After two decades, Tutti Frutti set fortriumphant return

TUTTI Frutti, the classic black comedy starring Robbie Col-trane and Emma Thompson, is set to return to British TV screens for the first time in 20 years.

BBC4, a digital channel, is poised to put the show on its schedules by the summer. The BBC is said to be confident that final remaining rights issues will be cleared, with transmission to go ahead in the "near future".

The news will be seen as a triumph for fans of the 1987 series, who have campaigned for years for its return.

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The programme was written by Scottish playwright and painter, John Byrne, who last night welcomed the rerun.

He said: "There are no longer any impediments to its being broadcast; that's what they told me.

I'm very happy for it to go ahead. That would be really nice, to give people a chance to see it again."

He added: "It's definitely a period piece now, but the story is clearly and powerfully put throughout the six episodes, and that still holds, even if it looks slightly creaky in execution compared to ultra-slick stuff today."

Tutti Frutti told the story of a fictional Scottish rock'n'roll group, the Majestics, and their calamitous last tour.

It brought together an extraordinary list of talent. Byrne recommended a little known actor, Robbie Coltrane, to play the lead singer Danny McGlone, who is enlisted by the band after his brother Big Jazza dies.

Another unknown, actress Emma Thompson, played opposite him as Suzy Kettles, while the actor and director Richard Wilson was also in the original cast.

The programme was a huge hit in Scotland and across the UK. It went on to win six Baftas, including best drama series and best actress. But after the programme was repeated once on BBC2, it disappeared into the stuff of television legend.

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Rumours surrounding the reasons why have focused on rights issues concerning the list of Sixties musical hits, including Dream, Dream, Dream, Love Hurts, You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling and Tutti Frutti.

Byrne revealed yesterday there were problems with the title track after he changed one verse in the first episode, with a character singing "here's the rub, she makes me sleep in a tub".

The songwriter Little Richard and his partners asked for $5,000 for the first broadcast and $10,000 on the repeat.

The BBC now believes problems with the music have been overcome, though it wants to make sure any lingering legal issues are cleared before transmission. Twenty-year-old paperwork does not help.

A BBC Scotland spokesman said: "BBC4 is exploring the various rights issues to make sure everything is crystal clear."