The Beiderbecke Affair (TV Mini-Series 1985) Poster

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Brilliantly original work from the pen of Alan Plater
Ian Jones (icj-1)8 February 2004
Set in and around Leeds in the North of England, Trevor Chaplin and Jill Swinburne are teachers in a typical secondary school. Trevor is a jazz freak whilst Jill is an eco-activist. They stumble across some nefarious goings on in the local community and with the help of some unlikely characters solve a tangled web of corruption.

The humor in this show is absolutely top notch both in situations and dialog and although I have seen it a couple of times, it never seems to get stale. I love this show.
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It doesn't get any better than this!
Guy Chapman8 January 2005
If you think "CAddyshack" or "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" are the funniest thing on earth, this is not for you. If you love cool jazz and warm humour prepare for a treat.

It's not just the script, although Alan Plater is undoubtedly a genius.

It's not just the acting, although not a gesture is out of place, every nuance in its place.

It's not just the soundtrack, although the Beiderbecke-inspired jazz soundtrack is superb in every respect.

It's the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Pace? Who needs it. This is a series which proves beyond doubt that frenetic, fast-paced comedy is *not* the be-all and end-all. This is comedy to be enjoyed with a glass of wine and the life partner of your choice; it is as British as chips and brown ale, it is timeless. Watching it again twenty years on it is as perfect as it was on first viewing.
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corking soundtrack
Andy Bolstridge6 August 2004
As some reviews have said "A jazz soundtrack paces this British series, adding more mystery to the lovers' quest for the truth" and "This outlandishly funny series weaves quirky characters, witty dialogue and a wonderfully smooth, jazz soundtrack into a uniquely satisfying, entertainment experience."

Well, that's not how I'd describe it.. The jazz soundtrack is fabulous, Bix Beiderbecke tracks blast through the slow bits in between the meat of the show, making this a truly immersive, grab-you-by-the-ears and drag-you-along series.

Oh yeah, the dialog, plot, setting are all excellent too - if you haven't seen it, it's worth the 9.3 rating at time of writing this!
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an oasis of excellence in a desert of tv mediocrity
mcwillychris22 August 2001
well I think the summary says it all.

casting, pace and content are excellent.

I almost purr with pleasure while watching

i also fancy Barbara Flynn something rotten

Adventures under the duvet pfwoooar
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Splendily entertaining and disturbingly prescient
timsmith373 May 2008
This was not the first outing for Alan Plater's schoolteacher detectives, who in 1981's Get Lost had been played admirably by Alun Armstrong and Frances Tomelty. However no-one could quibble with the re-casting. James Bolam effortlessly nails each line of the arch dialogue, while the talented Barbara Flynn has that rare quality of looking both believably ordinary and incredibly fanciable. Some wonderful British character actors also get plenty of screen time in what is effectively an ensemble piece. Colin Blakely, Keith Marsh, Danny Schiller, Robert Longden and Keith Clarke all do sterling work, but special mention must be made of Dudley Sutton's tweedy schoolmaster and Terence Rigby's saturnine Big Al, while Dominic Jephcott was a real find as the callow university educated detective. A beautifully constructed series, that remains as pertinent as ever in a society increasingly disrespectful of privacy and intolerant of eccentricity.
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I liked the film and disagree with the review
willsona-231 December 2007
Having seen several of the later series, my wife and I were looking forward to this (the series opener) and enjoyed it very much. The review provided on this web page could only have been written by an American. There is a world of difference between American humour, which is mainly action based, and British humour, which relies heavily on the dialogue. By fast forwarding through the first two hours, the reviewer could only have made his incomprehension worse! you cannot watch British movies like that. On the other hand, perhaps his copy, like ours, had the content for disc 3 on the CD that was labeled 'Disc 1' in which case he could be forgiven for getting confused.

