Author Topic: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia  (Read 11878 times)

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
I've been working my way through the Bergerac series for the last few months and am now midway through series 5. I'm captivated by the outstanding script writing and acting in many episodes. I read a comment somewhere that Bergerac was typical of the old "wooly jumper" style cop show. Nothing could be further from the truth. It has wit, wisdom, drama and mystery - with a heavy dollop of nostalgia - the latter being the reason I started rewatching.

Series 5 has been the best so far, and that isn't to belittle previous seasons, just to say that some of the plotting and acting in this current series has been sublime and dramatic.

However, there has been a nagging sadness in my stomach watching some of these episodes and I was trying to put my finger on it.

What I have slowly realised is that Bergerac represents what the Portuguese may term "saudade" and I call nostalgic melancholia. Not because I know the show will never return, but actually a longing/sense of loss defined by the main character Jim Bergerac - and not one that he realises is occurring.

I think it started in Season 3 when the witty, sharp police secretary Charlotte made her final appearance (the brilliant Annette Badland played the character). There was no sign-off, no dramatic send off. One episode she was there, the next she was gone forever. Actually I think she was culled as part of the Bureau's move to the infamous Haute Legrange as the new police HQ - there was a cursory mention of "some friends have come with us, some have gone elsewhere".

A number of beloved characters, mainly girlfriends of Jim (Cecile Paoli, Celia Imrie), also just dropped out of the show without much of a fanfare. Jim's wife, Deborah, got a much stronger role in subsequent series in a "will they or won't they (get back together" kind of way, and I grew to like the character for her mix of strength, "off the rails naughtiness" and vulnerability. She was cruelly sent back to a minor role in the current series (5) after suffering a frightening ordeal in the brilliant "Root and Branch" episode (Jim's family are held at gunpoint by Moxie from Auf Wiedersehen Pet).

I also notice the character Diamante Lil (the owner of the pub/guest house in the first few seasons, and then "Lil's Place" nightclub in 4 and 5) is no longer present. I always found her a bit annoying, but now that she is no longer in the credits, I again feel a sense of loss. No word as to why she was written out.

This got me looking up stuff on the internet and I found a harrowing piece on the Bergerac wiki

Quote
Series 7 saw the last appearance of Philippa Vale, series 8 the last of Barney Crozier, just as the character Peggy had also vanished around this time (after series 7) and regular off-duty hostess Diamante Lil (Mela White) had made her last appearance in series 5. Following the episode Root and Branch, Jim's ex-wife Deborah moved from Jersey to England and her number of appearances dwindled. Susan Young, who had become a mainstay of the series from series 4 and onwards, had her last appearance in the first episode of series 8. The last series was thus left somewhat empty of familiar characters, often with only Bergerac himself and Charlie Hungerford remaining.

It's almost Lynchian in tone and I think exemplifies the feeling I have watching this show.

The first few series were ebullient and fun, mixing humdrum cases with fine acting and some witty writing. Season 5 is stronger in tone with peril closer to home - Jim's family, Jim's current girlfriend (Susan) in danger, Jim being a bit of a "lad" and upsetting Susan.

Normally, shows will swell with familiar faces and the final series will go out with a bang.

Reading that final line in the quoted text suggests a decline into loneliness - Bergerac isolated from the past, from happier times. Only Hungerford remains - a ghostly reminder of those carefree days...and by proxy, a reminder to myself of my childhood happiness sitting in front of Bergerac with a log fire and crumpets for tea.

Glebe

  • So here we are, then.
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2017, 06:03:03 PM »
I went to a sort of 'haunted island' experience thing in Jersey years ago... it was narrated by John Nettles.

itsfredtitmus

  • screwdriver lolly
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2017, 06:21:13 PM »
Do Midsumer Murders next

shiftwork2

  • Member
  • **
  • pies this is your time
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2017, 06:54:05 PM »
Are you sure you're not homesick and in Hamilton?  Been there my friend.  In my final throes I used to put Shaun bloody Keaveney on 6 music iplayer, perfectly-time shifted to give the correct times in the morning.  My expat number was up at that point.  I did the same sort of caper with match of the day.

If I've got that wrong then it's a good analysis of a strange show.  There was a unique atmosphere.

Mark Steels Stockbroker

  • Lost in the former West
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2017, 08:07:55 PM »
I watched it at the time - they had a big range of plot lines, with at least 1 about Russian spies, but also international terrorists, mercenary plots, drug smugglers, conspiracies about old German planes found in the sea... great stuff.

