A Guide To The Bryant & May Characters
By now I assume you know quite a lot about my aged detectives Arthur Bryant & John May, and a little about their team at the Peculiar Crimes Unit, Janice Longbright, Raymond Land, Colin Bimsley, Meera Mangeshkar, Jack Renfield, Dan Banbury and Giles Kershaw.
But there are many, many others who help or obstruct their investigations. I’ve never made a complete list of them (it would take forever as I’d have to reread all the non-canonical books as well) but here are a few you’ve met and will most likely meet again in the future…
‘The government’s most pedantic civil servant’ (‘Darkest Day’) is an outspoken, thick-skinned Home Office Liaison Officer. This porcine, thoughtless and unbearably crass civil servant has one good quality – he never forgets what he’s been told.
Superintendent Darren ‘Missing’ Link
He’s an old-school copper with the proportions of a street bollard. He has cropped brown hair and a split left eye. ‘He never laughed, joked, smiled or relaxed, and was never fully off-duty.’ A superintendent at City of London’s Serious Crime Directorate, he is however ‘a deeply moral man who preached a gospel of expiation before proof of guilt and punishment before rehabilitation’.
Born in Antigua, the long-suffering West Indian Christian Evangelist and master baker used to drive a Landrover and was Bryant’s landlady for 30 years. Now ‘old and shrinking’, she shares Bryant’s flat in Bloomsbury.
Dr Marcus Gillespie
The permanently injured, ill and generally unfit GP to the unit who diagnosed Bryant’s Alzheimer’s endlessly antagonizes his cheery patient, who takes delight in making him miserable. He works behind a sign in Piccadilly Circus.
The kindly Grand Order Grade IV White Witch of the Coven of St. James the Elder, in Kentish Town is ‘like a Victorian Christmas tree, very sparkly but liable to burn the house down if left unattended.’ She has a soft spot for Arthur.
The linguistically extravagant, ursine, heavy metal-loving professor of English works for the British Library and has saved Bryant’s neck on more than one occasion. He has a half-brother, art history lecturer Peregrine Summerfield, the self-styled ‘Ozymandias of Stoke Newington’, who had abandoned a promising career as a painter in order to teach.
An understandably gloomy historian with cancer helps the team, although she remains alive but in poor health, and is definitely a three-quarters-of-a-glass-empty person.
A staggeringly pretentious writer who believes in his own publicity is nevertheless a useful contact when the team are running short of answers.
A lizard-eyed lawyer with hair as shiny as a mackerel and a suit that cost more than the average annual wages of a fisherman, he obstructs the law, usually by giving his clients bad advice.
The artist wife of Dr. Harold Masters of the British Museum was in love with John May, but the detectives were eventually forced to incarcerate her husband, breaking her relationship with the detective.
She’s a housewife who mysteriously takes a shine to Bryant that he goes out of his way not to reciprocate
Remember Ms Banks? She was a City of London Public Liaison officer who spoke reams of technical jargon, but failed to come to grips with the minds of Bryant & May.
The old Northern music hall artist is still performing his ventriloquist act at the ends of various piers, and offers advice on all things theatrical to Bryant. Recently I saw Count Arthur Strong on TV and was struck by the similarity of his endearing character.
One day I’ll catalogue all of them, with quotes – I may have to wait for a while, but it would help me immensely to keep track of everyone!