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Reworking material from his first novel, "Hide and Seek" (1973), and folding this into a prismatic blend of autobiographical details, popular music and 1940s film noir, Dennis Potter delivered a drama now regarded as a 20th-century masterwork. Detective novelist Philip Marlow (Michael Gambon) suffers from the crippling disease of psoriatic arthritis. Confined to a hospital bed, Marlow mentally rewrites his early Chandleresque thriller, "The Singing Detective," with himself in the title role, drifting into a surreal 1945 fantasy of spies and criminals, along with vivid memories of a childhood in the Forest of Dean. As past events and 1940s songs surface in his subconscious, Marlow's voyage of self-discovery provides a key to conquering his illness, while his noir-styled hallucinations evoke the Philip Marlowe of Chandler's "Murder, My Sweet" (1944), starring Dick Powell, who later became a "singing detective" on radio's "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" (1949), crooning to ... Written by
Bhob Stewart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Michael Grade, Controller of BBC One (1984-1987), later claimed he commissioned this series while he was visiting the lavatory at the BBC and heard about the idea from Jonathan Powell, the BBC's Head of Drama. See more »
One of the Greatest Things Ever Seen on Television
The BBC television production of "The Singing Detective" caused a huge stir when it was first broadcast back in 1986, and now it is commonly acknowledged as a classic.
Hospitalised by a severe case of psoriasis, crime novelist Philip E Marlow, escapes the grim realities of ward life into a rich inner world where he imagines himself as the "singing detective", hero of his own novels. From these fantasies he drifts to memories of his grim childhood during World War Two, and paranoid fantasies about his estranged wife.
The script, by celebrated writer Dennis Potter, is truly remarkable. The acting is good, especially from Michael Gambon (as Philip Marlow) who is perfect in a very difficult role.
The series lasts nearly seven hours and yet never fails to entertain. The series has a rich vain of dark humour and features some hilariously surreal song-and-dance sequences.
This is a true masterpiece and, very possibly, the best TV series ever made. Don't miss any opportunity to catch it.
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