One great thing was noticing how many old Doctor Who people were involved in making it - Robert Banks Stewart, Dennis Spooner... loads of name mentioned in DW Monthly.

I'd like to see Shoestring, as that was a bit earlier and I was too young. Only saw 1 episode at the time. Apparently John Nettles was up for the lead role but Trevor Eve got it. Dunno if Bergerac was his compensation.

Another show from the time worth checking was The Chinese Detective, which I think was dropped simply because the amount of OB filming made it too expensive. Featured a scene in which a character had a car door slammed on his hand, which freaked me out at the time and still makes me shudder a bit.

Mark Steels Stockbroker

  • Lost in the former West
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2017, 08:11:45 PM »
They also had a weirdie supernatural episode as well.

biggytitbo

  • WHAT ABOUT THE GODDAM JAFFA CAKES ASSWIPE
    • theunredacted
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2017, 08:16:42 PM »
My abiding memory of the show is of the weird supernatural episodes aswell, I'm sure it wasn't just one but it became an annual tradition? It's no Minder but Bergerac was good, and of course the morphing technology used for Jersey in the titles was developed by James Cameroon and became the basis of terminator 2.

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2017, 08:17:00 PM »
They also had a weirdie supernatural episode as well.
Yeh, Fires in the Fall - the Christmas special between series 4 and 5. It scarred me for ages and I only got the guts to watch it again recently. See the potterization thread for review

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2017, 08:20:32 PM »
Biggy, there were 2 supernaturals so far, another in series 4.

I could have another thread for the titles sequence. Series 1 great, then they had an awful overlay shot of the sea that masked the credits. They kept the sea but didn’t do the overlay, just had the top part of the screen for that before cutting to a full scene of the sea at the end.

I accidentally saw the credits for Series 8 - appalling. Madness. Fucked the theme tune and had odd static shots of the main characters plus a horrible blue background around Nettles face!!

Phil_A

  • HE WAS AN ROBOT
    • Chasing The Bumblebee
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2017, 10:01:05 PM »
I watched it at the time - they had a big range of plot lines, with at least 1 about Russian spies, but also international terrorists, mercenary plots, drug smugglers, conspiracies about old German planes found in the sea... great stuff.

One great thing was noticing how many old Doctor Who people were involved in making it - Robert Banks Stewart, Dennis Spooner... loads of name mentioned in DW Monthly.

I'd like to see Shoestring, as that was a bit earlier and I was too young. Only saw 1 episode at the time. Apparently John Nettles was up for the lead role but Trevor Eve got it. Dunno if Bergerac was his compensation.

I thought Bergerac happened because Eve didn't want to do any more Shoestring, so they changed the lead character, moved it to Jersey and brought in Nettles. Whether Nettles was ever in the running for Shoestring I've no idea.

monkfromhavana

  • Top one, nice one, get sorted
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2017, 10:39:32 PM »
I'm a big fan of Bergerac, the full episodes used to be on YT but then, suddenly were gone. Where are you watching these Blod?

By around series 5 weren't they running out of locations to film on the Channel Islands?

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2017, 11:34:46 PM »
I'm a big fan of Bergerac, the full episodes used to be on YT but then, suddenly were gone. Where are you watching these Blod?

By around series 5 weren't they running out of locations to film on the Channel Islands?

there are various sites. watchseries I use. Part of the last episode was filmed in St Malo


itsfredtitmus

  • screwdriver lolly
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2017, 08:08:33 AM »
Didn’t they have similar surreal episodes of Hamish Macbeth? Going off vague memories of watching it with nanna

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2017, 03:25:44 PM »
Didn’t they have similar surreal episodes of Hamish Macbeth? Going off vague memories of watching it with nanna

Perhaps, was too old for tosh like that. Might give Shoestring a go after I've got through Bergerac

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2017, 03:31:42 PM »
I think they missed a trick by (so far) not having a child abuse episode given its setting and time it was filmed. I think series 1 or 2 featured a talent contest that was a bit sleazy, but I suspect a modern day Bergerac could perhaps tackle the issue.

An ageing John Nettles is called out of retirement and visits Charlie Hungerford on his death bed.

