AskDefine | Define lovejoy

Extensive Definition

Lovejoy is a series of picaresque novels by John Grant (under the pen name Jonathan Gash) about the adventures of Lovejoy, a British antiques dealer based in East Anglia whose scruples are not always the highest. He does however have a reputation in the antiques trade as a "divvie" (possibly derived from "diviner" although several of the books question this), meaning one with an almost supernatural talent for recognising exceptional items as well as for distinguishing fakes or forgeries from genuine antiques. Intriguingly, Lovejoy's first name is never mentioned in the books. In the TV series based on the novels, he insists on being addressed by all solely as "Lovejoy".


The novels were made into a drama TV series, broadcast on BBC1 in the UK from 1986 to 1994 and starring Ian McShane in the lead role. The lechery and violence in the novels was toned down for television. Also, the character of Lovejoy's favourite 'picker' was cleaned up (literally), from the malodourous, seldom bathed individual in the novels, although his penchant for strong drink was retained. The first series was shown on BBC1 in 1986, and there was a five-year gap before Lovejoy was brought back as a regular series in 1991. Nearly all of the original cast returned for the 1991-93 series with Malcolm Tierney reprising his role as Charlie Gimbert at the start of the fourth series. The television version maintained the author's original wish to keep Lovejoy's first name guarded, but a guest star suggests that his first name is "Malcolm" in latter years. Lovejoy neither confirms nor denies this. In the second series Lovejoy also suggests naming the car he gets from Lady Felsham "Malcolm", so perhaps this is another clue, and in the third series, Lovejoy looks askance when told he reminds another character of someone called "Malcolm". He does, however, refer to himself as "Lovejoy, C. J., Captain" as a pretext to dupe a guard and gain entry to a military museum, but there is of course no necessary motivation to have provided correct initials for a fictitious title.
The fifth series of Lovejoy included some cast changes as the character of Lady Jane Felsham left the show in the second episode, and the character of Eric Catchpole left the show in the sixth episode, both only returning for the series finale. Also in the fifth series two new regular cast members were added: these were Lovejoy's new apprentice, Beth Taylor (played by Diane Parish), and Charlotte Cavendish (played by Caroline Langrishe), who ran a local antiques auctions house.
There were also two Lovejoy specials (Christmas episodes, both with a running time of around 90 minutes) made during the second stint of filming. Lovejoy remains a favourite on BBC Canada cable TV and on direct broadcast satellite channels. In the UK, it is currently shown by ITV3, one of several BBC productions that the channel now holds the rights to.
The series was marketed as The Lovejoy Mysteries on VHS in the U.S. The DVD release of the first season has returned to title of Lovejoy.

Changes from page to screen

There are several notable differences between the television series and the books. The books are more violent, with the villain of each novel generally suffering a very gruesome death, which Lovejoy generally denies responsibility, though it is implied that he did directly or indirectly cause the villain's demise. Lovejoy also shows some misogynistic tendencies, both in his treatment of, and his comments about, the women he encounters.
Yet he always appreciates women, saying that "women and antiques are the only reasons for living", "Women are the only source of love", and "Every woman is special in her own way, but women don't always realise this". He is very complimentary about older women, saying that they have a grace and presence that no 'dolly bird' can emulate.
Lovejoy frequently breaks the fourth wall by directly addressing the audience, either with his opinion on various matters, to his observations about someone or something. This echoes Grant's writing style, where Lovejoy frequently breaks away from the narrative to give observations about antiques, history, and other subjects.


  • The Judas Pair (1977)
  • Gold from Gemini (1978), U.S. edition: Gold by Gemini (1979)
  • The Grail Tree (1979)
  • Spend Game (1981)
  • The Vatican Rip (1981)
  • Firefly Gadroon (1982)
  • The Sleepers of Erin (1984)
  • The Gondola Scam (1984)
  • Pearlhanger (1985)
  • The Tartan Ringers (1986), U.S. edition: The Tartan Sell (1986)
  • Moonspender (1988)
  • Jade Woman (1988)
  • The Very Last Gambado (1989)
  • The Great California Game (1991)
  • The Lies of Fair Ladies (1992)
  • Paid and Loving Eyes (1993)
  • The Sin within Her Smile (1993)
  • The Grace in Older Women (1995)
  • The Possessions of a Lady (1996)
  • The Rich and the Profane (1998)
  • A Rag, a Bone and a Hank of Hair (1999)
  • Every Last Cent (2000)
  • Ten Word Game (2001)

Main cast

Lovejoy episode list and original air dates

Series 1

  • 1-1 10-Jan-1986 The Firefly Cage
  • 1-2 17-Jan-1986 The Axeman Cometh
  • 1-3 24-Jan-1986 The Sting
  • 1-4 31-Jan-1986 Friends, Romans and Enemies
  • 1-5 07-Feb-1986 The Judas Pair
  • 1-6 14-Feb-1986 To Sleep No More
  • 1-7 21-Feb-1986 The Real Thing
  • 1-8 28-Feb-1986 The March of Time
  • 1-9 07-Mar-1986 Death and Venice (1)
  • 1-10 14-Mar-1986 Death and Venice (2)

