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Lovejoy is a British television comedy-drama mystery series, based on the picaresque novels by John Grant under the pen name Jonathan Gash. The show, which ran to 71 episodes over six series, was originally broadcast on BBC1 between 10 January 1986 and 4 December 1994, although there was a five-year gap between the first and second series. It was adapted for television by Ian La Frenais.
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||6|
|No. of episodes||71 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||50 minutes|
|Original release||10 January 1986 –|
4 December 1994
The series concerns the adventures of the eponymous Lovejoy, a roguish antiques dealer based in East Anglia. Within the trade, he has a reputation as a "divvy", a person with almost unnatural powers of recognising exceptional items as well as distinguishing genuine antiques from fakes or forgeries.
- Lovejoy, played by Ian McShane, a less than scrupulous yet likeable rogue antique dealer
- Eric Catchpole, played by Chris Jury (series 1–5; guest, series 6), Lovejoy's younger, enthusiastic, but ever so slightly dim, assistant
- Tinker Dill, played by Dudley Sutton, "barker" and tout who is friends with Lovejoy
- Lady Jane Felsham, played by Phyllis Logan (series 1–5; guest, series 6), has a friendly, flirtatious relationship with Lovejoy, often helping him with his deals
- Charlie Gimbert, played by Malcolm Tierney (series 1, 4–6), owner of a local auction house and Lovejoy's nemesis within the antiques trade
- Beth Taylor, played by Diane Parish (series 5–6), Lovejoy's new apprentice following the departure of Eric Catchpole
- Charlotte Cavendish, played by Caroline Langrishe (series 5–6), an auctioneer who becomes Lovejoy's love interest
The series was notable for its style and pace. Lovejoy would frequently break the fourth wall, revealing his thoughts and motives by addressing the audience directly. The first series was shown on BBC1 in the first half of 1986. It concluded with a two-part special.
Despite the first series being a moderate ratings success, Lovejoy was not brought back until January 1991. The original four cast members returned for the next two series between 1991 and 1992. With the start of the fourth series in 1993, Malcolm Tierney reprised his first series role as Charlie Gimbert.
During the fifth series, several cast changes were made. Phyllis Logan left the show in the second episode and Chris Jury departed in the sixth episode, although both characters returned for the sixth series finale. Two new regular characters were added: Lovejoy's new apprentice, Beth Taylor, and Charlotte Cavendish, who ran a local antiques auction house.
The sixth and final series of ten episodes was aired between October and December 1994. Two ninety-minute Lovejoy specials for Christmas were shown in 1992 and 1993. The theme tune used in the opening and end credits, as well as the incidental music for each episode, was composed by Denis King.
In the United States, the series was first aired on the A&E Network. It was marketed as The Lovejoy Mysteries on VHS in the United States. The DVD release of the entire series has returned to the title of Lovejoy.