The Singing Detective (1986)

The Singing Detective

I recently saw the 1986 BBC production of ‘The Singing Detective’ written by Dennis Potter, a six-part, seven hour story. It’s got about four stories swirling about the main character, author Philip Marlow, who is in the hospital with an awful case of psoriasis/arthritis and can barely move (see below).

Marlow in bed

Physically immobilized but with an active imagination fueled by fever and perhaps various drugs, Marlow remembers childhood trauma, mixing that with ideas about a book plot (perhaps one he’s already written) and paranoid delusions generally. Potter mixes in all sorts of little goodies, using pop songs on the 1930s to comment on the story, and expressing his feelings about doctors and hospitals, as well as interesting musings about telling stories. Michael Gambon plays Marlow and does a great job, playing a sometimes nasty fellow with just enough softness to create some sympathy. Recommended!

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