Posted: 03/07/2010


The Beiderbecke Connection

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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The Beiderbecke Connection presents the final story in the jazzy British mystery trilogy starring James Bolam and Barbara Flynn available on DVD.

From award-winning playwright and screen writer Alan Plater, The Beiderbecke Connection returns with another mystery that is as fun as the other two installments. Akin to The Thin Man movies, with its unusual characters, witty banter and twist-filled mystery, Bolam and Flynn were originally cast on public television in the 1990’s along with The Beiderbecke Affair and The Beiderbecke Tapes.

The Beiderbecke Connection is a boxed DVD set of two discs that contains four episodes.
Bolam and Flynn play Trevor Chaplin and Jill Swinburne, an unmarried couple living in Leeds, England, with a newborn baby who are receiving grief from the school where they both teach. The problem is that they are not married. In “Oh look—it’s average-sized Trevor Chaplin” the story centers on the newborn baby, whom Swinburne calls Karl Marx and Chaplin calls Edward (after Duke Ellington), because neither feels that a given name is needed right away. But the poor newborn is affectionately known as Firstborn.

The couple right away hires an “au pair,” and the word itself gives some of the candidates a reason to run. They settle on a young girl, who while she may know what the term means, she’s having trouble not believing that First Born is named after one of the brothers in the Marx Brothers’ movies. Just when things are looking normal for this quirky couple, their friends Big Al and Little Norm ask for a favor; they want to stow a refugee in the couple’s attic for one night. Ivan, the refugee, likes jazz music, and as he hides throughout the day, stranger things happen outside the house for the couple, the nanny and all those surrounding Chaplin and Swinburne.

The couple is under scrutiny for other reasons, because Swinburne is using school supplies for her students that are allegedly stolen. When the library is burglarized one night, the librarian is asked for a description, and she asks, “The books or the robber?” But Swinburne and Chaplin, between teaching their pupils, solve the mystery once again.

This is just one of four episodes included in The Beiderbecke Connection, which also sees the return of other beloved characters, Det. Sgt. Hobson and Mr. Pitt, former town planner. The banter is easy, and the humor wry in this offbeat adventure set to a jazzy, BAFTA-winning soundtrack inspired by jazz great Bix Beiderbecke and composed by BAFTA-winning musician Frank Ricotti. Get Acorn Media’s The Beiderbecke Connection on DVD. For more information visit

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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