The Singing Detective (1986)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Drama, Musical, Mystery
8.7
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 3,395 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 11 critic

Tormented and bedridden by a debilitating disease, a mystery writer relives his detective stories through his imagination and hallucinations.

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Episodes

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1  
1986  
6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Philip Marlow (6 episodes, 1986)
...
 Mark Binney / ... (6 episodes, 1986)
...
 Nurse Mills (6 episodes, 1986)
...
 Mr. Hall (6 episodes, 1986)
Gerard Horan ...
 Reginald (6 episodes, 1986)
Leslie French ...
 Mr. Tomkey / ... (6 episodes, 1986)
...
 First Mysterious Man (6 episodes, 1986)
...
 Second Mysterious Man (6 episodes, 1986)
Sharon D. Clarke ...
 Night Nurse (6 episodes, 1986)
Lyndon Davies ...
 Philip (aged 10) (6 episodes, 1986)
Geff Francis ...
 Porter (6 episodes, 1986)
...
 Nicola (5 episodes, 1986)
...
 Mrs. Marlow / ... (5 episodes, 1986)
...
 Mr. Marlow (5 episodes, 1986)
...
 Staff Nurse White (5 episodes, 1986)
Janet Henfrey ...
 Schoolteacher (5 episodes, 1986)
...
 Dr. Gibbon (4 episodes, 1986)
William Speakman ...
 Mark Binney (aged 10) / ... (4 episodes, 1986)
...
 Dr. Finlay (4 episodes, 1986)
Charles Simon ...
 George Adams (4 episodes, 1986)
Wally Thomas ...
 Grandad Baxter (3 episodes, 1986)
Kate McKenzie ...
 Sonia (3 episodes, 1986)
Trevor Cooper ...
 Cloth Cap / ... (3 episodes, 1986)
Charon Bourke ...
 Amanda (2 episodes, 1986)
Mary MacLeod ...
 Sister Malone (2 episodes, 1986)
Thomas Wheatley ...
 Registrar (2 episodes, 1986)
...
 Uncle John (2 episodes, 1986)
...
 Aunt Emily (2 episodes, 1986)
Niven Boyd ...
 First Soldier (2 episodes, 1986)
Angela Curran ...
 Mary (2 episodes, 1986)
...
 Second Soldier (2 episodes, 1986)
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Storyline

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 <bhob2@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Details

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Release Date:

16 November 1986 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Az éneklő detektív  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(6 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Janet Henfrey, who plays the frightening schoolteacher, played an exact same character in a previous Dennis Potter play, "Stand Up Nigel Barton". Jon Amiel wasn't influenced by this when he cast her. See more »

Quotes

Philip E. Marlow: What's the loveliest word in the English language, officer? In the sound it makes in the mouth? In the shape it makes in the page? "E-L-B-O-W"
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sucker Punch (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Peg o' My Heart
(uncredited)
Music by Fred Fisher
Performed by Max Harris & His Novelty Trio during the credits
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the Greatest Things Ever Seen on Television
8 January 2005 | by (Scotland) – See all my reviews

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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