Television

Dennis Potter: “Pennies from Heaven” and “The Singing Detective”

Dennis Potter was an English screenwriter/playwright known for mixing fantasy and reality. His best known works — Pennies from Heaven (above) and The Singing Detective (below) — were BBC productions.

The method is the same: The drama is interrupted by the cast spontaneously breaking into elaborately choreographed production numbers that use scratchy recordings of contemporary pop tunes, to which they lip sync. The songs hint at the underlying tensions and sadness of the lives of the characters, as if they are coming from their unconscious. Potter at the same time is commenting on the growing influence of the media in everyday life, even then. It’s hard to describe other than to say that it’s brilliant.

The title character of The Singing Detective suffers from a horrific skin disease — as Potter did — and spends his days hallucinating from a hospital bed. The lead character of Pennies From Heaven (played in the BBC production by Bob Hoskins, who retired earlier this year after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease) is a traveling sheet music salesman. Steve Martin played the role in the American production, which got mixed reviews.

The song in the clip below starts at about the 6 minute mark.

 

About the author

admin

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Our New Things: Links to Music Sites and Info on Analog Tech and Vinyl

TDMB has focused on music and musicians. We will continue to do that, of course. We're also expanding our coverage to include vinyl and analog equipment.

More specifically, we'll look at this huge and interesting world from the perspective of music lovers who want a better experience, not committed non-audiophiles.

Check out is some of what we've written so far:

-- Assessing the Value of Vinyl Records: An Overview

-- 7 Quick Tips on Optimizing Your Turntable Cartridge

-- Why Vinyl Records Continue to Thrive

-- Finding the Best Amplifier

-- Finding the Best Phono Preamp

-- What Speakers Do I Need for My Turntable?

Check out more articles on analog equipment and vinyl.

The site also is home to The Internet Music Mapping Project, an effort to list and describe as many music-related sites as possible.

Our Music

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

🎼🎺🎻🎹🎷🎶🎵


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

🎼🎺🎻🎹🎷🎶🎵

The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

Full Disclosure

As an Amazon affiliate, this site earns a commission on every purchase made. All prices remain the same to you.