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Your Cheatin' Heart is a BBC Scotland six-part comedy drama serial, broadcast in 1990 and written by John Byrne. It starred Tilda Swinton, John Gordon-Sinclair, Katy Murphy, Eddi Reader and Ken Stott. The format is similar to Byrne's earlier serial Tutti Frutti but the tone is much darker.

Your Cheatin' Heart
Your Cheatin' Heart (TV series) DVD cover.png
Written byJohn Byrne
Directed byMichael Whyte
Country of originScotland
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes6
Producer(s)Peter Broughan
Running time50 mins
Production company(s)BBC Scotland
Original release11 October (1990-10-11) –
15 November 1990 (1990-11-15)



Cissie Crouch (Tilda Swinton) is working as a waitress in an American themed bar and restaurant in Glasgow called "Bar L", while her husband Dorwood Crouch (Kevin McMonagle) is in prison for a robbery she believes he did not commit. (The prison where Crouch is being held is a thinly disguised version of Barlinnie Prison, known locally as "The Bar L"). She meets journalist Frank McClusky (John Gordon-Sinclair) who agrees to help her to clear her husband's name by investigating Fraser Boyle (Ken Stott), a violent small-time criminal and drug dealer who had been a member of Dorwood's band "Dorwood Crouch and The Deadwood Playboys". McClusky discovers a connection between Boyle and Irish band "Jim Bob O'May (Guy Mitchell) and The Wild Bunch". Boyle is the father of Cissie's child, who has been taken into care due to Cissie's inability to meet the child's needs and is living with foster parents in Aberdeen.

McClusky uses a taxi operated by Billie McPhail (Katy Murphy) and Jolene Jowett (Eddi Reader), who also perform as Country and Western duo "The McPhail Sisters", and are looking for additional support musicians for what they see as their big chance as support act for the Wild Bunch. McCluskey pretends to be a musician and persuades Cissie to join him in supporting them in order to infiltrate the Country and Western scene in Glasgow.

David Cole (Guy Gregory), the owner and manager of the Bar L, has been engaging in large scale international drug dealing, and is murdered by the gang of rival Ralph Henderson (Jack Fortune) over possession of a package of 18 pounds of cocaine which they believe to be concealed in the Bar-L, but are unable to find. Henderson plans to use The Wild Bunch to transport the drugs.

Dorwood climbs onto the prison roof to protest his innocence but falls off and then escapes from hospital, still seriously injured, with the help of Boyle who plans, incompetently, to smuggle him out of the country with the Wild Bunch.

All the characters converge on the venue of the Wild Bunch concert at the "Ponderosa", a roadhouse bar outside Glasgow. Tamara MacAskill (Helen Atkinson-Wood), a local radio reporter who has been following the Dorwood Crouch escape and the David Cole murder, appears for a routine interview with O'May and recognises Henderson, who incorrectly assumes that she is investigating the drugs deal and abducts her while he goes to pick up the drugs shipment which has now been found by one of his associates.

Dorwood has been left in the car park while the others go into the bar to perform, where he shoots and wounds one of Boyle's associates using Boyle's revolver. Cissie, Dorwood, and McClusky escape in MacAskill's radio car and proceed to Aberdeen where Cissie hopes to find her child. Henderson, now in possession of the drugs and still holding MacAskill, goes to Aberdeen to catch up with O'May at his next engagement. The McPhail sisters go to Aberdeen hoping to perform again with O'May.

McCluskey declares his love for Cissie but she is non-committal. Together they find the address where the child is living, but she turns away without seeing him.

Henderson attempts to murder MacAskill with a drugs overdose. Dorwood, who has been contemplating suicide, finds Henderson about to deliver the drugs to O'May and leads him away at gunpoint. Henderson is later found dead and the audience is left to speculate on the fate of Dorwood and the drugs. McCluskey and Cissie find MacAskill and save her life.

McCluskey walks away from Cissie who he feels has been using him all along.



  1. "Throwing Up in The Gorbals"
  2. "The Eagle of the Apocalypse and the Sidewinders of Satan"
  3. "This Could Turn Septic On Us, Ya Big Ungrateful Midden"
  4. "Happy Trails"
  5. "Lay That Pistol Down Babe"
  6. "The Last Round Up"


Reception in the Scottish press was generally very positive,[1][2][3][4]with Kenneth Wright in The Herald describing the series as "... funny, impressive, and very, very clever". The London press was generally negative[5][6][7][8][9] with Richard Last in the Telegraph describing it as "incomprehensible", referring to both the plot and the Scottish dialect of which he wrote "At the start I was getting one word in three". Hugh Herbert in the Guardian was a rare positive voice calling it "a serial to stay home for".

