Arthur is convinced that Sharon Dobbs (Sheila White) is a singing sensation just waiting to be discovered. He’s so enamoured of her, both personally and professionally, that he hands over six hundred pounds to Chris Lambert (Eric Deacon). Lambert runs a local nightclub and tells Arthur he’ll use his record business contacts to invite some top people down to hear her sing.
But the evening ends in disaster for Sharon (a combination of the sparse audience’s disinterest and her own flat singing) and Arthur (when he realises that Chris has conned him). Arthur demands that Terry goes round to give him a spanking and retrieve his money, but Terry refuses. Those days, he says, are over – since it’s a certain way to ensure he goes back inside. So Arthur fires Terry and seeks an alternative …..
Whilst Monday Night Fever has some gags, at heart it’s a very bleak tale. And the bleakness mostly revolves around Arthur as it shows us just how out of touch and insignificant he is. He blithely assumes he’ll be able to get Sharon engagements at all the top West End nightclubs – only to be told by Terry that they all shut down a decade or so earlier. His portrayal as yesterday’s man is reinforced when he later tells Terry that he’s still a respected man around the manor. In a few drinking clubs and car auctions maybe, says Terry, but nowhere else.
Arthur’s relationship with Sharon is the most intriguing part of the story. He’s clearly attracted to her (although he reacts strongly to Terry’s label of her as the “singing scrubber”). We see them kiss and after he’s thrown out of his house by ‘Er ‘Indoors, he even floats the possibility of them moving into a flat together. But this, just like his promise to her that he’ll be able to use his contacts to get her a record deal, is nothing but a pipe dream.
There doesn’t seem to be anything malicious or exploitative in his relationship with her. He does seem to genuinely believe she’s talented (although he’s in a minority there) and thanks to his deluded belief in his own importance once he’s told her that he’s a connected man in the business, he can’t back down.
This leads him to Chris Lambert, who cons the usually astute Arthur very easily. Maybe this is because he’s outside of his comfort zone – if it was dodgy jeans or perfume then he’d drive a hard bargain, but Sharon’s clearly impairing his judgement.
Sheila White gives a nice performance as the seemingly innocent and naive Sharon. She appears to have genuine affection for Arthur, but later we see her shacked up with a keyboard player who’s offered to show her some chromatic scales. This suggests that like everyone else she’s used Arthur for her own ends. Her singing had to tread a delicate path between being slightly off-key, but not so bad that Arthur’s interest in her would strain credibility. And it works, just!
Arthur and Terry’s falling-out is another key part of the story. It demonstrates that, despite Terry’s protests, he does have genuine affection for Arthur (his girlfriend Penny reminds him that he’s mentioned how he looks upon him as a father figure). So when Arthur enlists the unstable Vic Piner (Anthony Heaton) to help him get his money back from Lambert, Terry can’t sit on the sidelines. As Dave says, if things go wrong then Arthur will be in the frame for conspiracy to murder.
As might be expected, all is sorted out in the end and Arthur and Terry are reconciled (once Terry’s felled Vic with a single punch). He may have lost the girl, some of his money and everything from his lockup but at least he’s got his minder back.