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James Bolam , Barbara Flynn , David Reynolds , Frank W. Smith  |  NR |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 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: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: January 27, 2009
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001HZ4K8A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,928 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "THE BEIDERBECKE AFFAIR" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Two wisecracking teachers turn amateur detectives in this delightful British mystery series

It doesn’t occur to Trevor (James Bolam, New Tricks) that dishy blondes don’t usually sell jazz records door-to-door. He orders a set of Bix Beiderbecke LPs but receives the wrong items. While trying to locate the missing music, he and his girlfriend, Jill (Barbara Flynn, Cracker), stumble upon black market goods in a church basement, secret meetings in a parking lot, and corruption at the highest levels.

Several colorful characters enliven their adventures: Big Al and Little Norm, an overzealous police officer, an elderly snoop with a dog named Jason, and a town planner with a drawer full of incriminating files. Written by Alan Plater (Oliver’s Travels) and set in Yorkshire, this quirky British mystery glides along on witty banter, a sly sense of fun, and a soundtrack by award-winning musician Frank Ricotti. "Bolam and Flynn play the latter-day Nick and Nora Charles with relish" --The Courier-Mail.

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE Bix Beiderbecke biography.

The charms of The Beiderbecke Affair aren't immediately apparent--but before long, you're hooked by this sneaky combination of screwball-inspired dialogue, off-kilter yet genuine characters, and hopelessly loopy plot. Schoolteacher and aspiring political candidate Jill (Barbara Flynn) doesn't pay much attention when her boyfriend Trevor (James Bolam) says he was sold some Bix Beiderbecke records by a beautiful platinum blonde door-to-door saleswoman. But when the wrong records arrive in the mail, Trevor sets out to correct the situation--and both he and Jill tumble into a mystery involving junior football matches, the basement of a church, an overzealous and overeducated detective sergeant, two peculiar men called Big Al and Little Norm, an ex-fiancee who is alarmingly like the current girlfriend, and a mysterious man with a dog named Jason. This British mini-series will madden anyone who expects their mysteries to feature murder, easily identifiable suspects, and a logical process of elimination--in fact, it may take a few episodes before you see this as a mystery at all. But what emerges from the seemingly random incidents is a sly sense of humor, dialogue that bounces to and fro like a badminton shuttlecock, and the engaging characters of Jill and Trevor. Flynn and Bolam have been solid character actors for decades; fans of British television will recognize their faces. It's a pleasure to have this talented pair taking the lead as two ordinary people who accidentally fall into out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. Don't let the seeming casualness of the beginning put you off--The Beiderbecke Affair grows more delightful the more you watch. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brit serio-comedy does it again . . . July 1, 2003
Properly-done British humor, as I frequently explain to acquaintances who are puzzled by it, is probably an acquired taste. It's certainly more subtle and intellectual than your average sitcom -- Yank or Brit -- and even when it's topical, its popularity is likely to last. This is Series One of a terrific comedy-mystery featuring a clutch of character actors who are not in the Hollywood mold. In fact, I had never before come across James Bolam, who plays Trevor Chaplin, public school woodworking teacher in West Yorkshire, and I only knew Barbara Flynn (Jill Swinburne, English teacher at the same school and Environmentalist Party candidate for the town council) from her supporting role as Mrs. Maigret, and from _Lorna Doone_ and _The Forsyte Saga_. Dudley Sutton was an old favorite from the _Lovejoy_ series, and Colin Blakely has been marvelous in nearly all his many roles. The dialogue is frequently off-the-wall, especially when Jill and Trevor are dealing with the officious Headmaster or the semi-clueless Det. Sgt. Hobson, B.A. (a "graduate copper," beautifully played by Dominic Jephcott), and their cautious personal relationship is believable and endearing. Trevor isn't actually as limp as he might at first seem, and Jill isn't nearly so independently fearless and self-sufficient as she would like to believe. The plot is also just this side of terminally bizarre, involving the "gray economy" (which Big Al refers to as the "white economy," in an attempt to improve its image) and the lengths to which the Powers That Be will go to subvert its influence, the reappearance in Trevor's life of his old flame, Helen of Tadcaster, and a retired bookie's runner (with his dog, Jason) who tries, not very successfully, to make a buck as a police informant. Read more ›
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great series still awaiting a decent presentation January 28, 2003
Given the dire quality of the recent VHS-only releases by Granada Media in the UK, I was pleased to find this American DVD issue.
However it's not all good news: the prints used are noticeably grainy & scratchy - particularly in the first couple of episodes. Clearly no attempt has been made to polish them up, let alone remaster the series. The dialogue track, however, has been "cleaned up" on the first episode - presumably in an attempt to remove background hiss. Sadly this has been done rather amateurishly and results in unnatural silences during pauses in dialogue.
Although the episodes are complete, a minor but puzzling point is that the end titles for segments 1 and 3 have been removed.
Overall, then, while I applaud Goldhil for issuing the series on silver disk, the set isn't worth its normal retail price. The prints used might have been acceptable for VHS but their flaws are quite apparent on DVD. Lack of proper extras don't help, either.
Hopefully this wonderful series will receive the quality of release it deserves one day. In the meantime, however, Goldhil's attempt is certainly better than nothing!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Off-Beat Fun That Might Remind You of Nick and Nora January 22, 2009
"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). The six-episode series was broadcast on PBS in this country in the 1990's, along with its sequels, Beiderbecke Tapes, and The Beiderbecke Connection. 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 over here. (Though, warning to the wise, we don't hardly ever hear Yorkshire accents over here, either, and that's what the cast is using. And there are no subtitles). Anyway, 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," "The End of the Affair"), 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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch Out July 14, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Over the past six months I have purchased and returned this set five times. Each time the problem has been that the first disc of this three disc set may be labled disc one but is in fact disc three containing episodes 5 & 6. and of course disc three is disc three and also has episodes 5 & 6.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jazz and Intrigue in Yorkshire July 12, 2005
Alan Plater's stories are always just on the verge of being a little too cute. The dialogue is sometimes too clever by half, but more often than not, it actually works. So I can understand if the Beiderbecke series is not to everyone's liking. After happening on the series on tv, I had to find the books. I've read the trilogy at least five times since I found a paperback copy in London in 1994 (at Books, Etc., which was replaced by Borders and is still on Charing Cross Road near Tottenham Court Rd.).

