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The Beiderbecke Affair [DVD] [1985]

James Bolam , Barbara Flynn , David Reynolds , Frank W. Smith    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: James Bolam, Barbara Flynn, Dominic Jephcott, Terence Rigby, Dudley Sutton
  • Directors: David Reynolds, Frank W. Smith
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Cinema Club
  • DVD Release Date: 10 Nov 2003
  • Run Time: 320 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000C24EH
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,756 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


All six episodes of first of Alan Plater's comedy drama series. Woodwork teacher and jazz buff Trevor Chaplin (James Bolam) has always fantasized that a beautiful blonde will enter his life and simultaneously provide him with rare recordings of his hero Bix Beiderbecke. Unlikely as it seems, this is just what happens one evening when Trevor is at home in his flat. It is an encounter which will ultimately involve him and his colleague, independent political campaigner Jill Swinburne (Barbara Flynn), in exploding lawnmowers, political corruption and the strange world of 'black economists' Big Al (Terence Rigby) and Little Norm (Danny Schiller).

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I suppose the Beiderbecke series (there were three) have become a kind of cult classic, for a very small cult. They were never likely to find a bigger audience: the unique, gently skewed quality of Alan Plater's writing isn't the sort of thing with mass market appeal, but as with jazz itself, the Beiderbeckes have become practically a language for a small core of followers.
It's set in Leeds, in the early 1980s, and the main characters are a couple of secondary-school teachers. Beyond this, it gets hard to summarise. Not to give too much away, it involves a Cubs football match, a multi-storey car-park, a policeman with a University degree, a dog called Jason - and the music of Bix Beiderbecke, the first great white jazz musician: they said his playing sounded like bullets, shot from a bell.
I'll stop trying to explain it. The series is unique. You'll run into Beiderbecke fans in unlikely places for the rest of your life. They're good people. Try it.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last The Affair To Remember! 6 Oct 2003
The emergence of DVD is at last allowing TV's archives to be plundered for real gems like this offbeat comedy thriller. With the release of this and 'A Very Peculiar Practise' viewers are being given a chance to once again enjoy series made without the input of the focus groups and the influence of the destructive ratings wars. A time before the era of endless programmes about doctors, vets and lawyers.
Alan Plater creates real people, flawed, humourous, even sometimes dull and allows his plot to meander over six episodes into an examination of local politics, corruption, relationships and jazz.
Barbara Flynn and James Bolam are excellent in the lead roles, ably supported by Terence Rigby and Sue Jenkins. Its offbeat, low key and a real treat. You won't be sure what happens next and you won't care because you'll be enjoying it too much.
Extras aren't needed because at this price and 300 minutes of 'The Beiderbecke Affair' you have real value for money. Imagine 'The Long Goodbye' meets 'Last Of the Summer Wine' with a Kenny Ball soundtrack. Do indulge yourself and buy it.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
The mean streets of 1980's Leeds play a comedy backdrop to this off the wall, but homely personal TV favourite. I cannot recommend it too much. The trio of Beiderbecke series explore serious very relevant issues, but do it alongside gentle comedy, romance, and the mystery of what connects everything back to Bix Beiderbecke the Jazz musician. Alan Plater writes three dimensional, quirky, surprising but satisfying parts for all his actors. And there is a great soundtrack.
A perfect antidote to the modern day soaps and cookie cutter rehashed rubbish that sits smugly across our modern day TV schedules. Remind yourself that TV used to be capable of intelligence and originality.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Quiet Paradigm Leep 21 Jun 2005
Well our two schoolteachers do something that all the "Queen's Horses" cannot. The notion that you cannot provide exquisite chuckle humour mixed with a cacophany of intrigue and low key excitement whilst kicking the "Bix Beiderbecker" out of authority makes a wonderful release from the then and now, of the antics of both politics (the story line for politcal intrigue and corruption which is universal and cyclical) and greed amongst those we are meant to trust but don't and hence the wonderful and farseeing writing of Alan Platter.
I only wish that he would update another and continuous series with that of present day corruption in the political arena and all the woes of social and ecological decline. We might get that kick in the pants which all the messages the Greens are encouraging us to change our ways in a manner which society will encompass and take our responsibilities seriously.
The B/B trilogy is undisputably one in the most fundamental ways in which life in the UK could become more honest, fun and intriguing if everyone stopped being frighetend of everyone else. Please much more of the same!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
James Bolam at his best as the underdog teacher, finding romance, of sorts with another teacher, a mystery, some spy games, and a couple of "local heros" big Al and little Norm. As good as telly drama gets. Worth watching all three series, the Afair, the Tapes, and the Connection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Plater's masterpiece. 8 May 2008
The dialogue is the key to the brilliance of this series - original, witty, absurd and quirky with wonderful wordplay. The plot unfolds beautifully but it's the lovely performances fuelled by the great writing that make it special. I loved the sense of place and the run-down feel of the schools, allotments, multi-storey car parks, churches and town halls and, of course, the van. It is difficult to fault but for me the later one-off programmes failed to match the first series and disappointed my high expectations.
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