Taking their inspiration from old TV Westerns, writers Jim Hill and Bill Stair transferred the US old-west to the British mid-lands, swapped horses for motorbikes and a tin star for an advertisement offering ‘Anything Legal Considered.’ Instead of a grizzly old sheriff to keep his eye on law and order they opted for an invalided-out-of-the-fire-service Lone Ranger with a deadpan expression and a gravelly voice.
Just like the masked man, Ken Boon had a sidekick. But instead of an ever-reliable Tonto, Boon had to put up with Harry Crawford, cut from the same cloth as his bestie but with more of an entrepreneurial drive, albeit one that was constantly doomed to failure. The pair had teamed up after Ken's first business venture, a market garden, the Ponderosa, goes to the wall and Harry returns from Spain where he ran a bar with his wife until she took off with a younger man.
Playing the titular character is Michael Elphick, no stranger to delivering captivating performances with a light-hearted tone that effortlessly brings charm, wit, and vulnerability to Ken Boon, making him someone viewers can't help but root for. Harry Crawford, as played by David Daker, injects the series with even more humour and camaraderie. The dynamic between the two leads, particularly their banter and chemistry, is undoubtedly one of the show's greatest strengths.
Boon’s favourite mode of transport is his 1965 650cc BSA Norton, a silver charger that he dubs ‘White Lightning’, further enhancing his own urban cowboy image. This love of two wheels soon becomes his main business when he opens a courier agency called The Texas Rangers and employs Rocky Cassidy, his dopey young protégé and apprentice (Neil Morrissey in his first big screen role), and Debbie Yates (Lesley-Anne Sharpe) as his secretary.
As Harry’s interest moves towards investments in country hotels (naturally doomed to failure), Ken sets himself up as a freelance investigator setting up not one, but two agencies; BDI (Boon-Daly Investigations) and Boon Investigations. His clients end up being either crafty plotters, ruthless crooks, or formidable foes who test Ken’s skills and morals as he ends up locating stolen goods, lost dogs and missing husbands, acting as a bodyguard or investigating dodgy business practices. In many ways, there’s a similarity between Boon and the popular Thames series Minder. Both shows explore the dark side of crime and the moral dilemmas that arise from it, while also adding some humour to the mix. This was all but confirmed by Jim Hill: “The one event that made me realise we had a hit show (as far as writers wanting to work on it) was when a Minder script was sent in with Arthur and Terry's names changed to Ken and Harry. It was clearly a Minder plot (rejected) but the writer was desperate to be on Boon. I admired the Minder series and felt proud that Boon had a similar quality.”
The series was originally going to be called Anything Legal Considered, but according to Jim Hill, the Network (Central) wanted it changed: “We fell foul of the vogue of the main character's name being all or part of the title. Boon had been derived from an American TV series from the 1950s that Bill Stair and I both watched and liked. It was called Have Gun Will Travel – a troubleshooting cowboy answered distress calls. He was called Paladin and was played by the actor Richard Boone. We dropped the E and we had Boon."
Michael Elphick was the first choice to play the title character by dint of the fact that the series was (most likely) written for him. According to Jim Hill, he was always Boon. “I met Michael when he starred in a BBC film I had written. He played a thug with a soft side. We got on well and he was reasonably well known after Private Schulz but in danger of being cast as a regular heavy in crime shows. I asked if he would like to do a series – he said yes, (and) Bill and I came up with Boon.”
The series was set in Birmingham, with the first three series filmed in the city and surrounding parts of the West Midlands region before production moved to Nottingham for the remaining four series. Individual episodes were written by various writers with an excellent pedigree in television dramas such as Anthony Minghella (Inspector Morse), Kieran Prendiville (former presenter on That's Life and Tomorrow’s World and creator of the BBC drama Ballykissangel), Bernard McKenna (Hark at Barker, The Top Secret Life of Edgar Briggs), Tony Jordan (Hustle, Life on Mars) and Geoff McQueen (creator of The Bill, and the popular comedy-dramas Give Us a Break, Big Deal and Stay Lucky). The series theme song, Hi Ho Silver, by Jim Diamond reached number 5 in the UK charts.
Central ordered a 90-minute Christmas special of the Sixth series, which aired on Christmas Eve. It was one of ITV’s main attractions for the festive season, along with other shows like Taggart, The Darling Buds of May, Minder and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This was the only standalone feature-length episode of the show, although some other episodes were set during Christmas. The episode paid tribute to Bill Stair, the co-creator of the series who passed away in May 1991. It also marked the last appearance of Laura Marsh, played by Elizabeth Carling, who had been on the show since Series 4 in 1989.
Although the series ended in 1992, one episode remained untransmitted for a number of years. This was supposedly the first episode of the eighth season, which was never made. When it was finally broadcast on 1 May 1995, ITV billed it as a special one-off episode.
Its infectious blend of humour, wit, and heart made Boon an absolute delight to watch and a popular crowd-pleaser throughout its run. Even after its conclusion, the legacy of this hugely entertaining show lives on. To this day, fans continue to celebrate its compelling storytelling, unforgettable characters, and its unique ability to keep them coming back for more.
Published on November 2nd, 2023. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.