Tormented and bedridden by a debilitating disease, a mystery writer relives his detective stories through his imagination and hallucinations.
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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)
...
 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)
...
 Grandad Baxter (3 episodes, 1986)
Kate McKenzie ...
 Sonia (3 episodes, 1986)
...
 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>

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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

Producer Kenith Trodd originally wanted Nicol Williamson for the lead role. Director Jon Amiel insisted on Michael Gambon instead. (Ironically, Williamson turned down the role when offered it.) See more »

Quotes

Philip Marlow: So, psychiatry's not nasty enough for you? You still want to get into literary criticism?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bottom: Accident (1991) 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

As good as it gets
6 August 2003 | by (bean world, massachusetts) – See all my reviews

There's no point in reiterating the praise for this miniseries. Many have called it the best television production ever, and as far as I can tell, they're absolutely correct. This is (NBC notwithstanding) the true definition of 'must-see TV'.

I just want to comment on something that struck me when I watched this recently on DVD. There's no way that an actor like Michael Gambon could ever get cast as the leading man in an American production (for TV or movies). He's just not physically attractive enough in the conventional sense; for example, he has the beginnings of a double-chin (more of a sloping-down from his chin to his collar), and I can't imagine any American producer being willing to give such an "not hot" actor so much screen time in the lead role.

Yet, it hardly needs be said, he is 100% perfect in this role, and it's hard to imagine anyone else doing as good a job. He can convey more feeling (rage, helplessness, love, hatred) in one close-up of his eyes than some actors do in their entire careers. His presence in this film is, in a sense, a reminder of how lucky we all are that it ever got made at all, by a BBC that was willing to give producer Kenith Trodd almost complete autonomy, as long as he stayed within budget. With the possible exception of HBO, you just don't see that sort of artistic freedom too often over on this side of the pond.

Anyway, as others said, it's a masterpiece, brilliantly written and brilliantly acted. Truly one of the most incredible uses of the television medium ever.


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