So far as the characterization is concerned, yes they are a little larger than life, and a little unusual, but as an expatriate Brit., I find most depictions of Americans by American actors equally unbelievable, and frequently find myself asking, "Would that bloke really behave like that?" PS. I spell in English English.
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A delightful comedy drama
Tweekums19 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This six part drama, first broadcast in 1985, centres on the lives of two school teachers in Yorkshire; Trevor Chaplin and his girlfriend Jill Swinburne. Their lives seem fairly normal until one day a platinum blonde knocks on Trevor's door; she is selling items from a catalogue to raise funds for the local cub's football team. She has nothing that he wants but when he says what he really wants is a set of jazz records by Bix Beiderbecke she says she can get them. When they arrive they aren't what he ordered and his attempts to get them changed will lead to the two protagonists into dealings with the police, in particular Det. Sgt. Hobson, an officer with unconventional methods; a couple of black-marketeers and even the local planning department!

This TV series may be almost thirty years old but it doesn't feel particularly dated. The comedy is inoffensive yet still funny… frequently laugh out loud funny. This is down to fine script from Alan Plater and spot on performances from James Bolam and the delightful Barbara Flynn as the two protagonists; they have a great chemistry. They are ably supported by the likes of Dominic Jephcott as DS Hobson, Terence Rigby as black-marketeer Big Al and Dudley Sutton as sarcastic history teacher Mr. Carter. The story progresses slowly but that is part of its charm as it frequently concentrates of things that appear to be irrelevant to the main plot but later turn out to be relevant. Overall I'd say this series is well worth watching.
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close to perfection
tlloydesq8 September 2015
Nothing is ever perfect, but in the world of TV drama – Alan Plater's "The Beiderbecke Connection" gets about as close as you can. The show centres on two secondary school teachers – jazz fanatic Trevor Chaplin (James Bolam) & environmental activist Jill Swinburne (Barbara Flynn). The couple stumble on corruption in high places and reluctantly become involved.

The first thing you notice is that the story is quite weak. No twists to end each episode, no emotional crises to deal with. The show does have characters though. To supplement the main couple we get the mysterious Big Al (Terrence Rigby) and Little Norm (Danny Schiller). Colin Blakely and Dominic Jephcott appear are coppers at different ends of the progressive scale. Dudley Sutton is a teacher colleague of Chaplin's and Keith Marsh is a number of things including a wannabe supergrass.

The actors are important because rich characters need good actors. All of the above are very good but Bolam, Flynn, Rigby and Blakely are supreme. They "get" what Alan Plater wrote about and convey the characters perfectly. When venturing "out of left field" it is important not to overplay your hand. Writing and acting meet and when played correctly are a joy to behold.

So in each of the 6 episodes you take a journey through a slightly unusual yet still believable world inhabited by slightly unusual yet still believable characters. At the end of each episode you are left wanting more but are not left puzzling over any loose ends.

In keeping with the title there is also a jazz soundtrack which accompanies the show well.
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Simply Brilliant
I recently bought the DVD set of the Beiderbeck Trio - amazingly good stuff. The first one, the Beiderbeck Affair, was made thirty years ago and still retains all its charm and gentle humour.

It pokes fun at pomposity and and in particular "the system" without any expletives or stupidity, a difficult thing to do.

Every word of dialogue is beautifully delivered and every shot is nicely framed, especially the high-level shots.

The two remaining shows maintain the same features - a joy from start to finish. Wish it had been longer.

The additional info booklet was very interesting as were the interviews and the splendid CD of the music tracks.
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slow moving with irritating characters
dabotter37 June 2006
The TV show was slow moving and the 'offbeat' characters were sometimes irritating. Only through the miracle of fast forward was I able to make it through the first 2 hours.

The write-up indicates that it's some kind of comedy/mystery but I didn't see much of either.

If it really picks up after the first 2 hours, please let me know, because I doubt that I will watch the rest without a recommendation.

This review is supposed to be without spoilers so I will continue in a vague, non-spoiler, fashion. I found the two main characters uninteresting and unsympathetic. I found myself asking 'Would a normal adult do that?' The man with the hedge trimmer looking out the window was irritating and when the male lead interacted with him, he looked pathetic. Would a normal adult put up with someone as irritating as him?
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