Scottish playwright John 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 thing…it’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 all 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!