For an egalitarian nation TV is strangely full of butlers but famous chauffeurs are a bit thin on the ground. Perhaps its hard to make a great character out of someone who ‘just’ drives a car. But some brave filmmakers have decided that the car driver can be the star and we pick our top 3 TV chauffeurs.
Chauffeur, batman, valet and all round top hole, Bunter is the sidekick to 1930s detective Lord Peter Wimsey – the upper crust scion of the Earl of Denver and one of the most enduring fictional detectives ever created. But Lord P would be the first to admit that he needed his #2 to solve cases of murder, blackmail and deception – as well as drive him from his stately home to his London club. As a chauffeur he was not always perfect – he drove into a wall at the start of ‘The Nine Tailors’ and would probably earn himself a few points today – but he was brilliant at getting all the backstairs gossip and like all the best chauffeurs he was soon the bosses confident.
On TV he has been played by Richard Moran, Glyn Houston, Derek Newark and Charles Lloyd Pack (father of Trigger actor Roger)
2. Thomas Watkins
Before there was Downton Abbey there was Upstairs and Downstairs, before there was Thomas Branson there was Thomas Watkins (were all Edwardian chauffeurs called Thomas?) this was a time when driving a car was pretty cutting edge – Thomas was probably the social media developer of his day. And he had a lovely Welsh accent. Like every chauffeur, Thomas was both fiercely loyal to his employer but also a bit a rogue – nothing too naughty but the uniform makes every chauffeur irresistible to ‘the ladiez’ and Thomas soon had under house parlour maid Sarah in the family way, and not in a good way. It’s not often you see a position of ‘Under House Parlour Maid’ advertised but fortunately chauffeurs are as popular today as they were in Lord Bellamy’s time.
Thomas was of course played by TV legend John Alderton (husband of Pauline Collins who played Sarah.
The unflappable employee of Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, there was nothing wooden about this loveable ex-con. Rescued from a life of crime by the Lady in Pink, Parker was, like all chauffeurs, fiercely loyal and completely dependable. He appeared in over 16 classic ‘Thunderbirds’ episodes and too many people is still the archetypal chauffeur – a smart looking uniform meets slightly crumpled features. His total deference to his client was summed up in his classic response in attempted RP – ‘Yes, M’Lady’
If you knew his first name was Aloysius then treat yourself to a Pink Gin and IT.
Do you agree with our top 3? If you want to nominate your own fave chauffeur then let us know.