatra opposite the Taylor-Burtons.
  • Mr Cole had a number of successful series on TV as as well as on radio during the 60s and 70s, but it was Minder, with sidekick Dennis Waterman, that made him a household name - at its peak the show attracted an audience of more than 16 million.
So popular was George's portrayal of "Arfur", many of his catchphrases have entered the British psyche - "'Er indoors","A nice little earner", et al. Read The world is your lobster: Arthur Daley's guide to life for an understanding of why the loveable rogue was so popular.

As "the man" himself once said: " times I might have been a bit inconsiderate. But you know what the pressures on the entrepreneur are, in this day and age. I hope you have enjoyed our long association, as much as I have, despite the vicississitu... vicississi... ups and downs. Good luck. Your pal, Arthur."

RIP George Edward Cole (22nd April 1925 - 5th August 2015)

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