Home Television Drama Beiderbecke Affair, The

Beiderbecke Affair, The

1 9 8 5 (UK)
6 x 55 minute episodes

Alan Pinter’s delightfully idiosyncratic mini-series The Beiderbecke Affair – set in Leeds in1985 – introduced two schoolteachers (James Bolam and Barbara Flynn) who join forces in a wreck of a car to solve a story of deep-rooted corruption, encountering some truly bizarre characters en route.

Geordie Trevor Chaplin (Bolam) teaches woodwork, enjoys football and is passionate about jazz. Jill Swinburne (Flynn) is interested in neither football nor jazz but teaches English and wants to help save the planet, standing in a local election as “your conservation candidate”.


Trevor tries to buy some jazz records from a “dazzlingly beautiful platinum blonde” who calls at the door raising funds for the local Cubs’ football team.

When the wrong records are delivered, a hunt begins that draws the pair into unforeseen intrigue.

Thrown into the mix are Sgt Hobson (Dominic Jephcott), a suspicious yet seemingly incompetent graduate police detective, and a pair of local black economy tradesmen, “Big Al” (Terence Rigby) and “Little Norm” (Danny Schiller), who agree to help “average-sized” Jill and Trevor with their school supplies problems.

There are elements of political and social commentary, whilst bureaucracy (within the Police and Local Government) and the educational system are frequent targets of ridicule.

The series was followed by The Beiderbecke Tapes (a three-hour two-parter in 1987 with Trevor and Jill pursued through the streets of Leeds, Amsterdam and Edinburgh by menacing men in grey suits with bulges under their jackets because they stumble across a plot to dump nuclear waste in the Yorkshire Dales) and the four-part The Beiderbecke Connection in 1988.

Trevor Chaplin
James Bolam
Jill Swinburne 

Barbara Flynn
Detective Sgt. Hobson 

Dominic Jephcott
Big Al 

Terence Rigby
Little Norm 

Danny Schiller
Mr Carter 

Dudley Sutton
Mr Wheeler 

Keith Smith
Chief Supt. Forrest 

Colin Blakely 

Keith Marsh

Alison Skilbeck
Sue Jenkins