History Files

THE BEIDERBECKE TRILOGY

 

This quirky comedy-drama, written by Alan Plater, starred James Bolam of The Likely Lads fame, and Barbara Flynn, was first shown on ITV in 1985, and was so successful it spawned two sequels. All three series resonated with the sounds of jazz great Bix Beiderbecke and original music by Frank Ricotti, and it was this, as much as the unusual and eccentric style of the dialogue, that made the trilogy so popular with audiences. The very individual episode titles of the first series displayed the show's eccentricity, the title being the first thing uttered each episode. Episode timings include commercial breaks.

 


THE BEIDERBECKE AFFAIR
w Alan Plater (A 6-part serial)

CAST
Trevor Chaplin James Bolam
Jill Swinburne Barbara Flynn
Mr Carter (Deputy Head) Dudley Sutton
Detective Sergeant Hobson Dominic Jephcott
Big Al Terence Rigby
Little Norm Danny Schiller
Harry Keith March
Mr Wheeler (Pompous Head) Keith Smith
Janey (the Platinum Blonde) Sue Jenkins
Lol George Malpas
Chief Superintendent Forrest Colin Blakely
Joe (a Detective Constable) Sean Scanlan
Ben (Another Detective Constable) Stephen Tomlin
Helen McAllister Alison Skilbeck
Reverend Booth Ian Bleasdale
Mr McAllister (Helen's Father) James Grout
Mr Pitt (Jill's council mole) Robert Longden
Yvonne Judy Brooke

 


At first, woodwork teacher Trevor Chaplin just wants a set of Bix Beiderbecke records. His girlfriend Jill (also a teacher) wants to be a conservation candidate for the local council. Together they are drawn into a mystery of bureaucracy and death threats. Trevor orders a set of records from a beautiful platinum blonde who calls at his home offering door-to-door mail order goods. The records delivered are the wrong ones, so Trevor goes on the hunt, and, before finding and losing her, he upsets a scout mistress and ruins a local kids' game of football, which he was in the middle of refereeing.

Spotting his quarry and dropping his whistle, Trevor follows the platinum blonde off into the distance. The police, led by the naive but enthusiastic Detective Sergeant Hobson BA, turn up to prevent a fracas at what is left of the match, and arrest Big Al, Little Norm, and Jill. Eventually all three are released when Hobson's more down to earth superior finds out just what a twit his graduate detective is.

Eventually, Trevor loses the blonde, comes across would-be supergrass Harry, an old, white-haired individual with a penchant for snooping, and is directed to Big Al and Little Norm, the collective brains behind the mail order outfit. The delivery of incorrect records was a genuine mistake, and Trevor is given free reign to look around Big Al's church basement storeroom. Not long afterwards, Hobson is tipped off and raids the place, closing it down with the help of a little red tape.

Trevor's ex-intended, Helen of Tadcaster, turns up and unwittingly leads Trevor to the heart of the organisation behind the growing list of dirty dealing in the local business world. During the course of events, Trevor finds himself at the centre of an emotional triangle, and Jill and Helen flip a coin to see which will have him. Jill loses but ends up with him anyway - he doesn't get on too well with Helen's father, especially as he ends up being the cause of the latter's arrest. Jill retires from politics before the re-count as she and Trevor head for the hills in search of a happy ending. (Episode 4 title supplied by Gareth Mines, with thanks.)

Producer: Anne W Gibbons
Director: Frank W Smith
Music: Frank Ricotti

What I Don't Understand Is This
Can Anybody Join In?
We Call It The White Economy
Um ... I Know What You're Thinking
That Was A Very Funny Evening
We Are On The Brink Of A New Era, If Only...

