DVD Review: Tutti Frutti


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.

Tutti Frutti

Tutti Frutti arrives on DVD

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.

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Tutti Frutti’s Bomba speaks: Stuart McGuigan Interviewed

Scottish actor Stuart McGuigan has starred in some of the best known TV shows on British television, including It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Hamish Macbeth and, most famously, Tutti Frutti.

I recently caught up with Stuart to discuss his career and we touched upon his role as ageing rocker Bomba MacAteer in John Burns’ iconic series.

This interview took place before the DVD release was announced.

Jonathan Melville: What was it like working on Tutti Frutti?

Stuart McGuigan: John Byrne’s scripts were the best I’ve ever worked with on in television, without a doubt.

The director, producer cast and script just gelled.

I don’t know what you have to do to get the BBC to release it, who you have to pay to get it out. There’s still and audience for it, I still get stopped in the street about it and they ask can I buy it and I have to say no.

I have a theory that if the Scots were in charge of their own broadcasting there’s no way you’d have the best comedy drama series ever made in a country lying dormant for 20 years.

There should be a monument up to John Byrne as he’s a hugely talented man. He’s a writer and artist, he’s designed stage sets. Lovely guy, the show was the happiest six months I’ve ever spent making something – being paid by the BBC to learn drums, you can’t get much better than that.

Put it out on DVD and expatriate Jocks around the world will snap it up.

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