Alan Plater's comedy thriller series introduces the engaging amateur detective partnership of teacher Tervor Chaplin and his girlfriend Jill, beautifully played by James Bolam and Barbara Flynn. They are on the trail of t... more »he blonde saleslady who sold him an inferior set of records by Trevor's hero, Bix Beiderbecke, the legendary jazz musician. Alan Plater's hit comedy mystery series introduces the engaging amateur detective partnership of woodworking teacher Trevor Chaplin (James Bolam) who likes to listen to jazz and his girlfriend Jill (Barbara Flynn) who wants to save the planet and run for the local council. They are on the trail of the beautiful blonde saleslady who sold Trevor an inferior set of records by Trevor's hero, Bix Beiderbecke, the legendary jazz musician. As their adventure unfolds Trevor and Jill encounter strange going's on and even stranger people, including a suspicious detective sergeant and a strange pair of men running a junior football team. It doesn't take long before they uncover a web of corrupt government officials, crooked businessmen and death threats. This thrilling series weaves quirky characters, witty dialogue and a wonderful jazz soundtrack into a uniquely satisfying entertainment.« less
Michael K. Smith | Gonzales, Louisiana | 07/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Properly-done British humor, as I frequently explain to acquaintances who are puzzled by it, is probably an acquired taste. It's certainly more subtle and intellectual than your average sitcom -- Yank or Brit -- and even when it's topical, its popularity is likely to last. This is Series One of a terrific comedy-mystery featuring a clutch of character actors who are not in the Hollywood mold. In fact, I had never before come across James Bolam, who plays Trevor Chaplin, public school woodworking teacher in West Yorkshire, and I only knew Barbara Flynn (Jill Swinburne, English teacher at the same school and Environmentalist Party candidate for the town council) from her supporting role as Mrs. Maigret, and from _Lorna Doone_ and _The Forsyte Saga_. Dudley Sutton was an old favorite from the _Lovejoy_ series, and Colin Blakely has been marvelous in nearly all his many roles. The dialogue is frequently off-the-wall, especially when Jill and Trevor are dealing with the officious Headmaster or the semi-clueless Det. Sgt. Hobson, B.A. (a "graduate copper," beautifully played by Dominic Jephcott), and their cautious personal relationship is believable and endearing. Trevor isn't actually as limp as he might at first seem, and Jill isn't nearly so independently fearless and self-sufficient as she would like to believe. The plot is also just this side of terminally bizarre, involving the "gray economy" (which Big Al refers to as the "white economy," in an attempt to improve its image) and the lengths to which the Powers That Be will go to subvert its influence, the reappearance in Trevor's life of his old flame, Helen of Tadcaster, and a retired bookie's runner (with his dog, Jason) who tries, not very successfully, to make a buck as a police informant. But another major character in the series is the blighted landscape of urban Yorkshire, staring out at you as Trevor and Jill tootle around town in his delapidated minivan. Finally, the very last scene, "running downhill in slow motion," is almost worth the price of admission all by itself!"
A great series still awaiting a decent presentation
Dave Matthews | Lancashire, England | 01/28/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Given the dire quality of the recent VHS-only releases by Granada Media in the UK, I was pleased to find this American DVD issue. However it's not all good news: the prints used are noticeably grainy & scratchy - particularly in the first couple of episodes. Clearly no attempt has been made to polish them up, let alone remaster the series. The dialogue track, however, has been "cleaned up" on the first episode - presumably in an attempt to remove background hiss. Sadly this has been done rather amateurishly and results in unnatural silences during pauses in dialogue.Although the episodes are complete, a minor but puzzling point is that the end titles for segments 1 and 3 have been removed.Overall, then, while I applaud Goldhil for issuing the series on silver disk, the set isn't worth its normal retail price. The prints used might have been acceptable for VHS but their flaws are quite apparent on DVD. Lack of proper extras don't help, either. Hopefully this wonderful series will receive the quality of release it deserves one day. In the meantime, however, Goldhil's attempt is certainly better than nothing!"
Off-Beat Fun That Might Remind You of Nick and Nora
Stephanie DePue | Carolina Beach, NC USA | 01/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Beiderbecke Affair," a box set of a light-hearted British television mystery series, was made by Yorkshire Television for Britain's Independent Television stations (ITV). The six-episode series was broadcast on PBS in this country in the 1990's, along with its sequels, Beiderbecke Tapes, and The Beiderbecke Connection. It was created by the award-winning Alan Plater, one of Britain's more prolific, entertaining writers, and centers on a pair of wisecracking schoolteachers caught up in some amateur sleuthing.
