If you only know Ian McShane from Deadwood or, perhaps, Dallas, you're in for a real treat. Lovejoy (no first name, he insists, just Lovejoy) is an antique dealer who never has two pounds to rub together. He's divorced and recently out of prison for a crime he didn't commit. Lovejoy is what is referred to in the trade as "a divvy". That is, he can instinctively divine the authenticity of an antique just by looking at it. Beyond that, Lovejoy's also an unquestionable expert on antiques, and every trick in the trade. Together with his older pal Tinker Dill (Dudley Sutton), a retired Army veteran, they ply their trade on the edge of fraud, with a wink and a nod to the Old Bill. Always desperate for cash, Lovejoy reluctantly agrees to take on the young, slightly dim, Eric Catchpole (Chis Jury) as an apprentice - for a fee, of course, paid by Eric's father.
Lovejoy's luck takes a turn for the better when he's hired by Lady Jane Felsham (Phyllis Logan), with whom he flirts relentlessly, to help her redecorate Felsham Hall, the family estate. As time passes, Lovejoy and Lady Jane become more than friends, but not quite lovers. Indeed, they become partners when Lady Jane starts to do redecorating professionally. Throughout the series, Lady Jane rescues Lovejoy from all sorts of fixes that he manages to get himself into - usually in total innocence, and usually at a considerable draw on Lady Jane's bank account.
Lovejoy is a classic loveable British rogue who isn't above a bit of a dodge when it comes to making a sale. But he also has a heart of gold and many of the stories revolve around helping out someone who's down on their luck and forced to sell off the accumulated family treasures. All of the characters in this series have their own unique charm. "Tink" is a tippler who never passes by a pub without going in, but he's always on the spot when Lovejoy needs him and is just as knowledgeable about antiques. Lady Jane is as admirable as she is beautiful. She never flouts her title, except to vouch for Lovejoy. And while she is enchanted by Lovejoy and doesn't do much to rebuff his flirtations, she remains faithful to her husband. The proof of this series is in its longevity. Most British television series are done in one or two seasons. Lovejoy ran for some 73 episodes over 8 years, followed by several specials. If you enjoy British television at all, you'll love Lovejoy.
Rainbo Electronic Reviews published this review in our June, 2008 issue.
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