Chris Jury on Lovejoy: ‘It was innocent, rural, funny and nostalgic’

Dudley Sutton, Ian McShane, Chris Jury and Pyllis Logan

As an actor, writer, director and producer, Chris Jury may have worked extensively in film, theatre and televison, with directors as diverse as Anthony Minghella and Danny Boyle and on series such as Doctor Who and EastEnders, but it’s as Eric Catchpole on BBC One’s Lovejoy that he’s perhaps best remembered by the British public.

Having recently reviewed the re-released complete Lovejoy on DVD, I spoke to Chris about his memories of working on the top-rated programme which baffled TV producers but viewers couldn’t get enough of.

Jonathan Melville: How did you first come to audition for Lovejoy?

Chris Jury: In 1985 I was in a play at The Bush Theatre on Shepherds Bush Green next to the BBC drama offices. They couldn’t find Eric and a secretary in the office saw me in the play and suggested they came and saw me. I was then interviewed by the director Baz Taylor. I heard nothing for three weeks so assumed I had not got the part and accepted a job in Glasgow as Assistant Director to David Hayman for theatre company 7:84.

I was then called back into meet Ian McShane, producer Bob Banks-Stewart, writers Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais, executive producer Alan McKeown and director Ken Hannam. It was terrifying! I was offered the job the next day and had to drop out of the directing gig with 7:84.

The rapport between yourself, Ian McShane, Dudley Sutton and Phyllis Logan seems genuine – did you enjoy making series one?

Chris Jury todayAll the series were a joy to make. Ian, Dudley, Phylis, Malcolm Tierney and I got on like a house on fire. My abiding memory of filming Lovejoy is laughter and friendship. It doesn’t happen very often. I was very lucky. To this day I regard all four of the regulars as among my dearest friends.

Were you all set to return for a second series in 1987 or was it clear early on that the first series might be the only one?

We were hopeful of a second series in ’87 (which would have been filmed in ’86) but the BBC made Executive Producer Alan McKeown an offer he couldn’t accept and all power to him he walked away. The deal’s the thing you see. That’s why Alan is as rich as Croesus and I’m skint.

When did you learn that the programme would finally be returning?

In spring 1989 Michael Grade left the BBC to go to Channel 4 and within three weeks Witzend, Alan’s company, contacted my agent and we were back on. The deal was finally done in the Autumn of ’89 to start filming 10 eps from Easter 1990.

1993 saw two seasons and a Christmas special air, quite unusual for a BBC drama. Did you sense the BBC were particularly fond of the show at that time?

No. I always felt many of the metropolitan TV industry types were slightly embarrassed by Lovejoy. It wasn’t cynical, urban, edgy or cool enough for them. like Heartbeat and Last Of The Summer Wine, it was innocent, rural, funny and nostalgic – and of course immensely popular with the public! My own taste is for drama that engages more directly with the contemporary world but I could appreciate Lovejoy for what it was and that it was done extremely well. The scripts were brilliant!

This sneering metropolitan attitude crops up even now and the show is the butt of jokes from the likes of Catherine Tate and Little Britain who portray the show as a talisman of an unsophisticated middle-England. Very patronising.

Was there a high point for you during the series run?

I think my favourite time was Series Two which we shot in 1990. We’d had such fun on Series One but it had been and gone and we had all moved on…then suddenly there we all were back together again, being paid magnificently and having a ball. What’s not to like!?

Why did you decide to leave?

I was 37 playing a 17 year old. I had been 28 when I was first cast in 1985 and 29 by the time we completed filming. By the time it finished broadcasting in 1986 I was 30! Then we didn’t film series two until 1990 and I was 34! Plus from when I had actually been 17 I had wanted to direct in TV and it seemed if I didn’t do it then I never would. So I left to pursue a directing and writing career.

There have been rumours over the years of a return of Lovejoy. Is it right that Sky considered bringing it back?

Yes. About 10 years ago I was involved as a screenwriter with Ian and Sky in developing a new series that was more closely based on the books. There was a problem with the rights and the opportunity went away.

Do you think Lovejoy could, or should, come back? Would you like to be in it?

With Ian’s success in Hollywood after Sexy Beast and Deadwood I think it is highly unlikely that Lovejoy could return in the form it was. Apart from anything else we’re all ancient. I’m 55 for goodness sake! And I’m meant to be “young Eric”. There has been talk of a sort of Son Of Lovejoy (or daughter) and I think that could work and I’d love to be part of it. I can’t see it happening though to be honest.

