the success of Soldier, Soldier, Jerome again teamed up with Robson Green for
"Ain't Misbehavin'" - a musical comedy drama set in the 1940 Blitz of wartime
London. It was directed by Norman Stone, whom both Jerome and Robson had worked
with previously, and they trusted and admired his skills enough to invest their
own money in the project and forego their salaries. The story follows the exploits
of Eddie Wallis (Jerome) and Eric Trapp (Robson) - an unlikely pair. Wallis is
a man of principle who dreams of glory and honour. He was discharged from the
RAF on medical grounds after his heroic crash-landing in a Blenheim bomber, he
was devastated at the rejection by the RAF. He takes a train to London on which
he meets the gorgeous Dolly Nightingale, played by Julia Sawalha, and the story's
romantic interest is all set up.
however is a "Jack-the-lad" type, a dissolute charmer, whose chief interest is
to look after number one. He runs a Private Detective Agency, and plays double-bass
in the Ray Smiles Big Band. Eddie and Eric are thrown together through their musical
talent. Eddie is forced to try and pay his way in life as an itinerant saxophonist
on the Big Band circuit. With Eric on double bass, the unlikely duo join the Ray
Smiles troupe of ageing musicians and militaty rejects, with Warren Mitchell -
whose great character Alf Garnet is currently enjoying a revival - as the bandleader.
Eddie auditions for the Band, he and Eric take an instant dislike to each other.
They eventually become joint lead singers, and while the story has them dealing
with gangsters, bombs and espionage, the songs are memorable and some are included
Jerome and Robson's second album "Take Two".
thickens when the pair get caught up in a conflict between London gang boss. Instead
of fighting in the real War, Eddie and Eric become engaged in a private battle.
At the same time, lovelorn Eddie is desperately trying to win the heart of upmarket
Mayfair beauty Dolly Nightingale (Julia Sawalha).
The three-part series was filmed in London and Wiltshire where
scenes for the interior of the RAF deep earth dump were shot in
tunnels used for storage by a wine company. The idea for Ain't
Misbehavin' grew from seeds sonw by Robson and Jerome's No.1 smash
hit Unchained Melody. Director Norman Stone was gripped
by the style and atmosphere of the period and thought it would
make an ideal setting for the TV show featuring the boys. The
result was the creation of Clapp Trapp Productions Lts, formed
by Robson and Jerome with Norman Stone and his business partner
most dramatic moment in the film was when Eddie and Eric were pursued by armed
guards, which turned into a real-drama for Jerome and Robson. Towards the end
of the chase they leapt into their motor-bike & sidecar, but find that their only
means of escape is through a field, across a river and over a hedge. The light
was fading at the end of another busy day on location and Robson made it quite
clear that he had no intention of climbing into a sidecar next to Jerome for such
a risky sequence - no way! What were the stuntmen paid for, after all? Jerome,
however had other idea's, he was so hyped up and well into his character, and
persuaded Robson that it would be far more authentic if the stuntmen only took
over for the actual leap. He would stop well before the river and Norman Stone,
the Director, who was positioned with the cameraman below the bank of the river,
would signal when to break.
With no time for rehearsal, Robson reluctantly
clambered into the sidecar and Jerome drove off across the field. The petrified
passenger needed no encouragement to hang on as Jerome gathered speed to prepare
for the leap. He closed his eye's and waited desperately for the end of the ordeal.
At last came Norman's signal but nobody had allowed for the rain of the previous
night which had left the grass drenched. Jerome applied the brakes but there was
no response. The wheels had locked and the bike careered at speed towards the
6 foot bank and raging river below. The cameraman continued to shoot, recording
genuine terror now on Jerome's face. Time seemed to stand still…was he about to
film a genuine tragedy? The motor-bike finally came to a halt with one wheel actually
teetering over the edge. Jerome stared into the chasm below as the camera crew
came charging towards the terrified actors. By the time they arrived Robson was
already out and running round the field screaming. No one was about to persuade
him to do another take and so the whole of that near-fatal sequence appears un-edited
in the series. "At that moment we were definitely not acting", recalled Jerome,
"and everyone who watches "Ain't Misbehavin' will realise that."
admits that something about the characters he and co-star Robson Green play Ain't
Misbehavin' might ring bells with fans of squaddies. Tucker and Garvey from Soldier
Soldier. Plans to give Eddie Wallis and Eric Trapp radical regional accents
backfired when the actor pals found they couldn't communicate properly. Explains
Jerome: "When we first talked about Eddie and Eric we experimented with completely
different voices - I think I was northern Irish and Robson was cockney. But we
found the chemistry had gone so we decided not to change what works naturally
between us, or stray too far from the characters we had as Dave Tucker and Paddy
Garvey in Soldier Soldier. Perhaps the time to do that is when we're working
on seperate projects." Jerome adds, "My character Eddie has a passion
to be an RAF pilot and fight for his country but he never gets the chance because
he gets injured landing a plane." His other passion is big band music and
he sings a bit, so after the accident he goes down to London to try and build
a new career. He ends up joining the Ray Smiles Orchestra, forming an unlikely
friendship with Eric Trapp and getting into all kinds of trouble."
Robson, Jerome had to take up an instrument to look the part of a big band player
and chose the saxophone. "I took some lessons so that I wouldn't look completely
out of place but it would take years to play the sort of stuff I play in the show.
It's a beautiful instrument, though, and I'd love to learn it properly one day."
The series finds Eddie trying to woo beautiful Red Cross nurse Dolly Nightingale,
played by Julia Sawalha, away from the clutches of her family - and her fiance.
But as well as romance, the series also has its dramatic moments, notably when
Jerome took the wheels off an antique motorbike for a stunt sequence and ended
up hanging over the edge of a steep riverbank with terrified Robson in the sidecar.
"I've always liked to do my own stunts when I can, but Robson didn't trust
my driving and he was totally right," laughs Jerome. "In the past I've
fallen out of trees and changed the shape of my nose a few times playing rugby
and football, but apart from that I'm not accident prone at all!"