Beiderbecke Tapes, The

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					The Beiderbecke Tapes, (1987), is a light-hearted British mystery/comedy/drama, in the
format of a television series. It‘s a two-part sequel to the Beiderbecke Affair, made by
Yorkshire TV, set in that part of the U.K, I imagine, two years after the events of the
―Affair.‖ The series was broadcast in the U.S. on public TV in the 1990s, along with the

It finds teachers/amateur investigators Jill Swinburne (Barbara Flynn) and Trevor
Chaplin (James Bolam) dodging mysterious armed men in gray, apparently with some
government secret service or another, who seem to want their copy of an ordinary jazz
tape. As it turns out, the cassette doesn't contain music by American jazz artist Bix
Beiderbecke. Instead, it has apparently captured something far more valuable. The set
comes boxed; two DVDs, two episodes, one per disk, that runs approximately 154
minutes. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles. And the cast, from Bolam and Flynn –
each of whom has frequently appeared in entertainments set in this part of the world,
and Flynn in CRACKER, and CRANFORD, among others —has been encouraged to trot
out their local accents. It makes for tough going for some of us, who may miss some of
the witty byplay among the characters, but the plot, such as it is, is easy enough to follow.
Dudley Sutton (LOVEJOY) is along as another school teacher; Beryl Reid (TINKER
TAILOR) is along as the oldest suffragist around. (She is still calling herself a

The episodes are:

Disc 1, Part 1
After his home is demolished for a motorway, Jill invites Trevor to move in with her. He
comes bearing his extensive collection of jazz music; she‘s less than thrilled when the
bartender at a local pub adds even more. But one of the new tapes isn‘t music at all: it‘s a
secret recording that Britain‘s top security forces want back. Meanwhile Mr. Wheeler,
their headmaster at San Quentin High, insists that Trevor and Jill join a class trip to

Disc 2, Part 2
As he hopes to uncover more about the mysterious tape, Trevor attends the bartender‘s
funeral; he there encounters someone unexpected. Back at the flat, six men in gray suits
break in to search for the tape. The pair believe their lives may be in danger, so they leave
for Holland, with the mysterious men in hot pursuit. (The break-in has caused them to
miss the school bus, and then the ferry, to Amsterdam.) A San Diego branch of the
Ancient Order of Elks comes to the couple‘s aid in that city, but the lodge members are
looking for a little action of their own. The couple go to Edinburgh, where they enjoy the
honeymoon suite of a fine hotel, with the fun-seeking seniors; the gray suits still hot on
their trail.

The script is by the award-winning, well-known British writer Alan Plater, (OLIVERS
TRAVELS, A VERY BRITISH COUP), based upon his own novel. The picture quality,
and the sound quality, of course, is not what we‘re used to: this series was made quite
some time ago. However, the entertainment captures the dreary local
landscape/cityscape, with its glum weather, well; and is set to a soundtrack in the
rollicking style of the 1920‘s Beiderbecke, by award-winning musician Frank Ricotti.
There is no onscreen violence, nor sex, for that matter. All concerned keep their clothes
on, which is probably just as well, as all concerned are at least middle aged. And for
some of us, a middle aged romance is really rewarding. The script is as light in weight
as the production is light of heart, served up with heaping helpings of charm and whimsy,
reminiscent of the zany mysteries of the 1930s and ‗40s: hello, Nick and Nora, and
anyone for a Manhattan?

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