Thanks to Chris Jury for his time. Find out more about Chris and his latest projects.

91 Responses to “Chris Jury on Lovejoy: ‘It was innocent, rural, funny and nostalgic’”

  1. 1 Dan Field
    December 8, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Has there ever been a t.v.program still so popular more than twenty years after it first aired.
    Bring it back Ian and Dick.

  2. 2 TUCKER
    February 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    i would love it to return,i have the complate series on dvd.bring back lovejoy…….GOOD TIMES

  3. 3 Will
    March 8, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Bring it back, modernise it, internationalise it, whatever, but bring it back….

  4. 4 rob
    March 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

    i have just got lovejoy series 1,2,3,4 and loved every minute brought back good memories will watch many times over.

  5. 5 jooloo
    March 27, 2012 at 8:26 am

    it was wonderful. no quotas, no right-on message, no propaganda, no ‘essential’ multiculturalism, no bbc cronies, no morons, but good manners, well-spoken, well written, aesthetically pleasing, hugely entertaining, well acted light drama showing england at it’s best and when england was recognisable as england. all gone now.

    • 6 matt
      April 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      er!yikes. you don’t half sound all daily mail! haha.england recognisalbe as england! haha. fair play. I am watching the repeats on yesterday and it have to say it seems alil bit late 80’s and early 90’swith the hair and clothes but I am not going to put a 2012 perspective and expect it to be shakespeare either.Enjoy it without bringing politics into it. Well spopken!? I always thought Lovejoy’s accent was very London but perhaps that is me!

    • 7 giles
      April 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      Hear, hear! Spot on.

    • 8 PF Darlington
      January 29, 2013 at 12:42 am

      Could’nt put it better myself!

  6. 9 David Palles
    March 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    did you manage to send me that photo Chris ?

  7. April 3, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    It was never the same after Phylis Logan left even though the script was still brilliant

  8. 11 Jeff Taylor
    April 5, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Lovejoy , absolutely brilliant in every way shape or form,please bring it back.

  9. 12 Steve
    April 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I loved the original series, but I don’t want to see it brought back. All the actors would be different. I can’t imagine any new actors would be as good as the originals. it would be like remaking Casablanca.

  10. 13 william g dry
    May 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    bring it back please. why do tv stations take these progranms off air when we all love them…
    what do we have now american crap, on our tv 24 7, bring back lovejoy, i dont care how old eric is he is still eric
    and why did lady jane leave, someone needs to tell ian mcshane to get his finger out his ass and bring lovejoy back

  11. 14 Peter M
    May 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    If Sherlock Holmes came back from the dead, why not Lovejoy Yes even here in Holland we would like to see the series called The return of Lovejoy

  12. 15 moelarrythecheese
    June 28, 2012 at 2:40 am

    I say bring back Lovejoy. Of course there would be a new script / plot and all of the characters would be more mature, but a new storyline could be created. Anyway I think it could be made to work. The cast of characters and their interaction is the important ingredient. Any number of adventures could be designed for them. Just do it.

  13. 16 moelarrythecheese
    June 28, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Also, make sure you bring back Phyllis Logan as well, of course, as all the usual supects. BBC, make it happen.

  14. 17 Anne South
    July 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Please bring it back… Ian mcshane is still Lovejoy .. Who cares about the other actors.?

  15. 18 hAL sAUNDERS
    August 8, 2012 at 2:14 am

    I still love this show!!!!!
    I’m sick of modern TV and what I call “cadaver” crime shows with blood and guts autopsy scenes galore. In Lovejoy a punch on the jaw was about as bad as violence ever got. The scropts were great, the blending of drama and comedy excellent. Asan Australian I also loved the parody they did of Christopher Skase….
    Modernize it, make the son or daughter an integral part, whatever, but lets just see it again!

    Hal Saunders

  16. 19 Barrie
    September 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Without a doubt one of the best tv programmes ever. I’ve got the DVD set but still watch the re-runs on ‘Yesterday’. Would love to see a new series with the original cast, especially the great Dudley Sutton as ‘Tinker Dill’. Although some episodes of the original series were loosely based on some of the books, I feel that it would be better to follow most or all of the Jonathan Gash written work more closely.

