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  • A superb series, excellent script and great acting. This should not be missed, anyone who likes the British dramas will not be disappointed with this fare. Each week reveals a new aspect in the mind of the conniving Ralph Gorse, Nigel Havers, a man who has no scruples and will stoop to anything, even murder, to further his ambitions and his bank account.

  • I saw "The Charmer" years ago when it was on PBS. That was the first time I ever saw Nigel Havers. He was perfect for the role! Nigel Havers blonde handsomeness was a great direct contrast to the evil that was inside Gorse. Nigel Havers played this role so well, I heard that even after the series ended, alot of women wanted this character to return to the screen! We watch how Gorse charms his way with women to get money and how he ruins everybody around him. I won't say what the ending is, but it was absolutely satisfying as we see Gorse get his just desserts! This was a totally compelling, mesmerizing show as we can't help but watch a psychopath's rise and fall! I highly recommend this show!
  • whistlestop20 June 2006
    I saw this when it was aired in 1987 and have never forgotten it - we couldn't wait for the next episode! It was mesmerising, and Nigel Havers was truly creepily thrilling as the handsome cad who gets himself deeper and deeper into trouble. I can never forget the final image; I won't spoil it in case they ever do show it again, but it is beautifully handled. You feel satisfaction, pity, compassion and a sense of justice. Bernard Hepton was even more creepy as the outwardly mild-mannered man out for revenge. I would love to see it again, still hoping for a DVD. I've always liked Rosemary Leach, her performance is great as well. I don't know why comments now have to be 10 lines - they never used to be. Why write more than you have to?
  • nankipoo4 April 2001
    This is one masterpiece of a mini-series. The twists and turns of this thriller will leave you remembering it for a LONG time. Havers is perfect, as are the rest of the cast.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Not too tight, old boy," says Ralph Gorse at the end of The Charmer. We've spent nearly 312 minutes leading up to this point. They are 312 well spent minutes.

    Gorse (Nigel Havers) is a charming English con man in the early Thirties. He lives by his amoral wits, seducing, enticing and working the side deals. He wants everything he isn't and everything he hasn't. Eventually he works his way up to murder. The Charmer, a wonderful Masterpiece Theater presentation now twenty years old, maintains every bit of its queasy allure, thanks in large part to Havers, to Rosemary Leach and to Bernard Hepton. Leach plays Joan Plumleigh-Bruce, a somewhat frumpy upper-middle class, snobbish Englishwoman, a widow who attracts Gorse's attention because of her property and her income. Hepton plays Donald Stimpson, a man who wears round, thick eyeglasses, has a rather silly mustache and is a property broker. He is a long-time friend and wooer of Joan, and he also fancies a marriage to her, to her income and to her property. The idea of a regular bit of the old bed springs is attractive to Stimpson, too. When Gorse meets Donald and, through him, Joan, the main pieces in this sly, malicious and self-serving game come into play.

    In the course of this six-part series we will watch Gorse woo and manipulate, empty bank accounts, impregnate, cause a fire with fatal results, seduce, and murder. Following his trail like a middle-aged, self-serving angel of retribution is Donald. And Donald pulls along in his wake Joan, a woman who knows she was had and scorned, who still loves her Rafe but has Donald whispering to her that Rafe must be held accountable. Donald, of course, would like nothing better than to see Gorse brought down, partly because he detests Gorse and partly because he is sure that will be the path back to Joan's heart, bed and finances.

    Is there anyone likable in this drama? Not really, and that's so satisfying. It is the ability of Gorse, Joan and Donald to ignore their real motives and fail to hide their real moral characters from us that gives us so much pleasure. By the end of the drama, Gorse, Joan and Donald each in their own way find a comeuppance that allows us to think our own upright moral characters might even be real.

    Nigel Havers has a particularly tough job giving us the picture of Ralph Gorse. Havers must show us what a heel the man is, yet he also must make us see Gorse's charm. We know when Gorse is thinking up some disreputable betrayal for his own benefit. We can see how he is justifying a death. Havers also is able to show us how seductive, how pleasant, how companionable Gorse can be when he wants to. Rosemary Leach gives us a wonderful portrayal of a singularly unlikable, self-deluding woman who wants to be loved, who flutters at Gorse's attentions, who rather likes Donald's insistent courting and who thinks nothing of giving her young Irish maid condescending disdain. And last, we have Bernard Hepton, in my view one of the best of Britain's skilled character actors. With those thick glasses and that mustache, Hepton turns Donald Stimpson into a figure of slightly pompous amusement for us; that is, until we begin to realize just how resentful Stimpson is becoming, and how relentless he is in the pursuit of bringing down Gorse. Hepton turns Stimpson into a little man dangerous to underestimate, who simply won't let go.