 


THE BEIDERBECKE TAPES
w Alan Plater (A 2-part serial)

CAST
Trevor Chaplin James Bolam
Jill Swinburne Barbara Flynn
Mr Carter (Deputy Head) Dudley Sutton
Mr Wheeler (Pompous Head) Keith Smith
Sylvia (A Geriatric Political Activist) Beryl Reid
John David Battley
Mr Peterson (An Undercover Operative) Malcolm Storry
Dave Christopher Wilkinson
Bella Atkinson Maggie Jones
Charlie Peter Martin
Yvonne Judy Brooke
Sam Bentley Victor Maddern
Mr Pitt (Jill's council mole) Robert Longden
Man At Funeral Alan Starkey

 


Events have moved on. Trevor Chaplin has given up his rented room and now lives with Jill. So does his record collection. It takes up one entire side of the living room. Trevor can't resist the offer of a bunch of traditional jazz tapes from a strange barman in an empty pub. But one tape contains a recording of a group of men plotting to dump nuclear waste in the Yorkshire Dales.

The next thing the pair know, they are being investigated by menacing men in grey suits who like to carry guns and break bones, and the sinister Mr Peterson is on their trail. The strange barman, John, is reported dead, and Trevor gets a message to meet the same at his own funeral.

After their home has been searched from top to bottom by the men in grey suits, Jill and Trevor race off to catch up with Mr Wheeler and the school trip to Holland, which is where they are supposed to be. They miss the boats, and the school party, and end up in Amsterdam, on a river boat, with the men in grey suits watching their every move. They are rescued by the timely intervention of a gang of ageing American Marines, who whisk them off to Edinburgh. Eventually, though, the chase ends when Jill finds out the tapes were forged by the very grey suited men who were trying to get them back. The entire operation was one of misinformation, to try to get a less important dumping site agreed. Jill is not surprised, and Trevor just wants a nice long rest.

They end the series standing at the top of a hill in the Dales, where Jill breaks the news that there will soon be a junior addition to their household. (Episode "titles" supplied by Gareth Mines, with thanks.)

Exec Producer: David Cunliffe
Producer: Michael Glynn
Director: Brian Parker
Music: Frank Ricotti and Kenny Baker

Part One
Part Two

 


THE BEIDERBECKE CONNECTION
w Alan Plater (A 4-part serial)

CAST
Trevor Chaplin James Bolam
Jill Swinburne Barbara Flynn
Mr Carter (Deputy Head) Dudley Sutton
Det Insp Hobson PhD Dominic Jephcott
Big Al Terence Rigby
Little Norm Danny Schiller
Mr Wheeler (Pompous Head) Keith Smith
Ivan Patrick Drury
Joe (a Detective Constable) Sean Scanlan
Ben (another Detective Constable) George Costigan
Mr Pitt (Jill's former council mole) Robert Longden
Yvonne Judy Brooke
Baby First Born Thomas McGlinchey

 


Mystery still dogs the footsteps of Trevor and Jill. First they were just good friends with a casual understanding, then they were full time but low-key lovers. Now they are rather unconventional parents, living in an unconventional household.

And the couple, while out walking the baby in a kind of unconventional way, meet up with Big Al and are asked to look after a Russian refugee for a night...or three. And there the mystery begins again. After a trip to a pub's jazz night (Frank Ricotti & His Allstars make a guest appearance as the jazz group at the Limping Whippet pub, run by the sideways-moving Mr Pitt, now bereft of his council job), and eventually discovering what Ivan wants, Trevor and Jill drop him off at the border (of Yorkshire), and they return to find another very unexpected visitor: Jill's ex-husband, a rather untrustworthy chap at best. Trevor does not take to him.

It transpires that Jill's Ex is a little bit on the dishonest side, and is in league with 'Ivan'. Their plan is to perpetrate a computer fraud and make a huge profit. Unfortunately, newly promoted Detective Inspector Hobson is on the case, and with a bit of unofficial help from Trevor and Jill, the crime is thwarted. The two teachers are left to be odd-ball parents in the 'peace' of their own home, and the trilogy ends.

Exec Producer: Keith Richardson
Producer: Michael Glynn
Director: Alan Bell
Music: Frank Ricotti and Kenny Baker

Oh Look - It's Average-Sized Trevor Chaplin
Hello Sir, Hello Miss
Is He The Lodger?
What Do We Have On Hockey Sticks

 

All details are trademarked and copyrighted by their respective producers. All character and location names are also copyright. No infringement of any copyright is intended.
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