Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Beiderbecke Connection

There aren't too many television shows which feature a down-to-earth, sweet couple. A man and a woman who genuinely like one another and have a dear, comfortable, happy life together. Pie in the Sky is one which comes to mind. And here is another - well actually three others: The Beiderbecke Affair, The Beiderbecke Tapes, and The Beiderbecke Connection, known as The Beiderbecke Trilogy. The first two are pleasant and enjoyable but the third one really shines. I happen to own it, and watched the four episodes recently and felt pure happiness. The name Beiderbecke comes from Bix Beiderbecke, the 'first great white jazz musician' says our hero Trevor Chaplin, who is a self-proclaimed 'jazz freak.' One wall of his living room is devoted to record albums and tapes. Trevor's love is Jill Swinburne, a woman who wants to save the planet. Both are teachers at the local school in Leeds; a place with so little money that there are only three Tess of the D'Urbervilles for Jill's English class and no wood for Trevor's woodworking class. There are various and sundry characters who pop in and out of their lives. Some are kindly criminals, some are policemen - one of whom seems to model himself after a character in Miami ViceA great pleasure is the appearance of Dudley Sutton as a fellow teacher, an actor I know from Lovejoy. The Beiderbecke Connection takes place in the 1980s, and we see the students in the fashions and hairstyles of that time. The show was such fun for me to watch, and I'm happy to own it so I can see it again and again. It stars the wonderful James Bolam and Barbara Flynn as our lovely couple who in one scene are reading in bed - he, Dr. Spock's baby book (they have a new baby they call Firstborn since they haven't decided upon a name yet) and she, something by Maya Angelou. The shows are filled with gentle humor and terrific jazz music done by Frank Ricotti. The trilogy was written by the late Alan Plater. 





20 comments:

  1. How interesting to see James Bolam so much younger than in his New Tricks days!

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    1. The first thing we ever saw him in was When The Boat Comes In, and he was ten years younger than in the Beiderbecke shows.
      I quit New Tricks once I read this:

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/dennis-watermans-shock-domestic-violence-766571

      I just couldn't enjoy watching anymore.

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  2. I'm always ready for television recommendations for shows like this. Thanks, Nan.

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    1. I am a big fan of nearly everything British, so I've seen a lot of them!

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  3. I loved these too, and was sorry to see the end of them. I loved When the Boat Comes In also. You stopped watching New Tricks? You'll not miss much - Bolam is gone, and the stories are not so hot now anyway.

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    1. I wish When the Boat Comes In was available on Netflix. We did enjoy the shows years ago, and as I remember 'Jack Ford' wasn't such a nice guy. :<) I loved New Tricks until I read that piece. Then I couldn't look at the actor without anger.

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  4. How I love this eccentric series! It's one of my comfort viewings. Of course I adore James Bolam but I also see a lot of my young teaching self in the Barbara Flynn character. One of the best things ever on television and Alan Plater's script just brilliant.

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    1. I was watching Lewis the other night, from the beginning, and saw one of the episodes was written by Alan Plater.

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  5. I watched this series on television when it was first broadcast and loved it. My children were small at the time and my husband away at sea so this was my personal indulgence when I had put the children to bed and could sink, exhausted, into an armchair. Great jazz.

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    1. This is the best story! Thanks so much for coming by to tell me.

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  6. I've had this in my netflix que for sometime and will have to get to it! I do love James Bolam too! Thanks!

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  7. I remember James Bolam in The Likely Lads and apparently he was in Z-Cars (pronounced Zed Cars in England.) I'll look out for this series - they might have it at our library.
    Ann

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    1. I haven't seen either of those shows - neither are available on netflix. :<( There are so, so many English shows I can't watch unless I buy them.

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  8. Oh, I'll have to give this series a go during my next flair-up!

    Have you seen Lark Rise to Candleford? It features a lovely, down-to-earth couple as well. They're not the main characters, but they're usually in every episode. :)

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    1. It will be just the ticket!
      I haven't seen it, and on your recommendation I just went to Netflix and added the first three episodes, and put them at the top of the queue. I saw Dawn French is in it! Thanks so much.

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  9. I don't remember this one but I must have seen it. Pie in the Sky is one of my favourites! Love that. Did you know that Richard Griffiths died recently. Such a shame. He was a great actor.
    Thank you for the reminder about these lovely programmes.

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    1. I didn't know he died. Very sad. Most people know him now from Harry Potter, but for me it is Pie in the Sky, and also The History Boys. Such a good actor.
      All the Beiderbecke shows are on Netflix.

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  10. This sounds so much like a pendant to the "Teacher" books by Jack Sheffield I am reading right now, also set in Yorkshire (Leeds features, too), also set in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Lovely! Must try and find this.

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    1. I think you'll enjoy the trilogy. If Netflix is available there, they are there.

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