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.