Monday, 18 July 2016

447 Sounding Brass

First  viewed  : July  1980

It's  sad  to  recount  that  this  one's  slipped  into  obscurity  as  I  thought  it  was  great. I  had  to  pop  down  to  my  gran's  to  watch  it  as  my  mum  and  sister  wanted  to  continue  with  The  Big  Time  on  BBC 1.

Written  by  Don  Shaw   whose  past  credits  included  Survivors  and  Danger -UXB , Sounding Brass  was  concerned  with  the  fortunes  of   the  fictional  Ettaswell  Brass  Band  and  their pigheaded  autocratic  leader   H G  Beswick  , a  part  Brian  Glover  was  born  to  play. H  G  is  a butcher  by  trade  but  the  band  is  his  whole  raison d'etre   and  he  can  never  understand  why   other  members  let  life  get  in  the  way.

They  were  all  well  cast  too. Stephen  Hancock, in  his  first  role  since  Ernie  Bishop's  dramatic  demise  on  Coronation  Street  played  Leonard  Dukes. Standing  out  as  the  band's  middle  class  member,  Dukes  is  a   music  master . He's  probably  more  qualified  to  lead  the  band  and  H.G,  knows  it. Dukes  doesn't  want  to  supplant  H.G.  but  will  stand   his  ground  and  there's  frequent  tension  between  the  two. In  one  episode  Dukes  is  tapped  by  a  rival  firm  and  the  E.B.B. have  to  purchase  an  expensive  cornet  to  persuade  him  to  stay

You  also  had  Ray  Mort  as  Gerry,  the  faithful  lieutenant  and  only  other  commitee  member ,  who's  had  to  become  expert  at  smoothing  the  feathers  H.G.  ruffles, grouchy  Teddy  Turner  the  tuba  player  who's  getting  past  it  - "It's  me  lips,  H.G. ! " - and  Philip  Jackson  ( who  was  also  in  Brassed  Off  many  years  later  ) as  dour  Wilf  who's  got  a  chip  the  size  of a  house  brick on  his  shoulder.

There  was  one  episode  where  H.G.  gets  ousted  but  they  eventually  realise  they  need  someone  with  his  level  of  commitment.

The   episode   I  remember  best  is  the  last  one  , "H.G  and  the  Exploding  Orange  which  was  clearly  influenced  by  the  success  of  the  Brighouse  and  Rastrick  Brass  Band.  Much  to  H.G.'s  displeasure,  young  Tim  the  drummer,   played  by  future  Blue  Peter  presenter  Mark  Curry,  starts  moonlighting  with  a  rock  group . H.G.'s  anger  is  mollified  when  the group's  manager  Spencer  le  Fevre  ( Gregory  Floy ) evinces  an  interest  in  recording  the  band  as  well. His  introduction  starts  with  the  classic  exchange  :

Spencer  : Do  people  still  dig  brass  bands ?
Wilf : No  they  dig  gardens  !

Eventually  it's  only  H.G. , whose  ego  Spencer  has  successfully  massaged , that  can't  see  they're being  ripped  off  but , as  usual,  Gerry  saves  the  day  and  things  get  back  to  normal.

Unfortunately  that  was  the  last  we  saw  of  them  after  just  6  episodes. It  didn't  make  Brian Glover  the  big  TV  star  he'd  hoped  though  he  was  hardly  out  of  work  as  one  of  our  best character  actors  until  his  untimely  death  in  1997. I  think  it  was  just  a  case  of  bad  luck,  The Big  Time   proving  too  big  a  draw  to  allow  this  to  gather  the  audience  it  deserved.

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