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4.6 out of 5 stars14
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 9 March 2000
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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on 6 October 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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on 3 November 2004
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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on 21 June 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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on 2 April 2000
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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on 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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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). 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 on my side of the pond. 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 : Complete BBC Series 6 [DVD]), 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 Complete Collection [DVD] [1993].
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 The Blonde Bombshells [DVD] [2000]; and [ASIN:B00005M6PY A Very British Coup [1988] [DVD]]].

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.
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on 19 July 2013
Purchased this because we lent out our original copy and never got it back!!......always watchable over & over again.....never tire of it... wonderful witty humour as is the rest of the series....Don't lend it out ...you won't get it back
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on 29 January 2011
Terrific camera work..... outdoor shots of Leeds excellent. Off beat dialogue brings out best of James Bolam, but sadly look at him now!!
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on 19 April 2016
Why cant we see more of this high quality drama?
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