Gone In A Flash



The actor George Cole has died aged 90. I never saw ‘Minder’, I just think of him with his mentor and hero Alistair Sim, usually playing a spiv, and ultimately in ‘The Belles of St Trinians’ and its three sequels, in which he played Flash Harry, complete with his own theme music.

He was memorably seen in ‘Blue Murder At St Trinians’ flogging off the whole of the sixth form to a prince. As he shows the prince a scrapbook of the girls in cheesecake poses, the prince taps one photograph he’s taken with and asks; ‘What’s her background?’ To which Harry squints and replies, ‘Blackpool Pleasure Beach, I think.’ To another girlie picture he says ‘Untouched. Er, the photograph.’ The films were critically mauled at the time for being salacious and unworthy of the stiff-upper-lip British film industry, but now seem irreverent and packed with genuinely funny lines. With Cole’s passing, there’s hardly anyone from these lovely, rather strange films now.


10 comments on “Gone In A Flash”

  1. chris hughes says:

    My favourite film with George Cole and Alistair Sim was The Green Man – a great film which I can watch over and over. It’s full of wonderful actors – Terry Thomas, Dora Bryan, Avril Angers, Colin Gordon as a very up his own bottom BBC announcer, the lovely Jill Adams, Arthur Brough, Arthur Lowe and the ubiquitous Michael Ripper. It’s very funny but I remember seeing it when I was very young and Avril Angers’ arm hanging out of the grand piano frightened the life out of me – they really don’t make films like that any more…..

  2. Xas says:

    I’m with Chris. I absolutely adore The Green Man, and George in particular (“It beats as it sweeps as it cleans!”). I was thrilled when I managed to track it down as a 2-on-1 dvd with School For Scoundrels a few years back.

    We’ve lost so many wonderful people this year, it really is quite heartbreaking.

  3. DC says:

    The Green Man is indeed a great film and probably the only one where George was probably the main protagonist. I personally have a soft spot for Cottage To Let, which I think was his first film and he steals much of it. I have to mention Scrooge. His part wasn’t the biggest role but still magnificently acted in a film which is about as definitive as it gets.

    On TV other than Minder (which I did watch) his presence in on TV was always welcome. Blott on the Landscape sticks in my mind.

    Sadly, I can’t think of any other actor quite like George Cole.

  4. Ness says:

    I grew up with Minder and then only years later saw him in the St Trinian films, so they seemed like the creation myth of Arthur Daley.

    I agree about Blott on the Landscape – a fine actor in a brilliant cast.

    I wonder if Arthur Daley’s Clearance Warehouse in Melbourne will fly their discount stock at half mast in tribute?

  5. John says:

    Cole is at his best in TOO MANY CROOKS, I think. I have you to thank for helping me find that movie when you mentioned in some long ago blog post it was the original –and uncredited– inspiration for RUTHLESS PEOPLE. TOO MANY CROOKS is far superior as much as I loved RUTHLESS PEOPLE when it first came out.

  6. Jo W says:

    This has been a very sad year. Another great – gone. My sympathy goes to ‘Er Indoors’.

  7. Ken Mann says:

    He was great in “Don’t Forget to Write!” playing a writer.

  8. Peter Dixon says:

    Minder was at its best in the first series when Terry (The Minder) was actually doing his job and there was some rough stuff and edgy stories – I think it was first shown after 9.00, or maybe after 10 because of the violence and general theme.

    It became very popular and moved to an earlier slot with the inevitable softening of stories and language, eventually becoming something you could watch with the grandkids on an afternoon.
    Famous line “The world is your lobster”.

    Incidentally – does anyone remember a fabulous series from the 70’s called ‘Gangsters’ with, I think, Maurice Colbourn as an ex-gangster who returns home after a stint inside?

  9. snowy says:

    Never saw it but a bit of a poke about reveals:

    “Gangsters is a British television series made by the BBC and shown from 1975 to 1978.

    Created by Philip Martin, and produced at the BBC’s Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham by David Rose, Gangsters began televisual life as an edition of Play for Today in 1975, followed by two series transmitted in 1976 and 1978. The series, set in the multi-cultural criminal community of Birmingham, has remained a cult favourite, memorable for its strong violence, multi-ethnic cast (and realistic – and now rather shocking – depiction of the racism of the time) and highly stylised, post-modern approach to storytelling.

    Gangsters featured references to film noir, gangster films, westerns, Bollywood and kung fu movies, as well as increasingly surreal end-of-episode cliffhangers and [I’ve removed this bit because it is a huge spoiler]”

    Based just on the description, it made me wonder if this was one of the germs of the idea that gave us ‘Life on Mars’?

    [Both series available in a 4 disc set, but it is not cheap!]

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