Telly’s Greatest Ever Chancers

They dream big and hustle even bigger – meet the bolshy boys who have chanced and charmed their way into our hearts.

boon

KEN BOON

Chancers don't come much... chancier than the eponymous hero of Boon. "Ex-fireman seeks interesting work, anything legal considered" was the ad in the paper that first brought him all kinds of outlandish shenanigans, all of which he took on with gusto. Actually, that's not exactly true: Ken Boon doesn't do things with "gusto". He just does them. His whole attitude to life is "why not?", and he just shrugs in the face of absurdity and danger.

So, like a true chancer, Boon doesn't care whether he's working as a courier, a private detective or a bodyguard. He'll do anything to make a few quid and get by, with bonus points if it also happens to involve coming to the rescue of helpless innocents. After all, Boon IS a modern day Lone Ranger (sort of), with a bike instead of a steed (kind of). He's not just a hustler, he's a HERO.

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JACKO

Jacko from Brush Strokes isn't just a jack-the-lad. He is the ultimate, quintessential, textbook jack-the-lad. He is the perfect specimen of the species, embodying all the basic traits of humour, irreverence, reckless charm and winning smile. It's that smile that really does it: once he puts it on, everybody just melts. Apart from maybe his boss, who is like the stern headmaster to Jacko's cheeky schoolboy.

A painter and decorator by trade, Jacko takes every day as it comes, and is after fun more than money. Especially female-related fun. His scattergun approach to flirtation means that pretty much ANY gal is fair game, whether it's a dragon-like traffic warden ("You know, you have beautiful eyes") or a police officer walking her beat. But you can't hold it against Jacko. He's a romantic, really. And he's just too flippin' charming.

JED SHEPPERD

There are different kinds of hustlers. Some, like Jacko, you can see coming a mile away. They're just too obviously charismatic and cheeky to slip under anyone's radar. But some, like Jed Shepperd, are a bit more subtle. The hero of Crocodile Shoes, Jed is a real dark horse. On the surface, he's a quiet and unassuming sort of bloke, but in actual fact he's a dreamer who is willing to go all the way with his crazy fantasy.

And it really IS a crazy fantasy. A Geordie factory worker wanting to become a country and western singer? Get out of it, you might say, but Jed just goes ahead and DOES it. He writes a song, gets noticed, and before we know it, he's jetting over to the musical capital of Nashville to become Britain's answer to Johnny Cash. You see, hustling, keeping at it and dreaming big CAN take you far...

Picture shows Robson Green as Rory Connor in Catherine Cookson's: The Gambling Man.

Picture shows Robson Green as Rory Connor in Catherine Cookson's: The Gambling Man.

RORY CONNOR

He's the Gambling Man, and that says it all about Rory Connor. Victorian Tyneside is a jungle, where you can either be meek and scrabble around in the muck, or dare to take on the big beasts. Rory's not the meek sort, and isn't scared of anyone. Even the local gangsters who are liable to dole out violence to anyone who crosses them. Rory's so convinced of his card-playing skills that he's willing to risk his neck by entering high-stakes poker games against some very rough sorts indeed.

But that's Rory for you. He's a daring, devil-may-care sort of fellow, with the twinkly-eyed charm to match. But his sense of humour and easy-going charisma will only get him so far, and - like many hustlers - he easily crosses the line into outright criminality at times. Sometimes it pays to be boringly well behaved, as Rory finds out to his cost.

LOVEJOY

Ah, Lovejoy. Perhaps telly's ultimate chancer. His very name is a by-word for "loveable rogue", and doesn't he look it? With his flashing eyes, leather jacket and mysterious insistence on being known only as "Lovejoy", he doesn't even try to hide the fact that he's a very dodgy sort of bloke. Luckily, the circles he moves in - ie, bored posh ladies and snorting pompous oafs - are won over by his brazen charm.

Lovejoy takes hustling to a fine art. When it comes to wheeling and dealing, ducking and diving, he's pretty much a Picasso, and spends his days cavorting across the countryside, finding and flogging antiques, getting into scrapes with the Old Bill, and generally being badly behaved in the most enjoyable way possible. He's a rapscallion, but we like him that way.