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Tutti Frutti’s rockers hit the comeback trail ahead of 25th anniversary

Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson in Tutti Frutti as Danny McGlone and Suzi Kettles

Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson in Tutti Frutti as Danny McGlone and Suzi Kettles

  • by BRIAN FERGUSON
 

IT IS an iconic television drama series which made stars of the cast and went on to win a clutch of awards. sTutti Frutti, the dark comedy about legendary but ageing Scottish rockers The Majestics hitting the road for one last hurrah, secured immediate cult status when it was aired 25 years ago.

But the show’s legion of 
fans have always been left to wonder what became of 
characters such as lead singer Danny McGlone, Suzi Kettles, Eddie Clockerty, Janice Toner and Vincent Diver. Until now.

The characters have finally been revived to mark the show’s 25th anniversary in a BBC Scotland programme which takes up the story from where the series left off.

Actress Katy Murphy has 
returned to the role which 
propelled her to fame – nippy secretary Janice Toner – to narrate a brand new story about what happened to The Majestics.

Tutti Frutti’s creator John Byrne, however, has turned down the chance to return to the characters himself. But he gave his blessing for the project to be taken forward by one of Scotland’s leading young writers, Alan Bissett, who has revealed what became of the band.

The original series made stars out of Robbie Coltrane (McGlone), Emma Thompson (Kettles), Richard Wilson (devious manager Clockerty), Murphy (his secretary) and Maurice Roëves (Diver). It won six Baftas, including an award for best drama series and for Thompson as best actress.

And there is a surprise in store for anyone who thought The Majestics’ unlikely heart-throb Diver, “the iron man of Scottish rock”, had met a grisly end at the band’s final concert at the Pavilion.

Bissett revealed he actually survived his suicide attempt, engineered with a bottle of vodka and a cigarette lighter, despite Byrne’s insistence that the character was killed off.

Bissett said: “I had a big 
decision to take, because it looked as if he had killed 
himself, but I thought it was possible to survive setting yourself on fire and that it would be more interesting if he was still alive.

“Unfortunately, he is now a pretty tragic figure, living on the streets of Glasgow as a down-and-out, which is where I envisaged Janice Toner meeting him.”

In the programme, to be broadcast on Hogmanay, 
Miss Toner’s revelations about The Majestics are cut with 
new interviews with Roëves, Wilson and Murphy, as well as Byrne himself.

Bissett added: “It was quite an honour to be asked to 
come up with a sequel for 
Tutti Frutti and I did feel a certain responsibility with the characters.

“John Byrne’s script was just so sparky and fizzy, so I really tried to impersonate the way he had written the characters rather than do my own thing with them and tried to get 
inside his head.”

The programme will reveal how the romance between 
McGlone, now a high-school art teacher in Glasgow, and Suzi Kettles, who has gone 
on to become a Turner Prize-winning artist in London, fizzled out, although the pair are still in long-distance contact.

Meanwhile, former bandmates Bomba and Fud are 
performing with The New 
Majestics with their offspring, Miss Toner is running a trendy vintage clothes shop in Glasgow’s West End, and Clockerty is still wheeling and dealing – but from behind bars after ­falling foul of the law for tax evasion.

Byrne told Scotland on Sunday he had never envisaged any form of sequel for Tutti Frutti, despite much speculation after the original series had aired.

“I was happy the way it ­ended. I didn’t really have any regrets,” he said. “I thought I wrapped things up quite well, although the characters have never really left me.

“I didn’t want it to become a soap opera or anything like that.” Byrne added: “I can’t 
believe it’s 25 years since Tutti Frutti was shown, it doesn’t feel like that at all.”

The series was repeated just once by the BBC, in 1988, but its release on video or DVD was delayed for years due to legal wrangling over some of the music featured in the six-part programme.

At that time, Coltrane said of the series: “There are only two scripts I’ve ever had that I 
actually laughed out loud. I just had to read them all right through.

“They all arrived in a lump with writing all over them 
saying ‘this will change’ and ‘this will be funnier’ and ‘this will be that’ because it was a work in progress, but I just laughed and laughed and laughed because it was just so funny.”

A new generation of fans of The Majestics was born six years ago when the National Theatre of Scotland turned 
the story into a stage show, with Tom Urie and Dawn Steele stepping into the shoes of Coltrane’s and Thompson’s characters.

Twitter: @brianjaffa

 

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