Tutti Frutti (BBC Scotland) ****

AT a minute before half past nine on Saturday night a lot of Scots of a certain age were having feelings more mixed than a Moscow Mule. The new BBC Scotland channel was about to make history by showing a repeat.

Not just any repeat, though. This was Tutti Frutti, the six-part, Glasgow-set comedy drama that disappeared into a television Bermuda Triangle in 1987 because of music copyright problems and had not been broadcast on TV since.

The drama’s absence fed the legend. Danny and Suzi. Eddie Clockerty and Miss Toner. The music. The gallusness. The six Baftas, and none of your Scottish ones either, for this was a hit across the UK.

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Some 32 years had passed, and now it was coming back. Hence the mixed feelings. Tutti Frutti has been the Alpha and Omega of Scottish popular culture, a touchstone, the lodestar. Would it be as good as we remembered?

Fears melted away in the first seconds, courtesy of Little Richard proclaiming the finest phrase rock and roll ever gave the English language: “A wop bop a loo bop a wop bam boom!” The opening credits rolled and there they were again, The Majestics, the nearly made it band from Glasgow who were just about to embark on a silver jubilee tour when their lead man, Big Jazza, was killed in a crash. Just like James Dean, except Jimmy wasn’t on a kebab run at the time.

Tutti Frutti returns

Writer John Byrne opened his tale where all the good ones begin, at a funeral. The mourners are about to lower the coffin when a taxi pulls up at the Necropolis and out steps Danny McGlone, Jazza’s younger brother, all the way from New York City. Eddie Clockerty, gents haberdasher/talent agent looks at Danny and ponders whether he could take Jazza’s place. By the time the funeral is over and Vincent (Maurice Roeves) has led The Majestics in an acapella version of Three Steps to Heaven, you knew it was going to be okay. Test of time: passed with flying colours.

Before the series proper began, there was a repeat of a documentary made to mark the National Theatre of Scotland’s 2006 production of Tutti Frutti. While it unfortunately contained a huge spoiler, it also had interviews with Byrne, Richard Wilson and Robbie Coltrane, the latter saying not a day of his career went by without someone asking what had happened to Tutti Frutti.

Basically, the BBC failed to get world clearance for the songs. “That shows how much confidence they had in it,” said artist and playwright Byrne, who delivered the series in instalments insisting no changes be made. He would not budge, either, on Coltrane for Danny/Jazza - a bold move given the young comedian was then a relative unknown.

Certain things inevitably dated the piece: people using phone boxes, men calling women “birds”, Swiss cheese plants in West End flats. Yet everything that made Tutti Frutti sing first time around makes it work again today. Get a load of Kettles and Danny sparking off each other like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Check out the settings (wipe a tear from your eye as Kettles and Danny walk through their alma mater, The Glasgow School of Art); the glorious use of language; the banter; the laughs. Most of the latter are supplied by the partnership of Eddie and his PA/bane of his life, Miss Toner. “You’re on a verbal warning,” McClockerty tells her. “Aye, that’ll be right,” Janice bats back.

Miss Toner is pure dead Glesga, which is another thing that brings a certain moistness around the eye area - Byrne’s obvious love of the city and its people. He is to Glasgow what Alan Bleasdale is to Liverpool and Alan Bennett to Leeds: the place is in his DNA, he “gets” it. The first episode takes viewers up to the reformed Majestics’ first gig, in a Miners Welfare Institute (another blast from the past). The Majestics are present and correct, brothel creepers on, quiffs sculpted and sideburns straight out of a carpet factory. The first set, which we do not see, has been a disaster, but now Suzi Kettles has turned up and Danny is a man transformed, belting out Great Balls of Fire and the title song. The boys are back in town, and they are about to get a new band member. Rock and roll on next week.