  17. 20 Charla (not Charlotte)
    December 14, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Lovejoy:I can still hear myself saying that when we’re 70! Jane: No, Lovejoy the things I like about you won’t go away with age! Hear! Hear! The clue is that in the final episode Lovejoy refers to Jane’s betrothed as Roger (who was Tinker’s brother-in-law) instead of Robert. In my end of the galaxy Lovejoy and Jane do eventually end up together. Need ideas for a sequel? I’ve got them.

  18. December 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    I watch the whole series every winter, where we de-camp to the Italian Dolomites (6 years and counting), I am watching series 3 as I type – it has aged better then me!

  19. 22 dawn bazely
    January 4, 2013 at 11:32 am

    just watched season 1 again, for first time since it first aired in the uk – the programmes have held up very well and some moments are just laugh out loud funny – brilliant! what superb writing and dialogue.

  20. 23 Daithi
    January 9, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I have just finished watching the complete series of Lovejoy on dvd and the final episode was a kind of tear-jerker with Lady Jane reappearing and Lovejoy recollecting the wonderful times they had together but with nothing to come of any of it.
    How nice it would been to finally see Lovejoy and Lady Jane (my personal favourite) as a couple!
    Thankfully the marriage with Charlotte didn’t materialise for she blew so hot and cold with Lovejoy and it would just never have worked.
    As for bringing the series back, in my opinion, a resounding NO for remembering how everyone was and not seeing how they have aged etc is the memory that I want to retain.
    Lovejoy, a great series but it had to end sometime and somewhere as the storylines would sooner or later have become repetitive meaning the viewing figures would declined.
    As I said earlier Lady Jane and Lovejoy would have been a nice couple but the writers sadly deemed otherwise, a great pity!

    • 24 IAN PAYNE
      April 18, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Well some of the stories in the books were written in 2000’s I think sooo it could be reborn on TV me thinks !!!

  21. 25 Lenalee
    January 13, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Lovejoy was a fantastic series and it deserves to be brought back. The stories are intriguing, funny and extremely well written and acted. There are new Jonathan Gash Lovejoy books, these could be adapted I would so
    love to see Ian Mcshane and team back, Lovejoy could work with daughter/son and embark on a new set of ventures.

  22. 27 Chris C
    January 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Of course a “son of Lovejoy” would actually have to be his daughter Vicky – now there’s a twist! Would we ever learn his first name? I’m not sure a modern era version would work – antique shops are closing down rapidly as tastes change. Would they be able to find any more stately homes and thatched villages as sets?

    A one-off episode showing what they are doing 20 years on (except Tinker – RIP) would be popular but I can’t expect it to get past the BBC “suits” despite the export potential.

    Shame there isn’t any behind the scenes footage or out takes available to include in the DVD sets.

    A feature film based more closely on a Gash novel might also work and be an interesting contrast.

  23. 30 Kim
    February 18, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Why not include Tinker Chris C? not sure where you get your information from?

  24. 33 Sandy
    February 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I loved and still love the series, set in “real old England”, Lovejoy is the typical handsome rogue a bit of a smoothie, and Ian was perfect for the part. I enjoyed the series thoroughly and am thinking of buying the collection of DVDs. Also, there must be some writer who could make a new series working around and following on from the original, always with Ian Mc Shane in the star part! Someone somewhere must be able to write a follow on.

  25. 35 Mick. Adams
    March 25, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Bring back love joy but only with Ian mcshane

  26. 37 Declan
    April 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Lovejoy is undoubtedly the best comedy drame ever to be shown by the BBC . I loved it when it was on originally and now my son is a big fan having bought the complete series on DVD. I must have watched each episode many times over the years. Would be great to see return in some form but would need the original cast . Feel good TV ! We need more of it !

  27. 38 IAN PAYNE
    April 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    17th April 2013 – It’s being aired at present on YESTERDAY – twice a day, 5 days a week ! Wonderbar !!!!

    Last time was in 2011 – soooooo popular !

    • 39 IAN PAYNE
      April 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      One more thing – just had a signed autograph from Ian McShane – whopeeeee !!

      • 40 IAN PAYNE
        April 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm

        Ian McShane starred with two actors from my home town of Walsall over his career – Frank Windsor in LOVEJOY episode called ‘Raise The Hispanic’ [1991] and Richard Wattis in the film TAN LIM [1971]

  28. 41 IAN
    April 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    The LOVEJOY series run is on YESTERDAY Channel again at present and as good as ever !

