UK Dopers: what does it mean to "give a Harvey Smith"?

I came across this phrase yesterday in a book in which the late Earl of Kintore is describing various bits of memorabilia belonging to his deceased mother the Countess of Kintore:

From wikipedia:

Smith was born in Yorkshire, and stood out from the ranks of showjumpers because of his broad accent and blunt manner. His career was often controversial; in 1971 he was disciplined after an incident in which he gave a “V-sign” to the judges on completing a clear round at the British Show Jumping Derby. Smith became so famous that he embarked on a brief, but unsuccessful, singing career. His son, Robert, also became an equestrian champion.

No idea if that’ sit, but sounds right to me.

That’s right.

A ‘Harvey Smith’ gained currency as slang for a V-sign because of the notoriety of the show-jumper. It’s dated now though and I’m pretty certain most British people under 35 or 40 wouldn’t have a clue what it meant.


Seems to be straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

It’s roughly equivalent to giving someone the finger, but not quite as rude.

Well a ‘Harvey Smith’ means ‘F*ck *ff’, while I thought the ‘finger’ meant ‘sit on this’.
I don’t know which would be ruder…

Thanks for those replies. It never occurred to me that Harvey Smith was a **real ** person. I assumed it was some sort of silly rhyming slang.

Harvey is alive and well.

He lives in Bingley (Yorkshire) and is the husband of Sue Smith, a successful trainer of racehorses, mainly over the sticks.

In the United States, the finger (as well as the less common chin flick and arm pump) is generally considered the equivalent of “fuck you.”

Wiki doesn’t mention that Harvey also had a few stints in the pro-wrestling ring. More a novelty act than a serious contender, I’d imagine, as though that was unusual or anything.

He was also the punchline of a Two Ronnies sketch in which Corbett played the part of a tourist in Spain trying to overcome the language barrier with Barker (as a local), by citing the names of famous sportsmen and the like. (A touch of Darmok going on there.) Eventually Corbett got across the message that his car had run out of petrol and he needed to borrow and fill a can and was asking Barker for credit until he got back; at which point Barker indicated that he understood and said “Harvey Smith”.