When Arthur learns that an old friend of his, Jo (June Richie), is somewhat down on her luck he does his best to help. Following her husband’s death, she decided to sink all her savings into a Spanish villa. Unfortunately, the villa was never built as the company responsible, Sunworthy, went bust and all her money (along with a great many other people’s) was lost.
He knows just the man for the job – Terry, of course. And after traipsing around the streets, Terry manages to run down Freddy Fenton (Derek Jacobi) – who was the brains behind Sunworthy. He pleads poverty, but it’s clear that he’s a skilled con-man who’ll be a tough nut to crack.
The first episode of Minder to be filmed, The Bounty Hunter is chiefly memorable for Jacobi’s turn as Freddy Fenton. Initially, he seems to be a broken man, living on social security, but it’s later revealed that he lives in a palatial house, complete with servants and a gorgeous lady-friend, Val (Rikki Howard – best known as a yellowcoat from Hi-De-Hi!). And even when Terry tracks him down, Fenton remains as slippery as ever. He tells Terry that he owns nothing – everything is leased.
Jacobi’s spot on as the arrogant wide-boy, convinced that Terry’s threats are meaningless. In the immediate years following his career-defining appearance in I Claudius (BBC 1976) he only made a handful of television appearances, so there must have been something in the character of Fenton that appealed to him. Speaking of I Claudius, I wonder if it’s just a coincidence that Christopher Biggins (who appeared as Nero) also has a role in this story?
George Layton, as Des the mechanic, would be a semi-regular during Minder’s early years. Here we see him con Terry into stealing cars (Terry, trusting as ever, believes that Des has authorisation to remove them!). But he’s able to later put Des’ skills as a thief to good use when they steal Fenton’s Rolls-Royce and refuse to return it unless he pays them the money he owes Jo.
Like some of the other early episodes, this one is fairly heavy on the library music tracks (which would tend to diminish in later series). But although some of the cues are a little on the cheesy side and the story is quite slight, Jacobi’s presence makes it well worth watching.