  29. 42 IAN
    April 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Just talked about the return of all these great iconic TV series at a local restaurant; coming back as the usual repeats or as new dramas in their own right or as where are they now type shows.

    Anyway Lovejoy is on TV again [YESTERDAY CHANNEL] – great stuff !

  30. 43 IAN
    May 15, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Jonathan Gash has just sent me back my copy of one of his Lovejoy novels signed with a brief note – wonderful and mark of the man !

  31. 44 IAN
    May 24, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Found a LOVEJOY audio book in my library in Walsall and also books by Jonathan Gash that are unrelated to Lovejoy. This author should be celebrated more!

    • 45 Patto
      July 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Just finished reading Jonathan Gash’s “Finding Davey”. A must read for any Lovejoy fans. Ian McShane could certainly play the lead if ever a movie was made of it. An old master craftsman of antique furniture refuses to give up hope of finding his kidnapped grandson.

  32. 46 Mrs Celia hodkin
    June 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I agree with most comments especially regarding Lady Jame and Lovejoy getting together. I didn’t enjoy the series quite so much after she left. Watch it regularly on Yesterday even though have seen most of them before!

  33. 48 IAN
    July 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Well it ended the same again on YESTERDAY and he’s back to square one – ‘…the past is a foreign land, and Lovejoy doesn’t live there anymore…’ How sad !!

  34. 49 IAN
    August 17, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Just saw Chris Jury pop up in a WYCLIFFE episode called ‘Feeding The Rat’ on You Tube.

  35. 50 IAN
    August 25, 2013 at 6:48 am

    I wrote a letter in a few East Anglian rags in 2011, asking where LOVEJOY had been filmed [locations] and had loads of replies back, but they have gone west now sadly and I can’t find tem, only one e-mail reply somewhere. I found this on the net which may answer some yearning questions about location sites from the series for hardened LOVEJOY fans like myself :


    On another note I see LOVEJOY has returned sporadically on the new DRAMA channel – hurrah !!

  36. 51 IAN
    August 25, 2013 at 6:52 am

    And one more thing for Felsham Hall fans :


    Yet it is in Suffolk not Essex – seems East Anglia is a big place……….

  37. 52 IAN
    August 25, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Plenty of Love and Joy at wedding venue Belchamp Hall me thinks………..

  38. 53 IAN
    August 29, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Saw Ian McShane in a 1989 episode of ‘Minder’ this morning on ITV 4 called ‘THE LAST VIDEO SHOW’. A bolt over from making ‘Lovejoy’ it seems, then back again……….

  39. October 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    As I come from Sudbury Lovejoy will forever be in my heart…. Loved it

  40. 58 IAN
    October 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    In the Lovejoy novels, such as ‘GOLD BY GEMINI’ by Jonathan Gash, Lovejoy and Janey do the deed and have a full blown affair, which, for some unfathomable reason, they never achieve in the TV series!

  41. 59 IAN
    October 19, 2013 at 5:25 am

    LOVEJOY – please come back to our TV screens as a newly thought out programme [there’s nout on these days]. Those were the days :

  42. 61 Graham
    October 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Anyone wanting to find out locations where lovejoy was filmed,google maps provide alot of them!
    Alot of series 1 was filmed around my area of south norfolk/north suffolk and have been a massive fan of the show from the start,its my favourite program ever,
    I was a teenage heavy metal fan back in the mid 80s and it was great hearing a suffolk voice on tv back then and seeing towns villagers and countryside i grew up around,
    I go around the auctions of diss and beccles now as you never know,one day i may get a ‘divvie’ funny turn and find a bargin! lol,
    Oh and they shouldnt bring it back,i want to remember the gang as they where,

  43. 62 Graham
    November 1, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Anyone who is interested in filming locations can get them from google maps,Lovejoy is set in suffolk and series 1 was filmed around where i grew up and live,north suffolk/south norfolk,
    Later series,allow still being set around suffolk did use surrounding countys such as essex and herts as filming locatons,
    To me lovejoy is the best tv show ever and i watched it from the start when i was a teenage heavy metal fan,it was great to hear a suffolk accent on the tv (chris did a great job on that) and see placers and locations i knew,and i still watch them when ever i see it on to this day,allow my taste in music has changed!
    I do go to the auctions of diss and beccles in the hope that lovejoys magic “divvie” sence rubs of on me and i see a bargin! lol,
    I dont think they should bring it back though,i like to remember the gang as they where,i dont want to see them grey and old,the magic wouldnt be there!