Byrne later said he believed the series had a "loyal following of about three and a half million viewers" in the UK.[10]

Repeats and revivalEdit

Byrne, speaking in an interview for the Herald in 2013, said that although he had been paid "double money up front" for the series to be repeated, it never was.[11]

The series was revived for Cinema performance first at the Dunoon Film Festival in 2013,[11] then at the Glasgow Film Theatre in 2014.[12]

The series was not made available for home viewing until a double DVD was released by Second Sight Films as 2NDVD3275 on 25 May 2015, almost 25 years after the television screening.


The script by John Byrne with illustrations by the author was published by BBC Books in 1990 as ISBN 0-563-36049-6.


Throughout the series many of the characters perform country and western standards in small pubs and clubs. The music was specially recorded for the series under the direction of Rab Noakes (credited as Robert Noakes) and Michael Marra. Backing tracks were pre-recorded and the vocals performed live on location by the cast.

Soundtrack albumEdit

The soundtrack album was released by BBC Enterprises as BBC CD 791 (5 011755 079123) and on cassette as ZCF 791. Performances were credited to the characters, rather than the performers. Vocals were re-recorded for the CD over the backing tracks originally recorded for the series.

No.TitleWriter(s)Character(s) performingLength
1."Your Cheatin Heart"Hank WilliamsCissie Crouch and The McPhail Sisters3:00
2."Jambalaya"Hank WilliamsJim Bob O'May and The Wild Bunch2:59
3."Don't Be Cruel"Otis Blackwell, Elvis PresleyThe McPhail Sisters2:35
4."Always On My Mind"Johnny Christopher, Mark James, Wayne CarsonDorwood Crouch and The Deadwood Playboys3:38
5."Hey Good Lookin'"Hank WilliamsRoxanne and Timberwolf2:08
6."Quicksilver"George Wyle, Eddie Pola, Irving TaylorThe McPhail Sisters2:56
7."Running Wild"Tom HallDorwood Crouch and The Deadwood Playboys2:33
8."Deep Water"Fred RoseJolene Jowett2:47
9."Tennessee Waltz"Redd Stewart, Pee Wee KingJim Bob O'May and The Wild Bunch3:01
10."You Are My Sunshine"Jimmie Davis, Charles MitchellThe Deadwood Playboys1:57
11."From A Distance"Julie GoldJolene Jowett4:11
12."Settin' the Woods On Fire"Ed Nelson, Fred RoseJim Bob O'May and The Wild Bunch2:23
13."Your Cheatin' Heart"Hank WilliamsDorwood Crouch and The Deadwood Playboys2:54
14."Half As Much"Curley WilliamsJolene Jowett2:25
15."It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'"Johnny TillotsonJim Bob O'May and The Wild Bunch3:02
16."Great Balls of Fire"Otis Blackwell, Jack HammerThe Wild Bunch1:55
17."The End of the World"Arthur Kent, Sylvia DeeThe McPhail Sisters2:31
18."Hello Mary Lou"Gene PitneyDorwood Crouch and The Deadwood Playboys2:25
19."Singing The Blues"Melvin EndsleyJim Bob O'May and The Wild Bunch2:13
20."Just Out Of Reach"Virgil F StewartThe McPhail Sisters3:19
21."Lovesick Blues"Cliff Friend, Irving MillsDorwood Crouch and The Deadwood Playboys2:33
22."Sleepless Nights"Felice and Boudleaux BryantCissie Crouch2:42
23."I Can't Stop Loving You"Don GibsonFraser Boyle2:54
24."Runnin' Wild"Joseph W. Grey, Leo Wood, Arthur H. GibbsJolene Jowett1:48
25."Your Cheatin' Heart"Hank WilliamsJim Bob O'May and The Wild Bunch3:57
26."Your Cheatin' Heart"Hank WilliamsJohn Carmichael and his Scottish Dance Band2:32


  1. ^ Wright, Kenneth. The Herald, 11 October 1990
  2. ^ Kelly, Molly. The Herald, 16 November 1990
  3. ^ Millar, John. The Daily Record 12 October 1990
  4. ^ Leadbetter, Russell The Evening Times 11 October 1990
  5. ^ Last, Richard. The Daily Telegraph, 12 October 1990
  6. ^ Banks-Smith, Nancy. The Guardian, 12 October 1990
  7. ^ Herbert, Hugh. The Guardian, 19 October 1990
  8. ^ Herbert, Hugh. The Guardian, 16 November 1990
  9. ^ Miller, Compton The Daily Express 12 October 1990
  10. ^ interview in The Janice Forsyth Show, BBC Scotland, 13 June 2013
  11. ^ a b Leadbetter, Russell. "John Byrne and Eddi Reader go back to the old country with Your Cheatin' Heart", The Herald, 8 June 2013
  12. ^ Murray, Jonathan. Programme Note: Your Cheatin' Heart, Glasgow Film Theatre, 2014

External linksEdit