19 March 2011

The Beiderbecke Trilogy - Jill Swinburne And Trevor Chaplin - Where Are They Now?

Trevor (James Bolam), Jill (Barbara Flynn) and First Born (Thomas McGlingly) - 1980s TV heaven!

Thomas has written:

I adored the 1980s TV series The Beiderbecke Trilogy and was saddened to hear of the death of the writer, Alan Plater. I connected with Jill, Trevor, Big Al, Little Norm, and the series was sheer brilliance. The 1980s setting was very important, because the show was very topical in its own distinctive way, but did Alan Plater write any more about Jill and Trevor? Have we any idea what happened to them next? This is keeping me awake nights!

I know what you mean, I think, Thomas!

I grew very fond of Jill, Trevor and company and I missed them - and their unique outlook on life - when the final series ended. Over the years since, I have often wondered how they are coping.

It would be so good to phone them up or drop them a line!

I've often been saddened by the ending of an enjoyable TV series and bemoaned the loss of weekly visits to favourite fictional characters via the little screen, but none more so than Jill and Trevor.

I watch the Trilogy every few years, never tire of it, always delighting in old acquaintance and fresh observations. But I always put off watching the final episode because I find the characters leaving my life again very upsetting - this is true every time - and I must have watched the series about ten times since the 1980s!

"Look Not Upon The Blondes When They Are Platinum..."

I have scouted around the web, and found a 2003 interview with Alan Plater, in which he reveals that he was keeping up-to-date with our old friends in the moonstruck outer limits of Leeds at that time:

For the record, I know exactly what's going on in Beiderbecke-land. Jill is the recently appointed head of San Quentin High, which has just finished bottom of every league table in the land. Trevor has retired and spends his days playing dominoes in the bowls pavilion with Big Al and Little Norm. Hobson has made a sideways career move out of the police force and is now a highly paid consultant in some byway of the New Labour Project. The heart of the matter is subversion. If the Scorsese gospel says we all have the capacity for violence, the Beiderbecke equivalent says we all have the capacity for deadpan daftness when confronted by men wearing suits.

Read the full interview here.

I too was sorry to read of Alan Plater's death - and, of course, we are now cut off from Beiderbecke land forever.

In the 2003 Guardian article, Alan Plater, pondering on the hold the series continued to have on its audience eighteen years after the original Beiderbecke Affair series began in 1985, wrote:

The last words belong to Jill, Trevor and great-uncle Bix.

In the Tapes, Jill says:

"Beiderbecke? The first great white jazz musician. Drank himself to death. His playing sounded like bullets shot from a bell."

"How do you know that?" says Trevor.

"You gave me a two-hour lecture about it in bed one night. In lieu of the cigarette."

"I didn't know you listened when I talked."

Maybe that's the answer. I didn't realise people were listening when I wrote.

We were, Mr Plater, oh we were!

Read our original tribute to the Beiderbecke Trilogy here.

Graduate policeman Detective Sergeant Hobson: "It is my view that the major challenge to the police force in the 1980s lies not with so-called major crime, but in the behaviour of people who, while outwardly respectable, show signs of social abnormality."


FadingIntoBlue said...

Hi - just came across your blog - huge Beiderbecke fan - you might like to know that there is a 15 minute addendum to the series, a short radio play narrated by Jill called 'A Brief Encounter With Richard Wagner' with a bit of news about the state of the school.

Drew said...

Thank you very much for that. I will look it up.