    The Charmer is murderous black comedy that is a great deal of fun, and features three outstanding performances.
  • Nigel Havers plays a seducing lying murderer con man in this mini-series. The way the story is written, you wonder if he will get away with his schemes or faces the conquests. It is well written that you keep guessing to the end. The Charmer is one of the best out of the Masterpiece Theater TV show.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    English novelist and playwright Patrick Hamilton became an international name with two major film versions of his play "Gaslight", the first British version starring Anton Walbrook, the later American version starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. The story concerned the sadistic methodical psychological torture, hidden from public view, of a vulnerable innocent wife by her criminal husband. There was, needless to say, a particular extreme ruthlessness and viciousness about this man who has already murdered once. Similarly the central character, Ralph Gorse, in "The Charmer" - a ruthless and murderous when necessary, conman. The difference was that Gorse used his particular skill at a calculated fake easy charm to attract and lull his victims - then rob them of their life savings, their reputations, their everything. And murder them without remorse if needs must. In a way rather reminiscent of "Day of the Jackal" Gorse, like The Jackal, is utterly coldly calculating in his use of other humans as objects to serve his ends. Nigel Havers so perfectly plays Gorse the charismatic chilling charmer it is not clear if his career as an actor benefited from his raised profile or suffered as a result. Gorse is the text book psychopath (his enjoyment of strangling his victims as in this TV production though is not - murder for them is a means to an end, not an end in itself.) Hamilton's first novel "Craven House" was an endless collection of minute descriptions of the personalities particularly the foibles, pretences and weaknesses of the residents at a lodging house. The pettiness of people's weaknesses which Hamilton observed then is seen again in The Charmer - Mrs Cholmondley-Bruce (perfectly played by Rosemary Leach)seems to lead some to regard Hamilton as a blackly comic writer and his victims entanglement and distress as rather comic also. The point I think was that Hamilton's fictional victims were not heroic worthy people as they would be with other writers concerned to wring out more pathos - it was their vulnerabilities which Hamilton described and his villains detected and ruthlessly exploited. If a victim had been vain or foolish or stupidly trusting Hamilton did not expect to raise a smile. If Mrs Cholmondley-Bruce mocked the accent of her Irish house maid it was not Hamilton's intention that this made her death any less disturbing. Apart from his creative skill, it was Hamilton's clear-eyed honesty which lifted him above the writers of his time. Twenty two years after it was shot The Charmer remains fresh and absorbing for its whole 312 minutes, its lack of sentimentality puts in increasingly in tune with the times. The near faultless direction caught Gorse's (Havers') expressions as they instantly changed from false warm chummyness to eerie cold stare was faultless. The two leads were perfectly chosen, Rosemary Leach's natural warmth complementing an icy and eerie Nigel Havers. The period (1930s) atmosphere is perfectly caught. Although done with a light touch and entertaining, underneath it is rather like seeing a snake observe, size up - and eat - its fluffy and naive victim. Do we feel compassion or think that the victim's naivety and foolishness meant that they got more or less what they deserved? Gorse would have simply of thought, if he bothered to give it much thought, the latter.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is an excellent series and would have made a really good full length movie.

    The acting is perfect in this as are the period sets and a flawless plot. There is not a single person in the whole series who is likable but this just adds to the intrigue.

    The Charmer is very clever at conning women into bed and out of money but he is poorly educated and does not have the common sense of being able to play his cons properly and is easily distracted by various women, he is always playing the next woman in order to settle accounts with his past.

    The elderly boyfriend of one of the Charmers conquests becomes the hunter and is determined to bring him down – not ever realising that it will be his own undoing as well and he will lose the one thing he wants out of it all.

    I pray that Hollywood never remakes this as they will ruin it – as they do with most remakes. This film is about a story – not about the actors – which is why it is so good. Buy the DVD