  44. 63 IAN
    December 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    How sad that another great star has left earth’s shores – JEAN KENT was brilliant in the LOVEJOY episode ‘National Wealth’ and may she RIP :


    • 64 Nick garner
      December 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Very sad, there was some of the best actors on lovejoy always remember. Jean god bless you
      Will tonite wach the episode national wealth this veining,

      • 65 Will
        December 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm

        me too, even though i am on an oil rig in the middle of nowhere. Lovejoy makes me feel as if i am back home. bring it back. just Ian Mcshane. returning to the area, for the first time in 20 years, cant find anyone, so heads out to the hall, et voila…gimbert, Lady Jane, Tinker, Eric all gradually get found…imagine..yes please

  45. 66 IAN
    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm


    Can’t see LOVEJOY ever coming back when the powers that be at the BBC are thinking of making their 2014 gold standard a documentary about a fried chicken outlet [above].

    Perhaps ITV could bring it back instead ?!!

  46. 69 IAN
    December 29, 2013 at 9:08 am


    I bet Lovejoy would have loved to have emersed himself in this find [above] !!

  47. 71 Chris Armstrong
    January 8, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Great series thought the original cast were brill, great stories rock on lovejoy !!

  48. 72 IAN
    January 20, 2014 at 9:13 am


    The LOVEJOY TV series was ahead of its time showing Lovejoy as a guest on TV antique shows, especially at a time when antique shows were still in their infancy and in reality still pretty conservative and without guest specialists. I am sure Lovejoy would find the e-bay world in C21st just a intriguing !!

  49. 74 John Wilson
    February 1, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Don’t make classic programmes anymore. Lovejoy was one and always will be. I’m a big fan of Ian. Dudley. Chris, and of course the lovely Phyllis Logan. It would be great to see another series. But. Everyone moves on.

  50. 78 michael a cutting
    February 21, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Just watched Lovejoy on Drama Channel Sad News about Malcolm Tierneys Death AKA Charlie Gimbert RIP

  51. 81 IAN
    March 12, 2014 at 6:46 am

    I am sure Lovejoy would have approved Sir Hugh’s stance on saving great artistic works and even tried to get to meet this wizard of art :


  52. April 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    LOVEJOY is an ‘Every Man ‘ type character who would be good at any age, any time frame. To bring him back would require great plot lines , good writing, decent exec production. Not something the BBC does well or often now a days. Have you noticed how all their main actors from the past complain in interviews about the lack of proper BBC programming these days ! Sky spoke to Ian and Chris ten years ago but nothing happened . Shame . Maybe one day but I feel the moment has past . Double Shame .

    If he does come back it would have to be in Suffolk, Herts and Essex country like before. Unfortunatly it would now look different as all those white washed cottages and pubs are painted terrible light pinks , blues and even orange . Treble Shame !!
    Heres hoping but wont hold my breath

    • 84 IAN
      July 26, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Not forgetting most pubs have closed now !!!

      • 85 Patto
        July 27, 2015 at 1:38 am

        Just finished converting all of my Lovejoy series to mp4 so that I’ll have a permanent digital copy. They still look great! Here’s an idea. How about doing the more recent Lovejoy books as one off mini-series? Ian mcShane would be an excellent choice to play the lead in Jonathan Gash’s “Finding Davey”. If you enjoy Gash’s style in the Lovejoy books this has a similar feel and is is an excellent read.

  53. 87 The Son Gimbert RIP.
    June 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Lovejoy was the Pure class back in the early 90s unlike todays pc dull tv programs long live legend of C,Gimbert.

  54. 88 The Son Gimbert RIP.
    June 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Lovejoys to old for a return hes 72, Tinker would be 80 odd it would not be fun seeing them that old in today world.

  55. 89 michael a cutting
    March 18, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    Remembering Malcolm Tierney AKA Charlie Gimbert First Anniversery This Year Since His Passing

  56. 90 IAN
    December 4, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Sad about Anthony Valentines death, he was on a repeat of LOVEJOY 4 weeks ago on Drama Channel [Saturday morning] :


    A lovely actor and a brilliant character actor. I loved him in RAFFLES TV series during the 1970’s!

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