Long before he became an international star thanks to his role as Al Swearengen in HBO's Deadwood, Ian McShane was already an established household name in the UK thanks to this stalwart 1990s drama.
McShane stars as Lovejoy, the irresistible rogue with a keen eye for antiques, intrigue and beauty. This antiques dealer and part-time detective scours the murky salesrooms, auction halls and stately homes of Britain, always on the lookout for a find or a quick quid.
As if the antiques business isn't exciting enough, Lovejoy has a particular weakness for a good sob story or a pretty face, either of which is enough to send him off in pursuit of villains and help victims recover their property.
Lovejoy was based on the novels by John Grant, under the pen name Jonathan Gash. Grant was formerly a GP and Pathologist and he also wrote medical thrillers, with Dr. Clare Burtonall as the central character. Lovejoy was adapted for TV by Ian La Frenais of Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet fame.
Keep them wanting more
Unusually for a drama series, despite being a rating success, there was a gap of five years between the first and second series. Despite the gap, the main cast returned and remained virtually unchanged for the rest of the run.
For the fifth series, Phyllis Logan was replaced by Caroline Langrish as auction house manager Charlotte Cavendish – the new subject of Lovejoy’s affections. Christ Jury also left and Diane Parish joined the cast as Lovejoy’s new apprentice, Beth Taylor. Diane is now famous for playing the part of Denise in EastEnders.
Extra strong Dill
In common with the novels, we never learn Lovejoy’s first name. But unlike the books, the character of Tinker Dill is quite different. For the telly, he was reinvented as a bit of a dandy and is as far from the smelly, unwashed Dill, Grant created. The Tinker on telly still likes a drink, however.
What’s in a name?
Keep an eye out for appearances by Lovejoy’s daughter. Unfortunately, she seems to have a bit of identity crisis – in series one she’s called Kate, but in 2 and 3 she’s called Vicky and in series 6 she’s called Vicki! She’s also been played by 3 different actresses!
May the fourth be with you
The series was unusual for its moments when Lovejoy would talk directly to the camera and the audience, breaking the fourth wall.