Dennis Potter: The Essential Dennis Potter

26/09/2005
  |  Buy to Own: 26/09/2005
  |  1665 min
Rated TBC by the BBFC
Dennis Potter: The Essential Dennis Potter Film Poster

Synopsis

Eight complete BBC miniseries from the pen of controversial and celebrated playwright Dennis Potter. In 'The Singing Detective' (1986), Michael Gambon stars as an unsuccessful writer who, whilst lying in a hospital bed suffering from a very bad case of psoriasis, escapes from his misery by 'dreaming' about one of his own pulp thrillers along with some of his childhood memories. With a mixture of fantasy, reality and hit songs from the 1940s, this is widely regarded as Potter's most significant work. In 'Pennies From Heaven' (1978), Bob Hoskins stars as Arthur Parker, a song-sheet salesman frustrated by his work and his marriage. Desperate for romance and understanding, Arthur falls for an innocent young schoolteacher called Eileen (Cheryl Campbell), with harrowing results. 'Casanova' (1971) is Potter's version of the famous story of the 18th-century Italian adventurer and libertine Giovanni Jacopo Casanova (played by Frank Finlay). As Casanova is imprisoned in Venice in 1755, he casts his mind back to his many colourful affairs and adventures. In the harrowing 'Brimstone and Treacle' (1976), which was not screened until 1987 - 11 years after it was first made - because of its controversial subject matter, an evil conman (Michael Kitchen) enveigles his way into the house of a respectable family by claiming that he knew their catatonic daughter before her accident. He actually lusts after the daughter, but his obsession proves to be his undoing. 'Stand Up Nigel Barton' and its sequel 'Vote Vote Vote For Nigel Barton' (1965) are Potter's satirical television plays about working class, Oxford-educated journalist Nigel Barton (Keith Barron), desperate for success and willing to use any means to get it. In 'Stand Up Nigel Barton', Barton leaves his mining community on a scholarship to Oxford, and has to deal with the snobbery of the university because of his background, and the prejudices of his friends and family when he returns home. In 'Vote Vote Vote For Nigel Barton', a successful career at Oxford has led to an even more successful career as a political journalist. Campaigning on behalf of the Labour Party, Barton soon begins to lose his political idealism and causes a scandal when he starts airing his true thoughts about the nature of politics in this country. 'Blue Remembered Hills' (1979) is set in 1943. A group of schoolchildren spend the day playing in the fields and woods of the Forest of Dean, but before long this idyllic world is shattered by an unexpected tragedy. Using adult actors to play the child parts, Potter throws the conventions of the dramatic depiction of childhood into stark relief. Finally, 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' (1978) is Potter's adaptation of the classic novel by Thomas Hardy. Eighteen years after drunkenly selling his wife and daughter to a sailor, Michael Henchard (Alan Bates) is set to become mayor of Casterbridge. When his wife and her daughter return, they set a disastrous chain of events in motion, and demonstrate that one wrong decision can completely destroy a life.

Cast