Oh glorious, hysterically funny knife edging with pain and tragedy simultaneously
I remember being GLUED to this when it was first broadcast, and again on a rerun some I think 10 years later…..but like its many other fans was left wanting the ability to watch again (and again!) whenever I, as opposed to the schedulers, wanted.
It felt at the time a remarkable programme, all credit to John Byrne’s script, Tony Smith’s direction, Andy Park’s production and performances by a fabulous, stellar cast, headed by Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson, who are well matched in the scene-stealing stakes by the likes of Richard Wilson, Katy Murphy, and particularly Maurice Roeves as the hellishly accident and prostrate-by-lust prone lead guitarist Vincent.
The fortunes of the never quite made it 60s rock and roll band the Majestics, desperately still trying to scratch a living in the 80s, receding hairlines, middle-aged bellies and all is a fabulous mix of the gritty and fantastical.
Curiously, whilst being AS enamoured of it as I was back in 86 I have a bit more trouble with some of the very fast paced exchanges – Back in the 80s I travelled round more, including some time spent working in Glasgow, so had no problems in comprehending what was said. Glaswegian – in common with pretty well all city accents, is delivered at a lick, so it can take a little while to adjust your ears – and with dialogue this tight and punchy, delivered with a fast and furious throw away, you really won’t want to miss a single line ! Nice that DVDs offer a subtitle if you need it – though I prefered to watch each episode a couple of times to make sure I’ve missed nothing – the performances warrant that anyway. They are that good.
However, for those without access to Region 2 Players, a cut up version exists of the whole series on You Tube I’ve linked Episode 1, Part 1 which will give a taster or the wonderful juxtaposition of mordant humour, pathos, wit , strange and wonderful images – and great music. But, be warned, the You Tube videos are not subtitled, – plus it IS annoying to run to the end of a clip every 5 minutes or so and have to search for the next Part of the same episode to watch
There are some similarities with another BBC Scotland production of the 90s – which equally carved out a sure road in black comedy, heartbreak and searing performances, balancing realism with something on the tightrope of caricature – edgy, brave, on the edge work Takin’ Over The Asylum  [DVD] This latter once again with the wonderful Katy Murphy, Ken Stott and a beautiful, vulnerable lead performance from a young David Tennant.
BBC Scotland, you rock!
However, for those across the pond, this marvellous series, whilst available, is only for those with Region 2/Europe Players