Written by Murray Smith, The Paradise Club tells the story of two contrasting brothers, one a gangland boss and the other an ex-priest, who are thrown together for the first time in eight years upon the death of their notorious gangster mother.
Leslie Grantham, in his first starring role since leaving EastEnders plays Danny Kane, a somewhat reluctant local villain who takes over the Kane family crime empire and the brilliant Don Henderson as (former champion boxer, ex-Foreign Legionnaire, ex-priest), Frank Kane, who returns to London to keep an eye on his wayward brother. On their mother's death it's Frank who inherits the Paradise Club in Paradise Street, Rotherhithe, much to Danny's dismay. Frank wants to run the Paradise Club as a legitimate business and have his brother work alongside him. But Danny is not all the villain he seems and he spends much of his time dealing with the attentions of other local gangsters, notably Peter Noonan, played by Philip Martin Brown. Of course the local constabulary are a constant thorn in his side and he theirs. DI Rosy Campbell is in charge of bringing down the Kane criminal empire, but she has her work cut out as Danny and his brother always seem to be one step ahead of them.
Although The Paradise Club came out at the tail end of the eighties it is typical eighties fare, a sharp drama with a rich vein of humour, owing more to a series like Minder than any other crime drama. The two main characters are totally opposite to each other but manage to co-exist together and bounce off each other. Danny's sharp criminal mind aligned to Frank's voice of reason enable the pair to run their seedy drinking and dancing den whilst keeping at bay the attentions of the South London Underworld. The success of the series was largely due to the casting and acting of Grantham and Henderson, who work amazingly well together.
The show was commissioned by the BBC and made by Zenith Productions and ran for two, ten episode series. Murray Smith had written for some of the most memorable television series of the 70s and 80s like The Sweeney, Minder, Hazel and Lovejoy. Smith had also worked with Don Henderson on three separate series that all featured the character DS George Bulman, first in the series The XYZ Man, then Strangers and finally in the Bulman series. Sadly, Don Henderson died in 1997, but he will be fondly remembered for The Paradise Club and the other great work that he did. One of the most talked about episodes was from the second series- titled Rock and Roll Roulette it guest starred Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson playing rock singer Jake Skinner who was being threatened by his management. EastEnders actor John Altman also made an appearance in the episode. Bruce Dickinson and other members of Iron Maiden actually appeared in another episode, entering the Paradise Club's "Worst Band Competition". But at the end of the episode they take off their wigs and do a great version of Gimme Some Lovin'.
Unfortunately, The Paradise Club has never been released on DVD, partly because Zenith Productions went bankrupt and there were a lot of issues concerning the rights to the music used in the series. This is a shame considering how popular the show was and how well remembered it is.
Published on January 17th, 2019. Written by Glyn Howells (2014) for Television Heaven.