Cult TV show Tutti Frutti to air on new BBC Scotland channel

Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane headed the all-star cast
Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane headed the all-star cast
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It is revered as one of the all-time classic Scottish comedies that turned the likes of Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson and Richard Wilson into household names.

But now The Majestics, the rock-and-roll band at the heart of John Byrne’s iconic drama Tutti Frutti, are set for a surprise revival after BBC Scotland revealed the show would finally be repeated again after more than 30 years.

The six-part series, which won six Baftas, has been slated for a prime-time Saturday night slot on the new BBC Scotland channel, starting during its first full weekend on air.

It will be the first chance to see the show since January 1988 – the only time the series was repeated following its original broadcast in the spring of 1987.

The drama, which also starred Katy Murphy, Stuard McGugan, Maurice Roeves and Jake D’Arcy, charts the fortunes of The Majestics during a troubled 25th-anniversary reunion tour around Scotland.

Coltrane and thomson played the two lead characters, Danny McGlone and Suzi Kettles, who are persuaded to front the reunied band by devious manager Eddie Clockerty, Wilson’s famous role.

Tutti Frutti is the latest in a series of comedies to be given top billing in the launch line-up for the new BBC Scotland channel, including brand new episodes of Still Game and Burnistoun for its launch night on Sunday. Channel chiefs have suggested the repeat serving of Tutti Frutti will pave the way for revivals of other “classic gems” from the archives.

Tutti Frutti is arguably the best-known work of Byrne, the Paisley-born leading artist, writer and theatre designer, who wrote the script on the exploits of The Majestics in a converted coal bunker while he was living in Newport-on-Tay in Fife.

Byrne told The Scotsman he had “no idea” the BBC had decided to screen Tutti Frutti again, but described the news as “wonderful”.

The absence of Tutti Frutti from TV has long been a mystery amid rumours of copyright wrangles over the classic songs in the show, fears the original film stock had gone missing, claims that senior figures in the BBC were determined to keep it off air and even a suggestion that it was never repeated because Byrne refused to write a sequel.

Tutti Frutti was finally released on DVD in 2009 after fresh demands for it to be repeated were triggered by a stage adaption by Byrne of the series for the National Theatre of Scotland three years earlier. A 2006 documentary on Tutti Frutti, which saw key cast members interviewed, will be repeated before the first episode is shown again on 2 March from 9:30pm.

Tony Nellany, channel manager at BBC Scotland, said: “Tutti Frutti has long held a special place in the hearts of viewers, so we wanted to make a virtue of the chance to watch this cult classic again.

“As well as broadcasting new original content, the new BBC Scotland channel will delve into the archives to celebrate and showcase classic gems. Tutti Frutti will lead the way for viewers to revisit much-loved shows from the past which they still hold dear.”

Byrne said: “I’ve not heard anything about a repeat at all. I don’t really know much about the new channel, to be honest. I doubt I’ll get any royalties from it. It was definitely only ever repeated once and it took more than 20 years for the BBC to get a DVD out. But it won six Baftas. What else can you say that about?

“I always thought people in BBC Scotland hated it because it was about scruff [working class]. I heard someone described it as bloody embarrassing.

“It’s wonderful that it’s going to be on again, as a lot of people obviously still remember it.”