The Beiderbecke Affair is my favorite of the three Beiderbecke stories (The Beiderbecke Tapes and The Beiderbecke Connection are the second and third of the series). We are introduced to Trevor and Jill, Big Al and Little Norm, the gang at school, and the mostly incompetent bunch at the police station. Why has a beautiful platinum blonde offered to sell jazz records to Trevor? What do Big Al and Little Norm have to hide? How are Jill's English students getting extra copies of Tess of the D'Urbervilles? And how does Bix Beiderbecke fit in?

As you may guess, the mystery is secondary in these stories. The appeal is the interplay among the characters and the running gags. The music is a big plus in the video versions, with an excellent band playing the songs of Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke, jazz musician of The Twenties, who died tragically young, and whose cornet playing inspires Trevor and occasionally other characters, but alas, never Jill.

Start with the The Beiderbecke Affair, not just because it is the first of the series, but because it is the best story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A Bollum Fan
Yes, I am a fan of James Bollum but largely who he has become, for example his role in the New Tricks series. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Tom
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and funny
This may be a very old series, but it is very funny. The script is particularly clever, the relationships really interesting and the storyline keeps you wanting more. Read more
Published 14 months ago by R Harris
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Beiderbecke Affair
I was expecting more from this series, but only watched the first episode and found it lacking. I may watch more but it won't be my first priority. I found it plodding.
Published 20 months ago by J. NELSON
1.0 out of 5 stars Faulty Product - Do NOT buy!
The first disc does not contain the first two episodes - instead, you get 2 of the 3 disks with episodes 5 and 6 on them! Read more
Published on June 3, 2012 by Thomas Preston
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Stuff
If you like dry strange sarcastic intellectual comedy. Well this is for you. If you don't than this is not.
Published on December 2, 2011 by C. P.
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the trilogy DVD at Amazon UK
On the trilogy UK edition: There are no extras and the film quality is good, but not crystal clear (remember this was made before the digital age really took off). Read more
Published on December 5, 2010 by Terry Broome
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing Mid-80's British Comedy
Yes, I suppose there is sufficient "unknown" to qualify this mini-series as a mystery; however, that is purely a technical definition. Read more
Published on September 13, 2010 by drkhimxz
1.0 out of 5 stars The horror, the oh, so British horror!
An earlier Amazon reviewer described the writing of this British series as brilliant. Another reviewer noted the resemblance of the two main protagonists to Nick and Nora Charles. Read more
Published on May 12, 2010 by L. E. Cantrell
5.0 out of 5 stars This is great stuff
The Beiderbecke Affair (and the sequels) are kind of puzzling at first. You just don't know what is going on; why did someone actually make such an odd film? Read more
Published on April 23, 2010 by Scott FS
5.0 out of 5 stars You Can't Beat GREAT Writing!
You can't beat great writing--and you don't find it often in television. When you do, you want to give a shout to the world which is why I heartily recommend The Beiderbecke... Read more
Published on January 30, 2010 by Michele H. Lacina
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