The Singing Detective (1986)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Drama, Musical, Mystery
8.8
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Ratings: 8.8/10 from 3,325 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 10 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

Seasons


Years



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)
George Rossi ...
 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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(6 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Marlow's psychiatrist remarks to him that he's starting to look better and that his skin condition is clearing up. This meant that Michael Gambon was only spending 4 hours in the make-up room instead of 6 at this stage in the production. 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 Film Geek (2005) 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

THE Singing Detective
15 November 2003 | by (Seattle, WA) – See all my reviews

Although my comments could belong under the 2003 film version, I choose rather to make the comparison here because the film, more than anything else, gives reinforcement to the view that there are reasons this original miniseries is 6 hours long.

In the original, there really isn't a wasted minute of it's 6-hour running time. The complexity of this man's situation requires that the story reveals several different conflicts in his life simultaneously, and how they relate and resolve through psychiatry, The Singing Detective writing, his relationships (past and present), and the music that had become so important in his life. For the film version, because most of this can't be explored in such a short amount of time, most of these elements aren't included. As a result, the film is light and detached... and forgettable.

Apart from that. as another reviewer here pointed out, the acting and casting is MUCH MUCH better in this original despite the lack of famous handsome Hollywood faces (the 2003 film features Mel Gibson sporting a bald head piece to look like a 'nerdy' psychiatrist!).

I'm not an easy critic, but this version is in my top five of all time (movies, not TV- it feels more like a movie that TV to me). 10 of 10


17 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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