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Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England, UK
Died in Ross-on-Wye, England, UK  (pancreatic cancer)
Birth NameDennis Christopher George Potter

Mini Bio (1)

Dennis Christopher George Potter was born 17 May 1935 in Berry Hill, a small village in the Forest of Dean, where his grandfather and father were coal miners. Through books, the young Potter found that "words were chariots". He attended school in London and spent two years in the Army. During his three years at Oxford, he wrote The Glittering Coffin (1960), a bitter attack on England. As a BBC trainee, he wrote/hosted Between Two Rivers (1960), a documentary about the Forest of Dean. In 1961 he joined the Daily Herald, where he was TV critic (1962-64). In 1964 he learned he had psoriatic arthropathy, a disease which plagued him for decades, less so after new drugs/treatments turned up. He lost the 1964 election as a Labour candidate, ending his planned political career. That same year, The Wednesday Play (1964) began on the BBC, and he submitted a novel-in-progress, which became his first TV play, The Wednesday Play: The Confidence Course (1965), about motivational seminar swindlers. Over three decades, he wrote novels, essays, stage plays, and movies but mainly focused on TV, where his semi-autobiographical explorations into consciousness and memory led to innovations in drama, often acclaimed. His masterpiece is The Singing Detective (1986), regarded by some as the best original work ever created for television. Only near the end of his life did he move into directing with Blackeyes (1989) and Secret Friends (1991). Steven Bochco's Cop Rock (1990) is just one example of Potter's widening influence. Few Potter plays aired on USA TV, but retrospectives were at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and NYC's Museum of Television & Radio. His plays and interviews are part of the MT&R's permanent collection, available for viewing in NYC and also at the MT&R in Los Angeles.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bhob Stewart <bhob@genie.com>

Spouse (1)

Margaret Morgan (10 January 1959 - 29 May 1994) (her death) (3 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Musicals where the actors lip-sync to classic songs

Trivia (6)

He was the father of Jane Potter, Sarah Potter and Robert Potter.
He hated Rupert Murdoch so much that when he discovered he had cancer he named it 'Rupert'.
Producer Kenith Trodd, who worked closely with him for years, sees the events of his life as ideal for a biographical film drama: "I don't know whether it'll ever come off, but I want, at some point, probably for television, to do a Dennis Potter biopic. I haven't yet homed in on how we'd do it, who would write it or whether the character would be called Dennis Potter. But I know that in that life, there is a terrific story."
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts have an award named after him, presented annually for outstanding writing for television.
He graduated from New College, Oxford University, with a second class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
He was lampooned in a Spitting Image (1984) song that was never broadcast, but revived on YouTube.

Personal Quotes (8)

[commenting on the actor Denholm Elliott] He has a manner which suggests that he is about to preside with great dignity at a court martial, yet also to be cashiered in cringing disgrace at one and the same time, and that either pose is for him a matter both of raging disgust and total indifference.
The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they have been in.
[on BBC Director-General John Birt and Chairman Marmaduke Hussey] You cannot make a pair of croak-voiced Daleks appear benevolent even if you dress one of them in an Armani suit and call the other Marmaduke.
[MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival 1993] Let me remind myself of how to paint the clouds with sunshine. I first saw television when I was in my late teens. It made my heart pound. Here was a medium of great power, of potentially wondrous delights, that could slice through all the tedious hierarchies of the printed word and help to emancipate us from many of the stifling tyrannies of class and status and gutter-press ignorance. We're privileged if we can work in this, the most entrancing of all the many palaces of variety. Switch on, tune in and grow. I hope it's clear by now that I happen to care very much about the medium that has both allowed and shaped the bulk of my life's work and even my life's meaning.
BBC2 offers us, for the first time, a genuinely planned alternative instead of a haphazard chase up the ratings table.
[on Rupert Murdoch] No man is more responsible for polluting the press and, in turn, polluting political life.
[on the banning of Brimstone and Treacle (1987) in 1976] Milne (Alasdair Milne) and his immediate subordinates are, of course, entitled to exercise editorial control over what is to be transmitted by the BBC. I have had scripts rejected before now, and not even the most rabid paranoia, nor the worst excesses of arrogance, can allow me to argue that the BBC should be compelled to screen my work. But Milne is wrong. Television critics say Brimstone is at the very least an interesting play that should be shown. The Drama Department, the Arts Department, many directors and writers, and all those concerned in making the play are of similar mind. They are not so much angry on my behalf as on their own: the programme-makers detect signs of a loss of nerve in those set above them. Brimstone and Treacle is near my heart (or liver anyway) because I think it may be the best play I have written. The fast-diminishing residue of what was once an almost evangelical passion about the place of drama on the television screen, rather than simpering self-love, makes me demand that you should be allowed to see the play. Unlike Alasdair Milne, I am assuming, of course, that you are grown up and know how to work the off switch.
Religion is the Wound, not the Bandage.

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