Series 2

  • 2-1 06-Jan-1991 Just Desserts
  • 2-2 13-Jan-1991 The Italian Venus
  • 2-3 20-Jan-1991 Bin Diving
  • 2-4 27-Jan-1991 Montezuma's Revenge
  • 2-5 03-Feb-1991 Who Dares, Sings
  • 2-6 10-Feb-1991 One Born Every Minute
  • 2-7 17-Feb-1991 National Wealth
  • 2-8 24-Feb-1991 Sugar and Spice
  • 2-9 03-Mar-1991 Raise the Hispanic
  • 2-10 10-Mar-1991 Lily's Pearls
  • 2-11 17-Mar-1991 The Black Virgin of Vladimir (recut into a two part episode on later transmissions, with the first part listed in the opening credits as "Riding in Rollers")

Series 3

  • 3-1 12-Jan-1992 Friends in High Places
  • 3-2 19-Jan-1992 Out To Lunch
  • 3-3 26-Jan-1992 No Strings
  • 3-4 02-Feb-1992 Angel Trousers
  • 3-5 09-Feb-1992 The Benin Bronze
  • 3-6 16-Feb-1992 Eric of Arabia
  • 3-7 23-Feb-1992 Scotch on the Rocks
  • 3-8 01-Mar-1992 Loveknots
  • 3-9 08-Mar-1992 Smoke Your Nose
  • 3-10 15-Mar-1992 Kids
  • 3-11 22-Mar-1992 Members Only
  • 3-12 29-Mar-1992 Highland Fling (1)
  • 3-13 05-Apr-1992 Highland Fling (2)
  • Special S-1 26-Dec-1992 The Prague Sun

Series 4

  • 4-1 10-Jan-1993 The Napoleonic Commode
  • 4-2 17-Jan-1993 The Ring
  • 4-3 24-Jan-1993 Second Fiddle
  • 4-4 31-Jan-1993 The Colour of Mary
  • 4-5 07-Feb-1993 Fly the Flag
  • 4-6 14-Feb-1993 Judgment of Solomon
  • 4-7 21-Feb-1993 The Galloping Major
  • 4-8 28-Feb-1993 God Helps Those
  • 4-9 07-Mar-1993 They Call Me Midas
  • 4-10 14-Mar-1993 Irish Stew
  • 4-11 28-Mar-1993 Dainty Dish
  • 4-12 04-Apr-1993 Taking the Pledge
  • 4-13 11-Apr-1993 Lovejoy Loses It

Series 5

  • 5-1 05-Sep-1993 Pig in a Poke
  • 5-2 12-Sep-1993 Who is the Fairest of Them All?
  • 5-3 19-Sep-1993 A Going Concern
  • 5-4 26-Sep-1993 The Kakiemon Tiger
  • 5-5 03-Oct-1993 Three Men and a Brittle Lady
  • 5-6 10-Oct-1993 Ducking and Diving
  • 5-7 17-Oct-1993 Stones of Destiny
  • 5-8 24-Oct-1993 Poetic Licence
  • 5-9 31-Oct-1993 The Peking Gun
  • 5-10 07-Nov-1993 Goose Bumps
  • 5-11 14-Nov-1993 Swings and Roundabouts
  • 5-12 21-Nov-1993 Never Judge a Book By Its Cover
  • 5-13 28-Nov-1993 The Price of Fish
  • Special S-2 27-Dec-1993 The Lost Colony

Series 6

  • 6-1 02-Oct-1994 Fair Exchange
  • 6-2 09-Oct-1994 Day of Reckoning
  • 6-3 16-Oct-1994 Somewhere Over the Rainbow
  • 6-4 23-Oct-1994 Double Edged Sword
  • 6-5 30-Oct-1994 Guns and Roses
  • 6-6 06-Nov-1994 The Last of the Uzkoks
  • 6-7 13-Nov-1994 Breaking the Broker
  • 6-8 20-Nov-1994 Fruit of the Dessert
  • 6-9 27-Nov-1994 Holding the Baby
  • 6-10 04-Dec-1994 Last Tango in Lavenham


The show was parodied several times in the Harry Enfield sketch show Harry Enfield and Friends under the title 'Big Bob Joylove'.
In one episode of Vic Reeves Big Night Out, Vic Reeves is accompanied on stage by Bob Mortimer, who is dressed in a coat covered with 'antiques' (alarm clocks, cardboard boxes etc..) When Vic asks Bob to announce who he is, he replies in a resigned voice "Lovejoy, apparently, Vic..."
In the later series The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, Vic Reeves announces 'Lovejoy' to the audience, then Bob Mortimer appears dressed as the character in his black leather jacket, with huge lines of make-up streaking his face. Oddly, this version of Lovejoy speaks in the voice stereotypically associated with a Native American.
Lovejoy's mullet hairstyle (short at the sides, long at the back) is a common target in parodies of the show - though Ian McShane has a short cut in the first season, and cuts the locks well before the final season of the revival.

External links

lovejoy in German: Lovejoy
lovejoy in Finnish: Lovejoy
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