The theme tune to the series that made actor George Cole a TV favourite has been played at his funeral.
Cole, who died on 5 August aged 90, was best known as Cockney wheeler-dealer Arthur Daley in Minder, a role he played for 15 years from 1979 to 1994. Reading a eulogy during the ceremony at Reading Crematorium, Dennis Waterman, said of his time as Cole’s co-star: “We laughed all day long, every day”.
The upbeat song “I Could Be So Good for You” was a hit for Waterman in 1980.
Waterman, 67, played Arthur Daley’s likeable bodyguard Terry McCann in the hit series. Delivering the eulogy at the 30-minute service, he said: “People are always asking me for anecdotes. Working with George was an anecdote. It was non-stop. “It’s a wonderful day I suppose, but a horrible one. Personally I would rather be doing Hamlet with no rehearsals than this.”
Speaking after the service, Waterman added: “He was just the most popular person in showbiz and the nicest and the best. “He was happiest when he was at home, when he was getting a few winners, and with his family and in his garden.” Cole’s widow Penny, whom he married in 1967, read David Harkins’ poem He Is Gone during the service.
She read the line: “You can open your eyes and see all that he has left”, before jokingly adding, “all those television repeats”. Cole’s defining role, as the small-time crook who dreamt of bigger things, regularly drew audiences of 17 million for the ITV show.
The actor, who lived in Stoke Row near Henley, Oxfordshire, also played Flash Harry in four St Trinian’s films between 1954-66, starred opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra, as well as gothic horror The Vampire Lovers.
He began acting in the early 1940s, appearing with Lawrence Olivier in The Demi-Paradise, and taking a small role in Olivier’s star-studded Henry V.
Cole was “surrounded by his family” when he died at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, his agent has said.