By Steve O’Brien
When it comes to top-tier, unmissable telly, it often takes two to make something go right. Whether it’s an iconic presenting couple (hello Richard and Judy), or a pair of indivisible cops (howdy Regan and Carter), a good TV duo is somehow greater than the sum of their parts. Here then is our list of some small screen pairings that *could* exist independently of each other, but totally shouldn’t. And, best of all, you can save 30% on all of their adventures and escapades until 4pm, Tuesday 23rd November as part of our Box Set 11 promo.
Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)
Soon after private dick Marty Hopkirk is mown down by a hit and run in the first episode of Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased), he reappears as a ghost, but rather than choosing his grieving widow to pester, he picks his former partner-in-detecting, Jeff. “Only you can see me, Jeff, only you,” the white-suited apparition tells his disbelieving colleague, and with that, Jeff Randall is stuck with Marty Hopkirk for the rest of his life. They might have been mates before, but with Ghost Marty popping up at the most inopportune moments (mostly, it seems, when Jeff is getting romantic with a lady), he would soon become a bane in his former partner’s life.
Simon Peel and Oliver Smallbridge, Never The Twain
Few actors could do haughtiness like Donald Sinden and it’s this air of barely disguised snobbery he brought to the role of Simon Peel, a sniffy, high-end antiques dealer whose relationship with Windsor Davies’ Oliver Smallbridge is built on narcissistic one-upmanship. Of course, the best sitcoms are often about people who shouldn’t be together, but who, for some reason, have to be, so Johnnie Mortimer’s show had it that the two former business partners – and neighbours! – become even more tied to each other when Peel’s son and Smallbridge’s daughter fall in love. When David and Lyn’s little boy comes along, even he becomes a pawn in their never-ending game, this time of who makes the best grandparent. Despite their antipathy to each other, one always felt that Simon and Oliver *enjoyed* the sparring, and they’d have missed it terribly if the other had actually ever moved house. Of course, neither ever did.
Arthur Daley and Terry McCann, Minder
George Cole’s Arthur Daley had two screen partners during Minder’s 15 years on screen, but it’s his relationship with Dennis Waterman’s former boxer Terry McCann that defines the series. Though Waterman skedaddled after season seven, Arthur and Terry remain the classic pairing, a duo who, like Harold and Albert Steptoe and Del and Rodney Trotter, loathe one another as much as they love each other. The relationship may have started out with Arthur coldly exploiting Terry’s street savvy and talent for fisticuffs, with the ex-con forever wanting to break free and do his own thing, but by the end they’d become more like (slightly dysfunctional) brothers than colleagues.
Lord Brett Sinclair and Danny Wilde, The Persuaders!
It was a delicious on-screen prospect – Roger Moore and Tony Curtis in a big-budget adventure series from ITC. Inspired by the screwball comedies so beloved of producer Robert S Baker, the show buddied up Roger Moore’s Harrow-educated, former British Army officer Lord Brett Sinclair with Tony Curtis’ American, Bronx-born oil millionaire Danny Wilde. When they first meet, Sinclair and Wilde dislike each other so much it ends in a punch up. Throughout the series, however, they come to tolerate each others’ foibles, but it’s the clash between rough diamond Wilde and the slick, cultured Sinclair that makes the series what it is. There have been various plans since the early 00s to remake it, first with Steve Coogan and Ben Stiller, then with Hugh Grant and George Clooney, but sadly things seem to have gone quiet these last few years.
James Dempsey and Harriet Makepeace, Dempsey And Makepeace
Like The Persuaders! 14 years earlier, Dempsey And Makepeace partnered up an unpolished Yank with a sophisticated, well-spoken Brit, the difference this time being that the Brit was female, thus introducing a slither of sexual chemistry into the mix. Like Brett Sinclair, Glynis Barber’s Harriet Makepeace came from aristocratic stock (she’s actually **Lady** Harriet Makepeace), and, like Danny Wilde, Michael Brandon’s Lt James Dempsey was a straight-talking New Yorker. But Dempsey And Makepeace didn’t have the sun-kissed locations of The Persuaders!, instead the series is set against a gritty London backdrop, with the two mismatched cops working for specialised task force SI10. The will-they-won’t-they question was forever part of the appeal of Demsey And Makepeace. In the programme, they never did. In real life, they tied the knot three years after the series ended.