A British dark-ish comedy set in and around Leeds, Yorkshire. Yorkshire (and general northern English) culture and attitudes feature strongly as themes: the writer, Alan Plater
, was a Northumbrian who had lived in Yorkshire for many years.
Had three series: the original six-part The Beiderbecke Affair
, the two-part The Beiderbecke Tapes
, and the four-part The Beiderbecke Connection
The title comes from the fact that one of the main characters, Trevor Chaplin, was a fan of retro jazz and the usual McGuffin
for the plot was him trying to get hold of Bix Beiderbecke music. The soundtrack, which is often said to be the most memorable part of the show, was a mixture of real jazz excerpts and original music similar in style.
Contains examples of:
- Aluminium Christmas Trees: Bix Beiderbecke was a real jazz cornetist, but many viewers assume he was made up to avoid copyright issues.
- America Saves the Day: Used hilariously in The Beiderbecke Tapes, when Trevor and Jill are saved from government agents by a busload of retired American Marines touring Europe, who proceed to lay into the enemy while yelling "Japs!" and "Commies!" at them.
- Amusing Injuries: Mr Carter after he plugs in a dodgy hedge trimmer, resulting in a series of small explosions.
- Arc Words: "We stand on the brink of a new era, if only..." (Megaphone power cuts out)
- Captain Obvious: Big Al's "We keep the basement downstairs".
- Catch Phrase: Big Al's "He's my brother!"
- Trevor's Geordie exclamation "Why you bugger man!"
- Cool Teacher: Both Trevor (woodwork) and Jill (English) are regarded as this by their pupils.
- Deadpan Snarker: Everyone, but especially Mr Carter.
- The Government: Part of the general northern cultural theme is that the government is treated as malevolent, distant, shadowy and all-powerful (remember, this was made in the Thatcher years). Notably in The Beiderbecke Tapes, where it is presented as being ultra-paranoid and authoritarian towards dissent.
- The Beiderbecke Affair also strongly implies that the three main political parties at the time are all practically identical and it doesn't matter who is in power - althouigh it's debatable how much this was true at the time.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is named after the first line of dialogue spoken in it.
- Insistent Terminology: It's not a shed, it's an office. It's not a church, it's a warehouse.
- Inspector Javert: At first, it seems as though Sergeant Hobson fits this trope, and his friendly, slapdash boss is a good guy. Then there's a plot twist...
- Ironic Echo Cut: Before the Cubs' football match, we cut from Big Al telling his team that it's only a game and the real reason they're there is to have fun, to Little Norm telling them the opposite.
- Lost Him in a Card Game: Jill Swinburne loses her boyfriend, Trevor Chaplain, to his former fiancee, Helen of Tadcaster, in a coin-toss after a night of heavy drinking. Mrs Swinburne honours her agreement with Helen, but Mr Chaplain goes back to her anyway because "nobody wins me at the toss of a coin." It is strongly suggested that this is a new development in Trevor's persona since the time when he and Helen were engaged.
- McGuffin: The Beiderbecke tapes/records/whatever in each storyline.
- No Name Given: Trevor and Jill refer to their child as "Firstborn".
- Oop North: Oh, yes.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Mr Wheeler
- Sunglasses at Night: Councillor Macallister (lampshaded).
- Take It To The Bridge: The Cold War is parodied in The Beiderbecke Connection, in which Jill and Trevor try to smuggle "dissident" Ivan out of Yorkshire and over the Lincolnshire border via the Humber Bridge.
- Unintentional Period Piece: It defines Leeds in the mid-eighties, including the terraced houses being demolished and the character of a school before the coming of the National Curriculum.
- Write Who You Know: Writer Alan Plater was a Northumbrian who had lived in Yorkshire for many years—just like protagonist Trevor Chaplin.