Friday, 10 March 2017

Your Cheatin' Heart (1990)

Second Sight DVD finally answered the prayers of John Byrne fans and admirers of great drama from yesteryear with the long awaited release of Your Cheatin' Heart in 2015.

Scottish playwright Byrne’s follow-up to the great Tutti Frutti of 1987, was another distinctive, music-themed series. But, whereas Tutti Frutti was about rock 'n' roll, 1990’s Your Cheatin’ Heart revolved around the country music and rockabilly scene. The tale contains all the traditional ingredients of the archetypal Western: a defiant woman alone with her husband in gaol,  a guileless stranger who finds the courage enough to help save the day, murders, and a series of down and dirty bad men.  There's just one's set in modern day Glasgow. But don't forget it was Celtic music played by the Scottish and Irish immigrants in the frontier towns of the new world that helped shape American country music.

Byrne's then thirty year old wife, the divine Tilda Swinton plays our heroine Cissie Crouch, waitress at The Bar L; Glasgow's American themed piano bar whose name and staff uniforms tips their hats to that other Bar L in the city - Barlinnie Prison. That's where her husband, a country and western star currently resides for a crime he claims not to have committed. Whilst pining for him, she crosses paths with John Gordon Sinclair's down at heel restaurant critic Frank McClusky (aka Rab Haw) and it isn't long before this outsider is swept up in Cissie's world of country music and the crimes her husband is tangled up with. 

Your Cheatin' Heart may not be as tight as Tutti Frutti, but once again Byrne's wholly cohesive creative vision is on dazzling form right the way across from the script to the screen. It looks genuinely wonderful with its mix of impressive quiffs, duster coats, wing-tips, double denim and cowboy boots - and that's often just the women! A great eclectic cast only adds to the enjoyment as Ken Stott, Katy Murphy, Eddi Reader (then famous for being the lead singer in Fairground Attraction), Guy Mitchell, Helen Atkinson Wood, Maggie Bell, and Tom Watson playing several characters including the ''dozy half-breed'' Cherokee George and even an old woman out walking her dog, all feature and are eminently watchable. There's even smaller roles for a young Peter Mullan as heavy Tonto, and Skids frontman Richard Jobson, who proves he was right to seek a secondary career behind, rather than in front of, the camera!

With episode titles such as 'Throwing Up in The Gorbals', 'The Eagle of the Apocalypse and the Sidewinders of Satan', 'This Could Turn Septic On Us Ya Big Ungrateful Midden' and 'Lay That Pistol Down Babe' (to name but a few) you know you're in for a wholly original and unique experience. After all, where else are you going to see Guy Mitchell and Eddi Reader perform 'Let Your Love Flow' for an entire line dancing chapter of Hells Angels? That's right, nowhere!  It's great to finally see this available, though it's a crying shame that the DVD contains no extras whatsoever beyond Byrne's specially commissioned jacket artwork.


  1. I love it and still have the cd. It was only ever shown once as far as I know. Love Eddi and Tilda and that rockabilly soundtrack. Bliss.

    1. The soundtrack album is incredible! I'm a big fan of Eddi's - she's responsible for one of my all-time favourite albums, 1996's Candyfloss and Medicine

  2. Your Cheatin’ Heart was great, but I have to put in a plug for my pal Colin MacDonald who wrote "The Wreck on the Highway", shown on BBC1 in August 1990 (the same year as "Cheatin Heart).

    The director was Sandy Johnson who's done a lot of great TV comedies and dramas.

    Colin's play starred singer/actor Tam White and featured Lynn "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden" Anderson.

    The story was that washed up country-and-western singer John McGuire (Tam White) was broke and his family emigrating. He and grandson Billy (whose mum was played by Clare Grogan) share the same dreams and run away together in search of John's wealthy American ex-co-star Betsy Hall (Lynn Anderson).

    Worth a look if you can find it.

    1. That really rings a bell...but I'm not sure if it's something I actually saw or just something I've read about. It's a real shame that TV gems such as this just disappear. I've got quite a list of rarities to catch up with/track down...I think I'll have to add that to the list!