Series Premiere: Better the Devil You Know

The popular and iconic comedy drama returns to British TV for a brand new series on Five. The show builds on the heart and wit of the original, but has been refreshed for a modern audience. Shane Richie stars as wheeler dealer Archie Daley, nephew of Arthur, alongside Lex Shrapnel as his minder, Jamie Cartwright. In the first episode, Archie enlists the help of taxi driver Jamie to settle his debt to a pair of menacing property developers.

Cabbie Jamie is just finishing his shift when a snappily dressed stranger jumps into his car. “Step on it, please!” says his fare. The taxi takes off with a pair of goons chasing them in a car. Jamie shakes off their pursuers with a few nifty moves, only for the taxi to be rammed to a halt. The thugs haul Archie Daley from the car and warn him to obey their bosses’ orders. Jamie steps in and floors the henchmen with a few well-placed punches. “He’s my passenger. He’s my responsibility,” he tells them.

The goons beat a retreat, but not before a pair of sharp-suited City types arrive in a car and toss Archie a briefcase. “You got 24 hours, mate,” they say. Dusting himself off, Archie thanks Jamie for his help and invites him back to his office in a shabby warehouse. Archie likes what he has seen of the cabbie and thinks he could be just the man to carry out a ‘little job’. “Nothing dodgy, straight up – trust me,” he says. An incredulous Jamie learns that the briefcase contains £50,000 in cash, which Archie wants him to deliver as down payment on a pub.

Jamie heads to the pub, only to discover that the landlady, Petra Bennett (Jenna Russell), has no desire to sell her home to Archie Daley or anyone. “You can tell him he can shove it!” she says. Back at the office, Archie is under pressure from all sides – first from crooked councillor Conway (John Henshaw), who refuses to grant him permission to buy his warehouse, and then from DI Murray (Josette Simon), who confiscates Archie’s dodgy goods. When Jamie returns to find the place crawling with cops, he stashes the briefcase in a box – only for it to be carried off to the police station with the other contraband. “At least it’s where nobody can nick it,” he tells Archie.

An exasperated Archie drags Jamie off to a meeting with the Gold brothers, a couple of sinister property developers. Jamie realises that they are forcing Archie to buy Petra’s pub on their behalf – and that the £50,000 is actually theirs. Refusing to do any more of their dirty work, he storms off. “I’ve hardly known you a day but I’ve never met a bigger bleeding liar in my life,” he snarls to Archie.

Jamie returns to the pub and apologises for trying to pressure Petra into selling up. He offers to stay the night and protect her and her teenage son should the Gold brothers try anything untoward. Later, he catches Archie in the act of trying to scare Petra out of her home by making spooky noises in the piping. “This is the level of desperation to which they have sunk me!” Archie cries.

Jamie decides it is high time to fight back against the property developers and expose their dodgy dealings with Cllr Conway. With Archie’s help, he sneaks into Conway’s office and steals a vital set of plans showing that the pub must be demolished to allow the brothers to build a vast new retail park. “Petra’s pub is the only thing that stands in their way!” says Archie.

However, before the boys can sabotage the scheme, DI Murray arrives and arrests Jamie for breaking in to Conway’s office. Archie is shocked to learn that his fledgling minder has previously served time for GBH, but nonetheless scrapes together bail to spring him from jail. The boys head straight for the pub, only to find someone has set it alight. Can the mismatched pair save Petra from the fire and bring the Gold brothers to justice?

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