Reviews

The Beiderbecke Trilogy DVD Review

Distributor: Network DVD
Certificate: PG | Region: 2 | 6 disc set | 660 minutes

Extras: Yes

cast
James Bolam, Barbara Flynn, Dudley Sutton, Dominic Jephcott, Terence Rigbby, Danny Schiller, Colin Blakely, Beryl Reid

Back in 1985 one of the quirkiest and best remembered shows of the decade emerged, The Beiderbecke Affair, written by the excellent Alan Plater starred James Bolam and the quietly sexy Barbara Flynn as two schoolteachers, Trevor Chaplin and Jill Swinburne, who find themselves caught up in a conspiracy involving corrupt local government when Trevor buys some mail order jazz records by the legendary Bix Beiderbecke.

With deliciously witty dialogue, groovy jazz music and a first rate cast (including the all time great Colin Blakely) The Beiderbecke Affair was a huge hit with viewers and couple of years later a two part follow up emerged, The Beiderbecke Tapes saw the dynamic duo receive a recording of a meeting in which plans to discuss the dumping of toxic waste in the Yorkshire dales are heard, again the excellence factor is high with Beryl Reid making a great guest appearance. The following year saw a final outing for Trevor and Jill in the four part Beiderbecke Connection in which they tried to help a Russian refugee who turns out to not be all he seems.

The roots of the show actually lay in an earlier serial (1981) written by Plater and called Get Lost (included here in this superlative 6 disc box set), this is basically the Beiderbecke Affair in all but name and features Alun Armstrong and Bridget Turner as two school teachers – woodwork and English as in Beiderbecke – who turn detective when Turner’s husband goes missing. With the same groovy music and brilliant ear for dialogue and quirky characters this is genuinely the equal of any of the Beiderbecke.

Network definitely have to be applauded for including this four parter in the box set, as major fans of the series we have long wanted to have a look at Get Lost, clearly Plater knew he was onto something good with the format so its no surprise that the two shows are so similar.

This new box set definitely qualifies as must have material, 6 discs, 5 of which feature the three Beiderbecke serials and the four part Get Lost and a companion audio cd of music from the series performed by Frank Ricotti and his orchestra. Add to that of course Network’s usual commitment to quality extras and you have one of the releases of the month.

extras
The aforementioned Get Lost serial, special booklet by the always informative Andrew Pixley; vintage interviews with Bolam, Flynn and Plater and the excellent soundtrack CD.





Other posts featuring the following