The Beiderbecke Tapes

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The Beiderbecke Tapes
Beiderbecke Tapes.jpg
Genre Comedy drama
Written by Alan Plater
Directed by Brian Parker
Starring James Bolam
Barbara Flynn
Dudley Sutton
Keith Smith
Theme music composer Frankie Trumbauer and Chauncey Morehouse
Opening theme “Cryin' All Day”
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 2
Executive producer(s) David Cunliffe
Producer(s) Michael Glynn
Original network ITV (Yorkshire Television)
Picture format Film PAL (576i)
Original release 13 December – 20 December 1987
Preceded by The Beiderbecke Affair
Followed by The Beiderbecke Connection
East Leeds Family Learning Centre (former Foxwood School) in Seacroft, Leeds was used as 'San Quentin High' (photographed June 2008).
Norfolk Gardens in Chapel Allerton was used for filming in The Beiderbecke Tapes and The Beiderbecke Connection.

The Beiderbecke Tapes is a two-part British television drama serial written by Alan Plater and broadcast in 1987. It is the second serial in The Beiderbecke Trilogy and stars James Bolam and Barbara Flynn as schoolteachers Trevor Chaplin and Jill Swinburne. When a tape recording of a conversation about nuclear waste inadvertently falls into Trevor's hands, Trevor and Jill find themselves being pursued by national security agents.


Trevor Chaplin teaches woodwork and likes to listen to jazz. Jill Swinburne teaches English and wants to help save the planet. They live together and just want a quiet life. Then they meet John the barman who died but is much better now. John gives them a tape, which leads to meeting Dave the wimp. They find out about The Peoples Front For The Liberation of West Yorkshire. The man with no name called Mr Peterson came to see them. He was followed by the six men in grey suits. Jill goes to see The Oldest Suffragette In Town. Trevor and Jill go on a trip to Amsterdam with their class from "San Quentin High". Trevor and Jill meet The Honourable Order of Elks who are "looking for a bit of action".

The tone throughout is deliberately discursive and undramatic. Trevor and Jill are mistakenly given a secret tape recording, which results in their harassment by security forces, their home being invaded, their private lives used to discredit them at school and their being pursued all the way to Amsterdam and Edinburgh. Eventually the tapes are revealed as just a charade invented by shady government forces as a part of a disinformation campaign.


In the same style as the preceding The Beiderbecke Affair, the plot is less important than the banter and interplay between the characters. The adventure unfolds to a soundtrack of jazz music in the style of Bix Beiderbecke performed by Frank Ricotti with Kenny Baker as featured cornet soloist.


Filming locations[edit]

  • Jill's House - Norfolk Green, Chapel Allerton, Leeds
  • San Quentin High - Foxwood School, Seacroft, Leeds
  • School staff room & school hall - Moor Grange County Secondary School, Ireland Wood, Leeds
  • Location where Jill and Trevor take Peterson to the canal. Is Skelton Grange Road over the Aire and Calder Navigation Canal, alongside the river Aire.
  • Supermarket carpark - Safeway, Roundhay Road, Oakwood,Leeds. Demolition of the supermarket around 2009 with the opening of Waitrose in September 2010.
  • Pub - The Haddon Hall, Burley, Leeds
  • Post Office - Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds
  • Registrars Office - Yeadon Yeadon Town hall
  • Peterson's office - Tower House, Merrion Street, Leeds
  • Cemetery scenes - Lawnswood Cemetery, Leeds
  • North Sea Ferries terminal, King George Dock - Kingston upon Hull
  • on board MV Norstar ferry
  • Bridge Leidsegracht, Leidsestraat, Amsterdam
  • Pronk's hotel - Estherea Hotel, Singel, Amsterdam
  • Oude Schans, Amsterdam
  • Jodenbree Straat, Amsterdam
  • Amstel, Amsterdam
  • Nieuwe Prinsengracht, Amsterdam
  • Reguliersgracht, Amsterdam
  • Herengracht, Amsterdam
  • Elks coach - Nassaukade, Amsterdam
  • Elks coach - A9 near Hoofddorp and Badhoevedorp
  • Elks coach - A4 motorway, Netherlands
  • Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh
  • Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
  • Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
  • "A bit of action" - Victoria Terrace and Lady Stair's Close, Edinburgh

External links[edit]