The series is set, and filmed in the city of Leeds, in Yorkshire, a place we don't hardly ever see over here. (Though, warning to the wise, we don't hardly ever hear Yorkshire accents over here, either, and that's what the cast is using. And there are no subtitles). Anyway, Trevor Chaplin, our protagonist, is also actually a transplanted Geordie, from further North, up Newcastle, Hadrian's Wall way, (upon which friends and acquaintances comment), with his own accent. As played by James Bolam ("New Tricks," "The End of the Affair"), he's a jazz-loving, kind of befuddled, but witty everyman woodworking teacher. And apparently he hasn't reflected upon the fact that beautiful, well-dressed platinum blonds seldom go selling door to door, until he buys a bunch of Beiderbecke records - that's vinyl records, and there are also no cell phones, only phone boxes - from one. The Beiderbecke records fail to turn up (Beiderbecke was an early American jazz great of the 1920's), and Trevor goes looking into things with his girlfriend and fellow teacher, who's running on the green line for town council, Jill Swinburne (Barbara Flynn, Mrs. Cracker, from the long-running mystery series Cracker: The Complete Collection).
The mystery's kind of light-weight, not exactly watertight, and moves along in a leisurely British fashion, but it will get round to gray-market goods hidden in a church basement, secret meetings on level 4 of a multi-story car park, and corruption at the highest local levels. The banter's consistently witty, and so is the sound track, inspired by Beiderbecke's work, by the award-winning musician Frank Ricotti. Co-stars include Dominic Jephcott ("The Scarlet Pimpernel.") There's also a substantial number of those sturdy British supporting players: Colin Blakely, Dudley Sutton, Terence Rigby, and James Grout, among others.
The award-winning writer Alan Plater's credits include Last of Blonde Bombshells,and A Very British Coup.
The episodes in this series are: 1. "What I don't understand is this...?" Where are the records? 2. "Can anybody join in?" A newly-minted, university graduate cop (Jephcott), has his suspicions. 3. "We call it the white economy." The plot thickens. 4. "Um...I know what you're thinking." And gets thicker still, as Helen McAllister, a wealthy, well-connected former girlfriend of Trevor's, suddenly shows up. 5. "That was a very funny evening." Helen and Jill go out to dinner together and put away a lot of champagne. They toss a coin for Trevor, and Helen wins... 6. "We are on the brink of a new era. If only...."City council elections, and dirty tricks.
It's all offbeat fun, and might just remind you of those charming Nick and Nora mysteries of the 1940s, but things do get a bit whimsical and/or farcical at times. Those who have a taste for such entertainments -- like me--will appreciate it best.
Is it COMEDY? Is it MYSTERY? Without a doubt, it's BRITISH
Harold Wolf | Wells, IN United States | 12/31/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two unwed room-together teachers, both devilishly full of verbal tarts and retorts, get involved in what appears to be a black-market scheme being housed in a church basement. At that point it reverts to a LOT of quirkiness and bizarreness. You have your gangsters vs police, politicians and civic/business leaders, a blond mystery bombshell, school personnel, a driver with dark glasses, clan zealots, an old man with a dog not to mention Big Al and Little Norm.
If it can go wrong, it does. It it can get confused, it does. The plot is so interwoven between the good guys and the bad bunglers that it is possible even the director forgot who was who. Through it all, Trevor (James Bolam) and Jill (Barbara Flynn) never fail to continually pass cracks at each other. But is it all because of LOVE? Enter Trevor's old flame, Helen, who for her own reasons wants Trevor back...so...the two ladies, who actually like each other, flip a coin.
Ah but there is more to the McAllister clan than meets the eye. Will bungling super cop Det. Sgt. Hobson get to the bottom of it all? In the meantime, Trevor helps Jill run a campaign as a conservative candidate. If you're now as lost as the cast, fear not, at least you will discover a bit about Bix Beiderbecke.
It is pure dry British comedy throughout. It is somewhat similar to Monty Python by the stupidity or foolishness of some of the characters. It could also be considered a British answer to "Get Smart" without the action and gadgets. No shoe phones in "The Beiderbeck Affair", but there is an electric toothbrush that gets Trevor arrested...again. Hobson arrests every character in the series at some point...it seems.
Fix yourself a spot o' tea, a tray of biscuits (cookies), and expect droll entertainment. Save a cup for the slow-motion run of lovers near the end. If you relate to the subtle British humor, it's bully, or crackin', or Yorkshire friendly. Four tea drinking pinkie's up."
G. Price | N. California | 07/14/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Over the past six months I have purchased and returned this set five times. Each time the problem has been that the first disc of this three disc set may be labled disc one but is in fact disc three containing episodes 5 & 6. and of course disc three is disc three and also has episodes 5 & 6."