"Oh, er...Jim...they're you are. Now, I wanted to set the record straight before passing off this mortal coil. I've held on to some secrets all these years, but I really think you should hear them and maybe something can be done to put things right...in a way"

Links between Charlie's "philanthropy" and Savile's charity work on the island are exposed (although Charlie of course didn't know anything regarding the abuse) and Jim tracks down some of the old Haute de le Garenne staff ...and uncovers dark secrets under the police HQ. Barney Crozier is implicated and the final scene sees Jim and Barney in a violent struggle in the old Nazi caves resulting in Barney's death and Jim rolling his shoulders as he mooches away into the sunset.

itsfredtitmus

  • screwdriver lolly
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2017, 04:01:58 PM »
not tosh mate

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René

itsfredtitmus

  • screwdriver lolly
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2017, 04:25:26 PM »
USED TO HAVE AN INSIDE JO

Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2017, 07:07:15 PM »
That sitcom that Jasper Carrott and Robert Powell did, The Detectives, had an episode in their first series in 1993 set in Jersey where John Nettles and Terence Alexander reprised their Bergerac characters.  I think that was after Bergerac had ended.

Glebe

  • So here we are, then.
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2017, 07:13:48 PM »
They also had a weirdie supernatural episode as well.

I remember an episode with Charles Gray as a sinister cult figure or summit... he falls down a lift shaft at the end and vanishes in a puff of smoke. One of the other coppers or someone reassure Jim that the smoke-puff was caused by an electrical fault... but he doesn't look so sure!

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2017, 08:56:44 PM »
I remember an episode with Charles Gray as a sinister cult figure or summit... he falls down a lift shaft at the end and vanishes in a puff of smoke. One of the other coppers or someone reassure Jim that the smoke-puff was caused by an electrical fault... but he doesn't look so sure!

That's the one - see posterisation thread or whatever its called. I don't remember your spoilered bit.

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2017, 08:58:33 PM »
That sitcom that Jasper Carrott and Robert Powell did, The Detectives, had an episode in their first series in 1993 set in Jersey where John Nettles and Terence Alexander reprised their Bergerac characters.  I think that was after Bergerac had ended.

I loved the Detectives, will have to check this out. Bergerac finished in 1991 - an apt date really...the dawning of a new era after that. A teenage Blodwyn moved onto wanking.

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2017, 09:30:53 PM »
So I just found the first "The Detectives" episode.

The laughter track during the murder scene was a bit odd...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLLucZBEuh4

1 minute in...

Brundle-Fly

  • I'm so Avant-garden variety
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2017, 09:35:15 PM »
The plaintive sub-Gallic theme adds to the longing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ369paM8_Y

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2017, 10:04:23 PM »
The plaintive sub-Gallic theme adds to the longing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ369paM8_Y

That initial snare roll or whatever it is...plummet into rose-tinted bliss.

monkfromhavana

  • Top one, nice one, get sorted
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #25 on: November 12, 2017, 10:45:54 PM »
John Nettles meets Slash from Guns 'n' Roses
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSGPnNa31kU

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #26 on: November 13, 2017, 02:48:15 AM »
Blimey, I recommend everyone watch the episode “Poison” from series 5. Bergerac at his lowest ebb. Tales of the Unexpected vibe and another signalling of a creeping isolation and loneliness.

Brilliant acting from the villain too - and he hints at the real life horrors surrounding Jersey in the 70s and 80s. Good to see Geoffrey Leesley getting more air time after disappearing for ages.

Past half way through series 5 and there’s an ill-wind blowing.

Mark Steels Stockbroker

  • Lost in the former West
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2017, 12:03:55 AM »
Is that the one about the freemason doctor, who poisons stuff and takes the chance he might get killed himself?

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #28 on: November 14, 2017, 12:07:20 AM »
Is that the one about the freemason doctor, who poisons stuff and takes the chance he might get killed himself?

Yep. I thought I had seen a freemasons one with the same actor in an earlier series, but must be mistaken. I think the show is on a solid run from Series 3 onwards - no duds at all, the first two series ebb and flow like the English Channel in summertime, but by Series 5 its at a permanent high water mark, an oiled John Nettles reclines on the beach as Susan surreptitiously has an affair with a man in a red mini.

BlodwynPig

  • R.I.P. The Waxwork René
Re: The haunting melancholy of Bergerac - a study of loss through nostalgia
« Reply #29 on: November 14, 2017, 02:41:13 AM »
Crikey - turns out Poison was the last of Series 5 and I’ve just turned on (streaming) the 1986 Christmas Special and they’ve fucked the theme music and titles already. 1987-1994 were the years that digital screwed opening and closing credits. Let’s see what the episode is like...