How’s this for a sure-fire recipe for TV success: Robbie Coltrane as a doesn’t-really-wannabe rock star about to tour small-town Scotland and Emma Thompson as his will-she-ever-be-his-girlfriend in a TV series from Mr Tilda Swinton himself, John Byrne?
First screened in 1987, Tutti Frutti tells the story of Scottish rock band The Majestics who decide to celebrate their Silver Jubilee with a tour of Scotland under the management of small-time businessman Eddie Clockerty (Richard Wilson).
When lead singer Big Jazza McGlone (Robbie Coltrane) is killed, Clockerty must find a replacement or call off the tour. In desperation, Clockerty’s attention turns to McGloan’s younger brother Danny (also played by Coltrane), just returned from New York for his sibling’s funeral.
Soon McGlone is embroiled in various ploys designed to help save the band, while all the while rocker Vincent Diver (Maurice Roëves) goes through a midlife crisis and Scotland braces itself for the tour of the century.
Winning six Bafta’s after its initial screening on BBC One, Tutti Frutti has only ever been repeated once by the broadcaster, otherwise relegated to TV history.
Watching the series today, it’s obvious that a crime has been committed in the BBC keeping it locked up for so long.
This isn’t just television, this is art: time and money may be spent trying to keep paintings and statues in the country for future generations, but we’ve been sold a pup – the release of Tutti Frutti from the archives is what we should have been fighting for all along.
This is a story of its time, a Glasgow’s Miles Better-era world of fish ‘n’ chips and chips on shoulders, where small town radio stations and village halls are the norm, glamour is something you see on TV and trying to better yourself is viewed as being stuck up rather than something to be encouraged.
In fact, nothing much has changed in the intervening decades, the eating of fish suppers in the rain still preferable to posh nosh in a restaurant and success still frowned upon.