In 1987, BBC Scotland commissioned a 6 part series from artist and playwright, John Byrne. Originally he was asked if he would write for the series – his reply was that he would do so only if he could write all 6 episodes himself, he would turn in the scripts two at a time, as he wrote them, and he wanted and expected no feedback or comments on his script. Amazingly, BBC Scotland agreed, and so this masterpiece was born.
I remember seeing it when it was first broadcast on BBC1 – it was so popular that it was rebroadcast a few months later on BBC2. Then it disappeared fo 22 years. Apparently, due to an oversight, the BBC had properly obtained the rights to all the songs used in the drama, but not to a version of the title song used in one episode with slightly changed lyrics. As a result, the series was only released on DVD last year – I recently picked up a copy, and have watched it over the last week with great delight.
Starring Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson, it tells the story of the Majestics, a Glasgow rock and roll band still waiting for their big break 25 years past their prime. Plans for their great Silver Jubilee tour are scuppered when the lead singer, Big Jazza (played, in flashback, by Coltrane) is killed. Reluctantly, on both sides, Jazza’s younger brother, Danny (also played by Coltrane) is persuaded to join the band.
I thought that the series was brilliant when it first came out, and I am pleased to say it has stood the test of time. A real tragi-comedy, the writing is excellent, and the acting superb. Definitely worth picking up a copy, or renting.